A message from the Chairman of
The Friends of Coventry Cathedral
Chairman's E-News

December 2023

   ON ADVENT SUNDAY the light entered the Cathedral and illuminated the Crib and the Christmas Tree as the procession of ministers and choir carried the light around the building.    We look forward to the light of Jesus entering the world at Christmas to dispel the darkness of our separation from God.

by Josefina de Vasconcellos in the Bishop Haigh Memorial Chapel
in Coventry Cathedral Ruins.

AT CHRISTMAS 1955, when this photo was taken, the Chapel was known as the Chapel of Resurrection.   The sculptures were loaned by the sculptor, who was helped with arranging the chapel furnishings by boys from a Coventry approved school.
     The Chapel of the Resurrection was established in the south porch of the Cathedral Ruins and was dedicated by Dr Haigh in 1942.   The Chapel was used daily for morning and evening prayers throughout the war years.   In 1965 the renovated chapel was re-dedicated in memory of the Bishop, and it is now known as the Bishop Haigh Memorial Chapel.
     Josefina is better known to us for her sculpture “Reconciliation” that stands opposite the Chapel in the Cathedral Ruins by courtesy of Richard Branson, who funded its placement.    Other casts of the “Reconciliation” sculpture can be seen in the Hiroshima Peace Park; on the site of the Berlin Wall; in the grounds of Stormont Castle, Northern Ireland; and at Bradford University where there is a Department of Peace Studies and International Development.   The sculptor died in 2005 at the age of 100 years, at which time she was reported to be the world’s oldest living sculptor.
     In her work after the war De Vasconcellos often followed religious themes.   Today examples of her work are to be found in many churches across the country including Liverpool Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, St. Paul's Cathedral and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.  
     She also devoted time and energy to work with underprivileged children, particularly those with disabilities.   In 1967 she set up an Outward Bound centre in the Duddon Valley, Cumbria, and in 1975 in a beached trawler at Milson she founded the Harriet Trust to provide holidays for young people with disabilities.   She also helped the development of a textured carpet for blind child dancers.   De Vasconcellos was awarded an MBE in 1985 for her work with young people.

BRITTEN's CEREMONY of CAROLS sung by Coventry Cathedral Choristers accompanied by the harpist, Cecily Beer, affords an ideal half an hour escape from the hurly-burly round of pre-Christmas activity.   It gives you space for thoughtful preparation.   
     There is no admission charge.   There will be an opportunity to support the Cathedral's music ministry with a donation.      Venue - Cathedral nave.

The chairs count
A NAVE CHAIR audit to assess the condition of the chairs will be carried out over the Christmas period.   If you have a couple hours to spare and would like to help the FRIENDS chair audit, please get in touch with Phil Morris, the Deputy Chairman, who will explain what is involved.     
Contact EMAIL- [email protected] 
A remarkable New Years Eve

On NEW YEARS EVE 1958 the spiritual life of Coventry Cathedral moved from the Cathedral Ruins to the new Cathedral site.  
     That evening BBC TV viewers watched live in black and white as Provost Howard carried a flaming torch from St Michael’s crypt chapel and handed it to Provost Williams, his successor.   The altar candles were lit and Bishop Cuthbert Bardsley consecrated the Chapel of the Cross built in today’s Cathedral undercroft.
     This year on NEW YEARS EVE 2023 in the John Laing Centre at 3.30pm the FRIENDS will show a 25-minute film of the BBC 1958 highlights.   The Friends care for this archive film of a significant event in the life of our Cathedral.   Evening Prayer follows in the Centre at 4pm.   Welcome hot drinks are available from 3pm.  

Join the Race

to sponsor the

Cathedral Choir

THIS CHRISTMAS THE Friends have organised a Christmas Balloon Race to raise funds for Coventry Cathedral Choir.
     In 2024 Coventry Cathedral Choir plans to carry Coventry’s message of peace and reconciliation into the heart of Transylvania, Romania.   All money raised by the Christmas Balloon Race will go towards the Cathedral Choir.  
     I encourage you to sponsor the Cathedral Choir with your own balloon in the Christmas Balloon Race.    The cost of sponsoring a balloon is £5, and the winning prize is £100.   This eco-friendly, virtual Christmas Balloon Race is sponsored jointly by Michael Mogan O.B.E. and the Friends of Coventry Cathedral.
      The race starts on Saturday 9th December 2023, so there are just a few days left for you to buy your balloon.   Watch it online as it travels 1500 miles across Europe.   The Race ends two weeks later on Saturday 23rd December 2023 - in good time for Christmas Day! 
      To sponsor your balloon log on to -  https://www.balloonrace.net/focc

Heritage photo EXCLUSIVE
  I AM ALWAYS on the lookout for Cathedral heritage treasures to be shared.   Amongst recent finds is an amazing glass negative of St Michael’s Church taken c.1908 - ten years before the church was elevated to become Coventry Cathedral.  
                                       It is a real heritage treasure.
     The glass negative picture of the old Cathedral is unusually clear and detailed.   The original has now been carefully cleaned and after spending several days in the darkroom, the local photographer, Jason Tilley, produced a number of hand crafted prints.   The Friends of Coventry Cathedral receives a commission on each sale.  
     The price is £60.00 per print plus postage.   Each print is mounted within a white mounting board (17 ½ ins x 19 ½ ins) so that it is ready for you to frame in a style to suit your own taste.   Within the mount the picture size is 10ins x 12 ins.
How to order
 Orders for the heritage print can be placed either by post or by email to the Chairman of the Friends.
EMAIL[email protected]
POST: Martin R Williams, 63 Daventry Road, Coventry CV3 5DH

PAYMENT can be made by cheque or by cash or payment can be sent direct to the Friends’ bank whose details are:
   Bank sort code:                      40-18-17
   a/c number:                            80360244
   a/c name:                               Friends of Coventry Cathedral
   IBAN:                                      GB61HBUK40181780360244
   Branch identifier:                    HBUKGB4103V
Please use the reference “PHOTO”.
Collection of your print from the Cathedral can also be arranged if you wish.

Join Coventry Cathedral Chorus as they take you through the story of the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
18th December 2023 at 7pm.     
(Doors 6pm)

Tickets can be bought in advance, online or direct from Jill Pacey ([email protected]).

RACHMANINOFF'S VESPERS sung by candlelight last month marked the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth.   Coventry Cathedral Chorus were joined by The Parliament Choir.

BISHOP RUTH WORSLEY, the Acting Bishop of Coventry, came to her first Cathedral service in November.   It was a service of Baptism and Confirmation.

Coventry Diocese came together to worship
 in the
Cathedral last month.   

(PHOTO: Gill James)
You are Welcome!     
If you are enjoying this newsletter and are not yet a member of the Friends of Coventry Cathedral I invite you to join us today. 
The Friends support the ministry and buildings of Coventry Cathedral so that it can speak out to future generations.
Joining is easy.   Simply use the online
                         membership application form.   



 Farewell to


THE SERVICE OF Thanksgiving and Farewell filled the Cathedral in honour of Bishop Christopher on 4th November 2023.   Bishop Christopher leaves Coventry to take up the post of Dean of St George's, Windsor.
     The photographs capture just a few highlights of the day.   
TOP ROW.   (l) Before the Thanksgiving service prayers were shared with members of the Bishop's team in the Chapel of Industry.   
(r) The Mothers Union provided refreshments for the congregation as well as presenting the Bishop with a magnificent iced cake.
LOWER ROW.   (l) The Divestment.   At the close of the service Bishop Christopher removed his cope and mitre and laid them on the high altar together with his crozier.   He then walked behind the processional cross to the west screen.
(r) "I Wanna Be A World Changer" sang children from Diocesan Schools with suitable accompanying actions.   The congregation joined in.
BOTTOM.   The Bishop wore an African robe as he gave his final thanks to all who were present.   The African robe was presented to him during the service by Bishop Korir from Kapsabet - Coventry's twin Diocese in Kenya.     

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY IN Coventry Cathedral Ruins.   The rain paused long enough for the Sunday morning clergy, choir and congregation to join the national two minutes of silence at 11am.
The Chapel of Unity
is hosting an online 20 minute
Meditation and Reflection on Scripture for Advent
at 6.00pm on each of these Mondays

                 Monday   11th December:   Psalm 126                                                              What marvels the Lord worked for us!
               Monday   18th  December: Luke 1.57-66                                                                    The birth of John the Baptist

ZOOM link:
Meeting ID: 878 5890 7279              Passcode: 900052

Coventry Christmas 1919
COVENTRY CITY COUNCIL responded to the social unrest that swept across the nation in 1919 by providing Christmas gifts to all local servicemen returning from the First World War.
     An illuminated card was presented to each of them to acknowledge the patriotism they had shown in service to their King and Country.   The photo shows the gift box they each received.   The box contained 50 cigarettes.
     In 1919 Coventry City Council also presented Christmas parcels to all war widows and their dependants.   Their boxes contained one or more plum puddings, six to twelve mince pies, two fruit cakes, a pound of tea, a pot of jam and (for the largest families) a joint of meat.

COVENTRY CATHEDRAL features on the base plinth of the civic Christmas tree that stands outside Coventry Council House.

is needed by the Cathedral events team on the following occasions.

5th December
Event: G4 Christmas Concert

Time: 6.15pm – 10.00pm (Doors at 6.30pm, Concert runs from 7.30pm to 9.30pm)
7th December
Event: Viennese Christmas Spectacular Concert

Time: 6.30pm – 10.00pm (Doors at 6.45pm, Concert runs from 7.30pm to 9.30pm)
9th December
Event: Coventry Cathedral Chorus Christmastide Celebration Concert

Time: 5.00pm – 8.30pm (Doors at 5.15pm, Concert runs from 6.00pm to 8.00pm)
14th December
Event: EX CATHEDRA  - Christmas Music by Candlelight Concert

Time: 6.30pm – 10.30pm (Doors at 6.45pm, Concert runs from 7.30pm to 10.00pm)
18th December
Event: Coventry Cathedral Chorus - Handel’s Messiah by Candlelight

Time: 5.45pm – 10.30pm (Doors at 6.00pm, Concert runs from 7.00pm to 10.00pm)
If you are able to help at any of these events, please get in touch with  
Tim Stone (Events Assistant) by email at
[email protected]
or at the Cathedral Offices, 1 Hill Top, Coventry, CV1 5AB


 Martin R Williams  
  63 Daventry Rd,
  Coventry CV3 5DH  


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Copyright © 2023 The Friends of Coventry Cathedral, All rights reserved.
The Friends of Coventry Cathedral was founded in 1934. It is an independent Charity No. 1061176 registered in England and Wales, with an annually elected Council.
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