A message from the Chairman of
The Friends of Coventry Cathedral
Chairman's E-News
June 2024

THE CATHEDRAL CHOIR Talent Show provided an opportunity for the presentation of the £600 raised by the Friends Virtual Balloon Race to Adeola Oladiji, the Chair of the Coventry Cathedral Choir Parents Association.
     The Association has organised cake sales and car washes to raise funds towards the choir’s singing visits away from Coventry, to which the Friends' funds have been added.   Today you can also buy Coventry Cathedral Choir chocolate bars!   This summer the boy choristers will visit Wells Cathedral and in the autumn the girl choristers will travel to Romania.
     The Cathedral Choir Talent Show included singing and musical performances as well as a touch of magic.   At the Talent Show we saw the picture of a choir practice that is shown above drawn by Kathryn Fibu (7 years) who is one of the probationers.   She attends Stretton Church of England Academy, Coventry (Year 3).  

The Annual General Meeting will be on 12th October 2024.

Visit to Charterhouse

The Friends of Coventry Cathedral are organising a tour of Charterhouse in London Road on 26th June at 2pm.  
The price of the entry ticket including the tour guide is £11.
There are three historic floors of immersive storytelling, surrounded by a halo of beautiful green space filled with wildlife.   It is one of Coventry’s most important heritage sites and the centre of Charterhouse Heritage Park.
     The Grade I listed, 14th century building has quite the story to share, and has served many different purposes since it was first founded in 1381.    The site began life as a Carthusian monastery, home to a silent order of monks who lived peacefully off the land.   The building changed hands as a private house through the following centuries, with notable inhabitants including Robert Dudley, famous favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, and John Whittingham who cultivated the nursery and walled garden that produced exotic fruit for wealthy locals.
     Charterhouse has a strong connection with Coventry Cathedral.   In 1940 it was bequeathed to the City by Col. William Wiley, who was a Cathedral Churchwarden for many years and a former Mayor of Coventry.
BOOKING:    To book your place please contact 
Phil Morris ([email protected]) 
TRAVEL by CAR: Car parking is available.   Visitors register upon arrival. 
TRAVEL by BUS: You can catch the 3 (National Express Coventry bus) towards Warwickshire Shopping Park from Cross Cheaping (Stop BS6) in Coventry city centre, arriving at Humber Avenue on London Road right by the back entrance to Charterhouse in just 7 minutes. The 3 runs every 15 minutes.
More details of Charterhouse are available online at

In 1991 at the end of a MOW day conference for supporters of the Ordination of Women the delegates carried flaming torches in procession to the Altar of Resurrection in the Cathedral Ruins.   Provost John Petty is in the centre. 

Celebrating Ordination

A SERVICE OF celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women as Priests in our Diocese was held in Coventry Cathedral on 21st April 2024.   It is good to reflect upon the part played by the Cathedral in promoting the role of women in the church.
     It was back in 1969 that the Church of England approved the licensing of women as readers.   In the following year Bishop Cuthbert Bardsley admitted Marion Fry and Olga Howes as Readers in a service at Berkswell Church.   Marion followed her husband as a Chaplain to the Deaf and in time both she and Olga became familiar faces at the Cathedral, particularly when it became a regular practice for Readers to assist the ministers at the Sunday morning service.
     Provost Williams took a step further when he appointed and trained Reader Margaret Sedgwick (pictured left in 2005) as liturgical deacon – something not then in consideration by other cathedrals.   Margaret was a member of the Readers Committee and helped with the selection and training of Readers until her retirement in 2022.
     In the late 1980s Bishop John Gibbs appointed a Deaconess, Ursula Shone (pictured right in 1988), to serve at the Cathedral with a brief for science in the Diocese.   She was ordained later in her ministry.
     The debate about the Ordination of Women continued through the 1980s in Deanery Synods and at church meetings across the country.   There was a big divide within the church.   I recall that as the procession was about to enter at the start of one Cathedral ordination service I had to remove a shouting protester from the pulpit and escort him from the building!   At Cathedral ordination services it became the practice for those people supporting the ordination of women to stand on the Chapel of Unity stage in a silent protest after they received their communion.  
     During this extended period of debate Coventry Cathedral hosted a number of day conferences organised by MOW (Movement for the Ordination of Women).
     In November 1992 Margaret Sedgwick was a newly-elected member of the General Synod when at her first Synod meeting the ordination of women priests was approved.    Once the legal formalities were complete, in 1994 arrangements were made at the Cathedral for the first Ordination of Women as Priests.   Margaret wrote later:
     “It was one of my greatest privileges as Reader to be asked to be liturgical deacon at the first ordination of women in Coventry Cathedral in 1994, knowing with enormous satisfaction that next time it would likely be a woman priest.   But this momentous occasion was not without drama, as it was my own Area dean, a personal friend, who stood at the door of the Cathedral and made a public objection, a painful moment for all of us, not least for the women about to be ordained, but the affirmation of the congregation more than outweighed that protest, and the service continued in an atmosphere of joy and thanksgiving.”

     Barbara Baisley was a leading member of MOW within the Coventry Diocese and she was ordained at that first service in 1994 (photo above).   She recorded her feelings on the day of her ordination:
     A jumble of images and impressions crowd in on me, and with them the surprise that I had not realised the extent of the celebration of the whole church.   As we processed into the nave it began to come home to me…. this is much bigger, much more than “our ordination”, this is a new beginning.   I had not really understood it until the day came.   These vivid moments stand out for me:
  • ready to set off on our procession through the Ruins, and the thought “the Seat Belts sign is off, we’re beginning to taxi forward – it’s TAKE OFF…
  • Nerissa Jones, ahead of me in the procession, stopping to tell a small girl that she must remember this day for the rest of her life
  • the unwanted familiar feeling of sadness and isolation, listening to Graeme speak, and the applause and the love of the congregation transforming it into a deep affirmation and healing.
  • singing “Be still…”, finally in place and waiting for Bishop Simon to begin the ordination prayer.   A sense of hands on my head like a crown.
  • out in the Ruins and suddenly becoming aware of the Hallelujah Chorus and realising that the choir were singing for us!   And then the hugging began…the sheer exuberant overflow of celebration.
I was flying high all right.   For days it was the best description I could find, flying free, born up, not only by my own adrenalin, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, soaring on the love and prayers of the body of Christ.   Thank you.
And as for “being a priest”?   I am reminded of Tigger when he finally discovered Extract of Malt and exclaimed “THIS is what Tiggers have for breakfast!”   Now I can only say – “so THIS is what I am supposed to be!”

     Following that ordination service the next day at the Sunday morning service in Coventry Cathedral the first woman priest to celebrate holy communion at the high altar was Revd. Marion Fry.   The photo on the right was taken on that historic occasion.
     In Coventry Cathedral the first female Canon, Vivienne Faull, was installed in 1994.   She later became the first female Provost in the Church of England when she was appointed to Leicester Cathedral.   She is currently Bishop of Bristol.  
     Things have changed so much that today it is hard to recall a time when there were not women priests and canons.
21st April 2024   
(below left) The service to celebrate the Ordination of Women as Priests was attended by 9 of the women who were ordained in 1994. 
(centre) The Deacon was Revd Esther Peers, Dean of Women's Ministry for the Coventry Diocese and Assistant Area Dean in Leamington and Warwick.   
(right) The preacher was Damares Gomes-Morris, an ordinand in the parish of All Saints, Bedworth. 

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 be there for future generations.
Joining is easy.   Simply use the online
                         membership application form.   

We can all welcome Nitano Muller, our new Canon for Worship and welcome at his
Installation Service
on Saturday 8th June 2024 at 4pm.

Stephen Smalley
 WITH SADNESS I report the death of the Very Revd. Stephen Smalley on the 19th May 2024.  
     Stephen (photo 1985) was Canon Precentor at Coventry Cathedral from 1977 to 1987.   In 1987 he moved on to become Dean of Chester Cathedral from which post he retired in 2001.   Older members will fondly recall how he held the Bible in his hand as he preached.

Dr Oliver Schuegraf, who chairs the German Community of the Cross of Nails, was made the Regional Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe last month.   Dean John Witcombe represented the Cathedral at the service in Buckeburg. (photo right).
     Oliver has been well known to members of the Cathedral Community since his appointment to the Chaplaincy team at Coventry University between 2002 and 2006, when he also helped at the Cathedral with the international ministry.   Since that time he has been a regular visitor.   The photo on the left was taken in 2005 when Oliver was the celebrant at the Cathedral Sunday morning service.

 Volunteer stewards

HELP WITH STEWARDING is  sought for the following Cathedral events.   If you are able to help would you please get in touch with Tim Stone in the Cathedral Events Department ( [email protected] )

21st June   Event: Academy of St Martin in the Fields at Coventry Cathedral (concert)

Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm (Doors at 6.15pm, Concert runs from 7.00pm to 9.00pm)

29th June   Event: Vivaldi’s Four Season by Candlelight   (concert)

Time: 6.30pm – 9.30pm (Doors at 6.45pm, Concert runs from 7.30pm to 9.30pm)

20th July   Event: The Music of Bond   (concert)

Time: 5.00pm – 9.30pm (Doors at 5.15pm, First concert runs from 6.00pm to 7.15pm, second from 8.15pm to 9.30pm)

25th July   Event: The Country Music Experience   (concert)

Time: 4.15pm – 10.00pm (Doors at 4.30pm, First concert runs from 5.15pm to 7.05pm, second from 8.05pm to 9.55pm)


 Martin R Williams  
  63 Daventry Rd,
  Coventry CV3 5DH  


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Copyright © 2024 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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