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

November 2023

Coventry Cathedral Chorus and The Parliament Choir present Vespers By Candlelight in Coventry Cathedral on Saturday 11th November 2023 7pm to 9pm as part of Coventry Peace Festival.
The programme also includes Ubi Caritas (Ola Gjeilo), Abenlied (Rheinberger) and Agnus dei (Samuel Barber).
Tickets bought in advance, online or from Jill Pacey ([email protected]) cost £20 - a reduction of £5.00 from the price at the door.

Sunday 5 November
Welcome Walk - Step into Peace
Time: 10:45am - 12pm   Starting Venue: Coventry Cathedral Ruins
Join Coventry Ambassadors and City Hosts for a guided Step into a Peace walk around the city.  
     Info: [email protected]
Thursday 9th November
Coventry Peace Trail Guided Tours
Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm   Starting Venue: Coventry Cathedral Ruins
   Enjoy a guided tour of the many sculptures, works of art and plaques dedicated to Peace and Reconciliation around Coventry city centre.   The tour will be led by Members of the Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation who will share information about the sites. A free booklet plus map of all the sites is included
     Info: [email protected]
Friday 10 November
Lord Mayor of Coventry Peace Lecture 2023  
Time: 6pm - 9pm   Venue: St Mary's Guildhall
   The 2023 annual peace lecture will be hosted by Marc Gwamaka chaired by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Jaswant Singh Birdi.
Experience a conversation with Marc Gwamaka who is responsible for Aegis Trust‘s day to day national youth leadership programmes in Rwanda which involves developing and facilitating youth leadership training programmes and supporting youth leaders
     Info: [email protected]

Israel/Gaza Vigil

IN COVENTRY CATHEDRAL Ruins on the 18th October a vigil was held to remember those affected on both sides of the conflict raging in Israel and Gaza.   People of all faiths gathered to offer their prayers for peace.   More than 200 people attended and Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and those of no specific faith paused for a time in silence, in prayer and in contemplation.  Many people lit candles while Coventry Cathedral Choir sang.

INSIDERS/OUTSIDERS STARTED life in 2019 as a nationwide arts festival celebrating refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British culture.   Covid-19 intervened to halt live events but the festival continues and has made a long-term commitment to continue celebrating those emigres.
     Ralph Beyer (1921-2008) is one of the emigres featured by Insiders/Outsiders in an online conversation that is now available to view on Youtube.   Ralph was exiled at the age of sixteen from Nazi Germany and made his home and career in Britain.   He was a carver of stone inscriptions, and in Coventry Cathedral we are surrounded by examples of his work.
   The most prominent examples are his carvings of the Tablets of the Word in the nave.   They were carved in situ as the photo shows.   Amongst other Cathedral works he also carved the foundation stone, the Lichfield stone, Bishop Gorton’s memorial in the Ruins and he designed the entrance floor lettering in brass beneath the west screen.   The irregularity of his lettering was striking because it broke with the classic formality that was the British tradition.
   In the online discussion entitled “The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer”, the design historian Tanya Harrod talks with John Neilson.   John is a sculptor and an author whose book also entitled “The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer” was published in January 2021.
     To find out more about Ralph Beyer, one of Coventry Cathedral’s original artists, you can view the Youtube video using the link –
or simply search for "The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer".

(L to R) Ralph Beyer in the foreground helped to choose the rock from which he carved the Cathedral foundation stone.   The 2nd photo shows him carving that stone.   Ralph also designed and carved the scallop shaped bowl in the Bethlehem rock to create the Cathedral font shown in photo 3. 

Remembrance Sunday - 12th November 2023
10.00 am     The Cathedral Eucharist  (Please note the earlier start time)
11.00 am      Act of Remembrance in the Cathedral Ruins
4 pm            Requiem Eucharist . The Cathedral Choir sings the Faure Requiem.

On the 14th November 2023 there will be a short vigil in the Cathedral Ruins at 6pm - the anniversary of the Coventry Blitz.
Were you there?
     *Thanksgiving Service for Cathedral construction
          workers in 1962
     *Duke Ellington concert in 1966
     *Ravi Shankar concert in 1967
     *Memorial Service for Martin Luther King in 1968

Nirmal Puwar, a Reader in Sociology at the University of London, would love to hear from any one with personal memories of these events that all took place in Coventry Cathedral.  
     She is looking at the impact of events in the early life of the Cathedral upon the people who were present.
     If you (or someone you know) can help her, please get in contact by email at -  [email protected]

November Anniversary

THE 14TH NOVEMBER is not only the anniversary date of the Coventry Blitz.   It is also the anniversary date of the Declaration Of Unity that in time led to the building of the Chapel of Unity alongside the new Cathedral.   On the 14th November 1945, before the new Cathedral design was even thought of, several thousand people gathered in and around the Cathedral Ruins for the signing of the Declaration of Unity by church leaders of many denominations.
     The Declaration of Christian Unity was revolutionary in its day, and caused tremendous excitement and enthusiasm amongst its supporters across the country – as well as a scattering of hostile letters to the papers from traditionalists.
     Sheltering under umbrellas in falling rain on the first anniversary of the Declaration thousands of worshippers from all Christian denominations gathered once more in the Cathedral Ruins to join their church leaders in making the following promise: 
     I PROMISE by God’s help no longer to mistrust the grace of God in my fellow Christians;
     to shew them Christlike love in word and deed;
     to spend myself for the perfect unity of all Christian people;
     to do all I can to make my church a better instrument of Christ’s love for men.


     I ALWAYS FEEL a little sad when I see a tree felled, and the photo shows the tree on Unity lawn that recently collapsed and has been lost.
    The felled tree was a manna ash tree that was standing there back in 1962 at the time of the consecration.   Even though they are not a tree that is native to the UK, there have been a number of manna ash trees planted in streets across the country over the years, as the trees are known to be tolerant of modern air pollution.
     Recently this particular tree had been selected to be a star of the landscaping scheme carried out by Coventry City Council, and our manna ash tree was destined to be surrounded by a circular white bench and to be illuminated by uplighters.   (Photo below)   The uplighters had already been installed when a falling branch caused a tree expert to be called in.   The expert advised against any increase of footfall around the roots, so the circular bench was abandoned.
     At that stage no one anticipated the recent collapse.
     I wrote in the past about the neighbouring tree in Unity lawn which is an oriental plane tree – the “sycamore tree” climbed by Zacchaeus in the Bible story.     I wonder if it is just coincidence that the felled manna ash is another tree with a Bible story connection?
     The manna ash tree does indeed produce manna, but its manna does not fall from the sky.   In Sicily, where the tree is native, farmers cut the bark to get the sap.   When exposed to the hot summer sun, this Italian variety of maple syrup solidifies into white stalactites of spongy sugar.   Italian apothecaries have used this “manna” for centuries as a laxative and for other medicinal purposes.

Welcome aboard!     
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.   


The Friends of Coventry Cathedral was represented by the Chairman and the Treasurer last month at the National Conference of Friends of Cathedrals and Major Churches that took place in Hereford Cathedral.   The National Conference happens every two years, and is an opportunity for Friends organisations across the country to share ideas and to compare notes.   The 2025 National Conference will take place in Liverpool Cathedral.


THE CATHEDRAL FEATURED in Episode 3 of ‘Jay Blades: The West Midlands Through Time’ last month on Channel 5.    In the Cathedral Ruins the star of BBC’s “Repair Shop” explored the Coventry Blitz of November 1940.   As he walked through the modern nave he learned about Coventry’s post-war reconstruction, before moving on to consider the history of the motor car and the visit of Malcolm X.

Jay now lives in Wolverhampton and his short series is a meaningful exploration of our county.   Well worth a catch-up if you missed the original programmes.

Also on television last month both PRIORY ROW and HAY LANE close by the Cathedral were easily recognisable settings in the ITV programme “Three Little Birds”.   It is a short drama series written by Lenny Henry and based on his mother’s stories about leaving Jamaica to come to the UK in the 1950s.   As you can imagine, racism abounds, but stay with it for the feelgood ending.  Catch-up TV is called for once more!

In Priory Row a bus slows for the stop outside the Diocesan offices.

     JAZZY ANGELS IS a recently released single recording by The Singing Loins.   Limited to only 500 copies, the recording is released in memory of Chris Broderick who composed it alongside Glenn Barnes.   Chris's former wife, Amanda Randall, recalls:
     "Jazzy Angels describes Chris and I meeting on the steps of Coventry Cathedral when he first came to visit my home city.   He loved how the modern building, with its intensely coloured stained glass and engravings of wildly dancing angels, emerges from the blackened ruins of the bombed out old cathedral".
    If you search for “Jazzy Angels” you will find copies of the single record available to purchase on Ebay.


     PAUL LEDDINGTON WRIGHT was recently invested with The Royal Victorian Order granted in this year’s birthday honours list of King Charles.   Paul was Coventry Cathedral’s longest serving Director of Music.
     The Royal Victorian Order was established in 1896 by Queen Victoria as a personal award of the Monarch to recognise “distinguished personal service”.   From 2009 until his retirement in 2021 Paul was the Secretary of the Royal Almonry, that section of the Royal Household responsible for the annual distribution of Maundy Money.

ST. DAVID’S SINGERS from Exeter sang services in the Cathedral last month at half term.   The organist who accompanied them was Stephen Tanner, returning to the Cathedral where he sang as a chorister in the late 1960s / early 1970s.
Coventry  -  November 17th 1900
What strikes me most are the narrow streets
And the number of baby carriages one meets
Which very greatly rise my ire
As on my gown they clean their tyre.

  Martin R Williams  
  63 Daventry Rd, Coventry CV3 5DH  



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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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