In an effort to combat the winter blues we set a goal at the beginning of the year to regularly go out and do something new or stay in and get together with friends. Some of our Saturdays have been spent in Birmingham City Centre, a few at home, and a few on days out. One recent day out was to nearby Coventry.
Coventry is famous for a few things; Lady Godiva, the Coventry Blitz of WWII, and for being a manufacturing hub in England. The city has a few museums, the cathedral that was famously bombed out in the blitz, and a nice little town center. We went to the Herbert Art Gallery first. Our main purpose there was to learn a little more about the Lady Godiva legend. The most famous and concise version of the story is that she rode naked with only her hair to cover her down the high street to protest her husband’s impending tax laws. All of the men respectfully turned away except for a man named Tom. Hence Peeping Tom. Since the story is so old it’s unlikely that that is exactly how it happened; perhaps it didn’t happen at all, perhaps she was wearing some undergarments (the kind if you wore today you’d be modestly dressed), we don’t know. But it was fun to speculate.
Following the Herbert we walked around the old cathedral. You can pay to go inside the new cathedral, but we decided against it. There is a little Blitz Museum connected to the cathedral, but it is closed most of the winter.
History can be a fickle thing. Typically WWII seems so distant and long ago. The world has moved on (but ideally we remember the lessons learned and have moved past prejudices), but sometimes it seems so close. Walking through the cathedral’s ruins was one of those times. After a nice lunch we headed over to the Coventry Transport Museum.
We saw old bikes, motorbikes with seats for 3+ people, the vehicle that currently holds the land speed record (something 760mph!), and a Mini Cooper used in the original The Italian Job. Apparently the tunnel scenes were filmed in Coventry in the late 1960s. Entering and exiting the tunnels was still filmed in Italy, but the driving inside was done nearby. So that night we watched the film with a young (!) Michael Caine.
If you’re visiting Coventry:
You can see into the new cathedral from the old one which is why we made the decision to just appreciate the ruins and not the modern church.
The Blitz Museum had been open the day we were in Coventry, so perhaps it is open some (all?) Saturdays in the winter. It does close early (we just missed it!), but it might be worth checking out if you’re interested.
The Herbert has a nice V&A-loaned art gallery on the top floor and some kid friendly exhibits on the first floor.
We ate at Cafe Italia – it was nice, though nothing too spectacular, kid friendly (stroller parking and high chairs), and conveniently located.