Adjoining the churchyard of St. John’s stands a venerable building, in an excellent state of preservation, founded as a school in 1560 by Thomas Wheatley, mayor. It is called Bablake School, a name derived from a water conduit once near this place. The building is not now used as a school, but as parochial rooms in connection with St. John’s Church, the Charity Commissioners having by a new scheme united several of the charity boys’ schools, and permitted the erection of a fine building in Coundon Road. The number of scholars in the old school was seventy, who remained two years, half the boys during the second year living indoors. Their uniform was a long tunic of blue cloth with yellow linings, black trousers, a heavy knitted worsted cap, with a yellow tuft. The interior of this ancient building is of no small interest to the archaeologist. In 1832 an additional schoolroom, with master’s residence, was erected on the west side of the spacious playground, but this was demolished in 1897 to make room for the offices of the General Charities Trustees. These trustees are now the managers of the new school.
Bond’s Hospital Adjoining is Bond’s Hospital, a rare example of half-timbered work, with old-fashioned gables and windows. The hospital was founded by Thomas Bond, a draper in Coventry, in 1506, “for the reception of ten poor men, and a woman to dish their meat and drink.” By his will he directed that they should have “every year a gown of black with a hood, and that they be every day at the beginning of matins, mass, and evensong,” and also that the said ten men should “daily, after they had supped, go into the church, and there, kneeling, every man to say fifteen paternosters and fifteen aves and three creeds in the worship of the passion of Christ, and then to drink and go to bed.” The hospital is very conveniently arranged, and the rooms are airy and pleasant. Each inmate has a portion of ground for cultivation. The charity provides for forty-five old men, each of whom receives 6s. per week, and eleven of them reside in the building, in separate rooms, the accommodation being for eighteen. The present building was erected 1832-3 on the site of the old hospital.
Quitting this interesting institution, and leaving Bond Street — which is built on the old Town Wall — on the right, we ascend Hill Street. The high brick walls on the left enclose two burial grounds—one belonging to the Society of Friends, and the other connected with West Orchard Chapel. Interments here being very rare, it may be mentioned that the late Miss Mary Ann Cash was buried in the Quaker Ground so recently as the 15th of April, 1916. Miss Cash was a member of an old Coventry family, known for her good works, and had reached the exceptional age of 97. In a humble building adjoining the West Orchard Chapel Ground, bearing the inscription on the front,
SUNDAY SCHOOLS, 1779
the first Sunday Schools opened in Coventry were held. Opposite are the works of the Leigh Mills Co., where many workpeople are employed in the manufacture of woollen goods of high quality.
St. Osburg’s Church
Bangor Street is now passed on the left, and Gas Street on the right, and further on to the left is found a fine building comprising the schools, with teachers’ residences, belonging to the adjacent Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Osburg. The church stands on the site of a chapel first built here in 1807. The present Gothic structure, the peculiar material used in the construction of which will be noticed, was consecrated on September 9th, 1845, the funds having been raised by the Rev. Dr. Ullathorne, who then held the priesthood, and was afterwards consecrated Bishop in the Church that was due to his pious zeal. The spire was subsequently added. The dimensions of the interior are 151 feet by 50 feet, and the decorations, especially those of the Lady Chapel, are very rich. Services are performed by members of the Order of St. Benedict, who reside in the brick-built Priory next to the church.
Reaching the top of Hill Street, we have in front of us Coundon Road, leading to the railway station of that name, on the Nuneaton and Leicester branch. Near to the station are the schools (opened in 1890) of the Bablake foundation scheme, in which Bablake, Fairfax’s, Katherine Bayley’s, and Baker, Billing and Crow’s Charity Schools are now amalgamated. The front elevation of the building is 244 feet in length, and is in the Elizabethan style of architecture, possessing a central tower and oriel window over the front entrance. The building is in red brick with stone dressings, and the schoolrooms and workshops are fitted up in the most approved style. Barras Lane runs to our left, while to our right is Abbott’s Lane. Going down the latter, we pass the site of Naul’s Mill, or Hill Mill, a very ancient mill, which gives name to Naul’s Mill Park, close by, and the rear of the old Gas Works on the right, and Mill Street and Stephen Street are to the left.