Walks Thro Coventry – Part 15

Posted on: February 12th, 2012 by pj

Christ Church and the Grey Friars

Returning to Queen’s Road, and passing on, with the handsome residences of Stoneleigh Terrace on our right and Grey Friars’ Green on our left, we reach Warwick Road, and, turning to the left,, make our way to Christ Church, standing on the site of the old Grey Friars’ Monastery, to which the spire originally belonged.  For 300 years after the removal of the monastery this spire stood alone. The Grey Friars sprang from St. Francis, an Italian; they lived wholly on charity, and, with wallets on their shoulders, generally went about in couples collecting alms.  Their monastery here was one of the last to-fall into the hands of Henry VIII, who compelled the friars to sign and seal their own surrender.  The site and remains were given to the city in 1542.  The buildings must have been of very considerable extent, for the present church stands easily within the space formerly occupied by the nave of its predecessor. The land afterwards passed into private hands,, the Corporation retaining the spire. In 1823 a movement was set on foot to build a church, the spire and 150 guineas being granted by the city.  The church was opened in 1832.  The entrance consists of a finely-arched doorway, with smaller ones on either side. The interior is very plain; the nave measures 101 feet, and there is room for about 1,500 persons, 900 of the sittings being free.  Christ Church was formerly a chapel-of-ease to St. Michael’s, but in March 1900, it was granted a separate and independent parish, taken out of St. Michael’s,

Going along Union Street, we find on our left the recently erected parochial buildings connected with Christ Church.  Taking the first turn to the right, we are speedily on the site of the grounds and ancient Manor House of Cheylesmore.  Here, says Dugdale, the Earls of Chester, to whose lineage Leofric belonged, “had an eminent seat, bearing the name of a castle in those olden times.” Some remains of the place will still be found after passing under the ancient gateway. The buildings on the eastern side are in many parts raised upon stone walls of great strength. The works of the Swift Cycle Co, Limited, are near this spot, and opposite to them are the offices and works of Messrs. Hobart Bird & Co., Limited, another firm of cycle and motor cycle manufacturers.

Retracing our steps to Union Street, we go along Cow Lane, to the right, and find up a covered passage Cow Lane Chapel, built in 1793 to hold about 700 people. The old chapel has been entirely altered, and a lecture room and useful class-rooms constructed, where a great religious and social work is carried on by the authorities of Queen’s Road Baptist Church, including men and women’s Adult Schools, Sunday Schools, girls’ classes, men’s club, etc.

“Black Gift” — On the other side was Baker, Billing, and Crow’s Charity School, which was merged into the Bablake School in 1887.  This school was founded by Mr. Samuel Baker, of London, in 1690, and the charity further augmented by various benefactors.

A little further along, on the same side, are the extensive works of Messrs. Thomas Bushill & Sons, printers and manufacturing stationers.

Ford’s Hospital

Returning, we move to the right into Grey Friars’ Lane, where we find a most interesting relic of old Coventry. Grey Friars’ Hospital, or Ford’s Hospital, was founded by William Pisford, a merchant of Coventry, under his wall dated 1509.  It was originally intended for aged couples “of good name and fame.”  The charity now provides for thirty-seven aged women, eleven of whom are in residence at the hospital in separate rooms.  The structure is a model of old timber work, and is considered one of the most beautiful specimens of its kind; John Carter, the antiquary, quaintly saying, “it deserves to be kept in a glass case.

Warwick Lane is to our left, in which are the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and Sunday Schools.  The chapel was opened in 1836, and will hold about 900 persons. .Some years ago it was re-seated and renovated, and a school and class rooms built by its side. It has recently been again renovated and still further improved. The fact is well authenticated that John Wesley preached in Coventry on several occasions. The lane in which we now stand owes its name to the fact that before the opening of Hertford Street it was the way of the city to Warwick, through which the coaches had to pass. Coming back past the hospital, we notice the old houses adjoining, and, passing the Standard printing office on our right, presently emerge into High Street, and here end our second “walk.”