Secret crypts of medieval Coventry Cathedral

church building under the blue sky

On 14 November 1940, the German Luftwaffe rained bombs down on the city of Coventry destroying its famous medieval cathedral and killing 568 people. Seventy years later, the shell of the cathedral stands next to the new building opened after the Second World War. Yet the medieval cathedral is revealing secrets today – particularly the crypts below ground.

Crypts discovered under medieval Coventry Cathedral

Restorers have stumbled upon nine secret crypts under the remains of Coventry cathedral in the Midlands. In September, 2011, cracks appeared in the remains of the medieval church and since then the walls had been supported by rather unsightly scaffolding.

Coventry medieval cathedral dates back to the 14th century and was originally the city’s main place of worship. But in 1940, during the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe pounded the city for an incredible and horrific ten hours on the night of November 15th.

Coventry leaves the old cathedral as a grim memorial

In what was then a very industrial area, three quarters of the city’s factories were damaged or destroyed as well as thousands of homes. But the most iconic building to be victim to Hitler’s bombs was the cathedral. It’s near destruction stunned Coventry and the remaining walls – with no roof or stained glass window – were left as a grim memorial to all those who died that night. Next door to it, a modern cathedral was built – consecrated in 1962.

I’ve walked round the remains of the old cathedral and it’s an eerie site. But now it’s even more spooky with the discovery of these crypts.

The chief executive of the World Monuments Fund, Dr Jonathan Foyle, has described them as a “subterranean wonderland”. They’re believed to date back to the 1350s and contained the human remains of thousands of medieval citizens of Coventry. It’s hoped they’ll be open to the public in the near future.

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