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The Ruins

A reminder of the folly and waste of war

On the night of 14th November 1940, the city of Coventry was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe. Hit directly by several incendiary bombs, the Cathedral burned with the city. The Ruins are the remains of a medieval parish church, consecrated to be the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Coventry just 22 years earlier, in 1918.

The decision to rebuild the Cathedral was taken the morning after its destruction. Rebuilding would not be an act of defiance, but rather a sign of faith, trust and hope for the future of the world.

Yet, rather than sweeping away the ruins or rebuilding a replica of the former church, it was decided to preserve the remains of the old Cathedral as a moving reminder of the folly and waste of war. It was the vision of the Provost at the time, Richard Howard, which led the people of Coventry away from feelings of bitterness and hatred. This led to the cathedral’s Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation, which has provided spiritual and practical support, in areas of conflict throughout the world.

Shortly after the destruction, the Cathedral stonemason, Jock Forbes, noticed that two of the charred medieval roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross. He set them up in the ruins where they were later placed on an altar of rubble with the moving words ‘Father Forgive’ inscribed on the Sanctuary wall. Another cross was fashioned from three medieval nails by local priest, the Revd Arthur Wales. The Cross of Nails has become the symbol of Coventry’s ministry of reconciliation.

Ruin gallery
Ruins centre view to altar A view across the Ruins, the Cathedral that was destroyed during the Blitz.
The Ruins; looking towards the tower The West Tower and Spire survived the air raid.
Ruins altar with charred cross Two of the charred medieval roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross, now placed at the altar.
The Ruins; Terry Hall Home Sessions A City of Culture music event curated by Terry Hall.
View of the Ruins from Bayley Lane A view from the medieval avenue in the city centre.
Ruins at dusk Photograph from a Dining Club event.
credit Garry Jones
Ruins plaque The plaque can be found on the exterior wall of the Cathedral.
Ruins: after the air raid Source: Creative Commons
Ruins: Churchill visits in 1940 On 14 November 1940 the air raid destroyed the Cathedral.
Ice skating in the Ruins The Ruins regularly hold events from dining clubs, music events to ice skating.

Directions and accessibility
Wheelchair accessible

There is level access to the Ruins via a wide doorway accessed via Bayley Lane, or via a wide doorway accessed from a level path leading off Cuckoo Lane. Due to the age of the Ruins the floors and surrounding pavements are uneven in places and caution should be taken.

Guide dogs

Assistance dogs are welcome.

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