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26th July 2023

Anthony Blee, 1935 - 2023

We were incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Anthony Blee FRSA FRIBA, son-in-law to Sir Basil Spence and partner in his firm, and a key figure in the design and construction of the New Coventry Cathedral.
In 1959 Anthony married Spence's daughter Gillian in the Cathedral - the first wedding in the not-yet-complete building.

Following the news Dean John said 'We were very sad to learn of the passing of Anthony Blee, who played such a significant part in the realisation of the Cathedral. I often remember him explaining when we met at a reception at St Mary’s Guildhall about how he laid out the design for the beautiful suspended ceiling, in the days before Computer Aided Design. And of course Anthony and his wife Gillian were the first to be married in the new Cathedral, as we were reminded in the wonderful BBC4 documentary by John Wyver, Coventry Cathedral: Building for a New Britain, which was such an excellent tribute to the building and all those that played a part in its creation. We give thanks for Anthony, and remember him and all the family in our prayers.'

Our Cathedral Archivist, Dianne Morris added -

'Coventry Cathedral was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Anthony Blee, architect and designer, who worked on the design of the new Cathedral, consecrated in 1962.

Anthony joined the Basil Spence Partnership in 1957, as a graduate, shortly after the foundation stone for the new Cathedral was laid. He was involved with many aspects of the design and construction, together with associated buildings.

In 1965 Blee met with stained glass scholar Peter Newton and conservator Dennis King to examine the Cathedral’s medieval glass fragments with a view to their incorporation in the repaired Haigh Chapel in the ruined Cathedral. Their installation in 1965 proved to be a great success, and provided the impetus for more fragments to be conserved and incorporated around the Cathedral.

Considered by Spence to be a very visible part of the Cathedral’s fittings, Blee was asked by Basil Spence to produce six designs for kneelers for the nave chairs based on early Christian symbols from the catacombs in Rome. Whilst there were some misgivings regarding the symbolism in the design, they were translated into embroidery patterns with restricted colour palettes. The kneelers are still vibrant and eye-catching hanging on the back of nave chairs.

We are grateful for his vision and skill in designing outstanding elements of our magnificent Cathedral.'

We are all incredibly thankful for the life and work of Anthony, and our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.

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