The roofless interior of the bomb-damaged St Michael's Cathedral, Coventry, taken on 11 October 1941
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The roofless interior of the bomb-damaged St Michael's Cathedral, Coventry, taken on 11 October 1941 © Historic England Archive AA44/13736
The roofless interior of the bomb-damaged St Michael's Cathedral, Coventry, taken on 11 October 1941 © Historic England Archive AA44/13736

Where Light Falls: Lighting up two Iconic Landmarks

This autumn, we’re illuminating two iconic landmarks: St Paul’s Cathedral in London (25-27 October) and Coventry Cathedral (14-16 November).

Inspired by original poetry, cutting-edge projections will tell the story of the people who risked their lives to preserve the country’s heritage during the Second World War.

Historic England, working with the Poetry Society and leading creatives Double Take Projections, invite you to uncover inspirational hidden histories of our wartime.

St Paul’s Cathedral London. 25 - 26 October (6 - 10pm) and 27 October (7.15 - 10pm). Part of Fantastic Feats: the building of London, the City of London’s six-month cultural events season.

Coventry Cathedral. 14 -16 November, 5-10pm. Part of Coventry Great Place Scheme and Coventry 2021 UK City of Culture.

Where Light Falls on St Paul’s Cathedral London: 25-27 October 2019

As the Blitz, the German bombing campaign against Britain, raged from September 1940 to May 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said St Paul’s must be saved at “all costs”. The daring members of St Paul’s Watch re-assembled in 1939 to put themselves in the path of bombs night after night.

As most people took refuge in tube stations and air raid shelters across London, bombs rained down over the St Paul’s, the volunteers patrolled the cathedral. Armed with sandbags and water pumps, they were ready to put out flames at any moment. Their bravery ensured the survival of a masterpiece that became a symbol of resilience.

St Paul's Cathedral, London. March 1921.
Aerial view of St Paul's Cathedral, London. March 1921

Where Light Falls on Coventry Cathedral: 14-16 November 2019

Similar fortitude was shown in Coventry. On the 14th November 1940, in the midst of heavy bombing throughout the city, people took shelter in the cathedral crypts. Others climbed on to its roof, to throw incendiaries on to the ground below, or ran in to the nave to put out fires.

The onslaught was too great and the cathedral had to be abandoned. Coventry Cathedral’s scarred remains reflect the devastating raids the city suffered. Out of this destruction, Coventry established itself as a City of Peace and Reconciliation, borne out in the hope and resilience that came with the Post-War rebuilding of a new cathedral.

New Coventry Cathedral. Grade I listed in 1988 (Basil Spence & Partners, 1951−62) © Historic England
New Coventry Cathedral. Grade I listed in 1988 (Basil Spence & Partners, 1951−62) © Historic England

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