The ceramic Lady Godiva Clock installed on the side of Broadgate House, Coventry.
The Lady Godiva Clock, Broadgate House, Broadgate (1948-53, Grade II Listed) © Rob Higgins
The Lady Godiva Clock, Broadgate House, Broadgate (1948-53, Grade II Listed) © Rob Higgins

Coventry's Colourful Tile Trail

The history of Coventry is as colourful as the mosaics and tiles that make up a new trail exploring the stories behind a city briefly the English capital.

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Coventry was a Saxon village. It became known as Coffantree, which means the tree belonging to Coffa, because the settlement was established around the main tree.

It was in the medieval period that Coventry was shaped as a place of importance. It received its city charter in 1345, and became home to key industries such as weaving and dyeing wool. Archaeological evidence confirms that commercial tileries were in operation in Coventry too. In The Guildhall there are medieval floor tiles in the west Oriel window of the Great Hall.

Its proximity to London meant that on several occasions, parliament was ordered to gather at Coventry. The city was also, briefly, the capital of all England during the 15th century.

Coventry's industrial importance made it a target during the Second World War. Two severe bombing raids devastated the city centre. With the task of post-war rebuilding came opportunities to commission exquisite tile pieces, such as the mosaic façade on what was the Locarno Ballroom, and is now the City Library.

A new booklet, produced by Historic England and the Coventry Heritage Action Zone in the run-up to the City of Culture celebrations, is the perfect companion for a walking tour of the city's finest tiles and mosaics.