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Map of Coventry streets through the ages
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Coventry
BroadgateSwanswell PoolThe Old Cathedral PageThe New Cathedral PageSwanswell gateTown Wall at Pool MeadowCook Street gateWell Street WallWatch TowerWall at Fleet StreetGulson Road WallWall at ParksideGosford GateSherbourne by Gosford GateCox Street WallSt John's Church, Fleet StreetHill Street, Bonds HospitalFord's HospitalThe Old Grammar SchoolRiver Sherbourne, Palmer LaneChristchurch SpireCheylesmore Manor HouseSpon StreetSt. Mary's Priory and CathedralLychgate CottagesBayley LaneThe Golden Cross Inn22 Bayley LaneSt Mary's GuildhallThe Council HousePalace YardTrinity ChurchCoventry CrossCoventry CrossGeorgian House, 11 Priory RowThe Unknown RuinWhitefriars MonasteryWhitefriars GateHill Street GateBishop GateWell Street GateSpon GateGreyfriars GateCheylesmore GateLittle Park GateNew GateMill Lane GateLady Herbert's Gardens

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All the maps on these pages were "hand drawn" on the computer (!) with the Paint Shop Pro image editing programme. I've chosen certain years which best demonstrate Coventry's development.... the reasons for their inclusion, and the sources used, are explained here:


* It is interesting to note the rate of growth of the Coventry streets during the 1800's. For the preceding five hundred years there were few major changes, but during the industrial revolution of the 19th century, the number of streets in the centre of the city more than doubled. This was mainly due to the building of factories, but this, in turn, created a necessity to house the thousands of people who flooded into Coventry to find employment, first of all in the weaving and watchmaking industries and then from around 1870 the cycle industry, which, owing largely to the brilliant inventor James Starley, spawned an astonishing 248 cycle firms in the city, making it by far the biggest bicycle manufacturing centre in the world. Many of these cycle firms would eventually turn to manufacturing motorcycles, then cars, and surprisingly, James Starley had a key role to play there too.... he invented the differential gear, the design of which has not significantly changed in modern day vehicles more than a century later.

As stated, John Speed's map of 1610 is the earliest 'official' map available. However, for the 1225 and 1400 plans, I have used information from books and various sources to work out which streets were in existence from two to four centuries earlier. The reason I specifically chose 1400 is because it was shortly before this time that Coventry's wall first encircled the town, therefore the streets leading in and out of the city were already well established, and both influenced, and were influenced by, the wall - the route of which, of course, was also determined in no small part by the River Sherbourne.

1225 was chosen as being an approximate time when many deeds and lists of traders existing in particular streets started to be recorded. It's only a rough guide to the possible street plan of that era, and it is known that some other lanes were named in various papers, but their position is uncertain. Many such lanes were perhaps a pathway to a prominent merchant's property, and would have only existed or carried the name for a short period.

It's also interesting to think about the buildings that existed in 1400. The preceding few decades had been a prolific era for Coventry; Whitefriars Monastery had only been founded six decades earlier, and St. Michael's church was still a work in progress, with most of the structure we now recognise only being added around that time. The same can be said for Holy Trinity church, and all three of these fine buildings would see more structural changes before settling into the shapes that we now recognise. Likewise, the building of St. Mary's Guild Hall had only begun sixty years earlier, and in 1400 was in the middle of a prolongued period of enlargement and development. Greyfriars church (now known as Christchurch) and Cheylesmore Manor House were already mature buildings, having been built over a century earlier. The Priory and Cathedral of St. Mary's was, of course, still a thriving and well established "industry", and must have looked an absolutely awesome sight dwarfing the other two churches. For this map, I have attempted to draw the priory as close to scale as I can judge to give a true impression of the relative size of the churches.

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