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St. Michael's - Coventry's Old Cathedral: Introduction

The building that we now know fondly as The Old Cathedral was formerly the parish church of St. Michael. The present structure largely originates from the 1300s to 1400s, with additional chapels added on in the 1500s, but originally a smaller chapel of Norman design stood on the site. St. Michael's was first mentioned in 1138 during the reign of King Stephen, and was referred to in one record as "the church of St. Michael's in the Bailey", which gives us some idea of its origin within the grounds of Coventry Castle.

St. Michael's church aerial photo c1880s

Above is a photograph from around 1880, its stonework looking rather worse for wear before the huge restoration programme which was carried out in that decade. This picture was taken from the tower of nearby Holy Trinity Church, and the building you can see jutting out to its right is St. Mary's Guildhall.

The ancient South Porch of St. Michael's

The South Porch.

The South Porch (left) is the oldest remaining part of the building, and dates back to around 1300. This ancient part of the cathedral can be located in Bayley Lane opposite the entrance to St. Mary's Guildhall.

With its towering spire of 295 feet, a building length of 293 feet, and a width of 140 feet, St. Michael's was the largest parish church in England, covering a floor area of just over 24,000 square feet. However, with the revision of the diocese in 1918, after Coventry had gone nearly 400 years with no cathedral since the demolition of St. Mary's after the Dissolution, the church of St. Michael was finally given cathedral status.

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