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The Tower & Spires

The north west tower of Lichfield Cathedral from the outside

On the right is a view of Lichfield's north-west tower. One fundamental design difference between the two cathedrals is that the towers of Lichfield are built almost in line with the outer wall of the church, whereas St. Mary's towers stood out to the sides making a wider frontage, although the nave was a similar width at approximately 21 metres internally. This difference in shape becomes more apparent when looking at the plan on the next page.

The photo below shows the remains of Coventry's north-west tower. Only the lower three metres or so are from the original structure but a rough idea can be gained of its shape.

The north west tower of St. Mary's Cathedral Coventry 2004

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Did it really have spires?

The west front of Wells' Cathedral 2005

Despite all the speculation, however, there can still be no certainty that St. Mary's had any spires. Iain Soden's Northampton based archaeological team found no evidence of any structural remains of a spire, and when the Channel 4 Television's 'Time Team' did their excavation in 1999 and 2001, they considered from the remains of the crossing pier bases that the columns would not have been substantial enough to support a stone spire the size of Lichfield's.

In the 2003 book, "A History of Coventry", David McGrory suggests a possible similarity with Well's Cathedral (pictured left), the west front of which is comparable with the known design of Coventry's, although Wells' is about 5 metres wider. He also puts forward the alternative possibility of towers topped with a much lighter cupola and pinnacle.

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