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Coventry, diocese of

Coventry, diocese of. The modern see, created in 1918, is roughly conterminous with Warwickshire. In Anglo-Saxon and early Norman times the Mercian church had been centred on Lichfield, then on Chester, and eventually, after 1102, on Coventry abbey, though the administrative centre remained at Lichfield. Bishops were known as ‘bishops of Coventry’ until 1228, after which the title ‘Coventry and Lichfield’ was usual. With the removal of the see's north-western section to form the Chester diocese in 1541 and Coventry abbey's dissolution, Lichfield's administrative importance was acknowledged by the reversal of the title to ‘Lichfield and Coventry’. In 1836 Coventry and its neighbourhood were put under Worcester, but the massive increase in population in the midlands necessitated the foundation of the Birmingham diocese in 1905 and Coventry in 1918. St Michael's parish church served as the cathedral, until it was destroyed by bombing in 1940 and retained as a roofless ruin, which is now neatly juxtaposed with the new cathedral, designed by Basil Spence, the whole being a symbol of death and resurrection. The cathedral's interior is dominated by the great tapestry of Christ in Glory by Graham Sutherland. The twinning of Coventry with Dresden is a powerful symbol of the desire for renewal after destruction, for both dioceses lost their cathedrals in the Second World War.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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