Discover Coventry - Tourist Attractions
St Mary's Guild Hall Coventry
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St Mary's Guildhall is one of the finest medieval guild halls in the country, having stood at the centre of Coventry for over 650 years. Many events of both national and local importance have been witnessed here; the most prevalent being the centre for King Henry VI's court during the Wars of the Roses and as a prison to Mary, Queen of Scots before her transfer to Fotheringay for her execution. William Shakespeare is believed to have staged some of his plays here and the Hall was used as a setting for a George Eliot novel. The famous Godiva processions have been started from the Guildhall and it has been damaged in the past in the violent election riots. Luckily, it survived the Coventry Blitz during the Second World War with only moderate scarring despite the Cathedral opposite being badly damaged.
The city of Coventry was one of the largest and important medieval cities in the country during the 14th & 15th centuries with its main prosperity being founded on cloth production. Its origins can be traced back to the wool trade of the 11th century, which was predominantly based around Coventry Priory, endowed by Lady Godiva and Earl Leofric.
First built in the 1340's, the Hall was predominantly for the merchant Guild of St Mary that later merged with others to form the Trinity Guild. This was a powerful Guild that included Dick Whittington, the then Lord Mayor of London, as one of its key members. In the Great Hall stands the Tournai Tapestry that was commissioned to commemorate the visit of King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth in 1500 for their admission to the Trinity Guild. Famously, the Princes Chamber is named after the Black Prince, son of Edward III who inherited the manor of Cheylesmore, which included Coventry from his grandmother Queen Isabella in 1358.
You can visit the Hall now free of charge as long as it hasn’t been booked for a private event or wedding, the undercroft also now contains a coffee house so why not visit and spend some time in just one of Coventry’s hidden treasures?
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