St John the Baptist

Grotesque beasts, a medieval alabastar carving, impressive Gilbert Scott restorations and a relic of St Valentine give many reasons to visit.

About this church

The church was founded around 1342 by Queen Isabella, mother of Edward III. She granted the guild of St John a piece of land for the construction of a chapel. This was used for their own services and included a chantry of two priests to sing daily Mass for the royal family.

In 1393 the number of priests was raised to nine. In the early part of the 16th century this was raised to twelve. Like most chantries, the college was dissolved in 1548.

During the English Civil War Royalist soldiers were imprisoned in the church. Coventry's allegiances were sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause and as a result the people were hostile to the prisoners. It is thought that this shunning of the Royalists is the origin of the expression to be 'sent to Coventry'.

Restoration was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1875. He added striking battlemented parapets and exterior buttresses, a medieval style pulpit and reredos, lectern and the ornate lanterns either side of the crossing arch. The church contains fantastic 14th century carvings in the pillars and arcade arches including grotesque beasts. Well worth a look!

Although most furnishings are Victorian or later, there still remains a piece of medieval alabaster carving of the Three Wise Men. This originally formed part of a screen, or reredos.

The most recent feature is a brass plaque, marking the high water mark of the 1900 floods. Ironically, during the restoration, Gilbert Scott advised against raising the church four feet to avoid future flood damage. Little did he know how much this advice would cost the church.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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