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As the 13th largest UK city and the second largest in the West Midlands, Coventry offers plenty of things to see and do for residents and visitors.
The city is believed to be more ancient than nearby Birmingham and Leicester and probably began life as a settlement by agricultural people in the prehistoric Bronze Age (3200 BC to 600 BC).
Several centuries later, the Lunt Roman Fort was built in AD 60 at nearby Baginton as a supply depot and army HQ during the campaign against Boudica. The legendary queen led an uprising by native tribes in the Battle of Watling Street and was defeated by the Romans at an unknown battlefield suggested by some to be at Mancetter, near Atherstone in north Warwickshire.
In the 11th century, the Anglo-Saxon landowner Lady Godiva founded a monastery that later became the city's first cathedral and is said to have ridden through the town naked in protest against high taxes imposed her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia.
There is a statue of Godiva on horseback at Broadgate, along with a wooden effigy of Peeping Tom in Coventry’s Cathedral Lanes shopping centre and a Godiva Clock at Broadgate House with moving figures of Godiva and Tom.
In the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned at St Mary’s Guildhall, and William Shakespeare is thought to have staged some of his plays in the building. Nuneaton writer George Elliot knew the hall well and featured it in one of her novels. In addition, the long-gone Coventry Castle once stood on the spot.
The city is also the site of the ruins of Caludon Castle. Today only a large sandstone wall and the outline of a moat remain in parkland at Wyken. One story says England’s patron saint St George was born and buried there and that the terrifying dragon he famously killed was menacing Coventry itself.
In the English Civil War, the city housed Royalist prisoners and this is believed to be the origin of the expression ‘sent to Coventry’, meaning to be ostracised or shunned as if you are absent, invisible or no longer exist.
Other historic buildings in Coventry include Whitefriars Monastery, where Queen Elizabeth I addressed the people of the city in the 16th century, and the half-timbered almshouse known as Ford’s Hospital.