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PRIORY AND CATHEDRAL OF ST MARY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  COVENTRY PRIORY
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A Benedictine monastery founded in 1043, on the site of St Osburg's Convent (Monument HOB UID 895253) which was destroyed in 1016. It was founded by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife, Lady Godiva, and dedicated to St Mary, for an abbot and 24 monks. In 1102 it became a priory and cathedral. The main cathedral building (Monument HOB UID 869510) was cruciform in plan and construction took place over two phases, up to 1143 and between 1150 and 1250.

During the 12th century, the monastery was impoverished, firstly by the plundering by Robert de Limesey, Bishop of Coventry, circa 1100, who is alleged to have destroyed several houses and stripped the church, secondly by Robert Marmion in 1143, who turned the monastery into a fortress, temporarily dispossessing the monks, and thirdly by Hugh de Nonant, Bishop of Coventry, who in 1189 is alleged to have pulled down several buildings while lodging several newly appointed canons there.

In 1539 the priory was surrendered and its buildings offered to the people of Coventry by the crown, but they were unable to raise the funds so most of the buildings were destroyed. The northwest tower of the cathedral survived and was used as a house until 1714, then a school (Mounument HOB UID 335760).

Parts of the cathedral (Monument HOB UID 869510) were discovered during rebuilding of the school in 1865. Further excavations during the 1960s and late 1990s have recorded the plan of the site, mainly dating to the 14th century . Parts of the site are open to the public as the 'Priory Garden', and the cloisters have become a park and visitor centre for the priory.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.