Coventry developed as a manufacturing town during the 19th century. Its influence on the car industry began with the opening of the Alvis, Daimler and Humber factories. Many of these plants were turned over to armaments production during the war, making the city a prime target for the Luftwaffe. On the night of November 14, 1940 most of the city centre, including the 14th-c Cathedral, was reduced to rubble. Consequently the centre was completely rebuilt, providing it with a well laid-out contemporary feel today.
If shopping is your scene then the large pedestrianised shopping precinct has plenty to offer, including a wide choice of independent retailers, branded stores, restaurants and eateries. There are cinemas, theatres and a large modern Arts Centre at the University of Warwick, just to the south of the city.
Coventry owes its origins to a 7th-c. Anglo-Saxon convent. Later during the 11th-c, a Benedictine abbey was established by Leofric, Earl of Mercia. It is said, that in order to reduce the burden of taxes levied on the town, the wife of Leofric, Lady Godiva, bravely rode naked through the city streets. This famous legend is commemorated by a bronze statue outside the Broadgate shopping centre. Despite the extensive WWII damage, the three medieval spires of Christchurch, Holy Trinity and St Michael's are still visible across the city skyline. Much of Coventry's medieval connections can also be found around the Cathedral precincts and in the timber-framed buildings lining Spon Street, many of which have been preserved there from other areas of the city.
The parish church of St John the Baptist (circa 1344) stands at the near end of Spon Street. It has had many uses over the centuries other than a place of worship, including a stables, a market and a cloth mill. However, its use as a prison during the English Civil War is believed to have coined the English phrase 'Sent to Coventry'.
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