Coventry City Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCoventry City Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityCoventry
1974 AuthorityWest Midlands
Civil ParishCoventry

Coventry did not become a walled city until the second half of the C14, but there was a town ditch and entrance bars in the C13, and possibly even in the late C12. The only physical evidence for an early ditch is one 20' wide and 9' deep to the NE of Well Street Gate, and sections have been found on the South side of Smithford Street aligned with the Spon Street bars, and continuing North and East to Barr's Hill and St Nicholas' Church. The North and East sides of the town may well have not been ditched. A licence for murage was obtained in 1329, but work does not seem to have begun for some time. A licence to crenellate was obtained in 1363, and in 1385, a licence was granted to complete the work. The wall was constructed using material in situ; therefore a ditch surrounded the whole circuit. Twelve gates were erected at strategic points, these being built from c.1367 onwards, most being completed by 1411. In addition, there were at least 20 intermediary towers, of which 15 lay on the South side of the town between Hill Gate and Gosford Gate. The sections to the NE of the Priory appear to have been the last section built, in the C15. During the C17th Civil War, the three miles of city walling were comparable in strength to London's City Walls, with four strong gates guarded by 400 guards. In 1662, Charles II ordered that the walls should be pulled down because Coventry had harboured rebels after the restoration. However, this was revoked in 1672, and efforts were made to preserve the circuit. Attempts were made to convert both gates and towers to domestic habitation in the late C17 and early C18, but from the middle of the C18 onwards, the gates and walls were gradually removed. In 1870, only two gates remained, the Swanswell (Priory) Gate, and Cook Street Gate. Between these gates lies the only substantial surviving section of the city wall, although not to its original height. It is constructed of two outer skins of ashlar masonry with a rubble core

(PastScape–ref. VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

Length of C15 wall which was originally over 2 miles long. Murage granted 1329 but work probably didn't start until 1364 and circuit was only finally completed in 1540. Licence to crenellate granted 1363. Map reference for Swanswell Gate.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP335793
Latitude52.410888671875
Longitude-1.50794994831085
Eastings433560
Northings279310
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 57-9
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 297-8
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) passim
  • Soden, Iain, 2005, Coventry: The Hidden History p. 228
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 256
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 27
  • Bateman, J. and Redknap, M., 1986, Coventry: excavations on the town wall 1976–1978 (Coventry: Coventry City Council)
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 487
  • Lancaster, J.C., 1975, 'Coventry' in Lobel, M.D. (ed) The Atlas of Historic Towns Vol. 2 (London: Scolar Press/Historic Towns Trust) online copy
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 plan p. 62 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 118-19
  • Joan C. Lancaster and Margaret Tomlinson, 1969, in Stephens, W.B.(ed), VCH Warwickshire Vol. 8 p. 1-23, 208-21 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 222-3
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 240, 416 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Dugdale, Wm., 1656, The Antiquities of Warwickshire (Thomas Warren) paln between p. 86-87, p. 91-92 online copy
  • Speed, J., 1610, Map of Coventry
  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 473-4
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 106-7 online copy

Journals

  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Mason, P. and McAree, D., 2005, 'Coventry, Bond Street' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 122-24
  • Bradley, J and Gaimster, M. (eds), 2004, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 294 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M. et al, 1988 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 32 p. 285 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1987, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1986' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 31 p. 166 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1982, 'Medieval Britain in 1981' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 212 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1980' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 214 download copy
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 214
  • Stokes, M.A., 1981, 'Excavation of medieval defensive ditch at New Law Courts, Earl Street' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 61 63-4
  • Stokes, M.A., 1980, 'Excavation of medieval defensive ditch at New Law Courts, Earl Street' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 83-4
  • Rylatt, M., 1980, 'Salvage recording of medieval defensive ditch at Kirby House' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 83
  • Bateman, J., 1978, 'Late medieval town defences, Coventry' West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 21 p. 90-2
  • (Rylatt), 1975, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 241 download copy
  • (Hobley), 1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 171 download copy
  • (Radcliffe), 1972, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 183 download copy
  • Gooder, E., Woodfield, C. and Chaplin, R., 1966, 'The walls of Coventry' Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society Vol. 81 p. 88-138
  • 1966, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 200 download copy
  • 1961, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 324-5 download copy
  • Fretton, 1881, North Staffordshire Naturalist's Field Club p. 31-6

Guide Books

  • Goodyer, E., 1967, Coventry's Town Wall (Coventry: Coventry and North Warwickshire History Pamphlets 4)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 343-4 (murage grant) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1361-64) Vol. 12 p. 417 (licence to crenellate) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1364-67) Vol. 13 p. 22 (commission to apportion subsidy for work) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1364-67) Vol. 13 p. 260 (Mandate to levy and collect murage) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1913, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1367-70) Vol. 14 p. 369 (revoking of mandate to collect murage) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1897, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1381-85) Vol. 2 p. 557 (permission to levy money and grant of money and stone for walls) online copy
  • Harris, M.D. (ed), 1907-13, The Coventry Leet Book . . . 1420-1555 (Early English Text Society) (numerous accounts regarding funding wall)
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/murindex.html], [petitions > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/mupindex.html ] and [other such > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/muaindex.html]. < >

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 58 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 57, 58 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 57, 58 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 68 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 67 online copy