Here at Coombe Abbey Hotel we’re proud to be at the heart of Coventry and Warwickshire, a region steeped in history, sacrifice and beautiful, rolling countryside.
Our hotel guests come from both near and far, and many are fascinated by our rich history and local ways, but how much do you know about Coventry and Warwickshire? Whether you live locally or love to visit, our fun guide to ten fascinating facts about Coventry and Warwickshire is bound to inform, as well as delight…
1. We don’t call them rolls…
If you’re from Coventry and Warwickshire, you’ll know that a roll is not a roll, or a bun, or a cob… here, it’s a batch and you can ask for one anywhere in Coventry, Nuneaton or Bedworth and they’ll know what you mean. Just don’t try asking for one further out, or you’ll be met with a blank expression! Long live the batch!
2. Sacrificed…for the war
During the Second World War, Coventry suffered one the most devastating bomb raids to ever fall on UK soil, but, was Coventry really sacrificed for the war? The ‘Coventry Conspiracy’ …that Winston Churchill had prior warning of the attack on Coventry but chose not to do anything about it as it would have alerted Hitler to the fact the Allies had cracked the Enigma codes, lives on. You’ll find this theory in history books and even through word of mouth, where people still speak of the city’s sacrifice ‘for the greater good’. With so many theories about this so called sacrifice, it is hard to know what to believe, but, the fact remains that Coventry was heavily bombed, yet, rebuilt itself through the ashes of destruction to become the thriving city it is today.
3. That blonde lady on her horse
Did Lady Godiva really ride her horse through the streets of Coventry naked in protest against high taxes? Many historians say it is a myth, but even if it is, Lady Godiva was very real. An 11th century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, she was known for her generous nature and along with her husband, Earl Leofric, she founded a Benedictine monastery in Coventry.
4. Car manufacturing
Coventry has a rich motoring heritage, which can be traced back to 1896 when Henry Lawson founded the Daimler Motor Company and from this, a factory called The Motor Mills which gave us the first British car. In the 1930s, Coventry became known as the ‘British Detroit by successfully emulating Henry Ford’s mass production with the moving assembly line. After the war, even the devastating blitzing of this thriving city couldn’t stop Coventry’s car manufacturing success, with 12 car manufacturers operating in Coventry by 1950. The city was the leading car exporter in the UK between 1962-64. Although this booming industry began its decline in the 70s and the last car manufacturing plants moved their manufacturing away from Coventry in 2004 (Jaguar) and 2006 (Peugeot) there are still hopes for a motor renaissance for Coventry… watch this space!
5. We have a famous castle
Did you know that Warwick Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world? People come from all over the globe to visit this imposing castle, located in the town of Warwick, which was, originally a wooden motte-and-bailey castle but rebuilt in stone when King Henry II reigned. A hugely impressive and daunting building with a gatehouse, great hall, towers, residential buildings and chapel, the castle belonged to the Greville family for 374 years, but was sold to the Tussauds Group in 1978 for £1.3 million. It is now a top tourist attraction and owned by Merlin Entertainments who merged with the Tussauds Group in 2007.
6. We’re in the Movies (and on T.V!)
If you’ve ever seen that classic 60s film The Italian Job, you’ll know what a great film it is, but did you realise that car chase scene with those cool looking minis zooming through huge sewer pipes was actually filmed in Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry? Oh and let’s not forget that Keeping Up Appearances (Hyacinth Bucket anyone?!) was filmed in Binley Woods! Well, the ‘posh’ part of the hit sitcom was…
7. The Gunpowder Plot
We all know the story of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night, but what about the Gunpowder Plot? Guy Fawkes had many anti-establishment co-conspirators, including a man called Robert Catesy of Lapworth who planned to kidnap Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I. The daughter had been sent to Coombe Abbey at that time as it was considered a good, safe place for her to grow up under the eye of the king’s close friend, John Harington. Fawkes and Catesy also planned to kill the king and any male heirs. Thankfully the plot was foiled when the authorities were alerted to the doomed plan. Coughton Court also had arms, horses and ammunition stored, ready for the uprising that was meant to follow once Fawkes had annihilated parliament. Instead, as we all know, Fawkes was also caught and later, hung drawn and quartered before the public in St Paul’s Churchyard.
8. Sent to Coventry
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘sent to Coventry’? During the 17th Century English Civil War, Coventry was a strong Parliament town and if Royalist soldiers were stationed in or near Coventry they were treated like social outcasts, ignored and excluded places such as taverns. Sending Royalist prisoners to Coventry where they would be ignored was also common.
9. Tolkien’s Shire
If you’re a fan of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit, you’ll know about his use of the word, ‘Shire’ as a reference to ‘Middle Earth’ but, did you know, he based Middle Earth on Warwickshire? Tolkien lived in the then Warwickshire village of Sarhole (now, it is part of the city of Birmingham) and this is where he drew inspiration for Hobbiton and the Shire. Even the mill featured in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is thought to be based on Sarehole Mill!
10. We’re the City of Culture 2021
Coventry won the title of the UK City for 2021, and as a diverse and modern city, which has a history of overcoming adversity and coming together Coventrians have never been so proud! Look out for a whole programme of cultural celebrations and activities, including working in local communities and showcasing productions by the RSC in iconic locations.
We hope you have enjoyed our ten fascinating facts about Coventry and Warwickshire and remember, if you’re looking for a beautiful place to stay, eat or simply stroll through, Coombe Abbey is perfect for all your needs. See you soon!