St. Marys Guildhall
St. Marys Guildhall

The home to Coventry’s medieval Tapestry

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Immerse yourself in the history

The Coventry Tapestry is over 500 years old and is thought to be the oldest tapestry still in its original place in Britain. We don’t know much about the medieval Tapestry, as there are very few surviving records of its history, though there are several theories about this important piece of art.

Origins of the Tapestry

Study of the medieval Tapestry has demonstrated that the majority of it was created somewhere between 1505 and 1515, with the figure of Justice added in later. If you look very carefully you can see that the weaving making up the figure of Justice is of a finer quality, and you can see the last remnant of what was there before her. This specially commissioned work was woven in Flanders and is likely to have been incredibly expensive.  

We know that the Tapestry was originally made for the Guildhall – the columns in the Tapestry line up perfectly with the columns dividing the window above it. There are six different scenes on the Tapestry, each woven in a beautifully intricate way. The central figure is the Virgin Mary, being taken to heaven to become a saint. The Guildhall is dedicated to her. The top row of figures are more than likely saints, each holding or pictured with an item that identifies them. The Tapestry is full of symbolism that was easily read 500 years ago, but that we might struggle with now. 

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Did you know?

Interestingly, in the top right-hand figure you might be able to spot St Margaret of Antioch, she is pictured with a dragon. Below them is a royally dressed couple, thought to be Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, who had a close relationship with the city of Coventry.


The conservation project

As part of the restoration of St Mary’s Guildhall, the medieval Tapestry underwent a large conservation project. The conservators removed the Tapestry from its case and the old lining. Many of the figures are now easier to see and far more recognisable than they were. It has now been restored to its original home, at the place of honour in the Great Hall.  

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The National Lottery Heritage project

The conservation and redisplay of the tapestry has been made possible as part of over £1.4m support towards the wider project from The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players. 

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The redevelopment of St Mary’s Guildhall

The work on the Tapestry is part of a £5.6m redevelopment of St Mary’s Guildhall supported through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which is resourced from Coventry City Council, Arts Council England, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund – through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership also supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 


Funding and Partners

Coventry City Council
Arts Council England
Heritage Fund
Midlands Engine
West Midlands Combined Authority

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Opening to visitors from the 22nd July 2022
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