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Cheylesmore Manor And Birth, Marriages and Deaths In Coventry
  • Parts of Cheylesmore Manor, Coventry's register office, date back to 1250, and it is the oldest building in Britain to be used for such a purpose. What survives is the gatehouse.
  • Edward the Black Prince and Henry VI were among the royal to live there until the Prince Regent, later George IV, disposed of the manor to the Marquis of Hertford in 1798 –supposedly after a bet between the two men, gambling on which of two caterpillars would reach the end of a leaf first.
  • Remnants of the main house survived the Second World War, but were demolished in 1955. Ancient roof timbers found their way into a pub restoration at Berkswell in Warwickshire.
  • Among the celebrities to have exchanged vows at Cheylesmore Manor are Second World War air ace Douglas Bader, Hollies singer Alan Clark and comedian Freddie Starr.
  • Its records for births feature a number of famous Coventrians, notably jet pioneer Frank Whittle and the poet Philip Larkin.
  • Also recorded are the great Victorian actress Ellen Terry and current star of stage and screen Sir Nigel Hawthorne.
  • St George, patron saint of England, doesn't feature in the records, but it was Edward III, owner of Cheylesmore Manor, who gave him a Coventry birthplace and family background back in the 14th century.
  • The city was also the birthplace of the athlete and broadcaster David Moorcroft and pop impresario Pete Waterman.
  • William Shakespeare was said to have jilted a Coventry woman on the eve of their wedding to marry Anne Hathaway.
  • Sarah Siddons, the great 18th century actress, was married at Holy Trinity Church in Coventry in November 1773.
  • Three years earlier, a Bill was brought before Parliament to forbid any woman from 'betraying into matrimony' any of His Majesty's subjects by means of artificial teeth, iron stays, high-heeled shoes or bolstered hips.
  • In April 1900, Coventry sweethearts William Riley and Ellen Simkins created a new national fashion by using a motor car for their wedding.
  • Shortly afterwards William Drakeford, a Daimler worker in the city, became the first person in Britain to be taken to his final rest by motor hearse.
  • Richard III is believed to have ordered the murder of the Princes in the Tower while spending Christmas in Coventry.
  • In 1665 the spire of Holy Trinity Church, weakened by an earthquake, collapsed in a storm, killing a small boy who was passing at the time.  He is buried in the churchyard.
  • Among the more bizarre deaths registered in Coventry was that of William Wombwell, gored to death by an elephant at the Great Fair in 1849.
  • The same year, Mary Ball went to the gallows in the city for poisoning her husband. Her death, the last public execution in Coventry, was witnessed by more than 10,000 people.
  • The writer EM Forster, who wrote the classics A Passage to India and Howard's End, died in a house in Styvechale in Coventry in 1970.
  • The ashes of John Hutton, creator of Coventry Cathedral's great West Screen, lie buried beneath his great work.  It is said that the chemicals he used in etching the screen may have hastened his death.
  • Among the records kept at Cheylesmore Manor are special registers listing the war dead in Coventry in 1940, including a family of nine from a single house.


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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM