National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

The Coventry Martyrs Memorial


Type Cross , Coat of Arms

     The memorial is in the form of a Celtic wheelhead cross, mounted on a stepped plinth. A wreath and the Coventry city coat of arms are mounted on the front face.
     The idea for a monument to the Coventry martyrs was first proposed in a letter from 'Spectator in Warwickshire' to a local newspaper. A committee was appointed and, chaired by the Mayor William Lee, first met in September 1908. Nearly £200 was raised for the monuments by public subscription, although the donations mainly came from Coventry some came from further afield, including America. The cross was unveiled by the Mayor on 15 September 1910, at a ceremony conducted by F. M. Brodie, the Vicar of Christ Church and in the presence of nearly one thousand people.(2)
     The Coventry martyrs were burned at the stake between 1510-1555 on a site in Little Park Street. From the fourteenth century the midlands became a focus of the religious revival associated with John Wycliffe and the Lollards. The Lollards were regarded by the church authorities as heretical, and in the Act of 1401, De heretico comburendo, condemned convicted Lollards to be burnt to death. Between 1512 and 1522 nine Lollards were burnt at the stake in Coventry, having been found guilty of teaching their children English versions of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostles' Creed. The nine Lollard martyrs were Joan ward, Master Archer, Thomas Bond, Master Hawkins, Robert Hockett, Thomas Lansdail, Master Wrigsham, Mistress Smith and Robert Silkeby. Thirty years later, during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary, it was Protestant Reformers who were persecuted. Three Reformers were burnt at the stake in Coventry in 1555, Laurence Saunders, Robert Glover and Cornelius Bongey.(1)


Inscribed: 'It is recorded that the martyrs were burned in the little park. "The same place were the Lollards suffered." the martyrs' field (now built upon) was situated 200 yards from this spot in an easterly direction. The last words spoken by Laurence Saunders were: "Welcome the cross of Christ: welcome everlasting life".' 'This memorial was erected by public subscription in the year 1910. William Lee. Mayor' 'Near this spot 11 persons, whose names are subjoined, suffered death for conscience' sake, in the reigns of King Henry VIII and Queen Mary. Vis. In 1510 Joan Ward. On April 4th 1519. Mistress Landall (or Smith) Thomas Landsdall, hosier. Master Hawkins, skinner. Master Wrigsham, glover. Robert Hockett, shoemaker. Thomas Bond, shoemaker. In January 1521 Robert Selkeb (or Silksby) also, on February 8th 1555 Laurence Saunders. On September 20th 1555 Robert Glover and Cornelius Bongey.'

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Maile and Sons, G Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Cross Granite 500cm high overall
Wreath Metal None
Coat of arms Metal None
Base None 138cm x 93cm x 75cm, step: 200cm x 320cm

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMcvCVxx079 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • None
  • None
Road Ringway, St Patrick's
Precise location Traffic Island
A-Z ref None
OS ref SP335785
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1910
Unveiling details 15 September 1910
Commissioned by Committee for Martyrs Memorial
Duty of care Coventry City Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

‹‹ Back to search results