As a Londoner, the prospect of atnding a campus university such as Warwick was one that seemed a bit daunting. London is my happy place; the city offers so many opportunities and places the visit, with its rich history and attraction galore. What was a comfort to me, however, was that Coventry was just 15 minutes away, and I was adamant of making the most the city had to offer to help me feel less home-sick. Having already spent two years at Warwick, I grew to love Coventry and all its quirks, so here’s a guide on making the most of Coventry whist you’re just around the corner from it.
Let’s start off with the obvious: Coventry cathedral. Perhaps the most famous thing about Coventry is its cathedral, and the history that comes with it. The medieval cathedral was bombed during the Blitz, yet much of it remains and is open to the public for free. Next to the ruins stands the new cathedral, designed by architect Sir Basil Spence, which contains some of the finest examples of art and architecture from the 1950’s and ‘60’s in the country. The new cathedral is also free for students and features a 1940’s themed Rising Café. The streets surrounding the cathedrals have a unique blend of Tudor pubs and Victorian farmhouses, which make an interesting walk and even better photo opportunities.
Whilst in the centre of Coventry, it’s hard not to be tempted by all the shops and what they have to offer. Coventry Market, open Monday to Saturday since 1958, is one of the most successful markets in the country. Alongside that, the Lower Precinct Shopping Centre welcomes 200,000 shoppers per week and features any shop you could want. From New Look, to Waterstones, to HMV, if there’s something you’re on the look-out for, you’re bound to find it in Coventry. Oh, and let’s not forget the six-storey IKEA.
If you want a cultured and educational day out, Coventry has something for you too. The Coventry Transport Museum showcases Coventry’s history in the cycle and motor industry, the Second World War, Jaguar heritage, and so much more, including work from University of Warwick’s WMG.
The Coventry Music Museum tells the real story of the city’s musical heritage, going as far back as the Roman occupation. The museum celebrates artists including Hazel O’Connor, The Primitives, The Specials, and even features Dave Willett’s original Phantom of the Opera mask. The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum showcases collections from fine art to historical and archaeological artefacts and natural history specimens.
One of my personal favourite places in Coventry is FarGo Village. This is an artistically repurposed industrial space in Coventry City Centre, designed purely for creative and independent businesses. FarGo Village features both outdoor and indoor spaces, with a quirky atmosphere and warm feeling of community. This ‘Creative Corner’ showcases some of the local art, and offers vintage collections and unique gifts, as well as the best vegan food and locally brewed ales and beers. To me, it feels like a little bit of Shoreditch and Camden, right in the centre of Coventry.
If the SU clubbing events aren’t for you, and if travelling to Leamington Spa seems just a bit too far, fear not, entertainment can also be found in Coventry. A student favourite The Tiki Hut is a Polynesian cocktail bar, offering a selection of frozen cocktails, including the likes of Frozen Jerry Colada and the Big Banana Mama, accompanied by great music. Speaking of music, The Empire is a great place to go see your favourite band. With its 900 capacity, and regular live music and club events featuring the likes of The Wombats, The Libertines, and Sundara Karma, The Empire offers an intimate gig experience.
So, whatever it is you like to do in your spare time, Coventry has something for you. Why not take a couple of your friends or flatmates out for the day and see what you discover.