On the night of 14 November 1940, Reverend Richard Howard, Provost of Coventry Cathedral, was one of four firefighters who climbed onto the roof to smother with sand the incendiary bombs that were landing not just on the Cathedral but starting a firestorm across the city centre. At around 8pm a fire broke out inside the Cathedral and, despite extinguishing it, they could not control the other fires which ultimately led to its destruction.
Howard writes “As I went into the ruined Cathedral on the morning after the destruction, there flashed into my mind the deep certainty that as the Cathedral had been crucified with Christ, so it would rise again with Him. How or when, we could not tell; nor did it matter. The Cathedral would rise again.”
In this moving and detailed account of the years that followed, Howard describes how the building of the new Cathedral was planned; how the architects and designers were chosen; with what materials they worked, and what their designs mean. It closes with the sight of the new Cathedral finished and ready for Consecration.
Today, Coventry is a City of Peace and Reconciliation due in no small measure to the determination of Provost Howard to forgive those who had caused that terrible destruction. This brief and illuminating account of the Cathedral’s destruction and rebuilding is an historic and inspiring document.
Originally published by Coventry Cathedral in 1962 but long out of print, a new edition of this classic book will be published by Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation on 14 November 2019, the anniversary of the bombing. A new foreword has been written by John Witcombe, the Dean of the Cathedral, who says “Reading this book was an important part of inspiring and equipping me for my own work.”
On that evening we plan to launch the sale of the book by inviting children to the ruins of the old cathedral where they will read aloud Howards description of how his team made desperate attempts to put out the flames.