COVENTRY school children from 1962 who donated thousands of pounds in pocket money to pay for a stained-glass window at the cathedral will be celebrated in a special ceremony – and are invited to attend.
Sir Basil Spence’s iconic Cathedral Church of Saint Michael in the city centre was constructed 56 years ago but needed financial support to add the window.
A fund-raising scheme was set up across schools in Coventry and Warwickshire to fund one of the nave stained-glass windows – locally known as ‘the children’s window’.
The cathedral window design was sold to late poet John Betjeman who remarked: ‘I wonder if you will ever do anything as beautiful again.’
It is believed £3,000 was raised by up to 100,000 children – the equivalent of around £62,000 in today’s money.
The window’s designer Keith New was a young student at the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) stained glass department.
It was he who sold what was his first design to Betjeman.
The RCA was selected by Sir Basil to provide the nave windows and Keith, then 26, and another student set about the task.
Keith designed three of the cathedral’s windows including the first nave window on the font side – ‘the children’s window’.
It symbolises youth and the growth of young people under God’s influence.
A newly published book named ‘Keith New – British Modernist in Stained Glass’ is available to buy at the cathedral shop.
Its authors Dr Robert Smith and Diana Coulter wanted to ‘resurrect his reputation’.
An event has been planned at the cathedral to celebrate Keith’s work and the city kids’ contribution.
Bob said: “It’s a superb example of community.
“We had an opportunity to say here’s an important piece of work, but here’s a lovely story to go with it.
“So we want the class of 1962 – who will be in their 60s and early 70s – to come to the cathedral and celebrate what they did all that time ago – most of them probably don’t know about the window!
“And of course we want to celebrate the work of the forgotten artist.”
The free event will take place on Saturday, July 7 at 2.30pm.
The children who contributed their ‘pocket money’ in 1962 were given a specially-designed bookmark.
If anyone still has one please contact Dianne Morris in the Cathedral Archives on 024 7652 1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dianne is planning a new bookmark to be presented to everyone who comes to the event.