19th Dec, 2018

Coventry's connection to two English Queens to be celebrated in Drapers' Hall exhibition

Felix Nobes 15th Aug, 2018

COVENTRY’S lasting connection with two English Queens will be revealed at a special exhibition at Drapers’ Hall.

The free showcase is part of the city’s Heritage Open Days in September.

Drapers’ Hall, which is normally closed to the public, will be unlocking its doors and revealing secrets about two women of huge significance in medieval Coventry, Queen Isabella and Queen Margaret of Anjou.

Both were strong French women married to weak English Kings whose attempts to wield power led to them being dubbed posthumously ‘she-wolves’.

Queen Isabella, the wife of Edward II, received the gift of the royal manor of Cheylesmore in Coventry by her son Edward III, who later granted the city an important charter of self-government.

Through Isabella’s grandson, the Black Prince, Coventry became the patrimony of The Princes of Wales.

The motto camera principis or ‘prince’s chamber’ remains on the city’s emblem and appears all over Coventry today.

Queen Margaret of Anjou who led the Lancastrian army during the War of the Roses, moved to Coventry with her husband, Henry VI and their three year old son, Edward, Prince of Wales, bringing the Crown Jewels with them.

For four years in the 1450s Coventry was the seat of royal power and the effective capital of England.

Margaret’s Lancastrian forces were finally defeated in 1471 and Margaret was brought back to Coventry as a prisoner.

She died in exile in France in 1483, but Princes of Wales continued to be closely associated with Coventry until the mid-16th century.

Drapers’ Hall, built in the Regency style in 1832, is the third building on the site.

It is located in the heart of historic Coventry on Bayley Lane, next to the site of the Great Drapery, the largest medieval cloth market outside London.

Coventry was the ‘boom town’ of late medieval England, its wealth based on the production of wool and woollen cloth.

Mark Webb, director of Medieval Coventry, said: “Coventry has a rich and exciting medieval history that deserves to be told and shared more widely.

“A surprising amount of Coventry’s medieval art and architecture survives and much of it is now being recognised as being among the most significant in the country.”

The exhibition is also an opportunity to see the Regency grandeur of Drapers’ Hall before it is restored and re-opened by the The Prince’s Foundation and the Historic Coventry Trust, who will be demonstrating their plans in the historic ballroom.

The restored hall is expected to open in time for UK City of Culture 2021 as a classical music and education venue for young people.

Coventry’s Heritage Open Days will take place from September 6 – 9 and 13 – 16.

The exhibition called Royal Women of Influence in Medieval Coventry: Queen Isabella and Queen Margaret of Anjou is being organised by heritage organisation Medieval Coventry.

It will be delivered in partnership with the University of Oxford and supported by Coventry City of Culture Trust.

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