19th Jan, 2022

'Grotesque Map' released revealing gargoyles, dragons, demons and more on Coventry's historic buildings

Coventry Editorial 23rd Oct, 2021

THE COVENTRY Grotesque map reveals for the first time, where to find the scores of dragons and demons, skulls, tongue-stickers and face-pullers, wounded statues, green men, and the grimacing grotesques and gargoyles that bedeck the city’s buildings.

There is a monstrous visual feast of gothic wonders, and their modern counterparts in street art, waiting to be found!

The project is supported by the Coventry Society and the University of Warwick.

Mary said: “These strange grotesques are the half-forgotten public art treasures of the city. They mostly go unnoticed.

“We want to bring them to people’s attention and share the fun of looking, and finding them.

“Many of the grotesques look like cartoon characters. They can be monstrous, fantastical, amusing or sinister. So many expressive faces. So many expressions!

“They’re not the sort of faces that people reveal on social media. Even the smiling ones have the edge of a clown, a look on the dark side.

“I have lived in Coventry for most of my life and I only started noticing them a year ago. Each time Danny and I go looking we spot more.”

A good place to start is by looking up at the ruins of the old cathedral on the outside walls. There are so many dragons and other grotesques to spot there. Including batboy and the lizard-woman scratching her head.

Even in the new cathedral there are dragons and snakes to be found. Look carefully and you might spot several on the John Hutton etched glass screen West Window. There is a snake and a gorgeous red dragon in the stained glass windows on the right hand side, and there’s even a snake in the chalice on the tapestry.

Another hotspot is St John the Baptist Church at the end of Spon Street. Check out the back door outside for a gallery of 31 small grotesques and green men carved into the wood. St John’s is open to visitors on Saturday mornings 10am to 12pm and demons a tongue-sticker, green men and mythical beasts are up on the ceiling inside waiting to be found.

The Old Blue Coat school in the city centre is another great place to look. See what you can spot. You might notice modern stone carvings with the face wearing glasses.

Inside Holy Trinity Church are three very strange wood carvings of green men. One is under a seat! Ask the staff to point them out. If you look up on the ceiling of the Marler Chapel you will be rewarded with spotting a chain of skulls.

And there is the magnificent medieval Doom painting, complete with coffins, and the mouth of hell! Holy Trinity is open to visitors on Saturdays and Wednesdays 11am to 3pm.

“Mary and I have had such fun hunting all over the city, and we’re thrilled to share that excitement with other grotesque-spotters with the launch of our digital map!”, said Daniel Reed.

Click here for the Grotesque map.

Click here for the Instagram page and here for the Facebook page.

 

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