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Cathedral set for spectacular light show

Published Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Coventry Cathedral will this year join St Paul’s in London as part of a spectacular light show to honour the country’s heritage and the wartime bravery of its people.

Where the Light Falls

Where Light Falls is a project from Historic England that will use light and poetry to tell the story of the people who risked their lives to preserve historic buildings during the Second World War.

St Paul’s will be lit up from 25-27 October, with Coventry Cathedral following on 14-16 November.

It falls on the 79th anniversary of the Blitz that destroyed the Cathedral.

Historic England are working with the Poetry Society and Double Take Projections to tell the stories.

The Coventry light shows will run from 5pm-9pm each night.

A spokesperson for Historic England said: “The daring members of St Paul’s Watch put themselves in the path of bombs night after night. As most people took refuge in tube stations and air raid shelters across London, bombs rained down over the St Paul’s, the volunteers patrolled the cathedral. Armed with sandbags and water pumps, they were ready to put out flames at any moment. Their bravery ensured the survival of a masterpiece that became a symbol of resilience.

“Similar fortitude was shown in Coventry. On 14 November 1940, in the midst of heavy bombing throughout the city, people took shelter in the cathedral crypts. Others climbed on to its roof, to throw incendiaries on to the ground below, or ran in to the nave to put out fires.

“The onslaught was too great and the cathedral had to be abandoned. Coventry Cathedral’s scarred remains reflect the devastating raids the city suffered. Out of this destruction, Coventry established itself as a City of Peace and Reconciliation, borne out in the hope and resilience that came with the post-w‚Äčar rebuilding of a new cathedral.”

Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Events, said: “The evening of 14 November 1940 changed Coventry forever. I can think of no better place for us to reflect on the destruction of the Blitz and the heroism of those who fought that destruction, than the Cathedral. 

“The Cathedral is one of our most iconic buildings and it’s important that we continue to remember and honour its important place in our history.

“I’m pleased that some of our city’s children are having the opportunity to be involved with a project like this. Engaging young people with our city’s past will help to ensure the history lives on for generations to come. I am looking forward to seeing their imaginative creations for myself.

“This free event is accessible to all and can be completed at your own pace, so I encourage people of all ages and mobility to come and experience this fantastic event.”

The Poetry Society worked with poets Jane Commane in Coventry and Keith Jarrett in London and local participants to create crowd-sourced poems based on the war-time stories of the two cathedrals. 

The poems will be beamed onto the walls of the buildings by a team of architectural projection artists whose previous projects have transformed castles into Christmas presents and covered bridges in illuminated tartan.

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