COVENTRY, ENGLAND.- The Holy Trinity Church in Coventry will exhibit next year a rare medieval fresco for the first time in 400 years. The work is called the Doom fresco. The work dates to the 1430’s and portrays the last judgment. The fresco has been undergoing extensive renovation.
The Reverend Keith Sinclair hopes people will visit the church to see the painting: “We’ve been told by the people who know about these things that it is a unique painting so we’re really hopeful that people will come to see it.”
The work of art was discovered beneath lime wash in 1831. At that time local artist David Gee was commissioned to restore it and applied a varnish coating to the work, but by 1855 it was obscured. A special solvent was used to clean it.
Holy Trinity Church was founded in the twelfth century and its existence was first recorded in 1113. At that time the hill top area was dominated by the great Benedictine priory (later St. Mary’s Cathedral church) which was founded by Leofric and Godiva . Holy Trinity was built for the tenants of the Priory lands which extended over the north of Coventry.
Holy Trinity is the only complete medieval church in Coventry and one of the largest medieval churches in England. With a spire of 72 metres (237 feet) and length of 59 metres (194 feet) it is almost cathedral size. It has changed greatly through its 900 year history: practically destroyed by fire in 1257, it has been rebuilt, extended and redecorated as religious styles and theologies have passed through Coventry.
The medieval church building had brightly painted walls with a rood screen dominating an open space without seating. It possessed many side chapels and chanteys. As successive waves of religious change swept through England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Holy Trinity first lost its great neighbour the Priory church, then became Protestant and later was predominantly Puritan.
Many of the Church’s most important features were disturbed at least once during this period and several artefacts, which today we would consider treasurers, were removed, stored or sold.
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed further change: the exterior and interior of the church were extensively renovated, the galleries removed and new pews installed.
Today, Holy Trinity is home to an active church fellowship which aims to take full part in the life of the city centre and to offer a variety of worships styles from quiet prayer, to traditional choral music and modern songs and choruses.