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Coventry and the Wyley family in art and poetry

This past weekend my Dad and I visited Charterhouse Coventry and Coventry Cathedral exploring the link of the Wyley Family to the city which seems to have been lost over the last few decades. I've taken hundreds of photos, painted some digital art and written some poetry which I'm sharing. I'll keep adding to this article as we discover more, experience more and I am inspired more.

Family history

Links long ago broken

Discarded memories

Tapestries unwoven

Patching, extracting

Doors start to open

Intrigued we're exploring

New rooms once forgotten


Colonel Wyley adopted my grandfather, his second cousin, after his own son died in the great war. My grandad ran the family veterinary pharmaceutical business and was involved in all sorts of charities in Coventry as well as being one of the Coventry Cathedral air raid wardens. (See below)

Colonel Wyley was Mayor of Coventry twice before the second world war and involved in all sorts of charitable activities in Coventry in the first half of the twentieth century including the masons. He lived in Charterhouse which he then gave to the people of Coventry on his death (see below).

Charterhouse Coventry

This beautiful building, which dates back to 1382 when it was one of nine Carthusian monasteries in the country. After the Dissolution (Henry VIII), the site was converted to a private house and it was gifted to the people of Coventry by Col Wyley, the last private owner.

No one at Charterhouse realised that any branches of the Wyley family remained and so it's been wonderful to reconnect Dad to Coventry.

The work to restore Charterhouse will go on through this year at least. When it opens we're hoping to get all the current family together there.

I have digitally created two paintings of my favourite view of Charterhouse. The first is it as currently seen mid refurbishment.

The second painting is my impression of how it will look once the black and white frontage is restored.

You can find out more about Charterhouse from the Coventry Historical Trust

Coventry Cathedral Wyley Chapel

My grandad was an air raid warden in Coventry, with his focus on the Cathedral. The night before it was destroyed he was at the top of the spire where he told my dad he "saw Birmingham burn".

When the Cathedral was destroyed, Colonel Wyley arranged for one of the medieval crypts to be ‘fitted-out’ as a chapel so that services could continue; this was then named ‘The Wyley Chapel’.

Colonel Wyley, three of his contemporaries, my grandad and my gran are all laid to rest in the chapel. We hope to replace the urns in their previous locations and name them for generations to come.

Coventry Cathedral

I love the view of the new Coventry Cathedral through the old Coventry Cathedral from the Coventry Guildhall, so I decided to try and paint it as a representation of the connection between the past and the future. The poem emerged whilst I painted:

Resurrecting hope

Through the ruins of the past

Peace will win over

One quick sketch of Coventry Cathedral transformed by different skies.

Top left: pretty close to how we experienced it

Top right: overly dramatic sunset

Bottom left: more realistic sunset which accidentally looks like the cathedral burning (perhaps channeling my grandad who was there the night it was bombed)

Bottom right: as the sun goes down

My impression of the amazing Baptistry Window in the Cathedral

Keep moving forward

With an eye on the rear view window

Be aware that mistakes

Once safely in the shadow

Can easily be repeated

Though they seem to be fallow

Coventry City

City of spires

Highlighting holiness

By day and by night


One of the things we've been struck by in Coventry are the spires, so many places of worship in a small area. Here are two I've painted

- by night it's the spire of Holy Trinity Church

- by day it's the spire of the ruined St Michael's cathedral

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