Coventry, a city, parliamentary, municipal, and county borough, and manufacturing town in the north of Warwickshire, on the Sherbourne, an affluent of the Avon, 18 1/2 miles ESE. of Birmingham, and 94 NW. of London. It stands on a gentle eminence in a valley, with a ridge of hill on the south, and still contains some houses with timbered projecting fronts which belong to the 15th and 16th centuries. The modern buildings include a corn exchange, market-hall, baths, Free Public Library, School of Art, new grammar and other schools, many tricycle and bicycle works, the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, and the Coventry Provident Dispensary. Coventry is rich in benevolent and charitable institutions, which have been greatly augmented by the benefactions of the late David Spencer. In 1887 he provided a building for a technical school; in 1883 he had given £4200 for a public recreation ground; and at his death (June 9, 1888) he bequeathed £100,000 for benevolent purposes. A statue of Sir Thomas White has been erected, and a memorial of James Starley, the inventor of the modern tricycle. At a cost of many thousands of pounds the principal streets have been widened, and a steam-tramway now runs through the city. During recent years upwards of £70,000 has been expended in church restoration, and during 1887-89 all of Tennyson's 'three tall spires' were in the restorer's hands. St Michael's (1230-1395) is said to be the largest parish church in England, and is one of the noblest of the lighter Gothic structures. St Mary's Hall (14th c), for the Guild, is one of the finest specimens of ornamental work in England, with carved oak roof, ancient tapestry, and great painted window. Coventry returns one member to parliament. The chief manufactures are ribbons, watches, bicycles and tricycles, cotton, worsted and woollen goods, and art metal works (the Albert Memorial, Hyde Park, London, being of Coventry manufacture). There are large silk-dyeing works. Pop. (1841) 30,743; (1901) 69,978.
The name Coventry has been interpreted ' Convent-town,' but as the form in Domesday is Cou-entrev, it is more likely • town on the Couen' - Couen being the ancient British name of the Sherbourne, and trev being 'town.' In 1043 Earl Leofric and his wife, Lady Godiva, founded here a magnificent Benedictine monastery. Henry VIII. demolished the beautiful cathedral. Here occurred the famous meeting for the intended trial by battle between the Dukes of Norfolk and Hereford, immortalised in Shakespeare's Richard II. Two memorable parliaments were also held here in 1404 and 1459. In the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, Coventry was famous for woollens, broadcloths, caps, and blue thread bonnets. ' George Eliot' lived in Foleshill Road during 1841-42. See T. Sharp's History of Coventry (Birm. 1871).