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The History of St. Mary Magdalene Church

The medieval church of St. Mary Magdalene is the oldest surviving building in Coventry. The first chapel was built by Ranulf, Earl of Chester in about 1100 for use by the monks from thePriory in Coventry. The original building comprised of the existing nave and chancel except for the addition of extra windows.

The original windows were Norman narrow slit ones that meant the interior of the church would have been very dark. Additional windows were added in the 13th century to give extra light to the Altar.

The large east window was installed in the 15th century and the chancel ceiling plastered in 1686 as shown in the plaster. The stained glass was installed in 1867 and illustrates the Marys commemorated in the Bible.

Photo by Mike Cox

The oldest feature inside the Church is the 800 year old Norman font. It was carved from a single block of stone.


The font is still used for Baptisms today.


The gallery over the font was added in the 18th century and now covers the arch which was the original entrance to the tower.

The tower was added in the 15th century with an entrance from the nave. It originally had a lower roof. The pyramid roof and spire were added later.

A single bell cast in 1400 still hangs in the tower and is used to call parishioners to worship.

During the installation of

electricity in 1956 a painting was discovered on the north wall of the nave opposite the original entrance. The painting is dated about 1480. It was plastered over in 1547 at the time of the reformation as such pictures were considered superstitious.

The original entrance was in the south wall of the nave in the position shown by the surviving arch. In the 19th century the door complete with its mouldings, columns and arch were moved into its present position in the tower.

900 Years of History


1066 - The Battle of Hastings           1536 - Dissolution of Monastries


1086 - Doomsday Book                     1539 - First English Bible 

             Survey of Properties


1110/12 - St. Mary Magdalene         1547 - Wall paintings covered

                  church built


1260 - Priest appointed to say         1775 - Doorway moved to west

            Mass three times a week       wall of the tower


1400 - Tower added                           1785 - Stained glass added to the                                                                   east window and enlarged               

1480 - Wall paintings added              windows in the nave

1500 - Spire added                             1940 - Bomb damage to Craven


1534 - Act of Supremacy

introduces Church of England          1956 - Restoration of wall painting

2010 - The 900 Year Anniversary Celebrations

The "Friends of Wyken's Old Church


The friends are a group dedicated to ensuring that the church of St. Mary Magdalene is maintained asa tribute to our ancestors and enable future generations to have the opportunity to reflect on their heritage.

To become a “Friend” only requires a minimum annual contribution of £5.00 and we will keep you notified of the current projects which are ongoing.

For further information please contact:

The Secretary

Friends of Wyken's Old Church              or complete a form which can be found in

c/o Risen Christ Church                           the churches of St. Mary Magdalene or

Wyken Croft, Coventry CV2 3AD            Risen Christ and we will contact you.

St. Mary Magdalene with Risen Christ

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