Leicester researcher contributes to Coventrys successful UK City of Culture bid

A postgraduate researcher from our University has been involved with Coventry’s successful bid for ‘City of Culture’ 2021, which was awarded on Thursday 7 December during an episode of BBC One’s The One Show.

Postgraduate researcher in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History Mark Webb, who himself hails from Coventry, is passionate about not only preserving, but equally promoting Coventry’s medieval past.

Combining academic expertise and personal connection, Mark advised the bid team on the importance of Coventry’s cultural heritage, particularly with regard to the city’s important late medieval period c 1350 to c 1540. Discussing the value of heritage in Coventry, Mark explains: “Coventry was the fourth largest city in the late medieval period, its wealth based on trade in wool and woollen cloth, especially the famous ‘Coventry Blue’.

“The city was literally in the centre of the action during the Wars of the Roses, even hosting the Lancastrian royal family for three years in the 1450s and thus acting as the de facto capital of the country. Coventry was also the first place Henry VII visited after the Battle of Bosworth. The city’s wealth was reflected in its art and architecture, a surprising amount of which still survives.”

His thesis, entitled The distinct districts of late medieval towns: Coventry, Leicester, Southampton and Gloucester, looks at how medieval archaeology and standing buildings have been treated over the last century and how archaeology can help bring back a ‘sense of place’.

Mark’s passion for preserving the city’s heritage can be seen in a variety of positions he holds, which include board member of the Coventry Heritage Action zone and trustee of the Historic Coventry Trust.

In addition to this, Mark has set up the ‘Medieval Coventry’ charity with the aim of sharing knowledge about medieval Coventry through new and innovative technologies. He also recently organised an academic conference held at the fitting location of St Mary’s guildhall, at which 12 leading academic speakers gave talks on their latest research concerning the city’s medieval past.

Mark said: “Coventry is the city of my birth, and I have always thought that its heritage has been overlooked for too long. When people think about Coventry, they refer to the Blitz, post-war redevelopment and the motor car industry. These are important subjects, but Coventry has so much more to offer. It is exciting to be able to be part of the process that will showcase Coventry’s nationally important medieval heritage to the world.”