St. Mary’s Guildhall

An atmospheric and architecturally stunning survivor of the medieval age, St. Mary’s is widely considered to be the finest remaining medieval guildhall in the country.

Building started on part of the site of the former Coventry castle around the year 1340, and was completed by the time of the first recorded meeting of the guild of St. Mary in 1342. The building grew in size and embellishment during subsequent decades, as Coventry’s richest merchant guilds amalgamated, and selected the building as their common administrative and ceremonial base. By 1414, as home to the united guild of the Holy Trinity, the Guildhall had reached its present size.

Amongst the members of the guild of the Holy Trinity was Coventrian Richard Marler, the third wealthiest merchant in England, but a relative pauper compared with other guild members such as Kings Henry V, VI and VII, all of whom were entertained at the hall. Another noted member of the guild was Dick Whittington, three times mayor of London. One non-guild member, however, who had the rare pleasure of staying overnight at the hall was Mary Queen of Scots. It is almost certain that Shakespeare came to the city as a performer during his acting career and the Guildhall would have provided the main venue for these performances.

Bayley Lane