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The Godiva Festival

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The weekend before last was the Godiva Festival in Coventry. It consists of a procession through town that ends in the Memorial Park just outside the City Centre. There is then a music festival over a couple of days which has grown in recent years.

The procession was nice to look at, and had the usual floats and bands passing by.

The costumes are made by volunteers and local kids who then get to parade through town.

Some of the larger floats and costumes were impressive.

The legend of Lady Godiva goes back to the 11th century. She was married to Earl Leofric of Mercia who imposed crushing taxes on the populace. Lady Godiva was approached by the townsfolk to petition her husband to lift the taxes.

After becoming tired of her petition, Earl Leofric is supposed to have said that he would lift the taxes if she would ride naked through the streets.

Lady Godiva agreed to this, but out of respect for her, the townsfolk stayed indoors. One tailor decided to drill a hole through a shutter and look as she passed by. He looked but was blinded by God, and forever became Peeping Tom - the original voyeur.

The museum The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, has old film of the procession from the turn of the century up to after WW2 when a young Lady would take up the role of Lady Godiva. The latest "Lady" is getting on a bit, and won't do it anymore, and so all modern Peeping Toms are frustrated.

There's nothing like a procession.

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  1. Virgil's Avatar
    I never thought about where Lady Godiva was from. It just never dawned on me to think about it. So it's from coventry! Thanks Paul and thanks for the pictures. A good parade is always neat-o!

    And I never realized Lady Godiva was protesting taxes. That makes her NUMBER ONE in my book.
  2. Paulclem's Avatar
    Thanks Virgil. There's a very nice statue of her in the cente of town. It is a fascinating city.
  3. Dark Muse's Avatar
    I love the Godiva Legend!
  4. The Comedian's Avatar
    Beautiful photo-journal as usual Paul. It's funny; I always thought that Lady Godiva was French. Go figure!
  5. Virgil's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem
    Thanks Virgil. There's a very nice statue of her in the cente of town. It is a fascinating city.
    Is she naked in the statue?
  6. qimissung's Avatar
    Good pictures and post, Paul. I've heard the Lady's story, but I didn't realize they still celebrated it.
  7. NikolaiI's Avatar

    Lady Godiva by Boney M - actually one of my favourite songs
  8. Scheherazade's Avatar
    I am familiar with the legend but did not know that there was a whole festival dedicated to her.

    Thanks for posting, Paul. Very interesting. Maybe will come and visit the city next year during the festival

    There are good coffee shops in the centre now, and 2 good museums - The Transport Museum and The Herbert Art gallery.
    Updated 07-13-2010 at 06:41 PM by Paulclem
  9. Paulclem's Avatar
    Thanks for your comments. Yes Virgil - she is naked. This link

    is a version of the Boney M song that Nik posted - (thanks Nik). This one has pictures of the Godiva statue that is in the centre. It has old an new views of the statue, and of various incarnations of Lady Godiva on horseback. Some of the pics go back - it looks like - to the 1900s.

    The most recent picture at time 1min 16 in the video, is a colour one with a building in the background. I wasn't far from this point when I took some of the shots.

    At 1:56 seconds, the picture shows the clock - built after the war - that has Lady Godiva appear on a horse and travel underneath the figure of Peeping Tom, who covers his newly blinded eyes. We used to take the kids to see the clock, which has her appear every 2 hours.

    At 2:10 mins, you can see an old picture of Prudence Poretta who has been the most recent Lady Godiva figure in festivals. The colour picture at 2:24 mins shows her more recently.

    Interestingly at 2:30, you can see evidence of bomb damage from WW2 in the backgroud buildings. Coventry suffered a large bombing raid in 1940 which destroyed much of the City centre, including the main body of the cathedral.
  10. Paulclem's Avatar
    I shared the Boney M song, the one with pics, with my colleagues who were discussing the "old days" in the centre. One of them sent me 3 more Lady Godiva songs. The Dr Hook one is wierd but funny.
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    Thanks Paul. I did enjoy that Boney M video.