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New exhibition exploring local castle on show at Archives

New exhibition exploring local castle on show at Coventry Archives

A treasure trove of precious mediaeval documents that chart the 900-year history of Caludon Castle in Coventry has been released for a first-ever public showing.

The free exhibition will go on display at the Herbert as the city enters its final months as Coventry’s UK City of Culture. The Coventry Archives: Caludon Castle exhibition, will open to the public from March 30 and runs until May 21, bringing a welcome spotlight on an historical gem. 

The deeds and documents on display chronicle the rise and fall of the enigmatic castle, giving visitors a unique insight into the history of the Lords of the Manor of Caludon, who were amongst England’s richest and most powerful people. The exhibition also includes papers bearing the royal seals of King Edward 1 and Elizabeth 1.

Pride of place amongst the documents is the original licence to crenellate a castle at Caludon granted by Edward 1 in 1305.

The ‘Papers’ have for the past 250 years been safeguarded by the present Lord Clifford of Chudleigh and his ancestors. The family owned Caludon as Lords of the Manor in the 18th and mid-19th centuries.

Now the papers, mainly in vellum, a material made from animal hides, are back in the heart of Coventry together with stunning impressions of how the building looked in its heyday and a specially commissioned scale model as it was in 1595.

Victoria Northridge, Coventry Archives manager, said: “Coventry Archives is thankful to Lord Clifford, his son Alexander and the Ugbrooke Estate that the Caludon Castle collection is currently situated within Coventry so that everyone can learn about its fascinating history.”

Today, only a section of the 8-feet thick sandstone wall, stands in Caludon Park, Wyken, a prized and protected Grade 1 monument. The original moat, now dry, still exists today 100 yards north of the castle site.

The exhibition is an ambition realised for John Clarke, who grew up a goal-kick away from Caludon Park. The evocative ruins sparked a lifelong passion to promote the real story of the castle’s importance to the city’s heritage.

In 2014, he commissioned and published A History of Caludon Castle, the Lords of the Manor of Caludon, regarded as the most comprehensive account of its colourful history.

John first met Lord Clifford while researching the book with its editor, George Demidowicz, and planted the seed of an idea for a public exhibition.

He hopes that the people of Coventry, given the chance to see for themselves evidence of its colourful history, will be fired by the same enthusiasm he has for an overlooked jewel in the city’s historic crown.

“It gives visitors a fantastic chance to learn more about Caludon’s colourful history. I am particularly excited as it will allow everyone - whether history buffs or schoolchildren- an opportunity to see the original mediaeval records, many in Latin or Old English script."

“This is a unique, priceless collection of centuries -old documents that have never been shown in public before. Caludon has been a mysterious, romantic ruin for more than 200 years and now its colourful, rich tapestry of history is being unveiled for the first time.”

Coventry Archives: Caludon Castle, the exhibition will run on Wednesdays and Fridays and alternating Saturdays, beginning March 30, 10.30 am - 3.30pm.