Destinations Magazine

Like A Prayer: England… Coventry, Birmingham & Gloucester!

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

Throughout this pandemic, each coming day feels unclear, almost like a mystery? Like a dream?  From Coventry to Birmingham also Gloucester, I have been drawn to three captivating houses of worship with no religious intent in mind. Truthfully, was it all 'like a prayer?' Would those three English places of worship take me there? From the Luftwaffe, to a Harry Potter screen location! 

Like A Prayer: England… Coventry, Birmingham & Gloucester!

During March 2014, Coventry whispered something to me? Yes, before I could even question what Coventry had said to me, I found myself on a train traveling the short distance from Birmingham to the city that is currently in-question. Passing the well-known horseback statue of Lady Godiva, I made my way to my first and only religious focal point of the day. Heaven help me! I'm not religious but when I saw the ruins of Coventry's former Medieval cathedral, it was certainly a view, indeed! After some mild research, I found out that Coventry's second of three cathedrals had been built in 1300. If truth be told, I was blown away with the what had been spared from that Luftwaffe attack! Being a hub for ammunitions, Coventry was seen as major threat to the Germans. During the night of the 14th of November 1940, the Germans reigned terror across the city of Coventry, from that 2014 view it seemed like the former cathedral had bore the brunt of that wartime attack. Through my observations, the facts stood as clear as day. 

How did I feel during that moment? It felt sobering for me to be standing within the former bombed cathedral, with view of the 1960s cathedral there was a sense of faith and remembrance. I hold no religious conviction but to look up and see the sky above me instead of a roof with the usual stained glass windows like there would in most churches, it gave me the feeling that a higher power had been watching over the wounded former place of worship. As I navigate my way through this Coventry Cathedral section, I have been able to educate myself about the complex history Coventry will always have when it involves their cathedrals. During the construction of the third and most recent cathedral in Coventry, the approach wasn't intended to spite the Germans, but to extend faith to the city rather than focus on the event being act of defiance to the Germans. In this present moment, Coventry's former cathedral allowed me to see what the Second World War had done to that place of worship. Oh, Coventry schooled me good! 

Like A Prayer: England… Coventry, Birmingham & Gloucester!

How things change, Birmingham went from being my student home away from home to a place I had to start saying goodbye to at the end of the day. Faith isn't something that comes naturally to me but during that Birmingham transition it was so abrupt, I needed to get back for the day to do some soul searching. During that 2015 mid-point, life had me feeling all kinds of emotions. Birmingham Cathedral had been a place of worship that I used to dismiss during those walks to and from my former student halls and Birmingham Snow Hill Station. In 2015 after my graduation, I took myself to Birmingham and without me realising it I found myself sitting inside the cathedral without a cause. The reddened candle light echoed throughout the cathedrals nave, funnily enough just me sitting down within that space helped me gain some clarity. Dealing with the present wasn't the mood but the sound of silence from the cathedral gave me hope in Birmingham. I had to be honest with myself, Birmingham Cathedral knew this!

The day that was spent in Birmingham allowed me to feel all the feelings, being back in Birmingham not long after wearing my graduation cap and gown definitely put a lot of things into perspective. Heaven might have helped me? Birmingham called my name to sort me out? I absolutely think so, no longer a child I had to become the master of my own dreams, to make them happen. Birmingham will always hold a special place in my heart, just like a prayer it will always take me there, to a piece of that university experience. Defining me as a person, feeling like home I knew Birmingham wouldn't be forever! I had to look up to the skies to realize I had no choice but to move forwards. Birmingham Cathedral had remained dormant for a destined amount of time, nothing fails because me taking that time inside that house of God allowed me to see my chosen path. Drying away those tears at the end of the day, I had those Birmingham memories, for that reason I wasn't scared to fall. I'm not religious but I felt so moved. Oh, BHM!

Like A Prayer: England… Coventry, Birmingham & Gloucester!

Once the first UK Lockdown had ended, nothing else really mattered to me! It was very clear to me, I needed to get out of my house! As one thing ended, my day trip to Gloucester was allowed to begin. Nothing makes the darkness go like the light, with that notion I boarded my first train in what felt like a long time! Choosing Gloucester came naturally to me, I had passed through that Cathedral City after a night out with a friend from university back in 2013. Feeling like it was divine timing, I was ready to experience the city on my own terms with the River Severn's path picked back up since last visiting such places along its winding formation. Did I know Gloucester Cathedral from somewhere? Why did it look so familiar? The cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral had been part of my reason to visit the city, linked to a very famous film series with a magical connection. Had the heavens conspired to get me out the house? For real though! With the restrictions looming still, would I be able to secure a few important distanced photos? Sure! 

Gloucester didn't even know how cathartic it was for me to simply be taking photos within its cathedral, after being at home for that extended period to then being back in the public domain felt amazing! Even though it had been many years since I had watched the Harry Potter films, I remembered those famous scenes whilst I checked out Gloucester Cathedral that September 2021 day. I wasn't on a soul searching mission, I did not need to find answers as to why I had to come back from China! I used my visit to Gloucester Cathedral to make some space from the confided situation Lockdown had been. Simply sitting outside in the courtyard, I was finally able to take that face mask off and continue marvelling at another Harry Potter filming point. Deep down, I felt as if it was natural for me to say 'Thanks For Everything!' If truth be told I was genuinely happy to see real life recommencing, that kick from Gloucester had me making Sheffield plans for the following week. A higher power definitely knew Lockdown 2 loomed! NO!

Like A What?!

Joseph Harrison 

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