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St John the Baptist Church, Coventry
StJohnBaptistChurch 2016 road.jpg
Front of the church viewed from Corporation Street
52°24′28.86″N 1°30′58.75″W / 52.4080167°N 1.5163194°W / 52.4080167; -1.5163194Coordinates: 52°24′28.86″N 1°30′58.75″W / 52.4080167°N 1.5163194°W / 52.4080167; -1.5163194
Location Coventry
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Traditional Catholic
Status Active
Founded 1344
Founder(s) Isabella of France
Consecrated 2 May 1350
Functional status Parish church
Heritage designation Grade I listed
Parish Coventry St John the Baptist
Deanery Coventry North
Archdeaconry Coventry
Diocese Coventry
Province Canterbury
Bishop(s) The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall (AEO)
Rector Fr Dexter Bracey

The Collegiate and Parish Church of St John the Baptist is an English church located in the Medieval area of Spon Street in the city centre of Coventry, West Midlands. The church is a Grade I listed building.

College of Bablake

The church was founded in 1344 by Isabella of France, who granted the guild of St John a piece of land called "Babbelak" for the construction of a chapel in honour of God and St John the Baptist. This was to be used for their own services, but included a chantry of two priests to sing daily Mass for the royal family. The eastern part was ready for consecration on 2 May 1350.

In 1393 the number of priests was raised to nine. In the early part of the 16th century this was raised to twelve.

The church was built as a guild chapel and through various enlargements and endowments was raised to collegiate status. It remained a guild chapel until all the religious guilds were dissolved in 1548. A wall was discovered in 1875 running north and south through the middle of the chancel, which is thought to have been the east wall of the first guild chapel, while bases of two piers, near the eastern tower were thought by Sir Gilbert Scott to belong to the same early chapel which was dedicated on 6 May 1350. In 1648, the church was desecrated and used as a prison for Scots soldiers taken at the battle of Preston.

The college was dissolved in 1548; the priests were pensioned in sums varying from £5 6s. 8d. to £2 13s. 4d. Five of these pensioners were still living in 1555.


  • John Norton c. 1457
  • Robert Glasmond c. 1535

Parish church

The church ceased to be used for worship around 1590. During the English Civil War it was a prison for Scottish rebels captured after the Battle of Preston. Later it was used as stables, then a market and a winding and dying house for cloth. In 1734 it was restored as a place of worship. It is now in the Church of England Diocese of Coventry.

St John the Baptist Church possesses a relic of Saint Valentine of Rome, which in 2016 was displayed on the altar in a reliquary during the Mass held on Saint Valentine's Day.


The furnishings are nearly all late 19th or early 20th-century, influenced by the Oxford Movement, with a carved rood screen in late medieval style.

The south chapel has a reredos by Sir Ninian Comper with a central crucifixion group.

Present day

St John's stands in the Traditional Anglo-Catholic tradition of the Church of England. As such, it rejects the ordination of women as priests and bishops. It has passed a resolution under the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, and receives alternative episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (currently Jonathan Goodall).

Unknown, Unknown (1931). The Church of St. John Baptist, Coventry. Coventry: St John Baptist Church. pp. 1 and 3.
Unknown, Unknown (1931). The Church of St. John Baptist, Coventry. Coventry. p. 7.
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