The Medieval Coventry Sword is to go on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, marking the first time it has returned to Coventry in over 500 years

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Visitors will be able to see this rare piece of medieval history during its exhibition, which runs from 3rd July until 21st November.

The sword, of which now only the hilt remains, had huge civic importance during Coventry’s economic and political heyday in the 1400s.

At the time, Coventry was the fourth largest city in England, was its own county, and for three years during the Wars of the Roses was the royal capital.

It was carried in front of the mayor during processions — most notably during visits by Henry VI and Queen Margaret of Anjouz — and was an important symbol of the city’s constitution and liberties.

But, in 1471, it was confiscated by Edward IV after the Battle of Barnet because the city had refused him entry before the battle.

The hilt resurfaced in a rubbish heap in Whitechapel, London, in 1897, and having passed through the hands of multiple owners since, it is now in the Burrell Collection at the Glasgow City Museum.

The loan of the sword to the Herbert has been made possible with the support of Ciaran Davis and the John Laing Charitable Trust.

Ciaran, who previously worked with the Herbert on the exhibition Irish Heart, Coventry Home, was offered the opportunity to make a charitable donation of £2,500 from the John Laing Charitable Trust to pay for transport, conservation and a redisplay of the History Gallery, as well as making the sword accessible through a revised learning programme that links to St Mary’s Guild Hall.

“It’s great to see the sword back in Coventry in time for the City of Culture celebrations,” said Ciaran.

“This item symbolises the rich medieval history of the city and I’m grateful that the grant from the John Laing Charitable Trust means it can return home.”

Mark Webb, Director of the Medieval Coventry Charity, a group of volunteers with expertise and ideas on the city’s medieval period, said, said: “The Coventry ceremonial sword is an example of the many surviving treasures from Coventry’s medieval heyday which deserve to be better known. It is also a reminder of Coventry’s municipal arrangements, which are amongst the oldest in the country.”

Francis Nielsen, Culture and Creative Director of Culture Coventry Trust, said: “We are so grateful to everyone involved who has made this loan possible and cannot wait to see visitors encounter an object of such historic importance to Coventry during City of Culture 2021.”

The Medieval Coventry Sword will be on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum from 3rd July until 21st November. It has been loaned to the city by Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums) on behalf of Glasgow City Council, from the Burrell Collection with the approval of the Burrell Trustees.