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Walsgrave on Sowe

Walsgrave is a neighbourhood in the North East of Coventry in the Henley Ward. Historically it was a separate village outside the city named Sow or Sowa. There is evidence of Roman occupation in the district and the village in mentioned in the Domesday Book. The name Walsgrave on Sowe was first mentioned in 1695. The village was incorporated into Coventry in the 1920s.

The historic village lay between St. Mary’s Church and the Rive Sowe, but it was abandoned and moved to higher ground. Until the 1960s the remains of the old village could be seen as bumps and hollows and a dried up moat, but these were built over when the Mount Pleasant estate was built.

The first moated manor house was located near the river near the hospital, but it was replaced with one on the site of Cloister’s Croft first mentioned in 1559. It was rebuilt in the 19th century and demolished in 1962, part of its ground becoming the site of Walsgrave Hospital.

A second manor house, known as Magpie Hall, because of its black and white appearance, was located on high ground opposite St. Mary’s Church. It was a timber framed building first mentioned in 1590. It was divided into cottages in 1843 and demolished in 1950.

Employment in Walsgrave was mainly agriculture, mining and weaving. Many local people, including women and children, worked at the Alexandra Colliery in Wood End and the Craven Colliery in Henley Road. Some worked on the nearby Coombe Abbey estate.

Today the neighbourhood is mainly residential but is dominated by University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. The ancient Church of St. Mary still stands at the core of the village, next to the War Memorial and close to what used to be a sheep fold. Unfortunately the busy Walsgrave Road duel carriageway cuts through the village.