Coventry Coat of Arms by John Poole
On the end wall of the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, facing the shops in Earl Street, is a carved crest of the Coat of Arms of Coventry City Council. The coat of arms was updated after the war with a Phoenix and the Eagle of Leofric added to the design. It was sculpted by Anthony John Poole, better known as John Poole.
John Poole was born in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1926. A gifted artist he gained a place at Moseley Road Junior School of Art at the age of 12. At 17 he worked in the studio of William Bloye learning letter carving. At 18 he joined the Coldstream Guards & the Parachute Regiment. After the war he did many different works of art in and around the West Midlands.
His first major commission was the monumental statue of ‘The Sower’ for the Cannock Library, in 1957. This caused a bit of a stir; it was felt that a coal miner should be the subject for the statue not a nude boy casting seeds, (sowing the seeds of knowledge).
There are thirty of his major commissions in and around Birmingham, the most notable being “The Rotunda Relief” at Lloyds Bank (1963). This is a 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) ciment fondu mural for the Lloyds Banking Hall in the newly built Rotunda in Birmingham, which was subsequently Grade II listed by English Heritage.
In 1969 he won the Otto Beit medal for Sculpture for his “Risen Christ” at St. Dunstan’s Church, King’s Heath.
He also did work for the Cadbury family and the St. Francis of Assisi Church, Bornville Village. Because his work was so varied he could do most things asked of him and he did not mind doing coats of arms and just plain lettering.
One such work of art is the memorial to Sir Basil Spence on the wall just opposite the entrance to the new Coventry Cathedral. Other works by Poole at the Cathedral include the Hutton memorial and the ‘Home Front Memorial’.
John Poole died in September 2009.