Most of us in town are aware that the Town of Coventry has a sister city of the same name in England. That’s not uncommon. I mean, this whole area is NEW England, right? But what most people DON’T know (OK, honestly, I am probably the only one until you get done reading this and then there will be two of us.) is that there is a kind of stigma attached to the name Coventry, at least in the British Isles.
It seems that back in the sixteen hundreds actually going to the City of Coventry was an undesirable thing. Apparently the British armed forces kept a small contingent there in town, just like we have Army towns today. And just like today, soldiers stationed in Coventry would go into the town to buy whatever was needed, drink at the tavern and so forth. But for whatever reason, it seems the residents of Ancient Coventry were none too pleased about the Army having a presence in their little corner of the world. Their response was what we today would call “peaceful resistance”. They basically ignored the army. I mean really ignored them. Town-wide. The Silent Treatment taken to the extreme. No one would talk to the soldiers. No one would do business with them. They were treated as if they were invisible. So, no one ever wanted to be stationed there. It was the least desirable of assignments. Like duty at the North Pole. A soldier who was “sent to Coventry” could expect to be shunned like a Quaker woman with a fresh tattoo.
And today, in parts of Britain, the phrase “He was sent to Coventry” continues to mean that a person was given the Cold Shoulder or perhaps in a marital situation equates to being “in the doghouse” and “He’s just returned from Coventry” connotes that one has redeemed himself… maybe with a card and flowers?
I, for one, am glad to call Coventry my home and to ‘serve my duty’ here.