I can only imagine that the name of this pub comes from the belief that the Golden Cross stands on the site of the Coventry mint. Some people seem to think that the Golden Cross was the mint but I am afraid that the pub is later.
Elizabeth Woodville was enthroned as the Queen of Edward IV in May 1465. The royal couple spent Christmas that year at Coventry Priory. It is probably at this time that Edward gave Coventry the right to mint coins. Coventry mint operated from 1466 to 1470 and produced royals, half royals, silver groats and half groats. These coins are now rare and can be identified as they bear a 'C' for Coventry under the king's head and CIVITAS COVENTRE on the reverse. So you know what to look for when you are digging your garden!
The Golden Cross is reputed to have been built c1583, so more than a century after the mint ceased to operate. It is Grade II Listed and the listing goes as follows : 'Late 16th century, reputedly c1583. Timber frame and plaster building, much restored. Three storey....with modern brick chimney stacks. Upper floors oversail on exposed timbers. Restored and modern four light moulded wooden casement windows. Modern ground floor.....First floor retains exposed dragon beam in the ceiling'. Apparently a dragon beam is a large timber beam that enables a jettied first floor to pass round a corner building. I am none the wiser for that information!
In c1907 Mary Dormer Harris says that in Coventry's houses 'the ground, or rather underground, floor was occupied by a cellar of vaulted stone, in town houses often called the 'tavern' a word not necessarily implying the sale of wine there, but simply used for an underground shop.Such inconvenience attended the approaches to these taverns that they fell into disuse as shops, and the openings being filled they were thus converted into mere cellars whereof the only communication was with the interior of the house. In 1648 mention is made in the second Book of Council of an order of Leet whereby it was enjoined that grates or doors be made to 'all cellars and taverns by the street side'. A door of this kind is to be seen on the right-hand corner of PLATE XXVI, below the unrestored 'GOLDEN CROSS' and a very conspicuous 'grate'
In 1770 a Birmingham gunsmith acquired a public house at the corner of Bayley Lane and Hay Lane known as the sign of the DOG and DUCK which he renamed the CROSS GUNS. When the gunsmith moved to Spon Street this became the GOLDEN CROSS.
After suppression of religious houses, inns such as the Golden Cross became important meeting places for city companies. Groups such as the Golden Cross Philanthropic Society, formed in 1859, held regular meetings in the club room upstairs. The society was composed of well-respected men of society and their aim was to help the poor by raising money for local hospitals, schools etc. The Coventry City Supporters club also held a meeting at the Golden Cross in 1951. The poet Philip Larkin was a frequent visitor.
The pub stands in the medieval heart of the city close to several other ancient buildings that survived the bombing raids of the Second World War, namely the shell of the old Coventry Cathedral of St. Michael, St. Mary's Guild Hall, Holy Trinity Church.
As an inn it is thought to date back to the seventeenth century. The nineteenth century restorations were supposedly done with timbers from the old bell-frame of St. Michael's church. In 1935 it advertised 'one of the oldest houses in the city. NBC ales and stouts'. A newspaper article of 1960 talks of sitting in the gentlemen's snug and of horses being lead through the passage to the stables at the back. Now, which passage was this? The cellars were said to be a treat to see as they were cut out of the solid sandstone rock. An extension in 1968 substantially changed the interior of the pub, doubling the building's size by extending the gentleman's bar, smoke room and upstairs club room. I can well remember the Golden Cross being an unspoilt little gem in the mid-sixties. Since the 1970s, the club room has been associated with live music.
In 1982 Chris Arnott was not so complimentary. He thought that the exterior, with its 'timber frame and leaded windows must be a magnet for visitors to the nearby cathedral, but what they make of it when they get inside, heaven only knows.' Apparently the ceiling had been painted bright red, Hells Angels sat all over the floor, some seats were slashed and there was a good choice of graffiti in the toilets. Is it any better today? In the same year the local CAMRA branch mentioned the stained glass Northampton Brewery Company windows. I believe that they have gone now.|