The city of Coventry has long embraced the legend of Lady Godiva and her nude protest ride through the city streets, but one of the stranger tributes to the famous figure is the Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom Clock that springs Godiva into action every hour while her creeping counterpart looks on.
The large public clock, which is built into a brick facade above the appropriately named, Lady Godiva News stand, replays the legend in miniature each hour on the hour. The story of Lady Godiva tells of an 11th century earl’s wife (Godiva) who stood up to unfair taxation by riding naked through the city on horseback. A later addition to the story added the character of Peeping Tom, a cartoonish horndog who couldn’t keep from gawking at Godiva, eventually being killed or blinded for his lechery. While Godiva seems to have been a real figure, the likelihood of her naked ride having actually taken place is slim.
All the same, the city has a handful of tributes to the story including statues and the clock. Each hour, the doors of the clock, usually adorned with black eagles, open up and a mechanical Godiva comes forward. as she reaches the center point of her little parade, another door opens above her and a leery mechanical man can be seem peering down at Godiva.
The clock is a bit strange for seemingly accentuating the more lurid aspects of the story, but it is that strangeness that also makes it a unique bit of local color that is both funny and unexpected.
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