Atherstone is mentioned in Domesday among the possessions of Countess Godiva, the widow of Leofric. In the reign of Henry III.
GODIVA, a Saxon lady, who, according to the legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry to gain from her husband a remission of the oppressive toll imposed on his tenants.
The people of that city suffering grievously under the earl's oppressive taxation, Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls.
Lady Godiva took him at his word, and after issuing a proclamation that all persons should keep within doors or shut their windows, she rode through, clothed only in her long hair.
He bored a hole in his shutters that he might see Godiva pass, and is said to have been struck blind.
The oldest form of the legend makes Godiva pass through Coventry market from one end to the other when the people were assembled, attended only by two soldiers, her long hair down so that none saw her, " apparentibus cruribus tamen candidissimis."
Whether the lady Godiva of this story is the Godiva or Godgifu of history is undecided.
Her mark, Ego Godiva Comitissa diu istud desideravi," was found on the charter given by her brother, Thorold of Bucknall - sheriff of Lincolnshire - to the Benedictine monastery of Spalding in 1051; and she is commemorated as benefactress of other monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Wenlock, Worcester and Evesham.
Dugdale (1656) says that a window, with representations of Leofric and Godiva, was placed in Trinity Church, Coventry, about the time of Richard II.
4) says that Godiva, who founded a religious house at Coventry in 1040, left a string of jewels, on which she had told her prayers, that it might be hung on the statue of the Blessed Virgin.
The Godiva procession, a commemoration of the legendary ride instituted on the 31st of May 1678 as part of Coventry fair, was celebrated at intervals until 1826.