Historic Coventry Trust (HCT), one of the Heritage Development Trusts supported by Transforming Places through Heritage, has appointed specialist conservation contractors to restore one of Coventry’s oldest buildings into special short-stay visitor accommodation in time for the city being UK City of Culture 2021.
HCT announced last week that they have awarded a £606,000 contract to Messenger Construction Ltd to restore the three timber-framed Lychgate Cottages in Priory Row and convert them into four self-contained units which will be let for short breaks. With timbers dating from 1415, the Cottages are the only buildings from St Mary’s Priory to survive the destruction of Godiva’s Cathedral during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.
The project was awarded a £350,000 Transformational Capital Grant in December 2019, with additional funding coming through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Graham Tait, Assistant Director at HCT, explained that the unique project in the Cathedral Quarter would attract visitors who may not previously have stayed overnight in Coventry, boosting the local economy.
“These notable cottages have been underused for many years. The project is part of the Trust’s partnership with the Council to restore much of the city’s ancient heritage in time for City of Culture in May 2021,” he said. “The cottages will attract leisure visitors to Coventry to stay in a piece of ancient history linked to Lady Godiva.
“The Trust has completed a new 250-year lease from Coventry City Council and will carefully look after the buildings for many generations to come. The cottages will be open to the public on open days for people to understand their unique story. We are also keen to document the more recent history and are encouraging any former residents to get in touch.”
Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “This is a key moment for Lychgate Cottages. Our Transforming Places Through Heritage programme is all about helping to transform town and city centres, enabling them to become thriving places, strengthening local communities and encouraging local economies to prosper.
“Historic Coventry Trust’s project at Priory Row will bring a new lease of life to these significant medieval timber framed buildings in the heart of the city centre. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Historic Coventry Trust, which is also one of our pilot Heritage Development Trusts, to showcase how innovative heritage schemes like this can help revive town and city centres.”
For more information about the project, see https://www.coventry-warwickshire.co.uk/news/hct-appoints-contractor-create-visitor-accommodation
Transforming Places through Heritage is funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.