Coventry’s medieval Guildhall to be transformed into attractive tourist spot

The improvement works would include the further restoration of the medieval site, improved visitor access and an enhanced catering offer.

St Mary's Guildhall in Coventry, main hall

Much-needed plans to improve and deliver an enhanced visitor offer for St. Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry are to be discussed at Coventry City Council’s cabinet meeting next week.

If approved, a further £1.76m will be available from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to fund a programme of improvements and enhancements of the 14th-century Guildhall.

The project is being brought forward with the specific aim of making the Guildhall a sustainable business, while at the same time enhancing its history and making it a visitor proposition that will be attractive to tourists during the city’s year as UK City of Culture and beyond.

Plans to restore and conserve the medieval kitchen, restoration of the original approach to the Great Hall, improving visitor access, enhancing the interpretation of the historic tapestry and the creation of a public viewing gallery will all go ahead should approval be given.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, Coventry City Council, said that the improvements are important to enable the historic site to deliver a first-class offer to visitors and the local community.

“The Guildhall is a significant building in the city’s history and this project is all about protecting the city’s heritage for local people. It is a jewel in the city’s crown and by delivering these vital improvements we will be able to do this beautiful and historic building justice”, he said.

“I’m also very keen to ensure the venue offers a sustained programme for the local community, schools and businesses to help deliver the long-term viability of the Guildhall and safeguard it for generations to come and enjoy.”

In addition to the restorative work, there are expected to be improved catering facilities aimed at enhancing the site’s events, conferencing and wedding offer, alongside a much-needed, high-quality visitor offer for schools and the education sector.

With full listed building consent submitted, the recommended refurbishment plans will help support St. Mary’s Guildhall to fulfil its role as a major heritage site in the city and contribute better to the city’s cultural offer.

Approval of the programme will also enable the development of opportunities for community learning, volunteering and training.

For the necessary works to take place, arrangements would have to be made for the temporary closure of the building, said Coventry City Council in a statement.

It is expected that an eventual re-opening of the Guildhall would be phased, starting from March 2021, with a full opening scheduled for sometime in the Summer of 2021.