"A big part of the project is to engage local people in the citys medieval history "
Ian Harrabin, Chairman of Historic Coventry Trust
The ancient gates to the medieval city of Coventry look set for a 21st century makeover following a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Historic Coventry Trust has been awarded £249,000 towards the £600,000 project which will restore the two Grade I Listed Gates as exceptional places to stay for visitors in the run-up to Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021.
Swanswell and Cook Street Gates are the last remaining of the 12 gates in the city wall constructed around 1350.
The 2.2-mile wall, the same length as the city’s current ring road, made Coventry the best defended city outside London. It was ripped down by Charles II in 1662 as retribution for Coventry’s support of Parliament in the Civil War.
The city’s gates are included in Coventry City Council’s innovative transfer of 22 historic buildings to HCT which was approved in December 2017.
The partnership has catapulted the charity into becoming one of the country’s most energetic heritage organisations and is set to put Coventry firmly on the tourist map.
Ian Harrabin, Chairman of Historic Coventry Trust, said: “This is great news and gives us confidence that we will raise the rest of the money we need in time to start the works next April.
“There is something really magical about the gates and staying there will be a top-notch visitor experience – the magic of a mini castle with all of the mod cons. The gates will be available for short stay only bookings, for both tourists and locals, from January 2021.
“We’ve already turned down a very long-term booking request by a long-haired lady named Rapunzel from Coventry’s twin city of Dresden.
“A big part of the project is to engage local people in the city’s medieval history – the city wall played a huge part of Coventry’s growth in the 14th century. The destruction of the wall by our future King’s namesake must have been cataclysmic at the time.
“There is such a big story here to engage people in Coventry rich history, particularly the kids, right next door to the Transport Museum.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said: “The gates and wall generate huge public interest so it’s great news that the two remaining gates are being brought back into productive use that will allow local people to stay in them, boost the visitor economy and also generate revenue for their long-term maintenance.
These opportunities and benefits come from our in-depth partnership with Historic Coventry. Without it, this and other projects just wouldn’t be happening.
“The Council will be shortly starting work, in tandem, to painstakingly restore the wall remains that link the two gates, supported by funding from Historic England.”
Anne Jenkins, Director of England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “As Coventry gears up to be the City of Culture in 2021, it is great news that the last two remaining medieval gatehouses will be brought back into use for the celebrations. People are at the heart of the stories of the gatehouses as over the years it has seen soldiers, workers, refugees and migrants pass through them, and this project will build on this heritage by adding new strands to the already fascinating histories.”