Coventry’s medieval buildings converted into tourist accommodation ready to open

Some of Coventry’s old buildings that have been empty for decades will soon be ready to reopen, but as tourist accommodation.

The finishing touches are made to a £ 1.5million project to restore the two medieval town gates and three Lychgate Cottages on Priory Row.

Reservation will be launched next week to stay at Priory Row, Cook Street and Swanswell Gates.


The £ 1.5million restoration project was carried out by the Historic Coventry Trust and the Coventry City Council.

The buildings were originally constructed between 1385 and 1440 and are rare survivors of the city’s medieval heyday.

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There are four properties at Priory Row that can accommodate groups of two to six, while Cook Street and Swanswell Gates can sleep two each.

Graham Tait, deputy director of the Historic Coventry Trust, which managed the delivery of the project, said: “This is the culmination of 12 months of painstaking restoration work that followed years of planning and fundraising to carry out to the project.

“This was only possible through our close partnership with the Board who transferred the buildings to the Trust for a 250 year lease.

“The project is part of the innovative framework agreement concluded between the Trust and the Council in 2019 and covering many of the city’s most important heritage assets.

“The results of the work are truly breathtaking and give Coventry a unique housing package that will allow people to stay in historic properties while exploring what the city and region has to offer. The timing is perfect as the city embarks on its year of culture with the lifting of lockdown restrictions. “

Swanswell Gate, one of the 12 original gates to the medieval walls of Coventry

Councilor David Welsh, cabinet member for the city’s heritage, said: “These are some of the most important heritage buildings in the city and it is remarkable to see what the Trust has done to transform the buildings into real assets for Coventry.

“I recently visited the Lychgate Cottages and they look amazing. It is a unique place in the heart of the city.

He added: “This is an important partnership work that will help the future day-to-day management of these city gems, and NOHM’s involvement will truly energize the city’s heritage assets in the future.

3-6 Priory Row will be available to stay from Friday October 22, Swanswell Gate and Cook Street gate will be available to stay from early November.

What exactly is happening at the three sites?

Lychgate Cottages

The Lychgate Cottages on Priory Row are among the oldest in the city, dating back to 1415, and will be a unique place to stay during City of Culture.

The Trust said all units will retain the character of jetted wood-frame buildings to provide self-contained accommodation, divided into:

Lychgate Cottages on Priory Row are among the oldest in town, dating back to 1415, and are in the process of being converted into guest accommodation
Lychgate Cottages on Priory Row are among the oldest in town, dating back to 1415, and are in the process of being converted into guest accommodation

  • 3 Priory Row – a three story cottage with separate living and dining / kitchen area with two large bedrooms both with en-suite bathrooms perfect for two couples visiting the city or a small family. The cottage has access to a common courtyard garden.
  • 4 Priory Row – a large three-storey double-fronted cottage with a large living room, separate kitchen / diner with a ‘farmhouse’ dining table and downstairs toilet. On the first floor are two large double bedrooms with two en-suite bathrooms, with a further bedroom and a private bathroom on the second floor. The property is suitable for a large family group or a larger group of visiting friends. The cottage has access to a common courtyard garden.
  • 5 Priory Row – a ground floor one bedroom unit with en-suite bathroom and separate kitchen / diner. This property will suit couples and people with reduced mobility. The cottage has access to a common courtyard garden.
  • 6 Priory Row – this two bedroom duplex is located on the first and second floors with its own entrance from the street. The open plan living space has enormous character with 11 windows overlooking the ruins of St. Mary’s Cathedral founded by Lady Godiva. On the first floor there is also a double bedroom, a family shower room and a separate toilet. On the second floor is a large bedroom which spans two of the original cottages.

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City gates

The Grade I listed Swanswell and Cook Street gates are the last two remaining gates of the Coventry City Wall, which originally consisted of 12 gates and 20 towers.

The project includes:

  • Swanswell – the downstairs kitchen / diner has the original brick floor and direct access from the street. The living room on the first floor is a cut mezzanine which allows to visualize the full height of the original arch and to follow the harrow. There is an original winding “castle” stone staircase from the ground floor as well as separate access from the external stairs to Lady Herbert’s garden. A new staircase leads to a very large bedroom on the second floor with high ceilings up to the roof and with an en-suite bathroom. The Trust said: “The exceptional nature of the building and the large space make it an ideal location for wedding nights or special occasions – a real treat.
  • Cook Street – a studio unit above the open arched walkway below. The accommodation is approached by a new exterior stone staircase built into the town wall.

The Trust has engaged Coventry-based heritage attraction specialists No Ordinary Hospitality Management to promote and operate the properties, following their recent appointment by the Board to operate St Mary’s Guildhall.

Reservations will open on the Historic Coventry website: next week.

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