A £1.4m bid to help transform Coventry’s St Mary’s Guildhall into a major visitor attraction has been given the go ahead by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
This decision will enable the project to go ahead to turn the building into a first-class heritage destination and facility for visitors and residents.
The transformational project will help deliver an improved and interactive visitor experience including interpretation, new digital technology, alongside an improved showcasing and interpretation of the wonderful Tapestry.
In addition, there will be a new visitor entrance, improved facilities, along with specific tours and trails to enhance the visitor experience. A three-year programme of events and activities, including a learning and engagement programme for schools, families and the wider community will also enhance the Guildhall’s offer and attract a more diverse and new audience base for the venue.
An increase in community engagement, outreach, volunteer participation and training of staff will all contribute to help sustain the project.
Councillor David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Heritage, said:
“The excellent news of the financial support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund will enable a first-class heritage offer to be developed and delivered befitting the historical masterpiece that the Guildhall deserves.
“The development of the city’s heritage strategy places buildings such as the Guildhall as key both in relation to preserving what we have and ensuring they are protected for generations to come as well as enhancing a wider, more joined-up approach to promoting the city’s heritage and tourism visitor offer.
“The development will play a big role in aiding and promoting the true history of the building and its importance to local history – Coventry people should be aware of the Guildhall’s role at the heart of the city’s history for over 700 years.
“In addition to the massive benefits in enhancing the city’s heritage offer, the Guildhall can also play an important role in the cultural life of the city particularly around the engagement of local schools and communities.”
Vincent Hammersley, Chair of the Coventry Society, stated ” We are pleased to hear the news of the successful National Heritage Lottery Fund bid of £1.4 million, this will make significant improvements to the public experience of St Marys Guildhall. The Coventry Society are members of the steering group for this project and this is a demonstration of the positive outcomes of partnership working on heritage projects within our City.”
An initial £78k was previously granted to the project by The Heritage Fund back in April 2020 as part of the Development Phase works undertaken at the Guildhall which included a specialist survey of the medieval Tapestry.
During the next few weeks, Croft Construction will be leading on the initial internal courtyard and exterior scaffolding work ahead of phase one of the main construction improvement works due to start in February/March.
The overall £5.6m capital programme building project is being funded through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which is resourced from Coventry City Council, Arts Council England and the Getting Building Fund from the Government through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund initially granting development funding including exploratory work on the Coventry Tapestry.
In February 2020, the City Council approved up to £3 million capital support for St. Mary’s Guildhall.
Current plans are to have a partial re-opening of the Guildhall in Spring, with a full opening scheduled for December 2021 to tie-in with Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.
For further full details on the project and sign up for the free St Mary’s Guildhall newsletter, please visit www.stmarysguildhall.co.uk