We are delighted to announce that our neighbouring building the ‘Old Grammar School’ is set to open to the public for the first time in decades, as an impressive £1.5m restoration and conservation project has now been completed on the previously derelict 12th century building, as part of the £9.5m Coventry Transport Museum Redevelopment project.
An Open Weekend will be held on Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th July, from 11am to 3pm each day, to enable you to see for yourself the building’s incredible transformation from a crumbling wreck to a fully useable space.
The 12th Century Old Grammar School sits in close proximity to Coventry Transport Museum. The building was founded as the medieval church to the Hospital of St John in the 1100s. Later, in the sixteenth century, city benefactor John Hales purchased the building and founded a grammar school for boys. The school grew and flourished there until 1885 when it moved again – this time to the site of the present King Henry VIII School in Warwick Road.
It is an English Heritage Grade 1 listed building, which until this redevelopment, had not been regularly used since the 1980s. Over the past thirty years the building has suffered from neglect, vandalism and fire and was on the ‘at risk’ register, but since Spring 2014, teams of skilled craftspeople have been working tirelessly to sensitively conserve and restore it. Modern facilities have been added to make the building useable for special events, as well as making it fully accessible for disabled people.
As part of the work, a bell has been installed in the building’s bell tower, for the first time in 40 years. The original Grammar School bell was cast in 1736 by William Brooke, a renowned Bromsgrove bell maker - and whilst the original is set to go on display within the building, a brand new bell has been cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, and fitted in the belfry. This work was generously supported by the Premier Group.
Visitors to the Open Weekend will have the unique opportunity to be among the first to ring the bell, in exchange for a cash donation - and it is thought that the sound will travel up to half a mile!
Admission to the Open Weekend is FREE, but numbers are limited. There will be guided tours of the building every 30 minutes, with limited numbers, so you may have a short wait if the event is busy.
The new ‘Old Grammar School’ bell before it was fitted in the belfry.
L-R: Denis Meagher – Group Chairman of The Premier Group & sponsor of the Grammar School bell; Joanne Jones – PA to the Group Chairman of The Premier Group; Roger Medwell – Chair of Culture Coventry Trust; Gary Hall – Chief Executive of Culture Coventry.
The Old Grammar School restoration project is part of the Coventry Transport Museum redevelopment, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund.