A MULTI-MILLION pound lottery grant is to help restore a crown jewel of Coventry’s medieval heritage, create an art gallery and protect a city centre park for public use.
A £450,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant rising to £4.5million has been secured by the Charterhouse Coventry Preservation Trust to restore the 14th century, grade-1 listed Charterhouse monestry building, which houses some of the finest mediaval frescos outside Westminster Abbey
The major boost for Coventry’s regeneration is also being celebrated by campaigning residents who fought for years for the Charthouse park in Whitley to be a protected public space.
They fought to retain the park for families and dog walkers after Blue Coat Academy school in 2011 sought to use part of it for private sports pitches.
The project is part of plans to link the wealth of Coventry history at the Charterhouse and London Road cemetery to the city centre, including the recent redevelopment of fine mediaval buildings in Far Gosford Street.
The Trust’s Ian Harrabin said the lottery grant would go alongside £250,000 received from English Heritage and the Pilgrim Trust.
The building had been left to decay for decades after some modern renovation, with its medieval artistic jewels hidden from public view.
Mr Harrabin said the Lottery grant will fund restoration work to create a public art and crafts gallery in conjunction with the Herbert Art Gallery, which would also be used by city students and schoolchildren.
Work will also restore medieval limestone walls behind the building, with the help of City College students.
The trust and residents celebrated the major boost for the £11million phase one of the project with a party at the Charterhouse park.
Former Coventry councillor Dave Nellist, who campaigned for residents, said: “This marvellous and exciting news is just reward for the years and years of work of local residents to preserve The Charterhouse as a public park.
“Without over 40 years of campaigning to preserve public access to the land, we would not be in the position today to see the development of one of Coventry’s major historical sites married to an extension of public space for all communities to enjoy.
“In particular the many hundreds of local residents whose active involvement in the Village Green application in 2011 both highlighted continual community use, drew attention to the historic nature of the land, and prevented pre-emptive plans to block access. Without them we wouldn’t be here today on the cusp of a great new park for Coventry.
“Without the work of the local residents’ association kicking up a fuss when the former owner of the Charterhouse building put it up for sale this special piece of history could have been lost.
“To those who tell local communities that protest, campaigns and active involvement in their areas can never win we can now point to The Charterhouse as living proof that when local residents get organised, things can really happen.”