VOLUNTEERS at Coventry’s ‘internationally important’ Priory Visitor Centre – until recently closed in council cuts – have launched a fundraising appeal in a bid to double opening hours to six days a week.
The centre and undercrofts in Priory Place – home to the city’s 1,000-year-old first priory and cathedral with Lady Godiva connections – is now run three days a week as a social enterprise.
A crowdfunding appeal has now been launched for public donations after the re-opening – called for in a long-running Coventry Observer campaign.
Founding director Carole Donnelly said “Since we re-opened just eight weeks ago, our volunteers have seen tourists from all over the world, Coventrians, businesses, theatre directors and all kinds of people coming in through our doors.
“We are able to share the story of St Osburg, Lady Godiva, Leofric the Earl of Mercia, King Henry VIII and the Channel 4 Time Team excavations that brought to life the cities first cathedral with these people.
“We want to do more of this but we need your help.”
The centre says the building receives no funding from Coventry City Council and generates revenue from people hiring out the training and conference rooms, people attending afternoon teas and other events, tours and shop sales.
Alan Jephcott, volunteer centre manager, said:”The aim of the crowdfunding appeal is to ensure this beautiful building never closes again to the residents and visitors to Coventry.
“We are a community museum run by the community for the community. As an event space in the city centre of Coventry there is nowhere quite like this, It’s unique.
“Expanding the community offer enables us to look at employing local people and offering apprenticeships to local youths in culture, leisure and tourism.
“A donation from as little as just £1 a week will enable us to remain open and expand our services which include having a cafe/bar installed so we can generate more revenue.”
Paul Curtis, volunteer tour guide and costumed ‘friar’ said: “People are interested in Coventry, when we tell them the story and take them down into the undercrofts and show them all the medieval stones that were discovered in the excavations that made up Lady Godiva’s cathedral.
“Both Godiva and the Earl of Mercia, Leofric were laid to rest in the Abbey in 1067 and 1057 respectively.
“Parliament was held here twice in 1404 and 1459, each time I take people into the stone store and show them the Chapterhouse and Cathedral stones produced from Corley Rocks and the tiles made in Tile Hill, people are amazed.”
“We feel really passionately about this amazing space.”
People can get involved and support this appeal in a number of ways.
You can make a one-off donation or become a friend of the Priory by making a pledge from as little as £1 a week. There over 25 stones that can be sponsored including a Dragon Stone, a running man and a tile display with a St John the Baptist Revelation IV wall painting.
For more information, go to www.coventrypriory.co.uk, calling 024 7655 2242, or call in person on Thursday, Friday or Saturday between 11am and 3.30pm.