COVENTRY’S historic ‘Old Grammar School’ building is set to open for the first time in decades following a £1.5million restoration.
The Grade 1 listed medieval building, neglected and vandalised since the 1980s, has been converted for use for exhibitions and special events.
Free guided tours of the formerly disused building near to the transport museum in Millennium Place will be held on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
The work forms part of a £9.5million Coventry Transport Museum redevelopment project.
The 12th Century Old Grammar School 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 it 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.
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. While 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.
Visitors this weekend will have the opportunity to be among the first to ring the bell in exchange for a £5 donation. It is thought the sound will travel up to half a mile.
Gary Hall, chief executive of Culture Coventry said: “We are really looking forward to being able to let the public see the results of all of our hard work over the past 15 months.
“It is truly a privilege to have been able to bring Coventry’s oldest secular building back to life, and ensure its future for years to come.
“It is testament to the skills and dedication of a large team of people that we have been able to not only conserve the building, but give it new life as a space that can be used for events, exhibitions and as a stunning showcase for Coventry’s medieval past.
“I would particularly like to thank the European Regional Development Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Pilgrim Trust and Premier Group for their generous financial support for this important project.”
Full details of this weekend’s event can be found at www.transport-museum.com