A fight to save Coventry’s ‘birthplace’ the Priory Visitor Centre has reached Parliament as an MP appeals for vital funding.
The centre, in Priory Place, near Coventry Cathedral, city centre, is home to the 1000-year-old remains of the city’s first St Mary’s cathedral and Lady Godiva-founded Benedictine priory.
It was closed in May due to ongoing financial difficulties in a major blow in the run-up to Coventry hosting UK City of Culture in 2021.
Coventry South West MP Jim Cunningham has now appealed to culture secretary Jeremy Wright MP to grant adequate funding to the centre so it can re-open.
The call comes amid Coventry City Council housing chief Tariq Khan insisting that a rescue plan is still being examined.
Mr Cunningham told us: “It is vital that we find funding for this important historical site ahead of 2021 when Coventry will be the UK’s City of Culture.
“The centre is a great resource hub that showcases Coventry’s medieval history.
“I am sure that many will remember the interest Channel 4’s Time Team took in investigating the historical site.
“The artefacts that the team discovered were on display in the visitors centre.
“As the site of two Parliaments in the 1400s and the part the site played in Henry VIII’s reign, it should be a major attraction in Coventry.
“We need a fully funded visitors centre to promote its national historical significance.
“The Priory Visitors Centre was more than just a museum; it also contained a café and housed community events.
“I have been in contact with ministers from Department for Culture, Media and Sport about this issue and I am waiting to be offered a date for a meeting I secured last month.
“I raised this important issue in parliament a number of times, which I will continue to do until funding is found.”
The centre opened little more than a decade ago with its internationally important preserved remains and artefacts having been buried out of sight for hundreds of years.
The visitor centre was victim to vandalism in the days after it closed.
The centre was rescued by a community non-profit social enterprise venture which re-opened it in 2017 – after a year of closure from Coventry City Council cuts and a long Coventry Observer #savethepriory campaign.