THE undercroft cafe at the historic St Mary’s Guildhall cafe has reopened – and council chiefs are pushing for more visitors to use it.
Controversial plans remain to paint the ceiling white in a later phase of refurbishment, despite objections from more than 1000 people.
The café, located within the vaulted basement of the fourteenth century grade 1-listed Guildhall now has longer opening times.
The revamped café has also been renamed ‘The Undercroft at St Mary’s’ by Coventry City Council
It says changes to the cafe include new free Wi-Fi, improvements to the main entrance, better lighting, new signage and a new menu.
The stone-carved medieval ceiling is also set to be painted white in a bid to enhance restricted natural light.
The decision was taken by an unelected council officer in private.
It came despite concerns from Historic England, which said modern lighting would be better, at a cost of around £30,000.
It triggered a petition signed by more than 1000 people.
The Guildhall in Bayley Lane next to the cathedral ruins has long been considered by heritage watchdogs including TV personality Dr Jonathan Foyle as the country’s best surviving medieval guildhall.
Coun Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said of the re-opening: “Whilst it’s pleasing to see The Undercroft open again with a great new menu its real success will come once it and the Guildhall, arguably the best in the country, are open more often – making them more accessible for all.”
In a council statement, he re-iterated what we reported last week of his plans to have the guildhall open more at day and night.
The council hope the cafe will benefit from an increase in the number of city centre visitors and from employees of the many businesses based within the city centre.
The café’s new opening hours from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Outdoor seating will also be available when weather allows.
St Mary’s Guildhall and The Undercroft are entered from the charming, cobbled Bayley Lane, opposite the old cathedral ruins.
The venue also endeavours to use locally sourced and Fairtrade products where available.
Tables can be booked in advance – just contact 024 7683 3315 – or use the online table bookings form available at www.stmarysguildhall.co.uk where people can also keep up to date on special offers.