Coventry Heritage Open Days 11th-14th Sept
If you’ve never heard of Heritage Open Days before then I have a treat for you. The aim of the heritage days are to open up buildings or areas of buildings that the public wouldn’t normally have access to. The Heritage Open Days is a Europe wide initiative. Starting in 1991 its aim was to highlight the diverse and ever changing history of Europe as reflected in its rich heritage of architecture. After a successful pilot in Gosport, the UK joined the project in 1994 and it has spread throughout the country. This year Heritage Open days in England are held 11th-14th September.
In Coventry we have a unique opportunity to see not just traditional heritage buildings, but buildings from a selection of more modernist architecture styles. Whilst Coventry has been lambasted for its varied and often quickly unfashionable buildings there are some gems to be found among the concrete terrors. One of these is the Bexfield Close Experimental House. In 1959, Ideal Home Magazine and RIBA launched the Small House Competition, resulting in four open- plan bungalows being built in the village of Allesley. This summer the terrace of four houses have been the subject of a heritage project aiming to discovering the reaction of local people and rejuvenating the houses. The experimental architecture includes a flexible interior, open plan kitchen and more. Due to high demand on tours an additional event has been created on 11th September at 4pm, but places for this event are also going fast. So book soon. Booking available here.
For fans of more traditional architecture there are FOUR rare treats in the city centre. Drapers Hall, Blue Coats Grammar School, Whitefriars Monastery and Bonds Alms House are all open. These four buildings are very rarely open to the general public and I encourage anyone to attend for a free opportunity to take a sneaky peek inside them. My highlight is the Georgian Drapers Hall, which was built as the drapers guild’s head-quarters in 1832. The hall is a hidden and much forgotten gem of the city. Unfortunately for most of the year it stands empty. Also make sure to check out Whitefriars Monastery, is all that is left of a carmalite friary built in 1342. The monastery is only open to tours run by The Herbert Art Gallery and not to the generally public. However these tours are free and with 10 tours per day readily available. Please call 0276237521 to book a free place.
There is much more available to see with many of the city’s newer endeavors on show, Coventry’s Multi Faith Centre, ArtSpace and the Far Gosford Street Regeneration spring to mind. Whilst these places don’t necessarily display the ancient history of the city they certainly reflect the exciting future of Coventry’s culture. You can find a full list of activities available here, along with the history of the Heritage Open Days project.