Transcript of extracts from Coventry City Council 1982 draft brochure with updates where needed, and "Coventry City Centre Trail" 1993 (reprinted 2000) brochure. The full A5 18 page "Coventry City Centre Trail" brochure covers in total around 60 of the most important buildings and sites.
The area centred around High Street forms the historic banking and commercial heart of the City. The majority of buildings in this area are of pre-war construction, richly detailed in the classical tradition with a scale which reflects their importance.
The Conservation Area was declared on 12th October 1982 and it is contiguous with the Hill Top Conservation Area.
Historic Buildings in the Area
The finest buildings seen here today are those of the major banks, notably the two neo-classical buildings of the early 1930s at the junction with Broadgate. These are Lloyds Bank at No. 30 and National Westminster Bank at Nos. 24/25 Broadgate. They are both 'locally listed' (on the City Council's Local List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest). The former, in Portland stone, by Buckland & Haywood, was built in 1932 and the latter's classical portico formerly terminated the southern end of the old Broadgate and was the only building there to survive wartime destruction. It was designed by F. C. R. Palmer and built in 1930.
High Street was one of several departure places for long distance passenger coaches in the nineteenth century and once had a number of coaching inns and other hostelries, notably the Craven Arms (previously and later the Bear Inn), the Board (or Pickering) Vaults and the Rose and Crown (c. 1800), down a court off the south side of the street. The latter survives today, renamed The Courtyard and listed, grade II, but the loss of The Bear in 1982 for modern building society premises, the latest manifestation of a redevelopment trend which had already destroyed Nos. 19-21 High Street, was the catalyst for the declaration of the Conservation Area. The intention was to resist the pressure to demolish the best of the older buildings and to encourage a higher standard of design for any new buildings.
Other notable buildings in the High
Street are the Yorkshire Bank at Nos. 7-11, Yates' Wine Bar (formerly
Anslow's, then Waring & Gillow) at Nos. 16-17 (actually in Hill Top
Conservation Area), the former Midland Bank (now a restaurant) at 18 High
Street / 3 Little Park Street, the Halifax Chambers at No. 22, and the
former Waters' wine merchants' premises at No. 29. In Hertford Street, the
fašades of the western portions of the National Westminster Bank and the
Head Post Office are also important to the overall quality of the area.
Little of pre-1900 construction remains in this part of the city; however, to the south of High Street are four important statutory listed buildings:
Also, beneath Nos. 21-22 High Street there are two
linked, rib-vaulted sandstone cellars or undercrofts, dating from the 15th
century and formerly serving houses which were demolished when the street
was widened in the mid-19th century. The cellar under No. 22 is listed, grade
I, whilst that under No. 21 is grade
Ford's Hospital, Greyfriars Lane
These almshouses were founded under the will of William Ford in 1509 and were erected by his executor, William Pisford, who enlarged the endowment in his own will of 1517. For the exuberance of its carving, it has been called 'one of the most perfect examples of timber-framed architecture in the country'. The central doorway leads to an enclosed and secluded courtyard where the rich variety of carving can be examined at leisure. Bombing in 1940 severely damaged the building, but a skilled restoration scheme was completed in 1953.
No. 16 (Kirby House) and No. 7 Little Park Street
Little Park Street was once a narrow and
densely-packed thoroughfare with many timber-framed houses. Some of
these were replaced in the early 18th century by highly fashionable town
houses in an early Georgian style. Kirby House, set back from the
street, was extensively restored in 1981-82 after lying empty for many
years. It is interesting to study the stylistic differences between
this and No.7, another house of the period a few doors away.
Recent Developments in the Area
Since the declaration of the Conservation area many developments have been carried out in the area, including:
In future, demolition of existing buildings within the Conservation
Area will not normally be considered unless it can be satisfactorily
demonstrated that subsequent redevelopment will result in a positive
improvement to the area.