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Front cover of brochure

Kenilworth Road Conservation Area

Transcript from Coventry City Council 1985 brochure GVA 1442 MA 8-85 , with updates where needed.  


Kenilworth Road has been described as the finest approach to any City in the British Isles.  It was designated a Conservation Area in December 1968 and extends from the City boundary south of Gibbet Hill Road in a north-easterly direction for approximately 4.8 Km (3 miles).

Plan - indicating location of illustrated features


The Conservation Area lies astride the Kenilworth Road and is defined by the adjoining tree belts and residential properties.  The wooded area consists of a strip of land approximately 30 metres wide on both sides of the road, with wide grass verges and mature deciduous trees which merge into Wainbody Wood and Stivichall Common.  Behind this tree belt are large detached houses with extensive gardens.  To the north of the Fletchampstead/Kenpas Highway (A45) the axial form becomes less marked.  Nevertheless, Stivichall Common, the War Memorial Park, The Grove and Top Green all combine to create continuity of a predominantly mature landscape environment

1 - Old Cottage near Coat of Arms Bridge

In addition to the Kenilworth Road axis, several adjoining areas of similar character have been included within the Conservation Area.

(i) Cryfield Grange Road and Stoneleigh Road/Gibbet Hill Road.  These two areas comprise expensive houses in large mature gardens.

(ii) Canley Ford.  This is a narrow ancient route through Stivichall Common and across Canley Brook which includes mature hedges, trees, spinneys and earth banks on either side of the lane.

(iii) Coat of Arms Bridge Road and Stivichall Hamlet.  This lies to the east of Kenilworth Road and contains several old cottages, an animal pound and an early railway bridge.  Stivichall Common extends as far as the hamlet.

Extensions to the Conservation Area boundaries were made in 1978 to include the War Memorial Park, west side of Davenport Road and King Henry VIII School.

2 - The Grove

Historical Background

All the lands which now comprise the Conservation Area originally formed part of the Stoneleigh foundation of 1154.  It is thought that when the Abbey was first founded the monks settled at Cryfield immediately to the west of the present-day Kenilworth Road.  During the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, Stoneleigh Abbey was one of the first to go.

A road to Kenilworth from Coventry was first mentioned in 1313; it followed the narrow belt of common land along the north and west of Stivichall Parish.  It is thought that Kenilworth Road was once part of the old cloth trade route linking the Cotswolds when Coventry was the cloth capital of the Midlands.  The road was turnpiked in 1775 and an avenue of oak trees, three rows deep, was planted in the eighteenth century.

The present line of Kenilworth Road turns sharply near Earlsdon Avenue South.  It is considered that the track once went straight on across Stivichall Common and followed the present route of the footpath to the rear of Morningside into Dalton Road, across the end of Spencer Park and Grosvenor Road to the end of Queen Victoria Road.  Within the woodland off Kenilworth Road is a 7 metre width of grass-grown roadway with ditches still discernible in parts.  This is flanked on one side by broken stretches of sandstone blocks over which the footpath to Earlsdon Avenue South now runs.

3 - Drinking Fountain

During the eighteenth century Kenilworth Road was a haunt of highwaymen and footpads, and several incidents are recorded.  However, the road was never really busy though regular coaches operated.  Stivichall's Toll Gate House, located opposite The Grove, was built in 1812 at the point where a weighing machine was erected to control weights and dues.

The building was demolished in 1964.

Before Albany Road was constructed in 1898 Kenilworth Road was the only vehicular entrance to Earlsdon.  A five barred gate prevented cattle wandering from the common into Earlsdon.  No toll was levied at this gate but an old man used to open the gate for travellers and thus added to his income.  Near where this gate stood, along the common, is the site of a large quarry from where the stone for building St. Thomas's Church (now demolished), Albany Road, was hewn and given by Lord Leigh.

4 - Coat of Arms Bridge

It was in 1765 when Gibbet Hill received its name.  Thomas Edwards, a local farmer, and two friends were returning home after midnight from Coventry market.  They were attacked in the fields near Whoberley House some 300 yards from the turnpike road leading to Allesley by Edward Drury and Robert Leslie, both private soldiers, and Moses Baker, a ribbon weaver; they were disguised and armed with pistols.  Edwards was sober and resisted strongly but received severe head wounds.  The two friends were too intoxicated to resist and were left insensible on the ground.  They were robbed of three guineas and eleven shillings in silver.  Edwards died three days later.  The three criminals were soon apprehended and subsequently convicted at Warwick.  They were hanged on 17th April 'the bodies to be enclosed by chains and suspended on a gibbet, at Stoneleigh Common'.  The gibbet, with the remains of the criminals upon it, is said to have existed for about 50 years.

5 - Smithy Cottage

The first record of the Animal Pound in Coat of Arms Bridge Road was in 1663.  It stands, west of the bridge on Stivichall Common where freemen of the City had grazing rights until 1881, it was given to the City Council for permanent preservation in 1932 by Major C.H. Gregory-Hood.  It had a sandstone floor, four stone walls and a gate.  It has been altered and repaired over the centuries as shown by the variety of materials in the walls.  It was restored in 1972 by the Coventry Civic Amenity Society.

Stivichall Hamlet comprises a disused smithy and three cottages, the oldest of which, west of the bridge, is an early seventeenth century timber framed whitewashed building having a tiled roof and hipped gables.  It is listed as Grade II on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special or Architectural Interest.  Coat of Arms Bridge was built in 1842 to take the Coventry-Leamington railway line.  The coat of arms belong to the Gregory family, owners of the Manor of Stivichall for more than 400 years.  The bridge is built in red sandstone and is listed as Grade II.  To the east of the bridge is Smithy Cottage which is brick built and probably of late seventeenth century origin.

6 - King Henry VIII School

Part of Stivichall Common extends as far as where Top Green and King Henry VIII School are located today.  This land was enclosed in 1883 but indicates the previous extent of Stivichall.

The school is listed as Grade II.  It was built on its present site in 1885 by Edward Burgess and enlarged in 1889 and 1936.  It was restored in 1950 after wartime bomb damage.  It is built in the Tudor style in red brick, stone dressings and tiled roof.

Recent Developments and The Future

The trees along Kenilworth Road are the most visually important feature of the Conservation Area.  Unfortunately, these trees were under threat as a result of the combination of various tree diseases and the drought of 1976.  In addition, many of the trees in the Kenilworth Road spinneys were reaching maturity together so that there was  a tendency for trees to be lost in substantial numbers at the same time.  In response to this situation the City Council planted large numbers of young trees using finance from the City tree replacement fund.  In 1977 some 600 trees were planted; common oak, ash, and hornbeam being the main species.

Possibly add information about the award winning new lighting scheme in Kenilworth Road?

The Kenilworth Road Control Plan was approved by the City Council in February 1976.  This document is a set of guidelines which are applied in the determination of all applications for planning permission for development or redevelopment on Kenilworth Road.


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