The restoration project has also proved the catalyst for a unique heritage “movement” which has seen a string of historically-important buildings restored and made available for public use – the partnership with Coventry City Council is a model that is being looked at by cities across the country.
Ian Harrabin, founder and chair of Historic Coventry Trust, said: “This is quite a momentous day after a decade of work from local people, Historic Coventry Trust, Coventry City Council and others, in not only ensuring this fantastic building was saved, but also bringing it back to life for the benefit of local people and visitors from across the country.
“The effort has really united local people who have worked tirelessly to make sure we reached this point and I cannot thank everyone enough for everything they have done.
“We look forward to welcoming people from Coventry, Warwickshire and across the UK to come and see what has been achieved and to enjoy an asset that we are really lucky to have here in Coventry.”
While Historic Coventry Trust was initially formed to save Charterhouse, it also reached a unique deal with Coventry City Council which has seen it restore much more of the city’s heritage.
The two gatehouses in the city wall and a row of half-timbered cottages have been restored and are now available as high-quality visitor accommodation. Drapers’ Hall, which had lain empty for decades, is now a vibrant music centre, while London Road Cemetery – designed as an arboretum by Joseph Paxton the architect of London’s Crystal Palace – is now connected to Charterhouse as a combined visitor experience. The historic high street of the Burges has been revitalised and work on a new riverside square is due to start this summer. Restoration work also continues on other heritage assets in the city.
Harrabin added: “This is a great example of what can be done when you have a pool of committed, dedicated residents, a local authority which is prepared to think outside the norm and some very generous and supportive partners and funders. That combination can achieve great things, and that is what has happened here.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are proud to have supported Historic Coventry Trust with a grant of £6 million for the major refurbishment and reopening of this significant site, thanks to funds raised by National Lottery players.
“Charterhouse is an important part of Coventry’s heritage, and this community focus will help celebrate the town's rich history in a way that everyone can enjoy and be proud of.”
Louise Brennan, Historic England’s Regional Director for the Midlands, said: “Charterhouse is a hidden gem in Coventry and Historic England has been able to contribute funding of £830,000 to support the repair and re-opening by Historic Coventry Trust. I’m delighted that Charterhouse will be opening its doors to the public again, so everyone can enjoy its history, buildings and gardens.”
Historic Coventry Trust’s £12 million restoration of Charterhouse has been a partnership with Coventry City Council, supported by major grants including over £6 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund as well as funding from Historic England, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and several trusts and foundations including Garfield Weston Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Historic Houses Foundation, Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, Alan Edward Higgs Charity, Finnis Scott Foundation, Ernest Cook Trust, Benefact Trust and The Rotary Club of Coventry.
Charterhouse is open from Thursdays to Sundays as well as Bank Holiday Mondays and Wednesdays during the school holidays from 10am until 4pm.
To book tickets, please visit historiccoventrytrust.org.uk. Tickets give visitors re-admission for 12 months and there are discounts for Coventry residents who have GoCV passes. Essential carers and children aged four and under are free.