Coventry’s Grade I listed Charterhouse will welcome visitors for the first time on Saturday, April 1 after more than a decade of fundraising and restoration work by Historic Coventry Trust. National Lottery players played a key role in the project with £6 million coming from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The 14th Century building features three conserved wall paintings of national importance, a revitalised garden and a new café/bar run by Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell.
Purnell’s at Charterhouse, an indoor and outdoor venue, will operate in the day time as well as bringing a special evening destination to Coventry, after Charterhouse has closed.
Charterhouse started life as a Carthusian monastery founded by Richard II in 1385 and has taken on many different roles over the years, including as a garden growing exotic plants and a private house once owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
Bequeathed to the people of Coventry by its last resident Colonel William Wyley in 1940 as a museum and park, the building’s most recent use was as part of Coventry College until 2011.
Historic Coventry Trust, supported by local residents, was formed to acquire it with the aim of delivering Colonel Wyley’s vision to open it up to the public. This started the long journey of fundraising and sensitive restoration. The surrounding land forming part of ‘Charterhouse Fields’ that remained under Coventry City Council’s control has since been reunited with the Charterhouse in Trust ownership to be used as part of the Heritage Park, which will be accessible to members of the public.
Ian Harrabin, founder and chair of Historic Coventry Trust, said: “This is a huge milestone for Historic Coventry Trust as we prepare to open Charterhouse to the public for the first time in over 630 years.
“It has been a long road of more than a decade since our earliest meetings with the Council and local residents to save one of Coventry’s most important buildings. What has been achieved with the support of so many is testament to the power of working together.
“Colonel William Wyley’s vision for his bequest was for the building to be a centre for arts and culture, for the benefit of all people, and we are confident that the restoration and the activities we have organised will more than do honour to his wishes.”
“The Trust and community are extremely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and our other funders, and overall to Coventry City Council for making this ambitious project possible.”
Councillor David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Coventry City Council, added: “The story of Charterhouse is a true reflection of the nature of our fantastic city. Thanks to the hard work of a group of dedicated and passionate residents and volunteers, Charterhouse was saved and restored.
“I’m delighted that this stunning historic building will soon be opening its doors again, meaning current and future generations will be able to experience its charm.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, said: “The very splendid Charterhouse is another fine attraction which will encourage local people as well as those from further afield to experience what our great city has to offer.
“In Coventry we are on a journey to become one of the best tourist destinations in the country and Charterhouse will play its part in the unique offer we have right here in our city.”
Charterhouse is the only Carthusian monastery in the country with surviving interiors. The new visitor attraction will include interactive displays charting the site’s long history as well as the relandscaping of the inner precinct as a beautiful walled garden.
After Charterhouse’s opening weekend, an exciting programme of ticketed events will launch and run over the Easter holidays and into the summer holiday period.
Tickets to the property will be available as a timed ticket, and will go on sale on Wednesday, March 1.