The Coombe Abbey hotel team recruited to run the transformed St Mary’s Guildhall


Coventry’s famous St Mary’s Guildhall will reopen later this year as a completely transformed space.

As we reported in our Coventry Newsletter, £ 5.6million work on the Grade II listed building was given the green light last year.

Since then, “desperately needed” work has taken place to prepare the building for reopening.

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It was due to open in June 2021, but Coventry City Council said it would now open “later this year”.

And now the team behind the Coombe Abbey Hotel has been appointed to manage St Mary’s Guildhall as the venue for weddings, events and conferences.

A building of national significance

St Mary’s Guildhall has often been described as Coventry’s best kept secret.

The building is a key part of the town’s history, but it is hoped that ongoing work will make it financially viable as it is currently losing £ 220,000 per year.

The £ 5.6million works passed through various planning hurdles last year before being given the green light, including dropping plans for a rooftop bar deemed structurally ‘unsuitable’.

Guildhall St Mary in Coventry

It is home to the important ‘Coventry Tapestry’, Mary Queen of Scots held there in 1569, and the building miraculously survived the 1940 blitz that devastated much of the city center.

It also contains an original 14th century kitchen which is one of only five medieval kitchens intact in the UK.

Work at St Mary’s Guildhall includes improvements to the display and interpretation of the tapestry, and a significant improvement in the visitor experience.

Coventry City Council said the goal of the partnership with No Ordinary Hospitality Management and Coombe Abbey Park Limited is to deliver an exciting heritage program, a visitor experience and to expand marketing to attract more visitors.

Richard Harrison, Managing Director of No Ordinary Hospitality Management and Coombe Abbey Park Limited, said: “St Mary’s Guildhall is a truly iconic building of national significance in the city center and we believe it has enormous potential for a wide range of events.

“We clearly have experience in successfully managing historic buildings and enabling them to organize cutting-edge events while maintaining their uniqueness.

Guild of Sainte-Marie
Windows of St Mary’s Guildhall

“Now we will work hard to support Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd to ensure we make the most of this wonderful space and increase its visibility in the city, region and across the country. “

A valuable asset for the city

No ordinary hospitality management will operate through Coombe Abbey Park (LACO Ltd) for the contract which will also establish the Guildhall as the venue for weddings, events and conferences.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council and a member of the Coombe Abbey Park Ltd shareholders panel, said: “This is an important step because it means that we can begin to prepare for the opening during our year of UK City of Culture.

“The redevelopment of the Guildhall will help ensure its sustainability for the future and may become an even more valuable asset to the city, both to residents and to visitors who will be able to see the changes to the site.

“The combination of Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd as operator and the expertise and resources of No Ordinary Hospitality Management will ensure that we have all the skills in place to help grow the business at the site – this which is an important part of the legacy of the regime.

Cllr David Welsh, whose Coventry City Council cabinet portfolio includes the city’s heritage, added: “With the renovation of the Guildhall, the entrepreneurs are ensuring that the many years of history contained in this incredible place are preserved and reimagined with sensitivity.

“It will contain all the elements of a modern tourist attraction, including new interactive exhibits and a digital tour, which will bring the incredible history of the Guildhall to life and create a high-quality heritage attraction for the public.”

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