New hospitality company will bring St Mary’s Guildhall back to life as a major heritage attraction for Coventry

The team behind Coombe Abbey Hotel is set to manage St Mary’s Guildhall when it opens later this year after £5.6 million of investment and redevelopment.

Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd, will be appointed to operate St. Mary’s Guildhall and will draw on the expertise and resources of No Ordinary Hospitality Management to deliver an exciting heritage programme, visitor experience and developing the marketing to attract more visitors.

The company has been formed after transforming Coombe Abbey’s commercial operations which include new and refurbished food outlets and a highly successful Go Ape tree-top adventure.

A hidden gem in the heart of Coventry

St Mary’s Guildhall sits next to Coventry’s Cathedral and dates back to 1352 and the redevelopment programme is underway with the aim of ensuring that the Guildhall takes its place in the city’s visitor offer for residents and tourists, and grows its reputation and customer base.

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 importance within the city centre and we believe it has massive potential for a wide range of events.

We clearly have experience in dealing successfully with historic buildings and allowing them to deliver cutting-edge events while maintaining their unique character.

“Now we will be working hard to support Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd to ensure we make the most of the wonderful space and increase its profile within the city, the region and across the country.

No Ordinary Hospitality Management will operate through Coombe Abbey Park (LACO Ltd) for the contract which will also establish the Guildhall as a venue for weddings, events and conferences.

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

“The redevelopment of the Guildhall will help ensure it is sustainable for the future and can become an even more prized asset for the city, both for residents and for visitors who will be able to see the changes to the venue.

“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 in places all the skills to help grow the business at the venue – which is an important part of the legacy of the scheme.

Restoring St Mary’s Guildhall as a heritage site

Currently, St Mary’s Guildhall is undergoing a major redevelopment costing £5.6 million, funded through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which is resourced from Coventry City Council, Arts Council England, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

National Lottery Heritage Fund has also provided both capital and additional revenue funding to support three years of activities and events for schools, communities and families to engage both new and existing audiences with the history of St Mary’s Guildhall.

The Guildhall is home of the significant “Coventry Tapestry”, Mary Queen of Scots was held there in 1569, and the building miraculously survived the blitz of 1940 which devastated much of the city centre. The works at St Mary’s Guildhall include improvements to the display and interpretation of the tapestry, and significantly improving the visitor experience.

Cllr David Welsh, whose Coventry City Council Cabinet portfolio includes Heritage in the city, added: “Through the refurbishment of the Guildhall, contractors are painstakingly ensuring that the many years of history contained in this amazing venue are being sensitively retained and reimagined.

“It will contain all the elements of a modern visitor attraction, including new interactive exhibits and a digital tour, that will bring to life the Guildhall’s amazing history and create a leading high-quality heritage attraction for the public.”

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