City Gates and
Lady Herbert's Garden

Overview

The City Gates are available to rent – come and stay with us!

Swanswell Gate and Cook Street Gate are the last remaining two of an original twelve gatehouses that once punctuated Coventry’s medieval city wall. Today, they stand in Coventry’s city centre framed by Lady Herbert’s Garden, as a monument to the city’s heritage.

Completed around 1385, Cook Street Gate was one of the earlier gates to be built. Swanswell Gate was completed a little later, around 1440 and was then known as Priory Gate, having originally served as the entrance to the prior’s land. At over two miles (3.2km) long, 12 foot (3.6m) high and nine foot (2.7m) thick the city wall was an impressive fortification, and Coventry was regarded as the best protected city in the country outside of London.

During the English Civil War, Coventry supported the Parliamentarians and even denied Charles I entry into the city in 1642. As a result, after the restoration in 1662 Charles II ordered Coventry’s city walls to be destroyed. The walls were torn down, but the 12 gatehouses were left intact and many were converted into houses. With the city’s 18th- and 19th-century expansion the other gatehouses were gradually lost, leaving only Cook Street Gate and Swanswell Gate still standing.

Swanswell Gate was converted into a cottage in the 18th century, and has subsequently been used as a shop, an artist’s studio and a hub for the West Midlands police. Both gates were restored in the early 20th century by city philanthropist, Alfred Herbert who also created the surrounding garden in memory of his second wife, Florence.

With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Coventry City Council Cultural Capital Fund, Coventry & Warwickshire LEP and the Architectural Heritage Fund, Historic Coventry Trust have restored both buildings, removing them from the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register. In addition to sympathetic repairs, each gate has been internally adapted to holiday apartments, giving guests the opportunity to closely experience a special part of the city’s history. Find out more and book a stay.

Alongside the restoration works Historic Coventry Trust delivered an engagement programme for the City Gates and Lady Herbert’s Garden, including opens days, events in Lady Herbert’s Garden, an oral history project, community outreach, volunteering opportunities and site interpretation.

 

Interpretation

In 2021, Historic Coventry Trust installed four large interpretation panels onto the summerhouse in Lady Herbert’s Garden to inform visitors about the site’s history.

Lady Herbert's Garden interpretation image

In August 2022, Historic Coventry Trust installed a new set of temporary interpretation boards in the garden to tell the story of Coventry and the city walls during the Civil War, marking the 380th anniversary since the siege of Coventry.

Find us

Sat Nav Destination: CV1 1JQ

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Parking

There is no car parking directly on the site. However, the nearest car park is Bishop Street / Tower Street car park (CV1 1JN), located just four minutes’ walk away. For further information please see here.

Lady Herbert's Trail

Follow the trail to discover the history of Lady Herbert’s Garden and the city gates.

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Restoration

Historic Coventry Trust have restored both city gates, removing them from the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register.

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stay with us

Stay in these unique historic buildings in the city centre.
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Contact us

To contact the team at Historic Coventry Trust, please fill in the contact form below.