Coventry Opens: The City Gates

Fri 6 May 2022 | 10.30am - 1pm

Discover the newly restored City Gates as part of city-wide 'Coventry Opens'.

Discover the newly restored City Gates as part of city-wide 'Coventry Opens'.

Visit Swanswell Gate and Cook Street Gate on Fri 6 May between 10.30am-1pm for a special open (gate)house session to see how the gates have been repaired and revived.

Drop ins only, no booking necessary.


The City Gates were originally 2 of 12 gatehouses that once punctuated Coventry’s medieval city wall. Completed around 1385, Cook Street Gate was one of the earlier gates to be built. Swanswell Gate was completed a little later in 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 and Swanswell still standing.

Swanswell Gate was converted into a cottage in the mid 19th 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 local philanthropist, Alfred Herbert who also developed the surrounding Lady Herbert’s Garden in memory of his wife, Florence.

In addition to sympathetic repairs, each gate has been internally adapted into bespoke holiday cottages, giving guests the opportunity to closely experience a special part of the city’s history. Find out more and book a stay here.


Lady Herbert’s Garden is surrounded by city centre parking, including: West Orchards Car Park, Bishop Street Car Park, Belgrade Plaza and Cox Street Car Park.

Alternatively, the site can be easily reached by nearby public transport links:

By bus via stops at Pool Meadow Bus Station or Trinity Street or other city centre routes.

By train via Coventry Train Station.

Get involved

Come and get involved. Support us to give a future to the city’s heritage by joining our volunteer team, or by donating online.

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