This wonderful hidden gem is in Bayley Lane opposite the Council House and close to the old Cathedral ruin and Cathedral Square. The building was the headquarters of the Drapers' Company and was erected in 1831-32 in the Greek Revival style.
Currently redundant, at various times over the last ten years attempts have been made to bring the building back into permanent use. A plan drawn up by Coventry Building Preservation Trust (an offshoot of the Coventry Society) would have seen the building re-used as a central community centre and museum to the cloth trade. But the plan was rejected by the City Council.
This wondefrul Victorian building is full of interesting and beautiful features. The undercrofts contain cellars and wonderful Victorian kitchens but in the present state are too dangerous for public access. There is a lovely ballroom with orchestra balcony and mirrored walls. There are some stunning ceiling lights but these are in need of repair and restoration, as is the entire building. Unusually the building was constructed without windows and gets all its light from roof windows. It also has unusual arrangements for ventilation.
The latest news is that Birmingham architects PCPT has prepared draft plans for the restoration and extension of the building on behalf of the Higgs Charity. An application for a grant of £2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund has got through to the second stage of consideration.
The proposed use is a centre for music in the city. It will combine the needs of Coventry University's School of Performing Arts for performance and rehearsal space and accommodation for Coventry Performing Arts in Schools service. They will come together and form Music Coventry to develop an interest in music in the city and particularly amongst young people. Drapers Hall will also become a regional venue for performances and exhibitions open to the public and a base for the national collection of sheet music. It will also be used as the base for The Draper's Guild, the original owners of the building who will bring back some of the original furniture.
The plans include the restoration of the major rooms of the Victorian building, combined with a modern new build extension which will create an attractive entrance to the building, storage space, performance space, toilet facilities and office space. There will also be an interesting roof garden with some of the best views of Coventry's Cathedral Quarter.
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