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3-5 Priory Row

A Grade II* Listed Building in St Michael's, Coventry

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4089 / 52°24'32"N

Longitude: -1.5093 / 1°30'33"W

OS Eastings: 433479

OS Northings: 279101

OS Grid: SP334791

Mapcode National: GBR HFM.FH

Mapcode Global: VHBWY.SQG6

Plus Code: 9C4WCF5R+H7

Entry Name: 3-5 Priory Row

Listing Date: 5 February 1955

Last Amended: 5 July 2019

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1076587

English Heritage Legacy ID: 218542

Location: St. Michael's, Coventry, CV1

County: Coventry

Electoral Ward/Division: St Michael's

Built-Up Area: Coventry

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Coventry Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

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Summary


3-5 Priory Row, a building of 1414-1415, originally associated with Coventry Priory, restored and extended around 1855.

Description

3-5 Priory Row, a building of 1414-1415, originally associated with Coventry Priory, restored and extended around 1855.

MATERIALS: the building is primarily a timber frame with plaster infill panels. The ground floor and areas to the rear are of brick, all under a tile roof.

PLAN: the main range runs east to west along Priory Row, with projections to the rear.

EXTERIOR: the building is of four structural bays. The ground floor, the current appearance of which dates from 1855, is of brick with three doors accessing the individual properties and paired windows between with decorative tracery. All windows on this front elevation have diamond paned glass. The upper floors are jettied, and have close-studded timber framing with some braces to three of the four bays. At the eastern end is a door under a lean-to roof which gave access to the stair to the rear range.

The northern gable end of the front range is exposed with large panel framing. The 1855 rear wing is supported on timber posts and has a long window at first-floor level lighting the corridor and room within. Two small gables in the roof of this room have decorative bargeboards. The tall, diamond pattern chimneys rise to the rear.

In the rear courtyard, the timber-framed central projection with large square panels rises to a gable with a small window at its apex. To both sides and in front of this there are later brick extensions.

INTERIOR: the building has been combined to form one premises but retain much of their separate spaces, with three access doors surviving at ground floor level. There is much exposed timber framing throughout; this appears entirely undecorated, with no chamfering or stops to the timbers. The corner posts of each bay are jowled at top and bottom. The timbers appear mostly to be in-situ, suggesting little evidence of rebuilding or re-used timbers. The queen strut roof is consistent with other buildings of the early C15 in Coventry. There is evidence for deep braces in what would have been the original external rear wall.

The fireplaces throughout the building are consistent with their C19 date, apart from one C20 brick surround; one at ground floor retains a large range.

There are cellars underneath the front range which appear to be a remodelling of an earlier cellar range. The original sections appear to represent two cells linked by a narrow corridor, although there is much re-used stone here which makes this unclear. In the western cellar there are three stones creating part of a straight joint in the western wall which seem to represent part of an early doorway, which would presumably have given access into the adjacent building.

History

The building which stands at 3-5 Priory Row was previously thought to date from the C17. However, dendrochronology work carried out in 1998 revealed that the timbers were felled in the years 1414-1415, meaning that this building stood in the precinct of Coventry Priory before its demolition, and effectively formed part of the precinct enclosure. The building is also known as the Lych Gate Cottages, which comes from its location adjacent to where the lych gate for Holy Trinity Church once stood; the cottages, when built, would essentially have faced into the yard of that church.

The original function of the building is unclear. The lack of decoration to the timbers internally (they are unchamfered) may suggest that its use was not associated with the wealthy priory, but that it may have been built for commercial or residential letting, or possibly a combination of those uses with perhaps some lower status use, such as storage, for the priory. It has been suggested that the small projecting wing at the rear was a medieval hall, however this appears to be too small to have functioned as such and is more likely to be a post-medieval reconstruction.

Regardless of the original use, it seems that fairly early on in its history the building was let as residential properties, although it perhaps retained a commercial use at ground-floor level. Deeds of the late C16 which describe six cottages appear to refer to this building; it seems possible that there were four cottages in the front range and two in the rear. Further records refer to the cottages and by the C17 the building was described as three cottages, suggesting they had been reduced in number by that time. Records indicate that the cottages were mostly occupied by families operating butchers' premises in nearby Butcher Row.

By the mid-C19 the building was in a poor condition and was acquired by the neighbouring Blue Coat School. In 1855 it was restored and extended; the internal fireplaces and tall chimneys date from this time, as does the external stair at the east end which gives access to the contemporary rear room, intended for workshop use when built.

Reasons for Listing

3-5 Priory Row, a building of around 1415 originally associated with Coventry Priory, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the building has been dated to the early-C15 and as such is a remarkable survival of pre-Dissolution Coventry and Coventry Priory;
* it is a very good example of a timber framed building of the early-C15, with close-studded timbers and jettied floors which are evocative of its status as a good quality medieval urban building;
* the principal timbers throughout show little evidence of re-use and demonstrate that the original structure survives well.

Historic interest:

* as a building of the early-C15, it formed part of the precinct of Coventry Priory and as such is the only upstanding building which survives from the priory complex.

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