Nationally-acclaimed experts on the history and archaeology of Coventry’s latest visitor attraction which has undergone a £12 million refurbishment are heading to the city for a special conference.
Coventry’s Grade I listed Charterhouse has been welcoming visitors since April, for the first time in its 600-year history after fundraising and restoration work by Historic Coventry Trust.
‘Charterhouse Revealed’ Conference is a fantastic opportunity to find out about the life of a Carthusian monk, why the Carthusian order was so special, Charterhouse as a post-medieval gentry house and park, and the fascinating life of Colonel Wyley, the last private owner.
The event will take place at the Anglican Chapel at the London Road Cemetery from 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday, October 7.
Coventry Charterhouse was one of only nine Carthusian monasteries founded in England and is the only one remaining with intact interiors, including 15th and 16th century wall paintings of national importance.
The building was converted into a gentry house following the Dissolution and remained a private house until 1940. Recent archaeological work has revealed interesting information about the layout of the medieval monastery as well as details about the lives of the monks.
Dr Glyn Coppack, who has published extensively on English medieval monasteries, will discuss the national and international significance of Charterhouse before Andrew McLeish, a Senior Supervisor for University of Leicester Archaeological Services, will give a summary of the excavations which took place at the London Road site between 2019-2023.
Other speakers include Dr Nathanial Alcock OBE, who will use previously unpublished data including scientific dating analysis of the roof timbers together with new documentary research, to plot the conversion of the building into a gentry house, while Dr Miriam Gill will discuss the Charterhouse Crucifixion mural in the context of the decoration of monastic refectories in Europe.
Dr Mark Webb, conference organiser and who will talk about late medieval Coventry, is also a trustee at Historic Coventry Trust.
He said the ‘Charterhouse Revealed’ Conference was a fascinating opportunity to find out more about Coventry’s hugely underestimated surviving medieval built heritage, as well as explore the house and extensive landscaped grounds.
“The conference will be a unique opportunity to learn more about one of Coventry’s medieval treasures and hear from experts about why Coventry’s Charterhouse is so significant,” he said.
“The response since Charterhouse opened to visitors earlier this year underlines why it was so important that Historic Coventry Trust saved this fantastic building.
“Very little is known about the Carthusian order outside a small group of experts. And, up to this year, only London Charterhouse and Mount Grace in Yorkshire have been open to the public in order to understand more about the unique Carthusian way of life.
“Coventry’s Charterhouse also has wall paintings of national significance. The remains of a Crucifixion scene is particularly important. It was discovered underneath wooden panelling and has never been affected by Victorian restorations. Along with the Doom Painting in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry has two of the finest half-dozen 15th century wall paintings in the country.
“Charterhouse joins St Mary’s Hall, St Michael’s old Cathedral, Holy Trinity Church, St John the Baptist Church, three medieval gates, over 25 timber-framed houses and the substantial remains of a Carmelite monastery and a Benedictine priory-cathedral, as a uniquely rich group of surviving medieval buildings open to the public or available to view at street level.
“These tell the story of the city’s late medieval ‘golden age’ when it was the fourth city of the realm and, for a short time, de facto capital of England which is why this conference will be so interesting.”
Tickets, which cost £20 and include entry to Charterhouse, are available from historiccoventrytrust.org.uk