AUG 00] HERITAGE OPEN DAYS FACTFILE
Splendour Of Kirby House Saved
House is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in Coventry
city centre, but behind its face lurks a different story.
many of its neighbours the grand building in Little Park Street has
been through a lot.
front of the house dates back to around 1735, but it is probable that
the façade was tacked on to an earlier building.
of the interior features, such as the wooden panelling and the
staircase with a twisted balustrade have been classed as Jacobean by
was built at a time that the Little Park Street area was the most
fashionable part of the city, and wealthy people built themselves
built it is something of a mystery. Some think that Francis Smith, the
Warwick architect who designed Stoneleigh Abbey, is responsible.
there is also a legend that a brother constructed it in competition
with his two brothers, who were also building houses in the area.
tale goes that the most handsome building would be paid for by the two
has it that the other two buildings in the contest were 7Little Park
Street and 11 Priory Row – both of which are still standing.
building in Little Park Street is now the Varsity pub, and – as pubs
tend to be at the weekend – it will also be open during the Heritage
Open Days weekend.
was extensively restored when Banks’ brewery opened it, but some of
the original features can still be seen, including a window, above the
bar, oak beams, and fireplaces.
other building in the alleged competition is currently the house for
the Provost of Coventry.
House’s name comes from Thomas Hulston Kirby, who was a solicitor
and clerk to the county magistrates, who used it as offices in the
it wasn’t until careful restoration work began in 1980 that any of
this splendour began to emerge.
1957 its value as an excellent reminder of the Georgian era was
recognised by the Government, and the Ministry of Works refused
permission to demolish it.
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings described in as a
museum of carpentry techniques spanning two centuries.
it was suggested that when the council bought it for £23,000 in 1963
that it could be used as the Lord Mayor’s parlour.
were suspicions that the council wanted to get rid of the building to
allow big redevelopment in the area, but another demolition
application was refused by a Government inspector in 1972.
the time restoration work started the building had decayed. Only the
front part of the house could be saved, and it took a careful effort
to bring it back to life.
House now stands proud and floodlit, one of the nicest buildings in
the city centre, and is occupied by Varley Hibbs solicitors. It will
be open for viewing on both days from 11am to 5pm.