The Gates and Garden – Community History

If you have any experiences or stories about the city gates and Lady Herbert’s Garden that you would like to share, we would love to hear from you!

Entries should be no more than 500 words long, and any accompanying pictures are very welcome. These should be sent to Please note that entries will be credited by name, unless you request otherwise.


  • What do the city gates mean to you, and what are your most significant memories of the site?
  • What does Lady Herbert’s Garden mean to you, and what are your most significant memories of the site?
  • How have you seen the sites and surrounding area change over time? Do you have any photos that demonstrate this?
  • What significance do you see the sites having in Coventry’s heritage?

Cook Street Gate and Ye Old Tower Inn – c. 1910
Submitted by David Fry

‘As a newcomer to Coventry, but now a resident of several decades, I never fail to be surprised by the number of hidden historical gems in the city. Although little is left of our medieval city walls, to have two of the original gates remaining is a bonus – and yet they too are well hidden, despite being right in the city centre. Unless you are on your way to and from Hillfields you would not see either, nor the other gem of Lady Herbert’s Garden, which links them both. Originally in the shadow of the Coventry Theatre, now tucked away behind the Millennium Square development, they all seem to be fated to a life of being Cinderellas to the more accessible attractions. And yet the garden can be a peaceful delight right next to the hurly burly of city traffic. Invariably I always take visitors to see the remarkable earliest known carving of the city’s coat of arm inside the arch of Cook Street Gate– a six hundred year old work of art, in wood but still clearly visible for any passing pedestrian to see. Finally Swanswell Gate, unmistakably medieval, despite its many alterations, is all the more intriguing for having its arch bricked up and you are left wondering what it’s like inside!‘ – David Fry

Cook Street Gate and the newly developed Lady Herbert’s Garden – Late 1930s
Submitted by David Fry

‘As a child in the 1960s I had regular appointments at Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital as I had a heart condition. Afterwards as a treat sometimes my mum would take me to Fishy Moore’s for a bag of chips, stopping on the way to look at the monkey in the nearby pet shop. We’d take the chips and sit on a bench in Lady Herbert’s garden sharing the bag of chips and enjoying quiet time together. The sun always seemed to shine and the memory of the smell of the flowers and sound of the birds along with the love of my mum are with me now over 50 years later. Lady Herbert’s Garden means peace and happiness to me’. – Jackie Banks

Lady Herbert’s Garden – 1950s
Submitted by David Fry

‘I love the Swanswell Gate. When I worked on the Stoney Stanton Road for about a year in the mid 80s, I used to walk past it every day when I went into the town centre to get my lunch. In that winter that was the only hour of the day in which I saw any daylight and the gate was the only thing of beauty that I’d see.’ – Laurence Tilley

Swanswell Gate and the Hippodrome – 1930s
Submitted by David Fry

‘I love Lady Herbert’s Garden a lot. Mostly because it’s a spot of beauty that offers people a timeout from the city centre. But I think also due to associated memories of Saturday contact with my biological dad when I was a kid. He’d often take my and my little sister for a walk around Pool Meadow and the garden.’  – Raef Boylan

The park railings, all individually embossed with Florence Herbert’s initials – Submitted by Raef Boylan

It Follows You In

This Arcadian slice

comes at the price

of turning your back on the city,

to take a walk for no purpose

but meandering exploration,

rewarded with the relief

of serene nature, contained and secure.

A pigeon-swoop away, just

beyond the perimeter:

buses throttle each other,

breathe exhaust down your neck;

compete with pedestrians

in a clamorous mixtape of inconsideration.

But, for now, none of the unsightly

is within sight.

Just you and the blue tits and the stone frogs,

and a daffodil gang nodding in agreement

that yes, it is peaceful here.

– Raef Boylan

Submitted by Vicki Fennell

Lady Herbert’s Garden was on the way home from town when I was a child and I used to walk through there with my friend. I was also a keen to take photographs and thought that one particular spot was the prettiest. These are the two I still have, taken in 1955. They are of my friend Valerie and her sister Pauline and I can’t remember the other girls name . She must have come with us for a change that day.’ – Vicki Fennell

Submitted by Vicki Fennell