Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 48 (2017)
George Eliot’s last home for a few weeks. Purchased for 15m two years ago by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the house is empty and appears to be undergoing major alterations. We suggested a donation towards our Visitor Centre from the Bloomberg Foundation but answer came there none.
First the good news. Four years after we complained to Coventry City Council they have replaced the sign which had spelt Eliot with two ‘I’s, one of which they painted white! Unfortunately, the building associated with the road, Bird Grove, is empty, neglected and up to let. It has a chequered career since 1850, as a private residence (the only early pictures of the interior date from the centenary 1919 celebrations in Conventry), more recently as an evangelical church which dug a baptismal pool in the sitting room, and latterly a Bangladeshi community centre which did great work in the area until EU money dried up.
Building at Griff- GE Vistor Centre
Five years on, the building is in a parlous state. We are resubmitting planning applications and Whitbread is still committed to up to 180K but we are now at the paperwork and legal stage with Whitbread, necessary before submitting HLF application, which will happen in the net six week. Members have contributed 6652 so far and once HLF is granted we think local businesses will give more. We are bursting with ideas for using the Centre when it is open, and it will be fabulous as a base for the 2019 bi-centenary celebrations. Coventry hopes to be City of Culture in 2021. What fantastic opportunity for the city to establish in this building, so important tin the making of George Eliot, a cultural centre to celebrate the city’s now diverse population. We have written to appeal to the city council and Coventry University to find a way together to find a useful function for this Grade II listed building which would do justice to the memory of the great writer who spent her intellectually formative years here.