Selectaglaze: Lady Godiva’s medieval legacies live on for generations to come

  • 1 Nov 2021

3-5 Priory Row, a set of stunning 15th century timber framed cottages formed part of, and stand next to, the ruins of St Mary’s priory which was founded by Earl Lefric and his wife Lady Godiva. They now feature secondary glazing from Selectaglaze.

The cottages escaped ruin during the 1940 bombing raid which destroyed much of the historic city centre.

Although the timbers used in the Grade II* Listed cottage’s construction have been tree ringed, dating back to 1414, it is understood they were not constructed until approximately 1648 by Rev Bryan of Holy Trinity Church, using salvaged materials from other building projects. In 1855 they were renovated and extended.

Coventry Heritage Trust took control of them to form one of the city’s leading heritage venues as part of its ‘City Of Culture 2021’ status. They have been thoroughly restored, refurbished and conserved, as luxury short term lets.


Architects Vagdia and Holmes set about obtaining planning permissions and put together the specifications to upgrade these architecturally challenging cottages. As they are Grade II* Listed buildings, and in line with the clients wishes, any changes need to be absolutely minimal to preserve their charm and character yet needed to be made comfortable and functional for those renting the spaces.

They are timber framed with lath and plaster infills and in the main they had the original single pane diamond leaded decorative windows, doing little to provide thermal and acoustic insulation.

The only way to upgrade the window performance

Secondary glazing was considered the only way to upgrade the window performance, so an uncomplicated specification was put together. 

Messenger Construction undertook major structural repairs before the main refurbishment works could commence. Historic investigations had to be actioned as and when things were unearthed, such as historic oak wooden flooring hidden beneath carpets.

The ‘Godiva Room’

An original window in what is known as the ‘Godiva Room’, was found in a wall, most likely a left over from prior renovations, which now forms a feature. Messenger sub-contracted Selectaglaze to manufacture and install the secondary glazing units, with 2 sample windows to be provided initially for sign off by the client and architect.

Installation and surveying were highly demanding as the buildings have moved over time, so the windows were far from plumb and true. Some had reveals into which the secondary could be fitted and some not. Therefore, careful planning and attention was given to the fixing details in each and every opening.

They were measured and timber sub-grounds produced, which were installed to square up the reveal or to enable face fixing. Much scribing was needed to meet the shape and nuances of the original timber surrounds. Once this was put in place, production measurements for the aluminium frames were taken to ensure an exact fit. 

38 units were produced from across the slimline range of secondary glazing; Series 10 – 2 and 3 pane sliders were used for the smaller windows and 4 pane horizontal sliding units for those spanning just shy of two metres. Series 45 hinged casements were installed, two of which were glazed with Satinovo glass to provide privacy.

To compliment the dark wood reveals in a few of the windows, black frames were produced, with the rest of the secondary glazing in white to blend in with the surrounds. 

‘Can-do’ attitude

Dhiran Vagdia, of Vagdia and Holmes, comments: “We have been pleased to work with a number of specialist suppliers like Selectaglaze, to realise the vision for these Cottages.

“It is reassuring and helpful to be supported by established and experienced suppliers and installers, we rely on their technical advice, critical challenge and ‘can-do’ problem solving attitude.”

The installation of secondary glazing is discreet and sensitive to the fabric of the building, plus with furniture and furnishings in place, the units become unobtrusive.

The intervention of secondary glazing has helped create cosy and quiet refuges for visitors to the city of Coventry, preserving the historic legacy of these buildings for many years to come.

To read about Selectaglaze installing 47 secondary glazing units to a number of large gothic arched stained-glass windows in St Philip’s Church, Wolverhampton, click here.


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