The De Montfort Hotel (now the Holiday Inn) opened in 1967, occupying part of the site destroyed by the landmine of the 21st November 1940. Historically, the Square had been more of an intimate affair, comprising a cozy triangular area enclosed by low rise buildings on all sides. The ‘then’ picture shows that at this time the clock tower was enclosed in a triangular traffic island, with a larger circular roundabout behind where previously Number 2 The Square, which survived the 1940 landmine, had stood.
The clock tower dates from 1906 and was presented to the town by George Marshall Turner, the proprietor of a large drapery emporium in Birmingham. The crown on top of the clock tower, which was declared unsafe and dismantled following the devastation caused by the 1940 landmine, was replaced in 1973.
James Fish’s 1692 map of Kenilworth show the remains of a market cross at this spot.
The Square, early 1960s. Where the roundabout now stands once stood an elegant building with grand bay-windows, which can be seen on many a postcard of the Square from before the turn of the century. The ‘then’ image above shows its somewhat truncated state in the early late 1960s, following a number of enforced reductions in its size as explained below, shortly before its final demolition.
The right hand side of the building was demolished in 1932 as part of the Abbey End road widening scheme, leaving only the left hand side, minus the upper floor, which survived the war and became Dudley Taylor’s chemist’s shop. Ultimately it gave way to the utilitarian traffic management schemes of the 1960s and now the Square is a somewhat windswept and characterless shadow of its former self, dominated by the towering Holiday Inn.
More information on the tragic fate of The Square and Abbey End can, as ever, be found on Robin Leach’s excellent WWII website: