DiCamillo Companion
England

Combermere Abbey

  • Earlier Houses: There was a medieval Cistercian monastery on the site of the current house, parts of which were incorporated into the present house.

    House & Family History: Combermere takes its name from the vast lake that fills the valley to the west of the current, jolly Gothick house, and which animates the house’s setting, reflecting light into the house. Although the parkland and house appear to be an Arcadian Georgian dream, the place has a much earlier origin; indeed, the house itself is much older than its facades suggest. Combermere was originally a monastic site, a Cistercian Abbey that had been founded in 1133 and which, in its heyday, commanded an estate of 22,000 acres. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Combermere passed to Sir George Cotton Comptroller of the Household to the Duke of Richmond. The Abbey’s church was demolished and Sir George converted the abbot’s lodgings into his seat. The present house’s library occupies the site of the abbot’s great hall and is a brilliant late 16th century reinvention of the vast room of the abbot, with a decorated plaster ceiling and handsome oak screen. The Cottons encased what had been a timber-framed house in stucco and gave it the current, pretty Gothick facades in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the ground floor passage is ornamented with Gothic tracery that is, in fact, made of cast iron. The family’s baronetcy was eclipsed in 1827, when the Cotton of the day, a general in the Peninsular Wars, was raised to the peerage as the 1st Viscount Combermere. By the end of the century, though, the family had been badly affected by the agricultural depression; in 1919 Combermere was sold. Its purchaser was Sir Kenneth Crossley, who acquired what was then still an estate of 5,000 acres. His great granddaughter, Sarah Callander Beckett, is the present owner, who, with her husband Peter, and son Peregrine, has turned around the fortunes of the estate. When Sarah inherited in 1992, parts of the house were in severe structural decay and the north wing had not been inhabited for many years. Initially tackling the stables, which were converted to holiday rentals, the family restored a glass house in the walled garden as a wedding venue. Combermere is an astonishing story of restoration against all odds and Sarah, herself, is an inspiration. (We are most grateful to Gareth Williams for this history of Combermere).

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Park includes the large lake of Comber Mere, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

  • Architect: Edward Blore

    Date: 1837
    Designed: Stables for 1st Viscount Combermere

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  • Title: Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990
    Author: Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (Editors)
    Year Published: 1990
    Reference: pg. P 745
    Publisher: London: Debrett's Peerage Limited (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.)
    ISBN: 0312046405
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 132
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Seat of: Sarah Callander Beckett

    Past Seat of: Sir George Cotton, 16th century; Robert Wellington Stapleton-Cotton, 3rd Viscount Combermere, 19th century; Cotton family here from the 16th century until 1919. Sir Kenneth Crossley, early 20th century. William Tucker Lindesay-Bethune, 14th Earl of Lindsay, 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

    Ownership Details: The House is open to visitors in groups or on specific days by appointment. Historc buildings on the Estate have been transformed into holiday cottages. The Estate is also available as a wedding venue.

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 01948-871-662

    Fax: 01948-871-293

    Email: estate@combermereabbey.co.uk

    Website: http://www.combermereabbey.co.uk

    Awards: Historic Houses Association / Sotheby's Restoration Award 2016.

    Historic Houses Member: No