DiCamillo Companion

Coombe Abbey (Combe Abbey)

  • House & Family History: In 1150 the land that Coombe now occupies was founded as the Abbey of Coombe, which grew to become the wealthiest and most powerful abbey in Warwickshire. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s by Henry VIII, Coombe was purchased by Sir John Harrington and converted to a private home. In 1622 the Craven family purchased the Coombe Abbey Estate and it remained their seat until 1922, when they sold the Coombe Estates to a property developer; in 1923 the House was auctioned to a property developer who leased it to GEC for use as a training center. In 1964 Coventry City Council purchased the House and 150 acres of the Estate. Coombe Abbey Regional Park was opened to the public in 1966. In 1995, after a £15 million restoration, Coombe Abbey Hotel opened to the public. The design of Coombe Abbey was influenced by Clarendon House, built between 1664 and 1667 to the designs of Sir Roger Pratt for the lord chancellor, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. (Clarendon House was a palace situated at the top of St. James's Street in the Piccadilly section of London; yet for all its grandeur, it had a short life, being demolished in 1684, one year after Lord Clarendon's death.) Part of the intent of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was to put the nine-year-old Princess Elizabeth (sister of Charles I) on the throne of England as a Catholic monarch, after assassinating her father, King James I, and the Protestant English aristocracy. At the time of the plot Princess Elizabeth was staying at Coombe Abbey, from where the conspirators planned to kidnap her; this part of the plot was never implemented and Princess Elizabeth went on to become the famous Winter Queen of Bohemia.

    Collections: A pair of exceptional mahogany urns with goat-head handles and pinecone finials, called The Craven Urns, were probably made for Baron Craven's London home in the 1760s. The urns are lead-lined and have gilt-metal taps, probably for iced water for drinking. One of the pedestals, upon which the urns sit, is fitted with a metal-lined cabinet for warming plates. At some point the urns were moved to the Cravens' country house, Combe Abbey, where they remained until the 1960s, when they were purchased by Jeremy Cotton, owner of Tythrop Park. The urns were sold by Cotton in the late 20th century and are now in a private collection.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The House today sits in 500 acres, originally part of the Craven Estate.

  • Architect: William Winde (Wynne)

    Date: 1682-85
    Designed: Remodeled House for his godfather, 1st Earl of Craven.

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    Architect: William Andrews Nesfield

    Designed: East Wing, servants quarters, Coach House, Stables, and the Moat.

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    Architect: Lewis Nockalls Cottingham

    Designed: Work for the Earl of Craven, including a Louis XIV style Drawing Room.

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  • Country Life: XXVI, 794, 840, 1909.

  • Title: Belton House Guidebook - 1992
    Author: Tinniswood, Adrian
    Year Published: 1992
    Reference: pgs. 9, 10
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: 0707801133
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Extraordinary Furniture
    Author: Linley, David
    Year Published: 1996
    Reference: pg. 61
    Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0810932571
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Classical Architecture in Britain: The Heroic Age
    Author: Worsley, Giles
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 66
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
    ISBN: 0300058969
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Country Life (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Feb 6, 2003, pg. 85
    Publisher: London: Future plc
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II*

  • "Holidays Out" (1996 - BBC TV documentary series). "The Afternoon Play" (2004 - TV series, episode 2.1, "Venus and Mars," as the Cotswolds weekend hotel, featuring the Lady Craven bedroom suite). "Lady Godiva: Back in the Saddle" (2006 - using the banqueting hall).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Sir John Harrington, 16th century. George Grimston Craven, 3rd Earl of Craven, 19th century; Craven family here from 1622 until 1922.

    Current Ownership Type: Corporation

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Hotel

    Ownership Details: Now Coombe Abbey Hotel

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 02476-450-450

    Fax: 02476-635-101

    Email: post@coombeabbey.com

    Website: http://www.coombeabbey.com

    Historic Houses Member: No