Combermere Abbey

Combermere Abbey
Combermere Abbey: Abbot's House and clock tower

Combermere Abbey is a former monastery in Combermere Park, between Nantwich and Whitchurch in Cheshire, England, near the border with Shropshire.



The name means 'lake of the Cymry', or Welsh, and refers to a enclave of Britons surviving the Anglo-Saxon conquest of the area.

Combermere Park. Dashed lines show private tracks (no public right of way)


The original abbey was Cistercian; founded circa 1133 by Hugh de Malbank, it was endowed with 22,000 acres (89 km²) including part of Nantwich as well as the church at Acton.[1][2] After the dissolution of the abbey in July 1538, the abbey church and various other buildings were demolished, leaving only the Abbot's House.[1][3] The estate was given to Sir George Cotton, in whose family it remained until 1919.[1]

The house was altered and extended between 1814 and 1820 by the diplomat and military leader Sir Stapleton Cotton (later 1st Viscount Combermere), including cement facing and Gothic ornamentation of the main house, and the construction of Wellington's Wing to mark Wellington's visit to the house in 1820.[1] In 1891, Sybell Corbett took a photograph in the library at Combermere Abbey which became famous as "Lord Combermere's Ghost Photo", said to be showing the ghost of the 2nd Viscount Combermere sitting in a chair.[4][5] Combermere Abbey changed hands in 1919, and maintenance problems eventually led to the demolition of parts of the house, including Wellington's Wing, in 1972.[1]


Memorial obelisk in Combermere Park

The present Combermere Abbey is a grade I listed building,[6] part of a 1,100 acre (4.5 km²) estate which is run as an organic dairy farm.[1] Guided tours of the abbey are available on Thursday afternoons between April and September.

The Abbot's House, a timber-framed building with a hammerbeam roof, dates from around 1500 and is the oldest surviving building. Near the abbey are various outbuildings, including a game larder (grade II* listed), icehouse and clock tower. The stable block, constructed in 1837, has been converted into eleven holiday cottages. However, attempts to gain planning permission to build a village of a hundred houses on 14 acres (57,000 m2) of estate land, with the stated aim of funding restoration of the abbey, were turned down in 2005.[7]

Comber Mere

A grade-II-listed sandstone obelisk (dated 1890) commemorating the 1st Viscount Combermere stands at SJ576448 on a rise at the edge of Combermere Park.[8][9]

Comber Mere

The park includes the large natural lake of Comber Mere, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its swamp and fen environments, as well as its importance for birds. The mere is an important overwintering ground for wildfowl, and also has one of the largest heronries in Cheshire and Shropshire.[10] The National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens lists 200 hectares of the park at Grade II.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Callander Beckett S. (2004) 'Combermere Abbey: A Brief History' (leaflet)
  2. ^ Latham, Frank A., ed. Acton, pp. 18–19 (The Local History Group; 1995) (ISBN 0-9522284-1-6)
  3. ^ Latham, p. 25
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ghost Photos: Lord Combermere
  6. ^ Images of England (accessed 17 July 2007)
  7. ^ Campaign to Protect Rural England press release
  8. ^ Public Monument and Sculpture Association: Memorial to Field Mareshal Viscount Combermere (accessed 15 February 2008)
  9. ^ Images of England: Monumental Obelisk (accessed 15 February 2008)
  10. ^ English Nature: Comber Mere
  11. ^ "Combermere Abbey", The National Heritage List for England (English Heritage), 2011,, retrieved 1 May 2011 

External links

Coordinates: 52°59′37″N 2°36′50″W / 52.99361°N 2.61389°W / 52.99361; -2.61389

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