Combermere Abbey, a complex of medieval and 16th century buildings with extensive Gothic enveloping (of the early 19th century), began as a Cistercian monastery founded in 1133 by Hugh de Malbanc, Lord of Nantwich. It sits overlooking a 143 acre lake and set in gentle rolling parkland filled with ancient oaks.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536, only the Abbot's Lodge (built in 1503) remained, which together with twenty-two thousand acres of land were presented to the Cotton family, who created a manor house and owned the estate until 1919. The house has undergone several remodellings, but the magnificent oak hammerbeam roof and screen still form part of today's house, although now enclosed by a highly decorated 17th century ceiling featuring four centuries of the Cotton family's coats of arms.
Most notable of the Cottons was Sir Stapleton Cotton, a brilliant general, who fought under Wellington at the Battles of Salamanca and Bharatpore. He was created a peer for his services, becoming Viscount Combermere, and was also Governor General of Barbados and Commander in Chief of Ireland and India. He finally died aged 91.
In 1814, the house was remodelled in the Gothic style so popular at that time, and to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's visit in 1820, he built a ballroom for the event (!) and planted an oak tree which is still in the park. In 1837, a large Jacobean style stable block, designed by the Morrisons of Ireland to house 36 horses was built. This building is now home to a number of 5* holiday cottages.
Combermere has hosted a number of distinguished visitors including Charles II, William of Orange, Samuel Johnson and Mrs Thrale, and Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, who described the Abbey as "picturesque, wild and romantic".
In 1919, the estate, then five thousand acres, was bought by Sir Kenneth Crossley, Bt., Chairman of the Crossley Car and Crossley Engineering companies in Manchester. In 1992, his great-granddaughter, Sarah Callander Beckett inherited the estate, and now lives in the Abbey with her family. As well as juggling a variety of businesses on the estate, including an organic farm, a self-catering operation, and a weddings and corporate hospitality, she has a on-going restoration programme for all the listed buildings on the estate to ensure its future prosperity.