Combermere Abbey Estate

 

The land holding known now as The Combermere Estate has existed for almost 900 years, and perhaps longer, although no evidence has uncovered any earlier settlements prior to the establishment of the Abbey in 1133.  During its monastic period the land holding increased to almost 22,000 acres crossing the borders of Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire.  It included towns and villages like Market Drayton, Audlem, Aston, Wrenbury and many other buildings and businesses.

Its reputation grew during the Cotton era between 1536 and 1919, and the family inherited outside wealth through successful marriages and military campaigns. However, they also lived well enjoying all the pursuits and lifestyle of wealthy local gentry and expensive alterations and the rebuilding of the Abbey itself finally bankrupted the estate which was initially put up for sale in 1893.  A large amount of the land was sold, but a buyer was not found for the Abbey. After further sales in 1917, the Abbey and remaining 5000 acres were sold in 1919 to Sir Kenneth Crossley, chairman of Crossley Motors in Manchester.

The period between the two world wars continued to see the estate run principally as a farm and private home shared with Sir Kenneth’s son Anthony and family.  During the war it became an evacuee school for St Helena’s from Eastbourne, returning to the family in 1945.

Sir Kenneth was tragically pre-deceased by his son and grandson, and onerous death duties further reduced the landholding, but it was inherited upon his death in 1957 by his grand-daughter Penelope, who continued to run it along traditional estate lines with farming and forestry.

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Today, Combermere Abbey remains a family home, lived in by Sarah Callander Beckett and her husband, Peter, and son, Peregrine. However, over the past 24 years since Sarah took over the mantle from her mother, the estate has undergone a seismic change.  The estate is still farmed in hand, and the woodland and mere used for traditional country activities through private syndicates. It has embraced change with the creation of offices from redundant agricultural buildings and recently also built a solar park, supplying electricity to 3000 homes.  The estate now employs almost 30 people and contributes substantially to the local rural economy.

Many of the derelict, unused historic buildings which littered the estate, victims of changes in social circumstances and requirements have found new life as luxury holiday accommodation and an exclusive wedding venue. The Abbey welcomes people on tours and visits and the gardens are open on special open days, enabling the public to enjoy the wonderful landscape and woodlands.  After a 20 year struggle the North Wing of the Abbey has been fully restored and will open in April this year as part of our Wedding business and as a luxury bed and breakfast.