Shropshire, SY13 4AJ
A former monastery, this Gothic country house sits in a parkland of ancient oaks surrounded by a 143 acre lake.
The abbey was founded by Hugh Malbank, Baron of Nantwich, in the 1130s. Although it initially flourished, by 1275 it was deeply in debt and had to be removed from the abbot's management. Spending the next 250 years in and out of Royal custody, Combermere acquired a reputation for poor discipline and violent disputes with both lay people and other abbeys.
After its dissolution in 1538 it was acquired by Sir George Cotton, who demolished the church and most of the buildings and converted part of the abbey into a country house. The house was remodelled in 1563 by Sir George's son, Richard Cotton, altered in 1795 by Sir Robert Cotton, and Gothicised in 1814–21 by Stapleton Cotton, Viscount Combermere. It remains in private hands today, but visitors are welcome on certain days or groups by appointment.
The abbey is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lord Combermere, who died in 1891 after being struck by one of London's first motor cabs. Combermere's figure can be made out in a photograph of the abbey library, which was taken at the same time of his funeral four miles away.
By the 1970s, the north wing deteriorated so badly it was in danger of collapse, and it was placed on the Heritage at Risk register in 1998. Following a lengthy fundraising campaign, a much-needed restoration project took place in 2016. The work has revealed new features of the abbey that have long remained hidden.