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Combermere Abbey

A Grade I Listed Building in Dodcott cum Wilkesley, Cheshire East

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Latitude: 52.9928 / 52°59'34"N

Longitude: -2.6163 / 2°36'58"W

OS Eastings: 358728

OS Northings: 344123

OS Grid: SJ587441

Mapcode National: GBR 7P.HF0K

Mapcode Global: WH9BN.S1BG

Entry Name: Combermere Abbey

Listing Date: 10 June 1952

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1136900

English Heritage Legacy ID: 57046

Location: Dodcott cum Wilkesley, Cheshire East, SY13

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Dodcott cum Wilkesley

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Burleydam St Mary and St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Chester

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Listing Text

SJ 54 SE

Combermere Abbey


Country house, formerly abbey buildings. Founded in 1133 as a Cisterian monastery by Hugh de Malbank. Nothing survives within the present structure which can be securely dated to the C12 although several fragments of Romanesque carving have been discovered in the gardens.

At the Dissolution the estate was granted to Sir George Cotton. It seems likely that he demolished the church and other abbey buildings but retained the abbot's lodging placed above the western cloister range as his house. It is also likely, judging from the ecclesiastical arms to the roof of the great hall, that the abbot's lodging had been remodelled shortly before the Dissolution. In particular the placing of the great hall (now library) at first floor is similar to the planning at Vale Royal,also a Cistercian house. A datestone discovered in 1795 records: "Master Richard Cotton and his sons three Both for their pleasure and commodity This building did edifies In fifteen hundred and sixty three".

An engraving by Buck of 1727 shows the present entrance front to have a ground floor of stone set with blocked pointed arches presumably of the cloister arcade, and with a decoratively timber framed first floor. An early C18 oil painting of the house shows the rear (now Lake front) to have a similar ashlar ground floor with projecting timber framed wings to either side and a timber framed first floor with decorative infill and gables. In 1774 Dr Johnson recorded the house as still being largely timber framed but alterations occurred in 1795 and after 1814 including the addition of new service wings and the covering of the house with cement render applied to wooden battens. Rendered timber framing, rendered stone and rendered brick having a slate roof with lead flashings. Two and three storeys.

Eastern (entrance) front: Originally E-shaped the dining room wing to the right of c.1820 has now been demolished leaving a screen of three arches to the far right and a blank rendered gable end where it originally joined the house. To the left of this are five bays of three storeys having two-light windows with Y-tracery and cusped heads all inserted c.1814-20 into the original timber framed fabric which was also rendered at that time and decorated with incised blind cross arrow slits. The distribution of bays follows the original rhythm of the timber framed house as seen in Buck's print of 1727 save that there is a projecting single storey gabled porch with octagonal turrets to the corners at left of centre. This has a four-centered doorway with panelled double doors and a square stone panel of blind tracery to the gable with the Cotton arms in a shield to the centre. A further addition is the semi-octagonal staircase turret immediately at left of the porch set with cusped lancets and with pinnacles to the roof and at right of the porch is a tripartite window with French windows to the centre with a pointed head and lancers to either side. To the left of this portion is a projecting three-bay wing of c.1814-20 originally of three storeys but reduced in the C20 to two storeys. This has two-light cusped windows of similar form to those at right. To the top of the wall, as elsewhere on the house, is a moulded cornice supporting a shallow battlemented parapet. Projecting to the left of this is the single storey service wing with water tower (listed as a separate item q.v.).

The right hand side of the house has, at left, the arcade of three arches which originally formed one outer wall of the demolished dining room. The pointed arches have floating hood moulds above. To the right of this are four symmetrically disposed bays with pilaster buttresses between and at either side of the two central bays. There are four-centered relieving arches above all four bays. The render has fallen off at the left exposing lower walls of replaced C19 brick and upper walls showing timber framing including massive beams with incised ornament of quatrefoils and fleurs de lys and decorative infill of quadrant and S-shaped timbers.

The lake front is of eight bays with projecting wings at right and left with-tripartite windows at ground floor level similar to that on the entrance front. There is a similar window with a central door at left of centre with a wooden porch of three arches set before it. All the other windows are of the two-light cusped form seen on the entrance front. All the bays have projecting four-centered relieving arches over and are divided by pilaster buttresses. The bay at left of centre has a shallow gable above it. To the right of this is a recessed range now of two storeys height but formerly of three. This has a canted bay window at right and a staircase window at left extending through two storeys. A further three bays to right again dating from c.1814-20 have now been demolished.

Interior: The present entrance hall has coved niches to either side and a ceiling formed of recessed square panels divided by moulded ribs and with diamond-shaped bosses. The cornice here and to the cross corridor has foliage motifs of painted wood. The corridor has cross arches of four-centered form with wall posts formed of clusters of columns.

The former entrance hall is divided by two transverse screens each having columns to either side formed of clusters of columns rising to capitals showing acanthus leaves with lilies between and with quatrefoils to the frieze. Chimney piece to the northern wall of white and grey marble with demi-columns to either side of similar form to those which form the screens. The dining room has C17 panelling which has round arched panels to the lower wall with diamond rustication and above the chair rail, rectangular panels with moulded borders to the tops and sides and chamfered sills. The southern staircase is of two flights and has balusters of quatrefoil section. The library at first floor level is divided from the landing by a wooden screen which has two sets of double doors with round-arched heads. Each door is of three raised and fielded panels and the slam plates are formed of a continuous band of alternating miniature caryatids and Ionic pilasters with cherub heads to the top. Between the doors are set painted panels showing figures in C16 or early C17 costume. The side to the library has similar slam plates to the doors. To the spandrels are animated carvings of satyrs and the arches have projecting keystones of wood. To either side of these doors are Ionic pilasters divided by panels of diamond pointed rustication. The plinths have lion masks to the central panels. There are further similar pilasters to the extreme left and right and panels showing grotesque heads. Above to the frieze are panels of marquetry and above each pilaster is a moulded bracket. The remaining panelling in the room appears to have been rearranged or brought from elsewhere including an early C20 screen opposite the Jacobean screen originally housing an organ. The coved ceiling is of C17 date and has arched panels to the coving on two sides. The central panel has circular panels with radiating bars and bosses decorated with coats of arms as are the panels to the coving, all being C19 additions.

The roof above this ceiling has three false hammer-beam trusses with moulded arched braces rising to richly carved central bosses and coats of arms to the lower braces including ecclesiastical arms. Specie e truss to northern end with tension bracing and wattle and daub infill, and a moulded tie beam with quatrefoils in relief.

The northern wing has a staircase of two flights with a half-turn and one room with exposed timber framing to the walls including chevron and ogee struts. Ashlar chimney piece with four-centered moulded arch and pargetting to the walls including a rectangular panel with four rosettes to the corners and rosette and rope motifs with fleurs de lys. The house retains a fine great hall and a considerable quantity of good C16 and C17 timber framing as well as possible earlier material beneath a skin of early C19 render.

Listing NGR: SJ5872644130

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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