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Cistercian Abbeys: COMBERMERE

Name: COMBERMERE Location: nr Whitchurch County: Cheshire
Foundation: 1133 Mother house: Savigny
Relocation: None Founder: Hugh Malbank
Dissolution: 1538 Prominent members:
Access: Private property

The abbey at Combermere, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Michael, was founded in 1133 by Hugh Malbank. The foundation charter was witnessed by Ranulf II, earl of Chester, who Malbank wished to be regarded as the principle founder and protector of the abbey.(1) It was settled by monks from Savigny, and became a Cistercian monastery when the Savignac Order was merged with the Cistercians in 1147. Over the next century the house attracted enough recruits to be able to provide colonies for three daughter houses: Poulton (1153), Stanlaw (1172) and Hulton (founded 1218-1220).(2)

The assessment of 1535 shows that the abbey had a gross income of £258, and the house was surrendered three years later.(3) After the Dissolution the house was acquired by Sir George Cotton, who adapted parts of the building as a private house. The house was extensively modified in the nineteenth century, to such an extent that it would now be difficult to identify the original structures. In 1837 a Jacobean style stable block was erected on the estate. Both the stable and the house now make up ‘Combermere Abbey Cottages’, a holiday resort set in 1000 acres of parkland. There are no obvious visible remains of the monastery though it is thought that it is the present day country house occupies the site of the east cloister range.(4)