Information for record number MWA3739:
Combe Abbey, Combe Abbey Park

Summary Combe Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey that was founded during the Medieval period. Remains of the cloisters survive in the walls of a later building. The Abbey is situated 1km north west of Birchley Wood.
What Is It?  
Type: Cistercian Monastery, Ditch, Drainage System, Conduit, Cloister, Country House, Oriel Window, Chapter House
Period: Medieval - Modern (1066 AD - 2050 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Combe Fields
District: Rugby, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 40 79
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Listed Building (Grade: I)
Sites & Monuments Record
Picture(s) attached


Source Number  

1 Cistercian Abbey of Combe was founded in 1150 by Richard De Camvill and was surrendered on the 21st January 1539.
2 Combe Abbey occupies the site and includes a few remains of the Cistercian Abbey. Towards the end of the 16th century John (afterwards Lord) Harington built a house which incorporated three sides of the 15th century cloister. The fourth side was destroyed with the church (PRN 5485). There were various later alterations. The only surviving 12th century structure is the entrance to the chapter house, which was in the east wall of the cloister.
5 Traces of the 15th century cloisters survive with 16th century alterations.
6 A comprehensive archaeological assessment of the Abbey and its surroundings was undertaken in 1991 as part of an evaluation connected with a planning application for a hotel development.(see 12)
7 Limited excavations were carried out by Coventry Museum as part of the evaluation (PRN 6422).
8 A programme of archaeological recording by Northants archaeology accompanied the conversion of this Grade 1 listed structure into a hotel. Major phases represented are: circa 1580-90; early 17th century; 1667 (Sir Isaac Gibson); c1680-90 (Capt. William Winde); 18th century; 1863-4 (William Eden Nesfield); 1930's.
10 Levels of survivial of any one period vary across the site. Sucessive rebuilding and new structures over 800 years have produced what is in effect an 'urban' stratigraphy of great complexity. excavation shows that considerable structural remains can and do survive from each of the main periods of occupation. The Abbey Winde build and Nefield build are all represented. Where Nesfield built the foundations have almost certainly removed any earlier remains (See PRN6422 for further details)
12 building recording and analysis of nine centuries of Combe Abbey by Iain Soden. A detailed phasing with supporting documentary and map evidence was carried out. A record of any architectural or decorative features was compiled in addition to a list of artefacts recovered from each of the rooms prior to the conversion into a hotel.
13 A series of medieval finds and features were recorded during a series of observations carried out during 2006-2007. The most complete evidence came from observations to the north of the hotel for construction of a new bedroom block (Areas A-D). The earliest dateable evidence recorded included a large feature, interpreted as a late13th-14th century ditch which supplied water to the Abbey, the fill of which contained an almost complete jug made in the local kilns at Chilvers Coton but in the north French style. The ditch appears to have been culverted, with a boxed wooden conduit to take the flow of water. A smaller contemporary drainage ditch, which had been partially lined with ashlars and roof tile, was also examined. This feature probably flowed close by a monastic kitchen, as it contained a substantial dump of waste associated with food production, including a unique assemblage of ceramic skillets made at Chilvers Coton which appear to have been used like modern mess-tins. The report includes details of the medieval pottery, floor and roof tiles found. The alignment of the large medieval ditch continued to be used throughout the post-medieval and early modern periods, although otherwise very little evidence for activity in these periods was recognised until a sequence of brick culverts and a circular cistern (see MWA9665) were constructed in the late 18th century. Part of a probably medieval building was also recorded, which may be part of a building referred to as the Pigeon house on a 17th-century plan (see MWA13424).
15 Country House, formerly Cistercian Abbey. 12th century origins with 13th century, late 16th century, late 17th and 19th century alterations and additions, in part by Isaac Gibson and William Winde. Sandstone ashlar with tiled and slate roofs. U-plan. Entrance facade to inner left of courtyard comprises 15th century cloister with 16th century additions above. Plank door within 19th century stone porch to centre right. Nine bays of stone 15th century four-light cusped windows with four-centred arch heads. Buttresses between windows. To far left a blocked round-headed arch. First floor stuccoed timber-frame and stone built late 16th century. Seven wood oriel windows of four leaded-lights with mullions and transoms and gabled heads suppported on consoles. Range continuing forward from right has second storey of two four-light wood casements. Moulded eaves cornice above. Range opposite entrance facade has remains of late 12th century chapter house with central arch of 4 orders of shafts and capitals. arches to either side of two round-headed lights within round-headed arch supported on three orders of shafts, the middle paired. To either side a round-headed arch of 3 orders. Blocked arch to right. Additions by Nesfield built above in 1860's demolished 1925. To right, remains of 12th century warming room rebuilt by Nesfield, with some original details. Garden front of two ranges. To left, two-storey seven-window range designed by William Winde, 1680-91. Twenty four-pane sashes to ground and first floor with moulded architraves and triangular pediments, segmental pediments and flat hoods supported on consoles. Central first floor window has flat hood supported on fluted columns with capitals. Central three-bay section projects forward slightly, the angles quoined. Pediment above was carved by Howard Pierce. Modillion eaves cornice. Range to left, and attic storey were demolished 1925. Rainwater heads dated 1684. Mid 17th century wing to right by Isaac Gibson of two storeys. Paired sashes to ground and first floors originally had mullions and transoms, and have moulded architraves. Three-light stone mullioned windows to second floor gables. First and second floor windows have hood-moulds. 20th century bay to ground floor. Left angle of range has quoins. North facade: site of William Winde's North Saloon remains. East facade: site of Nesfield's East range, demolished 20th century, of which Neo-Norman arches on ground floor remain. Interior: 18th century ceilings in 15th century cloister. William Winde's dining room (1684) has plaster ceilings by E. George. Also wood-panelled room with Ionic columns supporting ceiling. Alabaster fireplace and panelled doors. Founded in 1150, Combe Abbey passed to the Harrington family at the Dissolution. From the early 17th century it was the seat of the Cravens until early 20th century.

Source No: 14
Source Type: Article in serial
Title: Symbols of Status in Medieval Warwickshire (1000-1500)
Author/originator: Hook D
Date: 2014
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 117
Source No: 6
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Combe Abbey, Coventry, Warwickshire. An archaeological assessment.
Author/originator: Rodwell W
Date: 1991
Page Number:
Source No: 2
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 6, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1951
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: VI
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 2, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Page W (ed)
Date: 1908
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 2
Source No: 5
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: LBL
Author/originator: DoE
Date: 1986
Page Number: 17
Source No: 9
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Country Life
Author/originator: Tipping H A
Date: 1909
Page Number: 794-805, 840-9
Volume/Sheet: 26
Source No: 3
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 6, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1951
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: VI
Source No: 11
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Buildings Recording Archive Addenda and Re-presentation of... excavations at Combe Abbey 1991-1998
Author/originator: Northamptonshire Archaeology
Date: 2002
Page Number:
Source No: 12
Source Type: Building Survey
Title: Hearth and Home: The archaeology of Combe Abbey, Warwickshire. 1991-1998
Author/originator: Soden I
Date: 1998
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Part 1
Source No: 13
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: Coombe Abbey Hotel, Warwickshire: The Archaeology of the Bedroom Block, Conservatory Extension and South car Park, 2007-8
Author/originator: Palmer S C, Gethin B, Jones C, Rann C and Ratkai S
Date: 2009
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 0947
Source No: 7
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Combe Abbey, Warwickshire. An archaeological evaluation
Author/originator: Coventry Museum
Date: 1991
Page Number:
Source No: 10
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Combe Abbey, Warwickshire An Archaeological Evaluation
Author/originator: Coventry Museums Archaeology Unit
Date: 1991
Page Number:
Source No: 15
Source Type: Statuatory List
Title: National Heritage List for England
Author/originator: Historic England
Page Number:
Source No: 4
Source Type: Record Card/Form
Title: OS Card 29NE1
Author/originator: Ordnance Survey
Date: 1967
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 29NE1
Source No: 8
Source Type: Serial
Title: WMA vol 36 (1993)
Author/originator: White, R (ed)
Date: 1994
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 36
A Medieval floor tile from Combe Abbey
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Click here for larger image  
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Word or Phrase
designation Listed Building Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a statutory list. These buildings are protected by planning and conservation acts that ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them.

Depending on how important the buildings are they are classed as Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II. Grade I buildings are those of exceptional interest. Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Those listed as Grade II are those buildings that are regarded of special interest.
source LBL Listed Building List. Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a list. Buildings placed on the list are protected through various planning and conservation acts which ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them. The Listed Buildings List is compiled and maintained by English Heritage. It includes details of where the building is, when it was built, a description of its appearance, and any other special features. back
source OS Card Ordnance Survey Record Card. Before the 1970s the Ordnance Survey (OS) were responsible for recording archaeological monuments during mapping exercises. This helped the Ordnance Survey to decide which monuments to publish on maps. During these exercises the details of the monuments were written down on record cards. Copies of some of the cards are kept at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. The responsibility for recording archaeological monuments later passed to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments. back
source WMA West Midlands Archaeology. This publication contains a short description for each of the sites where archaeological work has taken place in the previous year. It covers Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. Some of these descriptions include photographs, plans and drawings of the sites and/or the finds that have been discovered. The publication is produced by the Council For British Archaeology (CBA) West Midlands and is published annually. Copies are held at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
technique excavation Archaeologists excavate sites so that they can find information and recover archaeological materials before they are destroyed by erosion, construction or changes in land-use.

Depending on how complicated and widespread the archaeological deposits are, excavation can be done by hand or with heavy machinery. Archaeologists may excavate a site in a number of ways; either by open area excavation, by digging a test pit or a trial trench.
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period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument SHAFT * Use only if function unknown, otherwise use specific type. back
monument COUNTRY HOUSE * The rural residence of a country gentleman. back
monument HOTEL * A large building used for the accommodation of paying travellers and guests. back
monument CONSERVATORY * A glasshouse used to grow and display tender decorative plants. May be either an extension to a house or freestanding. back
monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument CISTERN * A covered tank in which rainwater is stored for use when required. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument CHAPTER HOUSE * The building attached to a cathedral or collegiate church where the dean, prebendaries or monks and canons met for the transaction of business. back
monument KILN * A furnace or oven for burning, baking or drying. Use specific type where known. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument CULVERT * A drainage structure that extends across and beneath roadways, canals or embankments. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument ARCH * A structure over an opening usually formed of wedge-shaped blocks of brick or stone held together by mutual pressure and supported at the sides; they can also be formed from moulded concrete/ cast metal. A component; use for free-standing structure only. back
monument FLOOR * A layer of stone, brick or boards, etc, on which people tread. Use broader site type where known. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument KITCHEN * A building or room where food is prepared and cooked. back
monument CHURCH * A building used for public Christian worship. Use more specific type where known. back
monument FACADE * Use wider site type where known. Only use term where no other part of original building survives. back
monument ABBEY * A religious house governed by an abbot or abbess. Use with narrow terms of DOUBLE HOUSE, MONASTERY or NUNNERY. back
monument CLOISTER * A covered walk, walled on one side and usually arcaded on the other, surrounding or partly surrounding an open area in a monastery or similar complex of Christian buildings. back
monument SEAT * An external structure used to sit on. back
monument HEARTH * The slab or place on which a fire is made. back
monument COURTYARD * An uncovered area, surrounded or partially surrounded by buildings. back
monument MUSEUM * A building, group of buildings or space within a building, where objects of value such as works of art, antiquities, scientific specimens, or other artefacts are housed and displayed. back
monument WOOD * A tract of land with trees, sometimes acting as a boundary or barrier, usually smaller and less wild than a forest. back
monument CISTERCIAN MONASTERY * An abbey or priory of Cistercian monks. back
monument CAR PARK * A place where cars and other road vehicles may be parked and left. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument MESS * A military dining room where members of the armed forces eat and take recreation. back
monument COLUMN * Use for free standing column. back
monument GARDEN * An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables and/or recreational purposes. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STRUCTURE * A construction of unknown function, either extant or implied by archaeological evidence. If known, use more specific type. back
monument CONDUIT * A pipe or channel for conveying water or other liquids. back
monument DRAINAGE SYSTEM * A system of artificial or natural drains and ditches used to drain off surplus water. back
monument ROUND * A small, Iron Age/Romano-British enclosed settlement found in South West England. back
monument RAINWATER HEAD * The receptacle at the top of a rain-water pipe which gathers the water from one or more outlets or gutters on the roof. back
monument DRAINAGE DITCH * A long, narrow ditch designed to carry water away from a waterlogged area. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record