Combermere Abbey named in list of 40-plus houses in new online Literary Trail


Lucy Wain

COMBERMERE Abbey has been named one of 40-plus houses on the new online Literary Trail, launched this week by the  Historic Houses Association (HHA). 

The trail features HHA member houses, all around the UK, which have links to literary figures, books and plays.

“This year has been named the Year of Literary Heroes by Visit England, so where better to celebrate this than at the houses of these heroes themselves?” said HHA director general Ben Cowell.

“Authors as diverse as D.H. Lawrence, Charlotte Brontë, Roald Dahl and George Eliot are all connected with HHA member houses.”

Combermere’s link with the literary past is that Dr Samuel Johnson and his friend Hester Thrale stopped there when they visited north Wales in 1774.

“Our varied member houses are all independently owned and many have been in the same families for generations,” said Mr Cowell. 

“Perhaps you’ll be shown around by a descendant of one of these literary greats. Maybe the author will sign your book. Can you find the desk where your favourite novel was written?

“It’s no surprise so many Historic Houses Association member houses have links to literary heroes of the past – from William Shakespeare to Jane Austen. 

“What is less well known is that some of our members’ houses remain the lived-in homes of authors today, who draw inspiration from the beauty of their surroundings. 

“Visiting these special places helps preserve them for future generations. 

“We hope you enjoy the many houses on our trail, and the literary masterpieces with which they are associated.”

In June 1774 Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale visited Combermere Abbey and stayed with her uncle Sir Lynch Salusbury Cotton. 

 Johnson recorded the stay in the diary of the Tour of North Wales in 1774. 

He wrote: “We left Combermere, where we have been treated with great civility – the house is spacious, but not magnificent; built at different times with different materials.

“Part of it is timber, part of stone or brick, plastered and painted to look like timber – it is the best house that I ever saw of that kind. 

“The mere, lake, is large, with a small island, on which there is a summer house, shaded with great trees; some were hollow and have seats in their trunks.”

The Bhurtpore is the bedroom Dr Johnson would have enjoyed during his stay. 

The newly- restored North Wing, an award-winning restoration project that won the HHA/Sotheby’s restoration award 2016, boasts views across the mere and parkland. 

You can also learn more about the history and renaissance of this beautiful estate on an Abbey guided tour. 

These take place from April 4 until July 7 at £7 per person, and £4 for under-16s.

Each tour lasts for around one hour, and guests will enjoy learning about the Abbey’s rich and varied history, including the key figures and events that shaped the estate’s development. 

Pre-booking is essential – call 01948 662880 or visit for more information.

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