The colourful history of one of the region’s historic buildings is being brought to light as part of a research project.
Coombe Abbey Hotel, just outside Coventry, started life as a 12th Century Abbey and the Grade I building is now a successful hotel operated by No Ordinary Hospitality Management.
Now the company has commissioned a locally-based property expert to research the history of the property, which is just outside the city, to draw the 900-year story together.
The history will help inform any potential development plans for the hotel, and will be used to add to the customer and staff experience.
Nigel Clews, who was Assistant Director Property Asset Management at Coventry City Council before retiring in 2018 has been tasked with the research project which is already revealing Coombe’s rich history.
He said: “Coombe Abbey has a special place in the hearts of local people. They have either visited the hotel for special occasions, spent time in the grounds or visited events which take place there, but many are unaware of the incredible history of the place.
“Many books have been written on history of Coombe, and there is masses of information on every aspect of the property – from its history and various changes of ownership right through to how water and electricity were supplied to the abbey.
“Among the contemporary reports and documents is a 10-page feature which Country Life Magazine carried in 1909 which gives a real insight into the property as the centre of a country estate.
“I have worked in Coventry for more than 30 years and was, in my role with Coventry City Council, responsible for Coombe Abbey from a property point of view, but I have learned so much from this project so far, and I have only really scratched the surface.”
The Abbey was founded in 1150 and passed through several ownerships following its dissolution in 1528. The Craven family-owned Coombe Abbey for 300 years from 1620-1923, before the estate was split up and the Abbey purchased by John Gray, a Coventry builder. He used Coombe as a family home and after the 2nd World War leased it to GEC as a hostel for post-grad employees.
Coventry City Council took ownership in the 1960s and the country park was opened in 1966, before the Abbey was restored and opened as Coombe Abbey Hotel in 1995.
Richard Harrison, CEO of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, said: “Coombe Abbey Hotel has a fascinating history and its significance to Coventry and the region stretches back centuries.
“While many similar such country homes struggled to maintain economic viability and fell into dereliction as estates were split, Coombe has continued to be a vibrant and successful place which means a great deal to local people, and is a key driver in attracting business into the area.
“As we take the business forward, we very much want to be informed about the history of Coombe and Nigel’s work is very much bringing that to life.”