Thursday, February 22, 2007

Research at Coombe Abbey

A few days ago, Melinda Hammond posted a fascinating item about the inspiration we all get from historic buildings. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in one such place, Coombe Abbey, in Warwickshire. It is somewhere I have always wanted to visit for my research and to be able to stay there was a dream come true!

As the name implies, Coombe was once a religious foundation and some of the original Norman buildings, including the cloisters, are still standing. We were given a suite in the sixteenth century part of the building and had a marvellous time exploring the house and the estate.

Of particular interest was the eighteenth century church where the Craven family worshipped during the Regency period. It is absolutely charming. One fact that I found fascinating was that the Earls of Craven had their own private chapel, where they sat for the services. I had heard of important families having their own pews in church but never a private chapel. This was tucked away on the north side of the church, had its own entrance and was designed so that the family were hidden from the view of the rest of the parishioners! I could imagine them driving up to the church in their carriage, entering through their own private door and the congregation craning their necks to see the Earl and his guests, rather in the manner of that scene in the film of Pride and Prejudice when Mr Collins in preaching and Lady Catherine and her guests attend the service!

Best wishes

Nicola Cornick


Amanda said...

This reminds me of Mansfield Park, when Fanny visited Mr Rushworth's estate. There was a family chapel, but Mrs Rushworth told them that family prayers were no longer held there. Mary Crawford laughed and said that it was a good thing, but Fanny and Edmund both liked the idea of family prayers in their own private chapel.

Jane O said...

You've made me want to visit Coombe Abbey so much-it looks lovely!

Melinda said...

Fascinating, Nicola. And lovely colours in the chapel. We tend to think of Georgian and Regency interios having pale, muted colours, but that's because much of their decor has faded over the years. I hope you gained lots of inspiration from your visit!