Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is little potted history of our pub and the local area... if you have a spare minute or two and maybe a cup of tea (or is that a G&T), we think it's well worth read.
The most notable of the Cottons was Sir Stapleton Cotton, born in 1772, who became a brilliant general and fought under Wellington at the Battle of Salamanca. He was created a peer for his services, becoming Viscount Combermere, and was also Governor General of Barbados and Commander in Chief of Ireland and India.
Sir Stapleton was in military service for 73 years and fought in 17 battles, and was so proud of his prowess on the battlefield he incorporated his medals on his coat of arms, as you can see on the pub signs. Whilst plainly an exceptional man, he was noted for being vain, and was caricatured by Thackeray in his work ‘The Book of Snobs’ as Sir George Tufto, whose "breast sparkled with innumerable decorations".
An equestrian statue of Sir Stapleton stands at the end of the Grosvenor Bridge in Chester, opposite the entrance to Chester Castle. It is his coat of arms that gives the pub its name.
Strangely, it’s been difficult to find records of the pub before the turn of the century. There is a useful book for local historians called ‘The Alehouses and Alehouse Keepers of Cheshire 1629-1828', and although the Combermere Arms is mentioned in the index, sadly no detailed entry for the pub is included.
The ‘Cheshire Village Book', compiled by the Cheshire Women’s Institute in 1990, states that the pub was built in 1540, and the Cheshire Conservation Department reports that the present building incorporates late 17th Century and early 18th Century work, with some original exposed joists. But that’s about it so far, so we’d be most grateful for any interesting titbits and especially any early photographs of the pub.
The Cheshire Village Book also records a frequently-told story of two clergymen who sorted out a troublesome ghost in the pub by trapping it in a bottle (Ghostbusters?). They then buried the bottle under the front steps of the pub, and legend has it that if it is ever broken or disturbed, the ghost would be released.
I’d been told this story via email from Lizz Easton in Australia, a former Burleydam resident, so I phoned the builders on site to tell them to keep an eye out for any suspicious bottles - and strangely enough they were digging out the front steps there and then - but sad to relate, the only bottled spirit they came across was behind the bar. The temptation to actually plant an old bottle and scare-up the boys was of course immense. The steps and old front door have now been removed, and are replaced by a ‘cellar drop’ where barrels of beer are delivered.
Another ghost story concerns a photograph taken in the library of Combermere Abbey in 1891 by Sybell Corbet. The figure of a man can faintly be seen sitting in the chair to the left. His head, collar and right arm on the armrest are clearly discernable. It is believed to be the ghost of Lord Combermere who died in 1891, having been struck and killed by a horse-drawn carriage. At the time Sybell Corbet took the above photo, Combermere’s funeral was taking place some four miles away.
The photographic exposure, Corbet recorded, took about an hour. It is thought by some that during that time a servant might have come into the room and sat briefly in the chair, creating the transparent image. This idea was refuted by members of the household, however, testifying that all were attending Lord Combermere’s funeral.
In 1919, Sir Kenneth Crossley, founder of the Crossley Car Company and an MP, bought the estate, which was then five thousand acres. In 1992, his great-granddaughter, Sarah Callander Beckett inherited the estate, and lives in the Abbey with her husband, Peter Beckett.
The chap who owns the farm behind the pub, Ian Barton, told us that his grandfather, Argy Barton, bought the pub along with various other farms and parcels of land in 1917 from the Combermere estate for £1000 - less than one-thousanth of its value today. It was run by a tenant before being sold to Greenalls in 1930. In 1948 May Kendall of Nantwich was the licensee, on a yearly rate of £30.
Dave and Margaret Sutton bought it from Greenalls in 1996, and we bought it from them.
Lisa joined the company following several years of the high life with Virgin Airlines and we snapped her up when she decided life on terra firma was much more agreeable. She brings with her a drive to please everyone, an outstanding tolerance for all comers, calm under pressure during turbulent times, perfectly sculpted hair and a glowing tan. Nowadays her two young boys are her pride and joy but, despite the inevitable stresses that brings, you’ll still recognize Lisa by her beaming smile and great hair.
Alix is a Combermere veteran, despite her young age, having been with us for some 4 years. Even through a stint jet setting with British Airways she still showed up when we needed her most. Now that she’s settled back on to level ground it was natural for us to snap her up and she’s a joy to have on board. Offsetting her glamorous high flyer style she is a self-confessed food lover with a penchant for loud rap music (Which is interesting to behold as she drives by on the streets of Burleydam, Jay-Z blaring and makeup shimmering). A happy hostess with a big grin and infectious laugh Alix is a true compliment to our team.
Tony comes to the Combermere with a wealth of experience, including Harvey's in Bristol (Michelin Star), Crewe Hall, and two separate stints at Rookery Hall, which is some CV. The Combermere, of course, knocks all that lot into a cocked hat. He is friends with Dave from the Hand and Trumpet from their time together in the kitchens at Crewe Hall, so when he heard we were recruiting he threw his hat into the ring.
Johnny first walked through the doors of the Combermere in 2005 as a KP, but has since taken the plunge and donned his whites, with great success - he won the 2009 company food competition with Charlotte, and between them they've become quite protective of the shiny trophy (we caught him polishing it while we he thought noone was looking). Johnny enjoys cooking all varieties of food, but when cooking for himself he favours alphabetti spaghetti.
Junior Chef de Partie
Passionate isn't really a big enough word for our Becks (aka. Chelsea). Starting life here as a KP, Becky soon took the bull by the horns, and woe betide those who didn't meet her exacting standards. Her undeniable dedication mean't it was only a matter of time before she started making her way up the ranks of the kitchen, and so far she's brought her high standards with her. She is the queen of the staff night out and I challenge anyone not to have a good time in her company. You'd be well advised not to mention the football though. You have been warned.
Sandra Dykes has been involved in the pub trade in one capacity or the other for years. Married to Gerald, who works on a local farm, they have two grown up children. Enthusiastic revellers, Sandra always loves a party, and is always the one up for anything even if her legs sometimes aren't. She has been with the pub since we started and is a great asset.
Mike is a local lad through and through. Retired from farming he now spends his very early mornings pottering in our garden or tinkering with something we've broken. He and his wife Liz are what you'd class as 'Pillars of the Community' which means that half of the local community will lend a hand when there's a big job on. Sounds great, but we've noticed these visits tend to coincide with happy hour . . . .