The Land and its History
by Lewin Nicholas, Estates Manager
Sitting on the upper slopes of the Limpley Stoke Valley, Combe Grove has beautiful views of rolling hills and woodland. We are situated at the southernmost tip of the Cotswold’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a rich and diverse landscape that spans five counties in the southwest of the UK.
It’s fascinating to walk around the estate and read the landscape to appreciate its history and previous uses. The estate was once home to a large grove of conifers, which gave the estate its name, an orchard and a walled kitchen garden. The golf driving range use to be grazed by sheep and cattle before Combe Grove became a hotel over thirty years ago. And it wasn’t until the mid sixties that Quarry Woods ceased to be an ‘open pit’ quarry.
Since quarrying finished, the 21 acres of deciduous woodland to the east have been allowed to grow back. Conifers and other species were planted within the deciduous woodland to provide timber – the remnants of these can be seen with large specimens of Cedar of Lebanon, Coastal Redwood and Scots Pines dotted around the site. Exploring in the woodland today you can find the spoils of quarrying with stone faces up to five meters high, and moss-covered boulders strewn across the woodland floor.
Our history is older than that. There is evidence of prehistoric agriculture with subtle remnants of field boundaries. Romano-British coffins were discovered on the land in the 1930s and it is likely that the Romans were the first to quarry Combe Down, although evidence of earlier workings have been lost. However, we do know that the land was extensively quarried and mined from the 16th century until the mid 20th century. Stone was extracted on the upper slopes of the valley to form long terraces where the current manor house sits.
If you would like to learn more about our work with the land, please feel free to email Lewin.
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