Siblings make poignant ruturn to Coombe Abbey Hotel after mother's death, reliving cherished childhood memories

Siblings who spent part of their childhood living in a 12th century Cistercian Abbey near Rugby before it became a hotel enjoyed a nostalgic revisit after 50 years.

Wendy and Kevin return to the historic building.
Wendy and Kevin return to the historic building.

In 1970 Wendy Duckett and brother Kevin Clarke relocated from a small terrace in Salford, Manchester to Coombe Abbey when their parents were invited to launch the first medieval banquets, which are still popular to this day.

After finalising arrangements following the death of their mother, they decided to come back and revisit the historic destination.

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Nurse and mother-of-two Wendy, who has lived in New Zealand for 17 years, said: “After mum died earlier this month Kevin and I both looked at each other and said we would love to come back to Coombe Abbey.”

Wendy and Kevin on the roof at Coombe Abbey.

Wendy and Kevin were seven and eight respectively when they moved into a section of the council-owned Grade I listed building and 150-acre estate, which were under restoration at the time.

Coombe Abbey Hotel opened in 1995.

Their parents, Len and Rena Clarke, worked with Historic Productions and had been running medieval banquets in Greater Manchester.

It was a tearful moment when Kevin and Wendy first arrived and opened the arched green wooden door into the hotel corridor which used to house their family’s three-bedroom flat.

Wendy Duckett in her old bedroom growing up at Coombe Abbey.

Wendy said: “It was a unique childhood – but you only appreciate it as an adult.

“Weekends were geared to the medieval banquets. We used to hide and watch all the guests arrive in medieval costume from the top of the stairs in our pyjamas.

"Our mum would be dressed up in a medieval-style gown and dad wore tights.

“As children we had the run of the place; it was only us who lived in the house.

"We spent a lot of time outside exploring and playing in the park. There was a big hollow tree on the drive which you could climb inside – that was our den.

Standing on the bridge at the front of the hotel dad-of-three Kevin, who was accompanied by his partner Julie, said: “I remember standing here with my cousin and watching bats fly under the bridge.

"We attended a primary school in Brinklow and used to walk half a mile down the drive every morning to catch the school bus.”

For further information about Coombe Abbey Hotel, visit www.coombeabbey.com/visit/events