With tales of Parisian ballet dancers, winter ice-skating parties and cascading waterfalls, Grove House has a rich history.
From 1622 until circa 1790 Roehampton Great House stood on the site of Grove House and was the second largest house in Surrey. In the eighteenth century fashions were changing and what the very rich wanted near London was a moderate-sized villa with pleasure grounds rather than a vast mansion and park. Somewhere between 1779 and 1793 the Great House was demolished and Grove House, designed by James Wyatt for Joshua Vanneck, was built.
After numerous changes in ownership, the estate was inherited by Stephens Lyne in 1851. Stephens lived at Grove House with his wife Yolande Duvernay, a Parisian ballet dancer. On Stephen’s death in 1860, Yolande commemorated her husband by building a Romanesque mausoleum in the grounds which was consecrated by the Bishop of London in 1864. Yolande was buried there in 1894 and the enclosed grounds contain the graves of the Claremont family who cared for Yolande after Stephen’s death.
The central feature of the landscape is the lake which dates back to the Great House. The bridge to the lake is an exquisite folly, contemporary to Grove House and consists of a stone balustrade with three arches and Coade-stone urns. The lake freezes in the winter and the College archive hold accounts of skating parties at the end of the 19th century and ice hockey matches played out between the Royal Flying Corps, who were stationed at Grove House, in World War One. Within the grounds is a curious man-made grotto, behind which is an icehouse. Known as ‘Rooks Grotto’, and built somewhere between 1895 and 1912, it included pathways, caverns and cascading waterfalls. The icehouse was rediscovered in 1998 behind a bricked-up door and although no date can be fixed to its construction, it probably dates to the late 18th Century.
In 1921 Dr Claude Montefiore bought Grove House for £29,750 on behalf of the Froebel Educational Institute for Froebel College.