The Grove – Venue of the Month
Set within a beautiful 300-acre country estate, a mere 18 miles from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus you will discover The Grove, London’s Country Estate – a significant and magnificent country house of yesteryear, resided in by an aristocratic family who would regularly throw lavish parties for Royalty, Politicians and the crème de la crème of aristocracy. The Grove was such an important home at the time, that when the aristocratic Clarendon family moved from, and subsequently sold The Grove in the 1920’s, it led The Times newspaper to publish a letter mourning the loss of one of the ‘Great Political Houses of the 19th Century’.
Seventy or so years later, the Levy brothers purchased The Grove with a bold but sympathetic vision, to breathe new life into the ruinous pile that the estate had become. Eight years later The Grove rose again, like a phoenix from the flames to become an incredibly wonderful and important house once more. The Grove is no longer just reserved exclusively for Royalty and the Political elite, but now welcomes you as the new elite. Whether celebrating your wedding, event or simply enjoying a glorious spa day, playing a round of golf upon their championship golf course, or delving into the most sumptuous cuisine, in one of three restaurants including Colette’s with her 3 AA rosettes. The Grove really is your home away from home, a luxury five-star hotel, spa and golf resort where you deserve to be lavished upon and enjoy every single second.
But what is The Grove’s full story and what can they offer you today? Well as with all of Steven Pellier’s venues of the month, lets delve back into the past and arrive at the present to see how it all started, changed and grew to what it has become today.
The first recorded settlement on the site of the estate was 7,000 BC with early British pottery dating back to 3,000 BC. The Grove name was first recorded in 1294 AD when John de Britwell conveyed land at ‘The Manor on the Grove’. 106 years later, a John Heydon rented The Grove Estate, from King Henry IV for the equivalent in today’s money of £1.87 – a price I am sure the Levy Brothers would have liked to have paid for it! However, not until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500’s, was the first substantial house built on the site.
In 1703, Sir William Buck of Hanby rebuilt the main house and the original west wing, the house passed through several hands in the proceeding 50 years until in 1753, The Honourable, Thomas Villiers, Second Earl of Jersey and the British Ambassador to France acquired The Grove, where he quickly set about employing architect Matthew Brettingham to alter and extend the house, producing a seven-bay south front with two south facing wings, between 1754 – 1761. Thomas Villiers married Lady Charlotte Capell, who was the heiress to the wealthiest branch of the Hyde family. Lady Charlotte was the niece of the late Fourth Earl of Clarendon, an Earldom which ceased upon his death as there was no heir apparent, following the death of his only son in Paris. Upon his marriage to Lady Charlotte, Thomas was created Lord Hyde (Baron Hyde of Hindon) for his previous diplomatic services in Dresden, Vienna and Berlin. The marriage however, proved even more successful for Thomas Villiers, when in 1776 he was raised to the dignity of First Earl of Clarendon (second creation) when the crown revived the old Earldom.
In 1780, it is observed that Thomas Villiers, now First Earl of Clarendon made further substantial alterations and additions to The Grove, under architect Sir Robert Taylor. This was also a time when the famous artist George Stubbs would often visit The Stables to paint the Earls horses – in fact George Stubbs became a frequent visitor between 1760 and 1790 and many of his paintings actually refer to not only The Grove but to the Earl and the Earl’s Gamekeeper.
In the 1830’s, as rail travel became ever more important for trade and transportation, London and Midland railway proposed a railway route that would follow the Grand Union Canal, through The Grove Estate. The then Third Earl of Clarendon was outraged of such a suggestion and refused to allow any trains on or near his estate, as such a compromise was sought and the very long and expensive Watford tunnels were created, hiding trains, their noise and steam from view.
In 1838 George William Frederick Villiers acquired the Earldom of Clarendon, on the passing of his Uncle the Third Earl who had never married or had an heir. The Fourth Earl started a tradition of lavish house parties for Queen Victoria, where house guests would regularly include Prince Albert, Lord Palmerston and later Edward VII. These lavish parties would see guests arriving from London on Friday afternoon and departing on Monday morning, The Times coined this ‘weekending’. The high-level entertaining called for an even more magnificent house, so the Fourth Earl commissioned architect Edward Blore to add a new floor, complete a major ground floor extension and make many alterations. Building work commenced in 1870 the same year that the Fourth Earl died, so he never saw his vision to completion.
1870 saw Lord Hyde the Fourth Earls son become the Fifth Earl of Clarendon. The Fifth Earl was highly regarded for his political service and become Queen Victoria’s Aide de Camp (personal secretary) a position which he also served for King Edward VII. Not content on the recent additions to the Grove, 1878 saw a 4-acre walled garden complete with Victorian greenhouses developed, another wow factor for entertaining, I’m sure!
1922 – in a move to reduce Estate Tax, George Herbert Hyde Villiers the then Sixth Earl of Clarendon, moved his family out of the Grove and subsequently sold the property, ending the family’s long association with the great estate.
Throughout the 20’s and 30’s The Grove took on a multitude of guises – a Gardening School, the National Institute of Nutrition and College of Dietetics, a Riding School and a Girl’s Boarding School, before being purchased in 1939 by The London, Midland and Scottish Railway as their secret wartime HQ of strategic importance, under the name ‘Project X’.
In 1996, the Levy brothers under their company Ralph Trustees Ltd purchased The Grove, which was in a ruinous state. Together with English Heritage and an army of famous architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners and golf course designers they spent eight years restoring the old and building the new before opening the hotel, spa and golf resort that we now know and love.
As you arrive you are immediately engulfed in the serene tranquillity of the most beautiful, undulating Hertfordshire countryside, with golfers teeing off either side of you as you approach the Georgian splendour of the wonderful Grade II listed masterpiece. The most perfect venue for a once in a lifetime wedding, an awe inspiring private event or one of the best corporate gatherings you have ever attended – better still you are only a short distance from central London and with 215 luxurious and spacious rooms and suites, everyone can stay and make it a whole weekend of jollifications, as Queen Victoria often did!
The Grove offers no less than nine exquisite function rooms, which have been purpose built and are all situated on the ground floor. The hotel and its function rooms are perfectly placed for society and corporate events, from intimate dinners up to receptions for 850 guests, as well as grounds of 300-acres, ideal for a perfectly appointed marquee.
A grand porte-cochère leads you to a glass double doored entrance into The Amber’s private adjoining reception and bar area, where three sets of double doors lead through to The Amber room.
With the Ambers high ceilings, stunning bespoke central chandelier and an abundance of natural daylight through floor to ceiling French doors, that lead to outdoor terraces and views of the formal gardens beyond, the Amber is a magnificent event space. The Groves’ largest internal function room is incredibly flexible and can be divided into nine separate rooms offering a multitude of options. The room is perfectly appointed for receptions up to 850 guests, theatre style conferences for up to 450 delegates, lunch and dinner for 500 or a dinner dance for 380 guests.
A dedicated banqueting kitchen, air conditioning, inbuilt PA, linked room controls and the adjoining Cinnamon Suite all add to the benefit of this truly versatile space.
The Cedar Suite
The newest addition to The Grove, the Cedar Suite has been designed by Martin Hulbert and manages effortlessly to bring the outside in with an abundance of natural daylight, through a full floor to ceiling glass exterior wall.
As with The Amber, The Cedar Suite is approached via its own private entrance into a very modern groovy grand reception and bar area, with several adjoining syndicate rooms, if required. The glass oval Cedar Suite aptly named after the 200-year-old cedar trees on the estate, has glorious views over both the Sunken Garden and the Formal Gardens and also benefits from its own dedicated banqueting kitchen.
You can enjoy a theatre style conference for up to 166 delegates, lunch or dinner for 130 or a dinner dance for 110 guests.
The Ivory Rooms
With the Ivory Rooms cool and contemporary design, private entrance, reception and bar area and access to a private terrace with stunning views of the Formal Gardens, the Ivory is truly beautifully situated.
The room can be divided into five separate rooms providing added flexibility, each room with its own bespoke chandelier, sound and AV.
Why not enjoy lunch or dinner for up to 120 guests, welcome 120 delegates in a theatre style formation or dance the night away, with a dinner dance for 80 guests.
The Mansion House – Donneraile and Garden Room
In the stately Grade II listed red brick mansion you will find the Donneraile room, named after Lord Donneraile who resided at The Grove between 1743 until 1753 (it is rumoured that his ghost rides across the estate chasing a ghostly fox!). The Donneraile features an original fully working marble fireplace, a stunning wooden conference / dining table seating up to 24 guests, with elegant contemporary chandeliers above.
The large windows which provide natural daylight have superb views across Charlottes Vale (named after Lady Charlotte Capell – Thomas Villier, First Earl of Clarendon’s wife).
The Donneraile adjoins the Garden Room through double floor to ceiling wooden doors, the rooms can be used together in a reception, dining formation or separately, where you can dine with up to 25 guests.
The Garden Room also has contemporary chandeliers, silk wall hangings (based on the original material, found during renovation to a hotel) and as the name suggest has access and views to the gardens.
The Walled Garden and Potting Sheds
The secluded four acre walled garden houses a 5-a-side football pitch, two all-weather tennis courts, a 25m outdoor swimming pool, the Grove beach with imported sand from Brazil and The Groves’ Kitchen Garden, with fresh ingredients being used throughout the property.
The Walled Garden also houses the beautifully restored Victorian greenhouses of 1878 – a stunning fully air conditioned and very unique venue for up to 70 guests for lunch or dinner or 100 for a summer soiree or evening barbeque. The addition of a small marquee can easily increase these numbers to 120 seated and 180 for a standing reception.
The Walled Garden is a hidden oasis with a private entrance, four interlinking rooms within the greenhouse and wonderful views across the garden.
The Cinnamon, Silk and Ochre Suites
These fabulous rooms provide modern event space and are absolutely ideal for more intimate conferences, presentations, board meetings or private dining.
The Cinnamon Suite can accommodate 70 guests for lunch or dinner, 60 guests for a dinner dance, and theatre style conferences for 100 delegates. The room benefits from views across the Formal Gardens with a private terrace, and is also linked to the Amber providing versatile space.
The Silk Suite can accommodate up to 30 guests for dinner, 56 guests for a reception or 42 delegates theatre style.
The Ochre Suite can accommodate up to 48 delegates theatre style or 72 guests for a reception.
As you can see The Grove truly is a versatile and very special location for your wedding, private event or corporate gathering and we as a preferred supplier would be incredibly honoured to work with you, to plan your wedding or event at the hotel.
Why not contact us on +44 (0)207 760 7553 or email email@example.com to arrange a complimentary consultation with Steven Pellier, where you can discuss your wedding or event planning in London, throughout the UK or in a fabulous far flung international destination.
Photo Credits: John Nassari, Steven Pellier, The Grove & Unknown
Reference: Steven Pellier, The Grove, Rastall and Wikipedia