The Grove, Great Stanmore - Extracts from Victoria County History of Middlesex

The Grove, Great Stanmore - Extracts from
A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume V
T.F.T. Baker (Editor) (1976). Pages 88-96



Most of the waste lay in the north-west part of the parish. It was originally considered part of Bushey Heath but was known by 1637 as Stanmore heath and later as Stanmore Common. Five cottages there were condemned as encroachments in 1679. Stanmore Common in 1838 stretched half-way along the Hertfordshire boundary and south to the Watford road and the reservoir, with an arm reaching almost to the eastern boundary south of the Grove. Below the reservoir was Little Common, probably the site of the 17th-century encroachments and with many more cottages 150 years later. Stanmore Common covered the same area, 120 a., in 1838 as in 1972, when Hadley Common was the only comparable uninclosed space in what had been north-west Middlesex.


East of the houses lining Stanmore Hill, Dennis Lane in 1865 sloped upwards between fields and, near the top, between the grounds of Stanmore Hall and Warren House. West of the village stretched part of the estate of Bentley Priory, with that of Stanmore Park, including Park farm, south of the Uxbridge road. The flat southern half of the parish was mainly grassland, purchased by St. Bartholomew's hospital. Labourers inhabited the decaying Old Church Farm, whose tenant lived at what had been Ward's Farm at the corner of Marsh Lane. Belmont Terrace, an isolated row of six cottages, had been built since 1827 west of the junction of Watery Lane with Honeypot Lane; at Stanmore marsh, in addition to the Green Man, there was a group of cottages, numbering four in 1838, and a recently erected gas-works. The northernmost part of the parish, too, was empty, being divided between Stanmore Common and the estate in the north-east belonging to the Grove. To the north-west some large houses along Heathbourne Road included one, Stanmore Villa, just within the parish boundary.

The most striking change between 1754 and 1865 was the building or enlargement of several gentlemen's residences. In addition to Stanmore Park and the manor-house, near the church, the village contained the head tenements of Montagues, Fiddles, Pynnacles, and Aylwards, all of which were marked in 1827 by substantial houses. Oak Villa, Townsend Villa (later Belmont Lodge), Rose Cottage, and Vine Cottage formed an extension of the village, into Little Stanmore, at the corner of Dennis Lane and the London Road. Near the crest of the hill, on the west, Hill House and Broomfield stood between the drive leading to Aylwards and the residence next to the brewery. It was at Hill House, then called the Great House, that Dr. Samuel Parr had briefly opened his school in 1771 and that the antiquary Charles Drury Edward Fortnum, who bequeathed most of his treasures to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, lived from 1852 until 1899. Broomfield, later Broomfield House, was designed c. 1860 by James Knowles. On the opposite side of the road, south of the corner with Wood Lane, a house erected by the duke of Chandos (d. 1744) had been enlarged in the late 18th-century by James Forbes of the East India Company, who had adorned the grounds with the first pieces of Hindu sculpture to be seen in England. The mansion itself had been rebuilt, as Stanmore Hall, in 1847. Forbes had also owned Warren House, farther east along Wood Lane, which he sold in 1813. By 1827 it had passed to the architect Robert Smirke, who held it with 23 a. in Great Stanmore and 108 a. in Little Stanmore in 1838. Almost opposite Warren House a drive led northeast to the Limes, which had been built by 1851 on the Little Stanmore side of the border. Beyond Little Common the banqueting house attributed to Chandos had been the seat of George Hemming in 1795 and of his widow in 1816; it had recently been pulled down in 1820. Farther north stood the Grove, where a Jew named Aaron Cappadoce had died in 1782; a grotto and other embellishments made by his successor, one Fierville, were to survive a remodelling of the mansion in the 1870s. 1 Spacious grounds in many places restricted the spread of humbler housing: in 1865 the gardens of the manorhouse and Pynnacles stretched along the western end of Church Road, and those of Aylwards and Stanmore Hall separated the main village from the settlement around Little Common. The rich owners of such houses, led by Col. Hamilton ToveyTennent of Pynnacles and encouraged by the Hamilton-Gordons and Queen Adelaide of Bentley Priory, had been responsible for abandoning the 17th-century church in favour of a larger one, consecrated in 1850.

The parish as a whole changed little between the mid-19th-century and the First World War. Stanmore village, considered attractive because it was situated on a slope and bordered by much fine parkland, retained the genteel character for which it was noted in 1876. William Morris in 1888 found it 'pretty after a fashion, very well wooded . . . but much beset with "gentlemen's houses". Nothing but grass fields everywhere'. The naturalist Mrs. Eliza Brightwen lived from 1872 to 1906 at the Grove, where she kept her collection of plants and animals which she described in a series of popular books. Warren House became the home of Charles Keyser, chairman of the Colne Valley Water Co., and his sister Agnes, a friend of the royal family, and from c. 1890 of the banker Henry Bischoffsheim (d. 1908), who was often visited there by Edward VII. Woodlands, on the west side of the lower part of Stanmore Hill, was until 1899 the country home of the Lord Chancellor, the earl of Halsbury (d. 1921).


Farther east along Wood Lane stretches the back of the former Warren House, sold in 1951 by Sir John Fitzgerald and used in 1972 as a hospital, called Springbok House. It is an 18th-century building considerably extended in the Jacobean style. Opposite stands a lodge which belongs to Limes House, whose drive is reached from a road leading north, across a wooded arm of the Common, towards the Grove. Limes House is a three-storeyed stone-faced mansion probably dating from the 1870s, when outbuildings to the north replaced older ones farther west, but later extended. It was bought with 22 a. from the executors of Sir Frederick Handley Page in 1969 by Limes Country Club. The Grove was remodelled in 1877 by Brightwen Binyon in a half-timbered style similar to that employed by Norman Shaw at Grim's Dyke. It was acquired in 1949 by the General Electric Co., which erected many smaller buildings in the grounds; the house and about 30 a. were occupied by Marconi Space and Defence Systems in 1971.

1877 Ordnance Survey Map


1. J. N. Brewer, Beauties of England and Wales, vol. x(5), pages 630-1.

Vol. x (1816) of The Beauties of England and Wales (1810-16), ed. E. W. Brayley and J. Britton.
The part of the work cited is alternatively known either as the fifth part, or as the second part of vol. iv, of London and Middlesex, which is itself vol. x of The Beauties.

A copy can be found here.


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