A grand house in Preston Road
Grove House was a late eighteenth century grand house situated in Preston Road - it was one of only four houses in Preston Road between Larkhill Road and Ilchester Road shown on Madeley's 1831 map of Yeovil. An indenture in my collection, dated 1815, refers to "Samuel Watts the Younger of Grove House".
From a description in sale details of 1830 it was described as a ".... spacious and well built Mansion House, situated on an eminence.... commanding most picturesque and extensive views". The accommodation comprised a vestibule, dining and drawing rooms, store room, five best bedrooms, three attics, kitchen, scullery, brew-house, dairy and excellent beer and wine cellars, replete with every other convenience, and fit for the residence of a large and respectable family; together with a Coach House, Stables, walled Gardens, Shrubberies, Lawn and an excellent Orchard, with a Plot or Pasture Ground nearly adjoining, together about 7 acres".
At the time of the 1830 sale, Grove House had been in the occupation of Rev. Alfred Tooke.
The Tithe Apportionment of 1846 recorded that at this time Grove House with its gardens and orchard (Parcels 1460 and 1461) had a total area of 4a 3r 13p. Parcel 1461 was a narrow field access track running alongside the eastern side of Grove House and its orchard, giving access to Long Ground (Parcel 1436). The Apportionment noted that the owner of Grove House was Thomas Isaac, the brother of Yeoman farmer Samuel Isaac, and the house was leased to Harriett White. Mrs White was still in residence in October 1858 when the Sherborne Mercury reported that two brothers, Uriah and George Hewer were summoned and fined ten shillings each (about £44 at 2017's value) at the Borough Petty Sessions for stealing apples from Mrs White's orchard.
Thomas Isaac also owned a long strip of land, also rented by Harriett White, on the other side of Preston Road (actually in the parish of Preston Plucknett) called 'Plot by Grove House' (Parcel 140a) which, according to the Preston Tithe Apportionment was a mix of arable and pasture.
Grove House was advertised to be let, furnished and with immediate possession, in December 1862. Certainly by 1868 (when his daughter was born there) Grove House was the home of John Hoskins Ryall (1836-1896) the son of draper Benjamin Ryall.
During the 1880s (certainly between 1879 and 1887) Grove House was owned by (although he actually lived in Peter Street) accountant and later Yeovil's Registrar Joseph Whitby (1817-1892), the son of glove manufacturer Elias Whitby Snr (1783-1869).
In the Western Gazette's edition of 22 June 1888 it was reported that John Corrie, landlord of the Mermaid Hotel for 28 years, was retiring and that he and Mrs Corrie were moving to Grove House. In March 1902 Mrs Corrie sold off most of her furniture from the house.
In December 1914 it was reported in the Taunton Courier that Mrs Temple Layton entertained Belgian refugee children at Grove House "An excellent tea was provided and presents were given to all". Mrs Layton lived at Grove house with her widowed sister, Grace Lovell, who committed suicide in the house in 1922 (details below).
During the 1930s Grove House was the home of Colonel Frank D Urwick, (who commanded the 1st/5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry at Gaza) who was the president of the Yeovil Branch of the British Legion until his death in June 1936.
Grove House had latterly been used by the British Legion (whose new premises were about to be built on the old Grove House orchard) and upstairs was the home of the Yeovil Radio Club.
Grove House was demolished in the 1960s and the site is now occupied by flats in Legion Road.
For details on historic land measurement (ie acres, roods and perches) click here.
A section of the 1842 Tithe Map showing Preston Road running from centre left to bottom right with the Union House at centre and Grove House at right of centre.
A map based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey showing Grove House set in its landscaped gardens with Preston Road running across the bottom of the map.
The sale details from the 17 May 1830 edition of the Western Flying Post.
A report from the 12 October 1858 edition of the Sherborne Mercury in which two young brothers were fined for scrumping in the Grove House orchard. The fine of ten shillings each would be about £44 at 2017's value.
The report of the suicide at Grove House of widowed Mrs Grace Lovell from the 30 March 1922 edition of the Western Times.
Grove House, photographed in the 1960s from Preston Road. The new road is today's Legion Road and at the time Grove House was about to be demolished. It had latterly been used by the British Legion (whose new premises were about to be built on the ground at right in the photograph) and upstairs was the home of the Yeovil Radio Club.
An enlargement of the previous photograph.