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History timeline

We recently celebrated 20 years as The Grove Hotel. To honour this milestone, we’ve taken a look back in time to appreciate the estate’s rich history – from a Bronze-Age site of archaeological wonder right up to the present day.

3,000 BC caret-down

Some of the earliest pottery made in Britain during the Bronze Age were unearthed at The Grove by archaeologists.

1294 caret-down

The Grove’s land was first conveyed by John de Brittewell.

1500s caret-down

During the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, the first house was founded.

1753-1790s caret-down

The house was acquired by The Honourable Thomas Villiers, second son of the second Earl of Jersey and British Ambassador to France, who became the very first Earl of Clarendon. During this time the sprawling grounds were a favourite spot for artist George Stubbs, who visited the stables regularly to create his famous horse portraits. The Grove was also visited by Captain Cook, who presented one of the Earls with a sapling of the newly discovered Black Walnut Tree. This magnificent tree now towers over the Terrace, beside the Lounges.

1800s caret-down

In the early 1800s the railways were built, but the Earl refused to let trains come through the estate, so the Watford Tunnel was created. Owned by the family for generations, the house was a popular weekend spot for Queen Victoria and other British aristocrats. Dressed in their best, socialites would escape to The Grove for lavish parties in the The Donneraile room, named after one of the hotel’s first guests, Lord Donneraile. Although we’re no longer home to the Earl’s favourite stuffed hunting trophies or silk wallpaper hangings, history enthusiasts will find many original features within the grounds. From the ice house under the golf course to the hidden stairways used by servants, our hotel is a maze of secrets.

1920-1940 caret-down

The Villiers family moved out of the property and The Grove was used as a riding school, a boarding school and a health centre before being turned into the wartime HQ for London, Midland & Scottish Railway.

1940s caret-down

Known as project X and supported by the Earl of Clarendon, the grounds were used to build air raid shelters and underground bunkers for jeeps and other vehicles.

1996 caret-down

The building was in a ruinous state, until it was rescued by Ralph Trustees Limited, who renovated the property with the help of famous architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners and golfers. English Heritage allowed us to run with our restoration project and seven years later we opened our luxury country house estate hotel and spa, starting a brand-new era for The Grove.

2003 caret-down

We opened our doors for the first time as a five-star hotel and subsequently won ‘Hotel of the Year’.

2006 caret-down

The World Golf Championships were hosted at The Grove and were won by Tiger Woods.

2012 caret-down

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ opened at nearby Leavesden Studios and the cast of the movies stayed with us.

2016 caret-down

We hosted the British Masters and enjoyed a presidential visit from Barack Obama, who battled it out on the golf course with former Prime Minister, David Cameron.

2019 caret-down

NATO’s 70th annual meeting was hosted at The Grove, and we also launched our Everyman pop-up cinema for the first time. At the Green Apple awards ceremony, we won silver for ‘Environmental Best Practice’.

2020 caret-down

For the final of the UEFA Euros, the England National Football Team stayed with us.

2022 caret-down

This was a year chock-full of awards for The Grove. Our People team won a ‘Wellbeing Champion’ award, we were awarded ‘Best Immersive Experience’ and ‘Golf Course of the Year’, and we were named in the prestigious Condè Nast Johansens Reader’s Choice Awards. We also unveiled our newly renovated Sequoia spa after an extensive £1.6m refurbishment.

2023 caret-down

To mark twenty years as a hotel, we hosted twenty exciting events throughout the year – from foodie masterclasses to wellness retreats.  We also unveiled our newly refurbished mansion suites and golf facilities.

Art and Interiors

Our sleek interiors were designed by the talented Martin Hulbert. Oozing sophistication, the traditional 18th Century building has been restored to combine modern style with its rich history, giving it a unique yet contemporary feel. Art is a key feature throughout the hotel, and each room and corridor is home to something different, from miniature sculptures to glass displays filled with dried flowers. In the centre of the hotel our eclectic maze of lounges are individually designed and feature different colour themes and furnishings, including dangling chandeliers and airy French windows.

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