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Inventory Site Record

The Grove * (Haringey)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The Grove is within Alexandra Park and was originally the grounds of The Grove, built in the C18th on the site of an earlier house. It was famous as the summer residence of Topham Beauclerk, great grandson of Nell Gwynne and friend of Dr Johnson, who commissioned the landscaping of the grounds, which were much admired. The house remained in private ownership until 1863 when the grounds were sold to the Alexandra Palace Company and opened as part of the park. The house was demolished in the 1870s. Various attractions came and went over the years including a miniature village, tennis courts, a bandstand and refreshment pavilion. A narrow belt of trees and shrubs with a serpentine walk runs along the west perimeter and to the north is a knoll picturesquely planted with old yews and other conifers some of which may date from the C18th.

Practical Information
Site location:
Alexandra Palace Way/Muswell Hill
Postcode:
N10
What 3 Words:
salad.best.sobs
Type of site:
Public Park
Borough:
Haringey
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted. Grove Café Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm summer/-4pm winter
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Grove Café; Little Dinosaurs (children's adventure soft play centre)
Events:
Public transport:
Rail: Alexandra Palace then bus. Bus: W3, W7, 144.
Research updated:
01/11/2011
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.alexandrapalace.com

Full Site Description

Alexandra Park: Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

The Grove is an irregularly shaped site on the west side of Alexandra Park (q.v.), it was originally the grounds of an C18th house, The Grove, which was itself built on the site of an earlier house. The Grove was most famous as the summer residence in the 1760s/70s of Topham Beauclerk, great grandson of Nell Gwynne and friend of Dr Johnson. Beauclerk commissioned the landscaping of the grounds including the enclosure of 2 acres with a brick wall to form a sheltered garden. In 1792 the site was described as '15 acres of gardens and pleasure grounds, laid out in the finest possible taste...'. A celebrated avenue of elms in the grounds became known as Dr Johnson's Walk and the name has now been transferred to a C20th avenue of limes (although this does not appear to have been planted on the line of the elm avenue). The estate was enlarged to 24 acres in the 1840s, when William Keane's 'Beauties of Middlesex' recorded that two glasshouses in the kitchen gardens contained rare exotic plants and vineries, and the park on the eastern side contained specimen trees of immense size including rhododendrons, Spanish chestnuts, Turkey and English oaks and a Cypress. Some ancient oaks survive today, particularly on and near the east boundary. By the mid C19th there was also an elaborate formal garden separated from the 'polished lawns' in front of the house by a stone balustrade surmounted by planting urns.

The grounds were sold to the Alexandra Palace Company in 1863 and opened as part of the park in the same year. The house was demolished in the 1870s when the railway line was constructed. The Grove was described in verse in about 1880:

'...see the wooded grove,

That verdant spot all unadorned by art,

Where stately trees and grateful shade impart;

Whose gnarled and mossy trunks bespeak their age

And stern resistance to the winter's rage...'

Early park attractions included a miniature Japanese village previously exhibited at the 1873 Vienna Exhibition, which was laid out by a Japanese gardener within a miniature landscape in the north of The Grove. This burnt down in 1897 and the site then became tennis courts in the 1920s. By the 1890s the park had been provided with a bandstand, which was in use until the 1970s, and a refreshment pavilion. This and/or its replacements were re-sited a number of times, appearing in different positions in each edition of the OS map. In 1911 a chalet was built to accompany the bandstand and in the 1920s a new avenue planted and an area made for dancing. The café, once Popcorn in the Park now Grove Café, is in a modern pavilion of brutalist design towards the north-west of the site. A narrow belt of trees and shrubs with a serpentine walk now runs along the west perimeter; to the north is a knoll picturesquely planted with old yews and other conifers (probably dating from the C18th, it appears on the 1864 OS). Just outside the north end of The Grove the OS map of 1894 shows two serpentine ponds and a sunken garden laid out on part of a field shown on the 1864 OS; these had been removed by 1914.

An educational project called 'the actual workshop' was set up in The Grove in the 1980s and occupied a number of low buildings on either side of the path and among the trees behind wooden fencing, roughly on the site of an earlier pavilion shown on the OS maps from 1913. Funded by LB Haringey and Haringey Mencap, it ran a wide range of children's workshops and activities, as well as a monthly cinema. After this closed it became The Grove Workshop, a pre-school project. It is now Little Dinosaurs, an adventure soft play centre for children.

At the park entrance from Muswell Hill is a covered walkway, on the sides of which are mural panels of Alexandra Park and Palace painted by children in 1981, repainted in 1991.

Sources consulted:

Schwitzer, Joan 'The Grove, Muswell Hill', from Lost Houses of Haringey pp 46 - 52, 1986

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ291897 (529116,189701)
Size in hectares:
incl. in Alexandra Palace
Site ownership:
Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust
Site management:
John O'Conner (Grounds Maintenance) Ltd. (contractors for Alexandra Park; Friends of Alexandra Park
Date(s):
C18th; C19th; C20th
Designer(s):
C18th client - Topham Beauclerk
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Yes
NHLE grade:
Grade II
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
Yes
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Alexandra Park and Palace
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes (364 Alexandra Park Road)
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Boro Importance II
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
Yes
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.