I’ve often wondered why The Grove in Alexandra Park feels different from the rest of the Palace grounds.
Could it be because some of the most celebrated figures of the eighteenth century walked here when it formed part of the grounds of a grand home known as – The Grove?
We think the first house known as The Grove was probably a farmhouse built in a forest clearing but with great views and good proximity to London it’s not surprising that the house was enlarged and aggrandised. It gained a certain notoriety in the eighteenth century when it was rented by Sir Topham Beauclerk, who had a lifestyle to match his jaunty name.
He could claim royal blood as he was an illegitimate descendant of Charles II and the fruity Nell Gwynn. He may have been a raucous rake who spent a great deal of time and money on gambling and drug taking but he was also very cultured and attracted many of the leading minds of the day to this house on the hill including Sir Joseph Banks, Horace Walpole and the great Dr Samuel Johnson. Just imagine, next time you are in that neck of the woods, that you are walking in the footsteps of these great figures of the eighteenth century. It’s the kind of thing that makes me smile.
Watercolour of the Grove by Chris Baker www.chrisbakerwatercolours.wordpress.com