Grove History

Grove today is the largest village in the Vale of White Horse.

In 1142 the village, then little more than a hamlet, was recorded when King Stephen granted a manor here to the Abbot of Bermondsey.

The picturesque Letcombe Brook travels through Grove from its source on the nearby Berkshire Downs to its final destination, the Thames at Abingdon.  It serviced many watermills on its journey, three of which, recorded in 1622, were in Grove village.  One still stands as a private house with only traces of the other two to be found.

In 1770 the turnpike road (now the A338) was built as a more direct route between Wantage and Oxford – we like to think of this as the first by-pass!

Early in the 1800’s the Wilts and Berks Canal cut its way through the village.  Parts of the canal are still visible, providing some very pleasant local walks.

Then in 1840 the Great Western Railway opened the Grove Road Station on the northern boundary of Grove.  To connect this with Wantage, the Wantage Tramway Company was formed.  In 1875 a single track was laid alongside the turnpike road and provided England’s first steam-powered passenger and goods service. Nearby Didcot Railway Museum houses one of the original engines.

1940 saw the then Air Ministry interested in a large area of agricultural land to the west of Grove and 1942 saw the Royal Air Force in occupation.  By 1943 the Americans arrived and the 45th Air Depot Group established one of the largest and busiest supply airfields in Europe.  Its chequered history came to a close when in 1960 the last of its buildings and fittings were auctioned off and soon present day Grove began to appear.

Today, little is to be found of the self-supporting village which had its own bakery and bacon factory, clockmaker, wheelwright, smith and forge.  The village green is still here and annual fairs visit.  May Day celebrations are kept alive.



Feb 1, 2017 | Posted by | Comments Off on The History of Grove