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Grove Place – blending an Elizabethan historical treasure with modern architecture to create an award-winning retirement community

Architects have always struggled with how to blend modern and traditional building styles, as mixing new materials and styles with older ones always presents a challenge. However, successful developments are able to combine modern technologies and styles with those with a rich history. One such success is exemplified at Grove Place near Romsey, on the edge of the New Forest, in Hampshire. The award-winning retirement community, operated by highly regarded LifeCare Residences, combines a successful blend of a rich and fascinating history embodied in a stunning 16th century red brick Manor House with a range of contemporary, purpose-built apartments and bungalows.

Rich in five-star, modern amenities

The 16th Century Grade 1 listed Manor House set within 27 acres of tranquil Hampshire countryside forms the beating heart of Grove Place. It is a historically and architecturally important building that is also home to many of the exceptional communal facilities on offer to residents. Grove Place is dedicated to putting the comfort of the residents first by providing a wealth of five-star, hotel-inspired amenities to ensure their retirement years are lived to the full and run as smoothly as possible. Residents can stay in shape in the fully-equipped gym and by working out with a personal trainer. Grove Place also boasts a chef-led restaurant, indoor pool, billiards room, relaxing lounge, beauty treatment room, hair salon and spa. Residents have full use of their own professional concierge and access to 24-hour emergency support and care. If residents feel like being a little more active, they can head to the croquet lawn or even the nine-hole putting green. The added luxury of ready access to room service and a housekeeping service is welcomed by many residents and guests are invited to use as many of the amenities as they choose. These on-site amenities are not something many people usually have on their doorstep but are enjoyed to the full by many residents at Grove Place, so even if retirees are downsizing from their family homes, they are certainly not downsizing their lifestyles. Resident, Peggy Bigglestone, was struck not only by the majesty of such a beautiful building, she was also impressed by the excellent facilities on offer at Grove Place and comments, “I had been staying with some friends when I came across an advert for Grove Place in a newspaper, and I thought it looked lovely. The Manor House at the centre and the extensive grounds looked so charming, I couldn’t quite believe there was the chance to live somewhere so grand. ”Peggy is an active member of the choir and ukulele club and adds, “There is always something interesting happening that you are welcome to join in with. I really do love my life at Grove Place.”

Rich in history

As well as providing five-star amenities and high-spec apartments and bungalows as standard, Grove Place is also one of the UK’s most sought-after retirement communities because it is so rich in history. Referred to by Hampshire County Council as ‘Hampshire’s Treasure’, the regeneration of Grove Place into a retirement community was carried out to preserve a wealth of fascinating history which underlines why the Manor House is Grade I listed; a Grade I listing is only awarded to buildings of exceptional architectural interest. The Elizabethan Manor House was bought in 2007 by LifeCare Residences and was extensively and lovingly restored to its former glory with the help of Test Valley conservation officers, with the final result being as close to the original as modern building conditions allow. The building is written up by Pevsner, the renowned German-British art and architectural historian best known for his monumental 46-volume series of county-by-county guides, ‘The buildings of England’ who describes Grove Place as “a typical early Elizabethan House, brick with gables and a diagonally set chimney. The front has two far-projecting wings and polygonal (staircase) turrets in the inner angles.” Grove Place has several stone fireplaces which are also typical of the time. Thought to date back to 1561, it can be said that the fabulous interiors at Grove Place reflect a timeline in English history with its elegant Elizabethan chimney stacks, stone mullioned windows and much of its intricate oak panelling remaining intact. Grove Place is known to hold some of the finest examples of decorative plasterwork in the country, bearing the royal arms of both Elizabeth I and James I. A mermaid frieze reflects the 16th century fascination with world exploration, whilst 17th ‘Apotropaic’ marks illustrate a fear of witches. It is also understood that the impressive building boasts a wealth of royal connections and it is widely believed that Grove Place was built by Sir Francis Knolllysin 1561 – his father was an usher in the royal chamber of Henry VIII. Francis himself was also part of the royal court and attended Anne of Cleeves on her arrival in England in 1539 and his wife Catherine Carey was the first cousin of Elizabeth I. There are some who claim that Sir Francis built Grove Place as a hunting lodge for Queen Elizabeth, but there is no concrete evidence of this. In 1568, Sir Francis was trusted with taking charge of the fugitive Mary Queen of Scots. In 1630 Grove Place was sold to Charles I and a brick fireplace leads to the hiding place used by fugitive Royalists to flee Cromwell’s troops in 1648. After the Knollys, the past list of former owners is varied and fascinating and includes high profile merchants, noblemen and politicians. Over these centuries of subsequent ownership, the great house suffered inevitable damage and lay empty for some years before falling into disrepair; it was one of only nine houses licensed as a lunatic asylum. The house even survived a potentially catastrophic fire in the 1960’s when the house was used as aboarding school for boys.

The fascinating provenance, architectural significance and Royal Court connections of Grove Place holds great appeal to many residents, including Fred Tickle who sums up what it is like to live in a place of such rich historical interest, “…a building that was built during the reign of Elizabeth I holds a lot of history to be explored – we are swept away by what Grove Place has to offer.” The fascinating history forms just another one of the many reasons residents love living at Grove Place. As well as the full spectrum of five-star amenities and services for its residents, the team is dedicated to helping facilitate a wide array of clubs and classes to get involved in. Weekly activities on offer include a Gardening Club, Craft Club, an art class, a Creative Group, Bridge and a Choir. On both a monthly and an ad hoc basis, there is a Gentlemen’s Club, as well as the opportunity to enjoy skittles. Many of the apartments and bungalows at Grove Place have their own balconies and terraces which residents greatly enjoy. Peggy Bigglestone concludes, “I feel utterly spoilt here. There is a range of activities you can try out; I am part of the choir and a ukulele club, and I go out on lots of day trips; some of my friends use the pool or the gym. There is always something interesting happening that you are welcome to join in with.”

If you would like to learn more about our offering and how we can enhance the ‘every day’ please call T. 0800 009 6950.
For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.