Our History

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Our History 2017-09-19T09:13:45+00:00

Throughout the years, as The Grove has passed through generations, it has evolved and transformed into the wonderful, independent family-run establishment that it is today.

In 1936 Robert & Hilda Graveling took ownership of the house, moving in with their young family and turning what was previously a private holiday home into a thriving guest house. In 1978 Robert sadly passed away, so son John took over the running of the house with his wife Ann. The couple went on to have five children and when they retired in 2010 they passed the business over to their children – Richard, Chris, Elizabeth, Hannah & Ruth – who now work in partnership to continue the family business.

As different generations have managed The Grove, one thing has remained the same – the love for their family run and family friendly beautiful home.

The earliest known reference to the existence of a house on the site of The Grove is on a map dated 1747.

A large swathe of land between Overstrand Road and the cliff-top, including a two-storey cottage, was owned by Jacob Mountain of Thwaite Hall.

Jacob died in 1752 and the land was inherited by his son, Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat Mountain was a clergyman, ordained in 1779 and the Rector of Peldon, in Essex, from 1782. The Mountain family was well-connected and, in 1793, the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, appointed Jehoshaphat’s brother, Jacob, as the first Anglican Bishop of Quebec. The brothers moved together to Canada along with their families, and Jehoshaphat lived there until his death in Montreal in 1817.

From 1780 to 1805, the Land Tax records show the house as being occupied by ‘Cook Wright’. 

Grove on 1747 map.
Joseph Gurney of Lakenham, Norwich, bought the estate from the Mountain family in 1789. He used it as a seaside holiday home for himself, his wife and their children, naming it The Grove, after his home in Lakenham.

The Gurneys were a Quaker family, well-known in Norfolk, and Elizabeth Fry, the social reformer, was Joseph’s niece. 

Elizabeth Fry.
During the 1790s, Joseph Gurney extended the cottage into a large house, adding the western two-thirds of the front section, another floor onto the existing building and the scullery and kitchen at the back of the house.
The Grove, pre-extension. (Image: Cromer Museum).
The Gurneys were intimately connected with other Quaker families in both business and marriage, notably the Birkbecks and the Barclays.

In 1896, Gurney & Co. was one of twenty banks that amalgamated to become Barclay & Co.

Two of Joseph’s daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, married Henry Birkbeck and Robert Barclay respectively and, after Joseph’s death in 1830 the house appears to have been acquired by the Birkbeck family.

The Grove pre-1866.
In 1895, Henry Birkbeck (Henry and Jane’s son) drew up plans to extend The Grove, adding the eastern third of the front of the house, comprising a study and lavatory downstairs and a large bedroom and dressing room on the first floor. Henry died the same year.
The Grove extended.
After the death of Henry Birkbeck, The Grove was acquired by Robert Barclay, Elizabeth and Robert’s nephew. It was occupied for some years during the 1920s by members of the Buxton family.
The Grove circa late 1800s.
In 1935 the whole estate was put up for sale, and the house and seven acres that remained were rented by Robert William Graveling and his wife Hilda, with their three daughters.

Within a year of moving in their youngest child, John, was born in what is now the lounge. The Gravelings turned The Grove into a Guest House. However, not long afterwards war broke out in Europe and the holiday industry ceased to function.

During the war years army officers and their families were billeted in the house, which was also used as a food store. Crops were grown and animals were reared on the land, and The Grove welcomed many soldiers on duty in the area.

When the war ended the holiday industry gradually picked up again and business at The Grove began to boom. Many guests returned year after year for two-week holidays by the sea, queuing with the family for the two bathrooms and entertained each evening by Robert’s stories, told in his strong Norfolk accent.

Robert & Hilda Graveling.
Over time, the children grew up and left home to develop careers and families.

Robert and Hilda continued managing the guest house until 1977, when Robert died, a few days before his 83rd birthday.

Some months later the family persuaded Hilda to allow her son John and his wife Ann to take over the running of The Grove, and they moved in with their three children, the youngest only eight months old, on 1st April 1978. They ran The Grove alongside John’s profession as a civil and structural engineer. Two more children were born, and guests continued to return year after year to this family house.

The Grove was gradually updated and modernised, including the installation of central heating and ensuite bathrooms, and some structural work to improve the upstairs layout. Only chickens remained of all the animals, but an extensive fruit and vegetable garden was maintained.

John and Anne Graveling.
When they moved to The Grove, John and Ann built a bungalow adjoining the house for Hilda, where she lived for the remaining years of her life. Her bungalow was let out as self-catering accommodation and, in 1987, the disused barns in the grounds were converted into three further units.

The gardener’s cottage adjacent to the barns was rented by an elderly lady called Mrs Page whom the five children loved to visit. Mrs Page lived to the ripe age of 100, and in the early 1990s her house and the remainder of the barn were also renovated to make up the six cottages that exist today.

Self-catering Holiday Cottage.
To keep guests entertained during wet summers and colder months, in 1999 an indoor swimming pool was built in the grounds of The Grove.
Grove Swimming Pool.
Having retired from engineering a few years earlier and with the children all gone from the family home, in 2005 John completed the construction of a new house just next door to The Grove, into which he and Ann moved.

Paul and Rachel Catton with their three children were employed as resident managers of The Grove.

John and Ann completed their retirement process in 2010 and transferred the running of the business to their five children, Richard, Chris, Elizabeth, Hannah and Ruth, who have taken it on as a partnership.
The next generation...
In 2012, The Grove Restaurant was launched, serving seasonally inspired and locally sourced food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for both residents and non-residents.

The restaurant at The Grove has quickly grown in reputation and popularity, and has provided Cromer with a quality eating establishment.

In 2014, The Grove won two AA rosettes for outstanding food.

The Grove restaurant.
In 2013 a detached complex of five contemporary and luxury en-suite rooms in the grounds of the house was completed.

Constructed from oak frames and cedar clad, to seamlessly blend with their surroundings, Merryweather, Honey Pippin, Vicotias, Gladstone and Sunburst look as if they have been part of The Grove for years.

Merryweather and Gladstone have internal galleries, ideal for families with young children, and Gladstone and Honey Pippin have adjoining doors so they can accommodate a small group of up to six people if required.

The Orchard Rooms won awards for their craftsmanship from the Norfolk and Norwich Architects Association.

Orchard Rooms at The Grove.