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Roehampton University (Grove House Estate) * Wandsworth


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

Roehampton Great House originally stood on this site, built by David Papillon in c.1624, who sold it in 1625 to Sir Richard Weston. Some of the foundations are visible in the cellar of Grove House, the later house that James Wyatt built in 1792 for Sir Joshua Vanneck. The grounds were laid out in the C18th when Capability Brown is thought to have been consulted. Formal gardens with a lily pond, fountain and limestone terrace were created in the C19th, as was a grotto. There are also an icehouse, lake, sham bridge and mausoleum in the grounds. Grove House was acquired by the Froebel Educational Institute in 1921. It is now one of the four colleges of Roehampton University, which was established in 2004 out of the earlier Roehampton Institute. The main campus is comprised of the Froebel, Digby Stuart College and Southlands College, with Whitelands College and a number of other fine houses converted for educational use in the area.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Roehampton Great House; Grove House; Roehampton Institute/Froebal Institute

Site location:
Roehampton Lane/Clarence Lane, Roehampton

SW15 5PJ ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Institutional Grounds; Garden Feature Remnants

C17th; C19th


Listed structures:
LBII*: Grove House. LBII: C19th Lodge and gates; Mausoleum; Sham bridge


Site ownership:
Roehampton University

Site management:
Roehampton University

Open to public?

Opening times:
private, Grove House Estate has opened for OGSW
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 13 times, most recently in 2018.

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Rail: Barnes then bus. Bus: 72, 265, 485

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2006
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:
Grade II

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

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:

In Conservation Area:

Tree Preservation Order:
To be checked

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area

Other LA designation:
Historic Parks and Gardens. Site with Development Potential

Roehampton University (Grove House Estate) *

Grove House Estate - Photo: Sarah Jackson

Click photo to enlarge.


Fuller information

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

Roehampton Great House was built here by 1624 by David Papillon, a Huguenot builder and developer, on land then known as Mortlake Way. Papillon had begun to purchase land in the area in 1620 and built a number of houses between 1620 and 1625/6 that directly led to the popularity of Roehampton among the wealthy as a place of country retreat. Papillon's first house, which was built on a plot of land known as Upper Naylands, was sold in 1622 to George Heriot, jeweller to James I. Later known as Elm Grove, Heriot's property was acquired in 1850 by the Convent of the Sacred Heart, who established a women's teacher training college here in 1874.

David Papillon's next house was Roehampton Great House, which he sold in 1625 with 5 hectares of land to Sir Richard Weston, Lord High Treasurer of England to Charles I. Sir Richard purchased further land from Papillon and from the Crown and enclosed a new park of 182 hectares, with licence from Charles I, and stocked it with deer. His estate became known as Roehampton Park. Sir Richard employed Dutch architect Sir Balthaser Gerbier to work on the house interior as well as the gardens, and a letter from Gerbier to Weston in January 1630 refers to fine views from the Great Chamber over the four parterres, recommending laying out four longer parterres to reach the end of the garden. Created Earl of Portland in 1633, he erected a bronze statue of Charles I in his gardens. This was removed by order of Cromwell's Parliament in 1644 but survived and was later purchased by Charles II and erected in Trafalgar Square (q.v.).

Lord Portland died in 1635 leaving Roehampton Park to his son Jerome, and the estate was then sold in 1640 to Sir Abraham Daws whose son Sir Thomas Daws lived at Roehampton Great House in the 1640s. In 1648 the house was first leased then purchased by Christian, 2nd Countess of Devonshire and remained in the Devonshire family until 1689. John Evelyn (1620-1706) is known to have visited the house when it was owned by the Countess of Devonshire. In 1747 the Roehampton Park estate, by then over 140 hectares, was sold for £10,000. Little is known about the house in the late C17th and early-mid C18th but Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783) is thought to have been consulted on the landscaping. The estate was reduced in size from the 1770s after it was purchased by lawyer Thomas Parker, who began to sell off plots of land for development, and by 1785 it was split into several parcels of land. Parker demolished the chapel to the west of the house in 1777, building another chapel on Roehampton Lane.

In 1785 Roehampton Great House and its immediate grounds and gardens was sold for £4,860 to Sir Joshua Vanneck who demolished the house a few years later. In 1792 a smaller house initially known as Roehampton Grove, later called Grove House, was built for him to designs of James Wyatt. In the grounds, Vanneck enlarged the existing lake, which was supplied with water from an enclosed spring on Putney Common that had brought water to Roehampton Great House from the C17th. The lake and sham bridge are shown in an engraving published in 1804. An icehouse discovered in 1998 may date from the C17th or C18th.

By 1804 Roehampton Grove was owned by William Gosling, and in the early 1840s it was purchased by Charles Lyne-Stephens, a wealthy entrepreneur, and remained in the family until 1894. During this period the house became known as Upper Grove House and another house, Lower Grove House, was built to the north, and a gardener's cottage erected to the west. After his death in 1860, his widow Yolande Lyne-Stephens continued to live here and commemorated her husband by building a mausoleum in the grounds, where she was buried on her death in 1894. The mausoleum, set in a wooded area, contains graves of other members of the family and is still owned by the Lyne-Stephens family. The formal gardens, lily pond and terrace were added in Mrs Lyne-Stephens' time, although the rose garden may date from the C18th.

In 1894 the property passed to Henry Alexander Stopford, son of a family friend, and after his death his widow married Raoul Bedingfeld. During their ownership a number of changes were made. In 1912 the house was owned by Charles Fischer, an American merchant of German/Swiss extraction, who made improvements to Grove House. He was probably responsible for building the grotto known as 'Rooks Grotto' that remains in the grounds and has pathways, caverns and cascading waterfalls. It was built on the boundary wall of the Grove House property with the Convent of the Sacred Heart, now the Digby Stuart College. In 1921 the freehold of Grove House was auctioned and it was purchased by Dr Claude Montefiore on behalf of the Froebel Educational Institute, which had been established in 1892 and was then based in Hammersmith. The college moved to Roehampton in 1922 and temporary buildings were erected in the grounds to accommodate the students, known as the 'bungies' (bungalows), which remained here for 17 years. Over the next decades a number of new buildings and facilities were constructed in the grounds. The Froebel Institute and Digby Stuart College are now two of the four institutions that make up Roehampton University.

In 2004 Roehampton Institute was formally granted University status to become Roehampton University, comprised of four colleges. In addition to the Froebel Institute and the Digby Stuart College, it includes Southlands College on the same campus and also Whitelands College to the south.

Sources consulted:

See EH Register. See; Dorian Gerhold 'Villas and Mansions of Roehampton and Putney Heath' (Wandsworth Historical Society, Wandsworth Paper 9, 1997); Peter Weston 'From Roehampton Great House to Grove House to Froebel College: An Illustrated History' (Roehampton Institute London, 1998)

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