Grove House, 44 Iffley Turn, Iffley, Oxford, OX4 4DU


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
The building stands within a 1.4 acre rectangular plot of land comprising landscaped gardens and lawns at 44 Iffley Turn. The villa is accessed from the east by a sweeping gravel driveway.
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
The building stands within a 1.4 acre rectangular plot of land comprising landscaped gardens and lawns at 44 Iffley Turn. The villa is accessed from the east by a sweeping gravel driveway.
Oxford (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A Regency villa of 1832-3 for Charles James Sadler with mid-to-late C19 and C20 extensions and alterations, including the Rotunda of 1962 by Gerald Banks for Vivien Greene. Historically associated with Cardinal Newman's mother Jemima Newman during 1833-36; the children's author Lewis Carroll during 1855-68 and Mrs Vivien Greene from 1948 until 2003.

Reasons for Designation

Grove House, 44 Iffley Turn, Oxford, a Regency villa of 1832-3 with mid-to-late C19 and C20 extensions, including the Rotunda of 1962 by Gerald Banks, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest - the villa: a well-designed, early-C19 Regency villa with 'polite' architectural detailing of the period, a legible intact plan-form and survival of good quality fixtures and fittings;

* Architectural interest - the rotunda: purpose-built to house Vivien Greene's collection of dolls' houses, in a stripped Soanian manner commensurate with the villa, by the award-winning architect Gerald Banks;

* Historic interest: a well-documented building associated with nationally important people including Cardinal Newman, Lewis Carroll, Graham Greene and his wife Vivien;

* Interior: the villa has good quality decorative features revealing a high level of craftsmanship and survival of historic fixtures and fittings, joinery and decorative plaster-work, while the rotunda has a tent-like galleried interior;

* Group value: the components form an imposing group, and also have group value with other listed buildings in the village of Iffley, including the late C18 and C19 houses of Beechwood (NHLE: 1047244, Grade II), Townsend Close (NHLE 1047315, Grade II) and The Priory (NHLE: 1047313, Grade II).


The building, which has been known as Grove House since 1948, dates from 1832-3 and was probably built as an investment property for Charles James Sadler after the enclosure of Iffley's open fields and commons in 1830. This was prior to the Great Western Railway coming through south of Iffley to Oxford from 1837. Charles James Sadler (1792-1872) was an influential local businessman, politician and Alderman at Oxford's old City Corporation who increased his responsibilities to become Mayor four times until 1860-61. He is noted on the Electoral Role as holding a freehold house and land in Iffley from 1832-1872. He let the property to numerous tenants over its existence including the Newman family from 1833-1836. John Henry Newman (1801-1890), the eldest of six children whose mother Jemima (née Fourdrinier) lived in Sadler's house in Iffley, later became nationally known as Cardinal Newman of the Catholic Church in 1879. A plaque commemorating her residence is attached to the façade of the villa, although the dates cited appear to be incorrect. There is little evidence available on the historic maps to suggest that the house is earlier in date.

Subsequent tenants of note include the Reverend James Rumsey, his wife Elizabeth and their four children who lived in the house, which was then called Rosebank, from 1855 until 1868. The house is mapped on the later 1878 First Edition Ordnance Survey Map still as Rosebank. Amongst the Rumsey's visitors to Rosebank was Mr Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an Oxford don of Christchurch College and ordained Deacon of the Church of England. Dodgson, who used the pen-name 'Lewis Carroll' later in his published writing, became famous for his "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" series of children's stories which was first published in 1865.

After Sadler's death in 1872, the freehold of the house was passed to Donnington Hospital and the property continued to be leased out. Another notable tenant was George Forrest CIE and his wife Emma who lived at the house from 1904. George Forrest (1854-1926), a journalist, historian and archivist of Indian studies, was honoured as a 'Companion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire' in 1899 and received an honorary MA from Oxford in 1912 as well as a knighthood in 1913 for his services to Indian scholarship. It was during their tenancy that the house was re-named Iffley Turn House. They held soirées in the house and invited the villagers to have dancing lessons once a week in the drawing room. Sir George Forrest contributed to the establishment of the Iffley Memorial Institute in 1917 and his wife and daughter Mrs Harlow lived in the house until 1934.

Following a number of short-term tenancies during the Second World War, the house was sold to the internationally known novelist Graham Greene in October 1948, who bought it for his estranged wife Mrs Vivien Greene. It was Mrs Greene who re-named the house to its current 'Grove House' and lived there until August 2003. As an avid collector of Regency and Victorian ornaments as well as miniature dolls' houses, her home was adorned with floral patterns, gilded elements and bright colours. In 1955 she published "English Dolls' Houses of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" and requested that her husband fund a building to store and display her growing dolls' house collection. The Rotunda was designed by Gerald Banks FRIBA and opened on 27 June 1962 as a museum. Banks, a significant early restorer of Oxbridge colleges and designer of sympathetic alterations, had also designed the dining-hall at St Anne's College, Oxford in 1959. All of the houses displayed were recorded in her 1995 publication "The Vivien Greene Dolls' House Collection". The dolls' houses and their contents were sold at Bonham's in 1998 and 1999. Following her death, the house was sold to Ms Polly McLean in 2004. The property which has retained the name Grove House was sold to its current owners in 2014.

HISTORY OF ALTERATIONS AT GROVE HOUSE Grove House has been subject to at least four phases of alterations over the course of its history. A mid-C19 extension over the former yard adjoins the southern elevation of the villa with the stable block. The rear central bay wall of the villa was opened and the interior re-modelled accordingly. The extension adjoins the stable block exterior at its central and eastern bays. The stable block, which is probably contemporary with the villa, was remodelled in the mid-to-late C19 to create an extended caretaker's cottage to the south. The cottage has been altered and extended in the C20 and C21.

The Rotunda was constructed in 1962 with a bridge link to the first floor of the stable-block and cottage (Planning ref: 60/09702/A_H). Further alterations were undertaken to the buildings in 2005 during restoration works. Despite planning permission to convert the Rotunda to a residential dwelling, this was not undertaken. It continued in use, however, for community and village events. The works to the main buildings included repairs to the exterior and interior, improved insulation, re-wiring, re-roofing, replacement window sills and secondary glazing to the sash windows, replacement casement windows, re-pointing and painting the brickwork. The canopy and trellis support on the exterior façade was removed for renovation and a new retaining wall constructed to the veranda. The interior was re-plastered where necessary and re-decorated throughout.

There are external iron boundary gates to the front entrance of the property and internal brick garden walls.


A Regency villa built c1832-3 for Charles James Sadler with mid-to-late C19 and C20 alterations and extensions, and including the Rotunda of 1962, with a bridge link to the first floor of the former stable block and cottage, by Gerald Banks to display Mrs Vivien Greene's dolls' house collection.

MATERIALS: the original villa is constructed of brick with timber-stud partitions. It is rendered and painted. The extensions are also of brick laid in Flemish bond rendered and painted. The hipped roofs of the house and its extensions are slated and the chimney stacks are constructed of brick. The Rotunda (see below) is constructed of steel and brick, painted and rendered with a felt roof. The flat roof of the link corridor at first floor level to the adjoining cottage is also covered with felt.

PLAN: the two-storey house of three-bays with basement and attic originally comprised a central stair hall and two polite rooms on the ground floor with service wing to the rear. It has been enlarged with the addition of a mid-C19 link extension and C19 cottage to the south which has been altered and extended in the C20 and C21. The mid-C20 rotunda, which stands to the south-west of the villa and adjoined to the west of the stable block, is a two-storey drum, circular in plan with eight arched bays. It is connected to the (former) stable block and cottage at first floor level by a mid-C20 link corridor.

EXTERIOR: the façade of the original VILLA, with the original stepped entrance at its centre, faces north. The entrance comprises a six panel door with segmental pediment and glass fanlight. A former cast-iron verandah, replaced in mild steel with decorative trellis supports and canopy, covers the paved terrace. A blue plaque commemorating the former residence of Mrs Jemima Newman, Cardinal Newman's mother, is attached to the facade, east of the entrance; the dates appear incorrect. The two outer bays on the ground floor each have a full-height French window with glazing bars and hung wooden shutters on either side. There are three symmetrically positioned six-over-six pane sash windows without horns, one to each bay, on the storey above. The original house has four chimney stacks each terminating with two pots, symmetrically placed with one at each corner of the house. The windows on the east, south and west elevations, where these are not obscured by the later extension, are also six-over-six pane sashes to each storey with shutters hung at ground level on the windows of the south and east elevations. There are basement windows across the lower east and west elevations of the original building.

The eastern elevation of the later link extension consists of three-bays with varying fenestration of the late-C19 to C20. On the ground floor there are a series of blocked doors or access-ways with buttresses visible as well as a side-wall chimney breast on its central bay with a stack and two-pots. A pair of modern French patio doors are now the principal access to the patio and garden from this elevation, located to the south of the chimney. There are C20 six-pane casement windows on the ground floor of both the northern and southern bays of the link's eastern elevation and late-C19 two-over-two pane sash windows on the first floor above. The fenestration varies again on the eastern elevation of the adjoining cottage and stable block to the south with a six-over-six pane sash and a three-over-six sash window inserted above reflecting the reduced height hipped roof when compared to the longer link building. The remainder of the cottage windows have been replaced by modern double-glazing, including the insertion of a C21 dormer on the southern elevation. A tall chimney stack is present, with blocked chimney, on its northern elevation.

There is a patio between the extension at the rear south-west wing of the villa and the stable block and cottage to its south. Fenestration on the ground floor of the west elevation of the extension also comprises C20 casement windows and French doors. There is a late-C19, two-over-two pane sash window on the first floor. The former stable doors to the south-west are vertically boarded with latch fittings. Other external features include a red postal box inserted onto the western elevation of the stable block-cottage and a plastic plaque commemorating the collections of Mrs Vivien Greene including the surrounding ironwork supposedly from part of the Great Western Railway and a staircase within the adjacent Rotunda which was salvaged by Mrs Greene from the demolition of St James' Theatre, Oxford.

INTERIOR: the north entrance leads into the central hall of the ORIGINAL VILLA with access to the main reception rooms of the house. To the east there is a morning-room which is used as an office and a former study to its rear which is used as a children's play-room. To the west there is a large drawing-room with moulded archway showing the former separation of the room into two parts to form a dining room with probable service wing or butler's pantry to the rear. The space is currently being used as an open-plan living area. Evidence of the former room partitions on the ground floor are visible in the ceiling and wall mouldings and interior features such as fireplaces. Four fireplaces are located on the interior walls of the eastern and western elevations of the original villa. Within the morning room there is a central fireplace with a painted wood surround comprising classical detailing and a decorative central frieze panel with classical scene. An earlier photograph from 2004 suggests this has been re-modelled during recent restoration works as the central frieze panel on the previous mantle-piece contained cherubs and swags. Within the southern half of the drawing room, facing east, there is a larger brick-lined fireplace with marble surround and overhanging mantel in the C19 manner with reeded detailing and three carved floral motifs on the central frieze panel. There is a stone fireplace with marble surround which appears to be of C19 design situated at the northern end of the drawing room. The detailing was obscured during the site inspection visit, however a 2004 photograph indicates a plain shelf carried on a pair of decorative brackets on the top of each jamb. Within the main reception rooms and hall there is reasonable joinery surviving and ceiling and wall mouldings including simple moulded cornices and skirting. There are internal four-panelled doors to each room and C20 fitted glass and wood display cabinets to the west of the entrance-hall. The morning-room has fitted C20 wall to wall wooden shelving on the west wall.

To the rear of the original house is the early-C19 open well stair with stick balusters in pairs with diagonal braces in the form of inverted arrows, simple turned newels and a mahogany handrail of curved section ramped at the turns. There is stepped access to the three-room basement, which has been boarded out and refurbished, from the ground floor underneath the stairwell to the west. On the upper landings the stairs appear to have been re-set where a wall has been opened-up to create a half-landing leading to the additional rooms on the first floor of the later link extension and to the second bathroom with modern fittings on the first floor of the former service wing. It seems likely this could have previously been a bedroom linked to the butler's pantry, close to the basement and wine cellar, served by an external yard access. The opening and re-modelling of the room was probably made during construction of the mid-C19 link extension. A widened loft hatch gives access from the bathroom to the attic. The roof structure was not inspected during the site visit, however a previous survey report describes it as a conventional roof construction supported on two king post roof trusses.

On the upper landing at the top of the staircase there is an early-C19 balustrade. The landing leads north to the first floor of the villa which comprises three bedrooms and a main bathroom, accessed separately from the hall. The two principal bedrooms are located at the front of the villa, each with central fireplaces surviving on the east and west elevation walls. A smaller bedroom is located to the south of the main bedroom, which has had its fireplace removed and blocked. Within the main bedroom to the east there is a moulded cornice on the ceiling, good window joinery and moulded skirting around the room. There is also a blocked fireplace with a surviving early-C19 style painted wooden surround on the eastern elevation. This is decorated with reeding and floral swags. The front of the narrow mantel is also decorated with a reeded design. The second bedroom has a C19 fireplace intact with cast iron grate and inverted painted bricks with moulded surround and roundels supporting a narrow mantel. There are painted skirtings around the room and a good survival of reeded window surrounds. The third south-east bedroom mantle-piece has been removed and the fireplace blocked and plastered over. There is a single run of moulded cornice, simple reeded window surrounds and skirting. There are two panelled cupboards, a fireplace with a late-C19 plain painted wood surround and overhanging mantle. There are C19 mouldings on the window surrounds and a moulded ceiling cornice. The main bathroom was remodelled in the C21.

Towards the south of the original villa, the ground floor hall leads to the mid-C19 LINK EXTENSION where the rooms have been remodelled and retain few historic features. Within the bedroom and dressing-room on the first floor, there is good survival of skirting, window surrounds and joinery including moulded cornices of the bedroom. Joinery, mouldings and four-panelled doors remains within the link corridor leading to the bedroom and dressing-room.

There is no existing internal access from the ground floor of the mid-C19 extension to the STABLE BLOCK or COTTAGE which it adjoins. The interior of the stables are used for storage and as a boiler room. There is little evidence of their former use surviving as fixtures and fittings other than a small area of cobbled stone floor. The upper floor is accessed from the south-east entrance of the cottage which leads to a staircase to the first floor accommodation. Within the interior of the cottage and upper floor of the stable block there are few historic fixtures and fittings remaining. The fireplace surround which was located on the northern elevation wall of the former kitchen and now living-area of the cottage has been removed and the fireplace blocked. There is eaves storage, perhaps originally for hay, to the south of the upper floor of the stable block.

ROTUNDA Joined to the stable-cottage by a covered walk-way corridor at first floor level is the rotunda, whose entrance, which is underneath, faces east. Constructed primarily for the storage of Mrs Greene's collection of dolls' houses, its form and treatment in a stripped, early C19 Soanian manner.

MATERIALS: brick with felted roofs, timber windows and steel internal columns and balustrades.

PLAN: a double height drum with an internal upper level gallery reach by spiral stairs.

EXTERIOR: the façade is in eight elliptical blind arched bays, rising through two storeys. Each bay has a small blind-arched opening or a sash of eight over eight panes on the ground floor and six over six panes on the first floor. It has a plain plat band and cornice and between each bay is a simplified roundel in relief. It has a shallow conical roof clad in felt, with a central open lantern supported on six slender shafts on a canted base, and was surmounted by a copper ball which has been removed.

INTERIOR: comprises a ring of centrally placed steel columns and brickwork partitions creating an entrance area and two-rooms including a store on the ground floor, and supporting an upper gallery. The upper gallery is enclosed by a steel balustrade, while slender steel columns rise to a large tent-like, striped painted ceiling above, within which is a circular plain fabric panel hoisted to exclude the light. The gallery is reached by a cast iron spiral staircase, which was salvaged by Mrs Greene from the demolition of St James' Theatre, Oxford. There is also a floor hatch which would have been linked to a hoist to lift up the dolls' houses. The upper gallery consists of a single room with a corridor at its eastern end leading to the first floor of the stable and cottage. The east-west aligned corridor contains fitted glass and timber display cabinets on the southern elevation of the corridor and a small kitchen area on the northern elevation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Victoria County History: A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. , accessed 25th February 2016 from
Arnold, D (ed.), 1998, The Georgian Villa
Berman Guedes Stretton Architects, June 2005, Grove House 44 Iffley Turn, Design & Access Statement.
Fairfield, S, 2004, Grove House and its People, Iffley History Society Publication No.10.
Franklin, J, 1981, The Gentleman's Country House and its Planning, 1835-1914.
Iffley Inclosure Award, 1830, OSD/A Vol. E, 212-259, Oxfordshire History Centre.
Yorke, T, 2013, Georgian and Regency Houses Explained, Countryside Books, Berks.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 23 Aug 2006
Reference: IOE01/15831/33
Rights: Copyright IoE Helmut Schulenburg. Source Historic England Archive
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