In some ways there isn’t a lot to see at the Grove, but it is a warm and welcoming place to visit. Staff are excellent and keen to talk and answer questions. It also has a good tea room too!
It complements “Cregneash”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/south/cregneash/index.html which tells the story of a small Manx settlement dependent on fishing and subsistence farming. The Grove in comparison is a snapshot as it is a snapshot of a typical middle class Victorian household complete with barns and outbuildings.
Wealthy shipping merchant, Duncan Gibb, visited the Isle of Man on holiday in the 1830s, and fell in love with a small secluded cottage for sale on the Andreas road on the the outskirts of Ramsey. He bought it as a summer retreat for his family, along with the governess, two maids and a manservant.
Gibb extended the cottage by adding a second storey and building on two rooms at the front with a hallway. The old cottage became the kitchen and scullery. When Gibb retired in the 1860s, the family moved here permanently and The Grove became a much loved family home with a thriving farm attached. The family wealth dwindled although his two unmarried grand daughters lived here until their death in the 1970s, when the estate was purchased by Manx National Heritage.
The house has been maintained pretty much as it was in its Victorian heyday, complete with family furnishings and possessions. There was no running water until the 1920s and electricity didn’t arrive until after the Second World War. Fireplaces burned coal which was imported to the island and expensive. Peat was cut on nearby hills and was also used as a source of fuel. Gorse provided kindling. Portable heaters provided extra heat in the winter months. Stone hot water bottles were used to warm beds and also carried under clothing to provide warmth.
The Grove is a large rectangular building with a front porch and covered with drab rendering. The original cottage can still be seen at the back with the rough stone walled carriage shed. A small glass conservatory has been built on at the side of the house and is now the cafe. The farm buildings are in the yard at the back of the house.
The front door leads into a hallway with dining room off on the left and the drawing room on the right. Stairs lead up to the first floor rooms.
The olive green and gold flock wallpaper in the dining room is the original. The fireplace is made of black marble from Poolivaaish near Castletown. There are family portraits hanging on the walls.
The drawing room is a typically cluttered Victorian room. The piano in the corner of the room came from the Liverpool house and all the daughters would have learned how to play. This room was used for parties. The tiger skin rug on the floor reflects family connections with India.
The kitchen, with its cast iron range used for cooking and hot water, was at the back of the house. On of the maid’s first jobs in the morning was to light the fire for hot water for the family to wash. The bells are above the door and each room had its own bell pull with a slightly different ring.
The scullery is behind the kitchen. The gardener left vegetables here for the maids to wash and prepare, as well as firewood and kindling for the kitchen range and household fires. Delivery boys left goods here. Washing up was done here as well as cleaning and filling of oil lamps. Steps lead down from the scullery to the coal house.
At the top of the stairs is the master bedroom, with dressing table, wash stand and a small fireplace.
The middle room above the hallway would originally have been the dressing room for the main bedroom. It is now displayed as a sewing room, and there are examples of old sewing machines. Daughters were not expected to have jobs or careers and were taught skills like needlecraft, running a household, managing the cook, gardener and servants.
The final room would have been a second bedroom but now has a display of Victorian and early C20th clothes, including a tennis outfit and mourning dress. There are also display cabinets with jewellery.
At the back of the house is a small toy room and what was originally the maids’ bedroom in what was the original cottage. This has examples of old heaters and an exhibition about bee keeping, with examples of different styles of bee hives and a honey press.
The farm buildings are arranged round the yard at the back of the house. Outside the scullery window is the pump which provided cold water for the household.
The carriage shed is built onto the back of the house. This has examples of old perambulators, a hand drawn water barrel as well as an ice box. From the end of the C19th there were ice deliveries from Ramsey. There is also a Victorian shower, popular before the days of piped water. This was a tall wooden cupboard with a container at the top which was filled with warm water from the kitchen. The water drained through a perforated screen and a servant had to pump a handle to recycle the water.
Opposite the carriage shed are the stables. This is a substantial stone building, reflecting the importance of horses in Victorian times. Next to the stables is a barn which now contains old agricultural equipment.
The outside toilet is at the end of the stable block. Ash is used to absorb the contents and these are emptied out through a small hole in the wall.
Down the side of the house is the horse driven threshing mill. Two horses were harnessed to the long wooden beam. This was connected by an underground cog and shaft drive to the rotating wooden ‘flyers’ inside the stone mill building. This separated the ears of wheat which fell down a wooden chute into sacks. The chaff was removed along sloping racks. There is also a display of old ploughs here.
And finally don’t miss the small flock of Loaghtan sheep grazing in the field behind the stables.
There are more pictures here.