Grove shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||7,178 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||Vale of White Horse|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Grove Parish Council|
Grove is a village and civil parish on Letcombe Brook about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Wantage in the Vale of White Horse. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire. Letcombe Brook runs through Grove.
Grove is said to have had a chapel of St. John the Baptist until it was destroyed in 1733. It would have been a chapelry of the ecclesiastical parish of Wantage, of which Grove was a part until the 1830s. A new Church of England parish church was built in 1832 and Grove was made into a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1835.
The 1832 building was replaced by a new parish church of St. James the Great built in 1900 or 1901. St. James' was a Gothic Revival building in an Early English Gothic style with six bays and a south aisle. It was designed by P.A. Robson, son of the architect Edward Robert Robson. The font is an 18th-century wooden one brought from All Saints' parish church, Pusey. In the 1960s Sir Nikolaus Pevsner found St. James' to be derelict.
In the 1960s a new parish church of St. John the Baptist was built to replace St. James'. The foundation stone is dated 1965. It incorporates items from St. James' including the font, a stained glass window depicting St. James and a panel listing successive vicars of the parish.
In 1770 the turnpike road was built as a more direct route between Wantage and Oxford. Between 1796 and 1810 the Wilts & Berks Canal was built. Its main route passed through the village and a branch of the canal was built between Grove and Wantage.
In 1840 the Great Western Railway opened Wantage Road railway station on the northern boundary of Grove. In 1875 the Wantage Tramway was built. This was a single track laid alongside the turnpike road linking Wantage Road Station and Wantage. It was operated by steam tram locomotives which pulled both a passenger tramcar and a goods wagons.
Competition from the railway and tramway reduced canal traffic, and the Wilts and Berks fell into disuse in 1901. Increasing competition from road transport reduced traffic on the tram, and passenger tram services were ended in 1925.
In 1942 RAF Grove was opened as a Bomber Command training base. In 1943 it was transferred to the United States Army Air Forces and the 45th Air Depot Group established one of the largest and busiest supply airfields in Europe. In 1946 the USAAF returned the airbase to the RAF, who relegated it for non-flying operations. In 1955 the base was transferred to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, which used it until the 1960s. The site was then sold off and private housing was built on part of the former airfield.
In 1945 the Wantage Tramway closed to freight traffic. One of its steam tram engines is preserved at Didcot Railway Centre. In 1965 British Railways closed Wantage Road station. Oxfordshire County Council has a policy to seek a new station to be built to serve Wantage and Grove.
Parts of the Wilts and Berks Canal around Grove are still visible, providing some local walks. The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is working to reopen the entire canal, and several small sections around Grove have already been restored.
Grove has lately been a site of extensive housing development, greatly increasing its size and almost merging with the nearby town of Wantage. Grove is now the largest village in the Vale of White Horse.
Grove has two primary schools:
Grove has two public houses (three formerly):
- The Baytree, Denchworth Road
- The Bell, Main Street
- The Volunteer Inn, Station Road (closed since 2012)
- Grove Rugby Football Club was founded in 1971 and plays in the Southern League North division, making it one of the four highest-rated sides in Oxfordshire. The Club fields four senior sides, including Veterans. Grove RFC has a large Youth section, across twelve Mini (mixed, Under-7 to Under-12) and Junior groups (Under-13 to Under-18; including two Girls' -- Under 15 and Under 18), consistently has among the best Colts sides in the area, and has long had a policy of bringing through players from the Colts to the senior sides. The Club welcomes and actively seeks new recruits across its Mini, Junior and Senior sides. It also has a full and varied social calendar. One of its highest achieving alumni is Jon Dunbar, who captained Grove in the early-2000s before moving to Newcastle Falcons and then Leeds Carnegie on a professional contract. He later represented Scotland in the 2005 Six Nations Championship, playing in two games as a substitute.
- Grove Challengers FC, the local association football junior side, was founded in 1971 and has seen many of its alumni enter the professional game. Though few make it further than the youth teams of local clubs, such as Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers, Challengers most successful alumnus is former England International Martin Keown, who played for the club briefly as a young child.
The village has been twinned with Mably, France since 1990.
- "Area: Grove (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- Page & Ditchfield 1924, pp. 319–332
- Pevsner 1966, p. 150
- "Photo Gallery: How the Church Looks Now". Welcome to Grove Parish Church. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
- Millbrook Primary School
- Grove Church of England Primary School
- The Bell at Grove
- Grove Rugby Football Club
- RFU Southern League North division
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds. (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire. Victoria County History 4. pp. 319–332.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 150.
Media related to Grove, Oxfordshire at Wikimedia Commons