Portrait of a Parish - Page 19

Combe Grove Manor

On the northern ridge of the valley, overlooking the village, is a large manor house. The land upon which it was built changed hands many times, given by different monarchs to favoured subjects. In 1698, when the first record of a dwelling appears, it was owned by a merchant from Gravesend and in 1706 it was inhabited by a family who had lived in the village since 1520. Over the centuries, various alterations were carried out, including the planting of large groves of fir trees, giving rise to the present name of the manor, that of Combe Grove.

Combe Grove Manor

It had various owners, but from 1810 to 1968 it was in the private ownership of the Vaughan-Jenkins family, who although owning the house and estate, let it to tenants for much of the time. There are those who can remember the family of Mr. Butler, who was a master at Harrow School, and afterwards it was leased to Audrey Easter who turned it into an hotel with private apartments for "ladies and gentlemen who declined housekeeping". Most of those who "declined" brought their own furnishings and settled there very comfortably enjoying the magnificently kept gardens and good food. Among others, the actor/composer Ivor Novello and his mother maintained an apartment and a Beauchamp, a scion of the coalmining family of nearby Radstock. Also a "Baron" is remembered - of dubious origin but great charm. Rex Harrison with his wife Kaye Kendall, were one time guests. By the terms of her lease with the estate, Mrs. Easter had a lifetime's tenancy of her own quarters in the former orangery of the manor house, where she saw out her days in an almost Miss Haversham form of existence, until her death in 1989

Combe Grove Manor is now a hotel and health club with 1,500 members. Visitors are able to enjoy what is described as "The most delightful situation in the vicinity of Bath".

Link to hotel website - click here

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