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Emma Darwin

The Grove, Huntingdon Road

History of the Grove, Huntingdon Road

1959 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Survey of Cambridge: the original early 19th cent. building forms about two-third of the present house block; 1813 is cut in the cellar brick work; 1814 us on the rainwater-heads. The SE third was added in the mid 19th cent…… both the NE and NW fronts to the original building are symmetrical; in the middle of the second is a large  semicircular bay the full height of the house flanked by reset rainwater-heads with the initial W.C., probably for William Custance and 1814.

On the Cambridge University web site it states:

William Custance was a builder, land agent, surveyor and enclosure commissioner who by 1801 was living in Chesterton and was employed by many Cambridge colleges to compile maps and provide surveys and valuations of them.

His map [of the city in 1798] gives a very clear picture of Cambridge just before the major changes that were to take place in the early part of the nineteenth century. Although the outline of the city had changed little, further intensification of building can be seen – especially in the centre of the town where virtually all open land has now been built on.

The Grove, Huntingdon Road


The Grove was bought by Mrs Charles Darwin after her husband’s death so that she could live part of the year in Cambridge near her sons. She was to spend every winter here for thirteen years until she died at the family home at Down in October 1896, aged 88. She liked the house and wrote that ‘the Grove garden was the very place for an old person, such nooks and corners for shelter and seats.’ ‘It had old walls and spreading wych-elms which gave it charm and individuality’, added her daughter Henrietta. (A House By The River p.44)


Thomas E Pries, 38, distiller, b Norfolk

Drusilla, 42, b Norfolk

Eliza F E, 13, b Norfolk

Thomas Charles, 6, b Norfolk

William D, 4, b Cambridge

Harry I Cunningham, 15, lodger,  errand boy, b Kent


William Bourne, 54, b Bucks

Eliza S, 40, b Suffolk

Arthur, 3, b Cambridge

Treal [?], 2, b Cambridge

Maud J, 1, b Cambridge


Emma Darwin, widow, 82, b Staffs [Emma’s granddaughter, Gwen Raverat writes in Period Piece about her grandmother and the house p.192]

Elizabeth, 44, b Kent

Harriet E Litchfield, 47, b Kent

Richard B, son in law, 59, barrister in Gov. Office, b Herefordshire

Hannah Bromwich, 53, servant, b Warwicks

Joanne Matheson, 33, servant, b Scotland

Harriett Irvine, 33, servant, b Hants

Elizabeth Catholmer, 25, b Cambridge


Charles Armstrong, 46, managing director, b Hunts

Beatrice, 38, b Devon

Beryl, 8, b Cambridge

Murial, 5 mos, b Cambridge

Ann Wright, 59, housekeeper, b Derbyshire

Annie Arthur, 27, housemaid, b Burton on Trent

Maude Tissington, 38, nurse, b Derbyshire

Beatrice Charter, 18, housemaid, b Cambridge

Hannah Reynolds, 20, cook, b Cambridge

The Grove (Lodge):

Edward Reeman, 41, coachman, b Suffolk

Eliza, 41, b Cambs

Edmund, 15, barman, b Quy

Edith, 11, b Quy

Arthur, 8, b Quy

Emily, 6, b Quy

The Grove (Gardener’s Cottage):

William Bourne, 68, gardener, b Berks

Eliza, 48, b Suffolk

Arthur, 13, b Cambridge

Cecil, 12, b Cambridge

Beatrice, 9, b Cambridge


Charles Armstrong, director of public companies breweries


Christopher, 23, brewing pupil



Maud Tissington, nurse

Annie Arthur, parlourmaid

Agnes Minn, 24, cook, b Cambs

Grace Goodchild, 22, housemaid, b Middlesex

Edith Neave, 19, kitchenmaid, b London

Alice Grinsted, visitor, 48, dressmaker, b Sussex

Grove Lodge:

Edward Reeman, coachman


Arthur, fitter and smith

Emily Mary, nurse


Charles Armstrong

A Bowler, gardener

E Reeman, The Lodge

In A House By the River by M E Keynes pub 1976, she writes: The freehold of what remain of the Grove estate now belongs jointly to Fitzwilliam College and New Hall; it will eventually be divided between them. The house, where Mrs Winifred Armstrong lives as a life-tenant, will  go to Fitzwilliam, whilst the land to the south-east of the house will go to New Hall, which already owns the land on the north-east side of the drive to the Grove and Grove Lodge, where their gardener lives, beside Huntingdon Road.



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