Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
The Grove pub at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common suffered a fire in 2012 and is now boarded up, awaiting decisions regarding its future. The pub has a large garden and looks forlorn, sad to see as this particular spot has a long history.
There has been a pub here, or a tavern, since probably the 17th century when it was called The Green Man. In 1739 the tavern was under the “mastership” of a Mr Cox who, needing water for his family, attempted to sink a well. He dug down sixty foot but still not finding water covered it up and forgot about it for a while. He opened it up again in the spring and found there was 25 ft of water that had a sulphurous taste and smell and, after scientific testing, was found to have purgative qualities. Visitors came to take the waters medicinally and consequently the Green Man which had been described as a “noted house of good entertainment”. Mr Cox flourished and a few years later "built a handsome room on one end of his bowling-green for breakfasts, dancing, and entertainment.” He cut a path through Dulwich Woods to the top of Sydenham Hill, still named Cox's Walk after him.
The fashion for taking the waters passed and, by the early nineteenth century, a private school had been built on the site. The school building was described as a plain white stone building of two storeys. The headmaster was Dr Glennie and his most famous pupil Lord Byron who is said to have spent a lot of time in Dulwich Woods, much larger then than now, and “daily hold converse with motley groups of the vagabond class.” The school was demolished in 1825 and one of the former servants at the school called Bew opened a tavern in one of the remaining outbuildings. He converted the grounds into a tea garden and the junction became known as Bew’s Corner. The tavern was rebuilt in 1863 when it was renamed the Grove Tavern.
At some stage, the pub was acquired by the Courage Brewery who rebuilt it in 1924 and renamed it the Grove Hotel. The Tudor style of house was taken as the pattern for the rebuilding of many of their pubs and the Grove Tavern the first to be rebuilt in this style. "This house with its gardens, bowling green, garden bar and band stand, a dancing rink and hard courts for tennis, is considered one of the most modern houses in the south of London, and is delightful inside, with its tea and saloon lounges, and other up-to-date appointments. The heavy expenditure entailed was soon justified by the increase in trade." From Courages, 1787 - 1932 by G.N. Hardinge
Times change, I think many would prefer the 'Before' version these days!
For a short while in the 1990s /early 2000s the pub became a Harvester. The pub’s website says the pub is closed for refurbishment but there is no sign of activity.