The Grove Fort Story
The original house on the Grove Road was built between 1810 and 1840 according to it's appearance on the census.
Grove Fort house and the small farm was purchased by my husband’s maternal grandmother, Mrs. Isabella Allen in approximately 1920s.
She had 8 children, four sons - George, Davey, Willie and Hugh and 4 daughters -Tilly, Mariah, Victoria and Sarah. Times were hard and money was scarce. In 1919 when her last child was still in the womb, her husband, David and eldest son George, then aged about 14 years, went to America looking for work. Her husband died in America and never actually got to meet his youngest child, a daughter Sarah.
Her son George was unable to get home at the time of his father's death. He settled in America and had 2 sons and 4 daughters living around the Chicago area. He returned home briefly for a visit in 1964 and his 2 sons visited during National Service while they were stationed in Northern Ireland.
Willie and Hugh both served in the Second World War and later Willie immigrated to Australia with his family. Both Mariah and Victoria had sons who immigrated to Canada. Victoria was the last family member still alive and she passed away on 7th July 2016, just 7 weeks before her hundredth birthday.
We are not sure if the farm was purchased by Isabella alone or if her husband was aware of the purchase, but she kept it, farmed it, and raised her children. Eventually, when her youngest daughter Sarah married George Rankin, in 1947, she sold the farm to her son in law. She continued to live on the premises until her death in 1957.
At that time the house was whitewashed and joined onto the farm buildings. There was a set of steps on the front of the house leading to the shop loft. This shop was run in the 1920s by two Miss Allen’s - not sure what they sold or if they were related to the family but the shop counters were used by my daughter in the 1990s to make rabbit hutches for her pet rabbits!
Sarah, her mother, and her husband churned their own country butter and sold it and also eggs from the farm. Sarah passed away in 1980 and George in 1991. The house was occupied by their oldest son Bobby until his death in 2009.
Self-Catering - Humble Beginnings...
The house was renovated at intervals, particularly in 1972, and 2005. In 2005 the house was separated from the farm buildings and the stonework was revealed following extensive renovations and modernization. In 2010 Willy’s daughter and son in law, Don and Evelyn Ames, visited from Australia. It was Evelyn’s first visit home in 50 years. They stayed in Grove Fort and that is what gave us the idea to let it as a self-catering holiday home as it was still in good condition and permanent letting was difficult because of the farmhouse position in the heart of the farm.
Grove Fort Today...
In the last 10 years, it has been very extremely interesting to meet all the different folks who have come to stay, to hear their stories, and to get to know some of them on repeat visits.
We have had folks from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Dubai, Germany, Holland, Sri Lanka and of course England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland North and South.
Some have passed through the house leaving very few memories while others have made a much more lasting impression, some we talk about a lot like the girl who brought her spinning wheel and wove the fleece from our sheep's wool after washing it in the bath and leaving it to dry in the sunshine! Our guests have become friends and enriched our lives Meeting new people helps us to see the world from a different perspective! Definitely thinking about writing those memoirs!