GROVES 1660 - 2024
What began life as a stone masonry business developed into the country’s largest dealer in timber.
William, Thomas, Samuel, Alfred....and so the story of Groves continues with a long succession of talented craftsmen. The impressive history of The Groves family who to this day still remain actively involved in the running of the business. While the family links have been retained, the business itself has changed beyond recognition.
The year was 1660 and William the Mason was on a mission.
It all began with William Groves, a stone mason, establishing a business in Milton-under-Wychwood to exploit the local stone quarries. William’s success led to him being appointed to join Christopher Wren’s team of masons rebuilding St. Paul’s Cathedral after the great fire of London in 1666. This set the tone for the quality and craftsmanship that Groves would become known for.
Successive generations of Groves men specialising in large restoration projects nationally, enjoying recognition from even the Royals, continued to grow the business into the 20th century, while the Groves women were educated in finance and bookkeeping.
At Groves we have a long-standing partnership with the villagers of The Wychwoods, having provided much needed employment over the centuries and now providing spaces for their own businesses to flourish alongside our DIY shop.
'King of the Cotswolds'
The present company Alfred Groves and Sons Ltd was formed in 1904 and developed into the country’s largest dealer in timber in 1900s. Alfred Groves was known as the King of the Cotswolds supplying the country with sawn timber. At the time of his death (1914) his two sons Thomas Alfred & Samuel Edwin Groves had taken over the management of the business only to add to the significant reputation of the firm being known for it’s high-class traditional building skills and timber yard.
At the time of Samuel’s death (1952) his two daughters, Muriel and Winifred inherited the Groves business. They had married two Parsons’ brothers around 1930, so by name Groves became Parsons. Indeed, the majority holding of the company remains in the ownership of the Parsons family today. Director Holly McGee, daughter of Winifred, chairman Samuel Giles Parsons, great grandson of Samuel and wife Puk Parsons are involved in the business daily.
An aerial photo dated at around 1970 shows a much larger yard scattered with felled trees, mainly elms, so it is no surprise to find references to elm in various places in and around the yard. The photo on its own would indicate how life has changed for Alfred Groves and Sons Ltd. Gone is the timber, not to mention the elm trees, gone are large parts of the yard and some of the original buildings, replaced by renovated outbuildings and a range of three huge business units completed in 2000, each the size of a football pitch.
It's all about changing with the times, while staying true to our roots!
The past 30 years has seen Groves’ DIY shop grow organically to now form the central part of our trading business. From mainly working on building- and joinery contracts off site for the past 350 years, we are now committed to focusing on our shop and yard within Milton-under-Wychwood, concentrating on improving and reinvigorating this historic yard, to provide the wider community with a central space in the village to enjoy and be a part of.
As a result of this Groves is fast becoming a place well worth visiting due to the nature and diversity of our independent traders. We are very excited about this development and the prospect of what this, housing so many talented people within our long-established yard, will bring to the community and the continued family story of Groves.