The Grove Building was built in 1891 at a cost of £2,400 as an annexe to the National School, then in what is now the library.
The land was purchased and the building costs supplied by Miss Julia Chafyn Grove who was a local benefactress responsible for funding many other local amenities in the area.
Prior to the site’s development it had variously been a Rag & Bone business and a Salvation Army Gospel band barracks.
During the First World War the Grove building was a Red Cross hospital staffed by volunteers. 1273 sick and wounded soldiers were treated there.
In World War Two it served as a rest centre for evacuees from Wimbledon, London escaping the flying bombs.
The Chafyn family owned Zeals House from 1452 to 1968 and by marriage in the 17th century the family assumed the name of Chafyn Grove. Miss Julia inherited the property on the death of her brother in 1865.
Miss Julia was a great benefactor donating not only the Grove Building but also the land upon which St Matthews Church was built along with generous deeds in Zeals, Salisbury, Wincanton and gave name to the Chafyn Grove School in Salisbury.
She died in 1891 and was the last occupier to bear the family name. The property was left to her cousin.
You can find out more about Miss Julia and the history of the surrounding area in:
- The Book of Mere – Portrait of a Wiltshire Town by David Longbourne
- A Tale of Two Manors by Gwynneth E Jackson (wife of a former local chemist)
- A Look at Church Street Then and Now by Michael Tighe (Mere Papers No15)
Site Updated: 10 August 2021