Goulds Grove (also known as 'Troy') is a handsome, Grade II-listed Georgian house which was once home to Jerome K Jerome, the author of Three Men in a Boat — and the summerhouse which he used as a writing retreat is still there to this day.
Located in the foothills of the Chilterns, three miles from Wallingford and nine miles from fashionable Henley-on-Thames, the historic village of Ewelme lies at the heart of a rich farming area where, in the 18th and 19th centuries, successive generations of prosperous yeomen farmers lived off the land and built comfortable, well-designed houses for themselves and their families.
One such example is handsome, Grade II-listed Goulds Grove, a four-square Georgian house, built in about 1827 and extended in 1926, set in 46 acres of gardens, park and farmland on high ground, a mile or so south of the village in an idyllic rural setting accessed by picturesque country lanes lined with hedgerows. It is currently listed for sale with Knight Frank and Savills at a guide price of ‘excess £6 million’.
Now known simply as Troy — a fact confirmed in amended listing details on July 8, 1986 — the property was owned by two generations of the same family until 2018, when the current owners bought, restored and upgraded it.
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Troy’s most famous resident was the much-travelled writer and humorist, Jerome K Jerome, who lived at the house — described in his autobiography as ‘an old farmhouse on the hill above Wallingford’ — for 10 years or more in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
This followed his marriage in June 1888 and a honeymoon spent on a boat on the Thames, which provided the inspiration for Three Men in a Boat, by far his most successful work, which was published the following year.
Fame and fortune followed and Jerome became part of the literary establishment, forming close friendships with J. M. Barrie, H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle, to name but a few. A thespian in his youth, Jerome left his mark on Troy by adding two theatres that were subsequently repurposed by the previous owners for charitable performances.
In 1908, Jerome left the farmhouse and moved to the Thames-side town of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where he lived for some years before his death in June 1927, when his ashes were buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Ewelme.
Troy, meanwhile, was extended in about 1926, when the house was joined to the nearby cottages and barns to create the west wing and courtyard.
Today, following a sensitive renovation project executed with flair and panache by London-based Alex Cochrane Architects, the main house provides 7,933sq ft of uncluttered living space on three floors.
There are four reception rooms, a family/games room, a brand-new kitchen/breakfast room, a wine cellar and stores, a principal bedroom suite, seven further bedrooms and four bathrooms.
Additional accommodation is available in the one-bedroom west-wing apartment; outbuildings include the theatre/games room, a barn, double garage, three stables, a tack room and wood store.
The gardens have also been transformed with the help of garden designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan and they include a sunken garden and two thatched summer houses — one apparently used by Jerome as a writing retreat — set around a new heated swimming pool screened from view by thick hedging and shrubbery.
A tennis court, located across the front lawns to the south-west of the house, is hidden behind yew hedges and a variety of mature trees.
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