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A Brief History of Donnington Grove


Donnington Grove is a fascinating chapter from a bygone era of English decadence. The original owner was James Pettit Andrews (1737-1797), a noted British Historian and translator whose major work was “A History of Great Britain”. It was Andrews who had Donnington Grove designed and built by John Chute in 1763, in the “Strawberry Hill Gothic” style of his friend Horace Walpole.  Walpole was the aristocrat who penned gothic novel “The Castle of Otranto”, a suitably dark and dramatic forerunner to genre classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein.

The project was no Travel Lodge.  With ornate battlements, pillars and statues it was expensive both to build and maintain. After Andrews departure in 1783, subsequent owner William Brummell had even grander designs - eventually expanding the estate to some 850 acres (and he didn’t even play golf). The house became the childhood home of his son, Regency style icon “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840), the man who revolutionised fashion and is credited with introducing the suit and neck tie to menswear.

Decadence and Wartime: Later Years

The house and grounds then passed through the hands of three different owners until it was requisitioned by Allied Supplies Ltd. during World War Two. Post war, the estate was sold to the cousin of Winston Churchill, the Hon. Reginald Fellowes, although his hell-raising wife Daisy Fellowes (1890-1962) will be a resident more familiar to most. A woman of extravagant tastes and decadent habits, described as "the very picture of fashionable depravity", Daisy was heiress to the Singer sewing machine empire. Besides trying to seduce dozens of famous men (including Winston Churchill) she also enjoyed spicing up cocktail parties with various illicit substances and had one of the most lavish collections of jewellery in Europe. Daisy's little cottage retreat can still be seen in the Donnington Grove grounds; it was here she would allegedly take shelter or sleep off the excesses of the her wild parties.

The retreat of hell-raiser and fashionista Daisy Fellowes (now a private cottage, above) can still be seen on site.

Donnington Grove remained in the Fellowes family until bought by Shi-tenoji  International in 1991.  This organisation was responsble for the wonderfully tranquil temple area and ornamental gardens which form one of the most unexpected and handsome corners in the grounds. The Japanese buyers bought the site with a view to developing a top class golf course. This task fell to former Welsh Ryder Cup player and legendary golf architect Dave Thomas, who began work on the eighteen holes you see today.  The Donnington Grove Country Club opened on June 12th,1993. 

In 2005 the Donnington Grove estate changed owners again and it is now privately managed.  The recent focus and redirection of the business will ensure it remains a successful independent and unique hotel in Newbury.