Harrow on the Hill

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Middlesex. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1937.

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'Harrow on the Hill', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Middlesex( London, 1937), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/middx/pp64-68 [accessed 16 July 2024].

'Harrow on the Hill', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Middlesex( London, 1937), British History Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/middx/pp64-68.

"Harrow on the Hill". An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Middlesex. (London, 1937), , British History Online. Web. 16 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/middx/pp64-68.

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. X, S.E.)

Harrow on the Hill is a parish S.W. of Pinner. The church with interesting fittings and the original building of Harrow School are the principal monuments.


(1) Parish church of St. Mary (Plate 138) stands on the top of Harrow Hill. The walls are of flint rubble with dressings of freestone; the roofs are covered with lead and tiles. A church was consecrated here in 1094 but the earliest detail, in the lower part of the West Tower, is of c. 1130–40. In the first half of the 13th century the Chancel and Nave were re-built and the North and South Aisles added or re-built. About 1300 the North and South Transepts appear to have been reconstructed and the existing E. arches of the arcades inserted or re-built. The clearstorey was added about the middle of the 15th century and to the same period belong the South Porch and the upper part of the tower. The spire was struck by lightning and partly destroyed in 1765. The church was drastically restored in 1846– 49 when the North Chapel was added, the North Porch re-built and the upper storey of the S. porch reconstructed; the exterior, except the tower, was refaced. Galleries were removed at this and a later date. In 1895 the chancel was again restored and the North Vestries were added in 1909.

The church has lost much of its architectural interest through restoration, but retains a good 15th-century roof. Among the fittings the brasses, font and pulpit are noteworthy.

Harrow-On-the-Hill, the Parish Church of St. Mary

Architectural Description—The Chancel (45 ft. by 18¾ ft.) has a modern E. window. In the N. wall are three modern arches. In the S. wall are five tall lancet-windows restored from the remains of the early 13th-century arrangement, found in 1895; the W. splays of the second and fourth windows and the E. splay of the third are original. The early 13th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, springing from half-round responds with moulded capitals and modern bases.

The Nave (75 ft. by 22½ ft.) has a N. arcade of five bays; the E. bay with the responds is of c. 1300 and has an arch of rather more than half a semi-circular form, springing from the W. respond and carried down vertically on the E. respond; it is of two chamfered orders with a moulded label on the S.; the responds have half-round attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the four western bays are of early to mid 13th-century date and have two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with a moulded label on the S.; the cylindrical piers and semi-cylindrical responds have restored moulded capitals and bases. The S. arcade is generally similar to the N. arcade and like it has been partly restored; the E. arch is two-centred. The 15th-century clearstorey has four windows on the N. and five on the S. all of three cinque-foiled lights in segmental-pointed heads completely restored externally; the easternmost window on the S. has moulded splays and rear-arch; this clearstorey replaces an earlier one of which there are traces of the internal splays of the windows over the piers.

The North Transept (20 ft. by 17¼ ft.) has a modern arch in the E. wall. In the N. wall is a 15th-century window, restored externally and of three cinque-foiled lights in a segmental-pointed head. In the W. wall is a mid 13th-century arch, two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders with a moulded label; the inner order springs from short corbel-shafts with moulded capitals and head-corbels.

The South Transept (19¾ ft. by 16¼ ft.) has a modern E. window and to the N. of it is the N. splay of a destroyed mediæval window. In the S. wall is a window similar to the N. window of the N. transept. In the W. wall is a 13th-century arch, two-centred and of two chamfered orders with a moulded label and mask-stops; it springs from semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases.

The North Aisle (8½ ft. wide) has, in the N. wall, three 15th-century windows, all restored externally and each of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head; the mid 13th-century N. doorway has a two-centred head of two moulded orders the inner continued down the jambs and the outer with a moulded label and defaced head-stops and springing from detached shafts with moulded bases and capitals carved with defaced 'stiff-leaf' foliage.

The South Aisle (9 ft. wide) has, in the S. wall, three 15th-century windows similar to those in the N. aisle and all restored externally; the 13th-century S. doorway is similar to the N. doorway but has Purbeck-marble jamb-shafts and has been partly restored; higher up in the wall internally is a 15th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head opening into the upper storey of the porch.

The West Tower (about 16ft. square) is of three storeys covered externally with rough-cast; the two lower storeys are of mid 12th-century date, the top storey was added in the 15th century and is finished with an embattled parapet. On the S. parapet is the inscription "John Osman William Grenhill, Church Wardenes 1636" (?). The mid 13th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two continuous chamfered orders. The N. and S. walls have each a 12th-century window of a single round-headed light. The 12th-century W. doorway has a round arch of two orders, the outer square and the inner with remains of cheveron-ornament; it encloses a tympanum of flint supported by a segmental arch with cheveron-ornament and probably not in situ; the outer order is continued down the jambs and the inner and the tympanum-arch are carried on shafts with foliated or panelled and scalloped capitals and chamfered abaci; the restored 13th-century W. window is of two modern lancet-lights under a half-round outer order with a moulded label; the splays have original angle-shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The S.W. angle of the tower has been strengthened with added buttresses of various dates. The second storey has in the N., S. and W. walls a single-light window with a roughly pointed head. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a two-light window, partly restored; those on the N. and W. have ogee-headed lights, but the E. window has square-headed and the S. window has pointed lights. The tower is crowned with a tall octagonal spire of timber, lead covered.

The South Porch has no ancient features but in the E. wall of the upper storey is the rear-arch of a blocked window or doorway.

The Roof of the nave (Plate 139) is of the 15th century and of five bays, flat-pitched and with moulded main timbers; the cambered tie-beams have curved braces with carved spandrels and springing from wall-posts and grotesque stone corbels; the wall-posts are carved with figures in niches, probably representing the apostles; below the middle of each tie-beam is a boss, carved with angels, grotesque faces and rosettes; the faces of the tie-beams and wall-plates are carved with angels with spread wings, divided by rosettes; above them runs a line of brattishing; each bay is sub-divided by subsidiary tie-beams, purlins and ridge-pieces into eight panels with carved bosses at the intersections and figures holding musical instruments, etc. at the feet of the tie beams. The 15th-century roof of the N. transept is of two bays and of similar character to that of the nave but the braces of the tie-beams spring directly from stone corbels either moulded or carved with angels. The similar roof of the S. transept has corbels either moulded or plain. The roof of the upper storey of the S. porch incorporates some 15th-century timbers including a tie-beam with curved braces and remains of painted decoration.

Fittings—Bells: eight; 3rd by W. Whitmore of Watford, 1654; 6th by W. Eldridge, 1683. Brasses: In chancel—(1) to Katherine (Martin) wife of Henry Clerke, 1613, inscription only; (2) half-figure of priest in academic dress, mid 15th-century; (3) of John Byrkhed, rector, 1468, figure of priest in cope with figures of St. Mary, St. Peter, St. John the Evangelist, St. Richard of Chichester, St. Paula, St. John the Baptist, St. Anne, St. Lawrence, St. Nicholas and St. Bridget on the orphreys, head of figure missing, mutilated canopy, remains of marginal inscription and two shields of (a) Archbishop Arundel and (b) of Birkhead, two shields and part of inscription missing; (4) of [Simon Marcheford, canon of Salisbury and Windsor and rector, 1442], small figure of priest in cope, head and inscription missing; (5) figure of man in civil costume and wife, and text from Job, c. 1600; (6) of [William Wightman], 1579 and wife Etheldreda, figures of man in armour and wife and remains of marginal inscription, achievement and two shields-of-arms, figures of one son and four daughters and one shield lost; (7) to Thomas Downer, 1502, and Annes and Aleis his wives, inscription only; (8) of [Edmund Flambard and Elizabeth his wife], c. 1370, figure of man in armour with camail, bascinet, etc., figure of wife missing, both formerly standing on canopied bracket of which only parts of the canopy remain, inscription and two shields lost; (9) of John Flambard, c. 1390, large figure of man in armour with camail, bascinet, etc., feet on lion, and inscription. In N. chapel—(10) of [John Sonkey, 1603 and Alice his wife], figures of man in civil costume and wife, two shields-of-arms. In nave—on first pier of N. arcade, (11) of John Lyon, 1592, founder of Harrow School, figures of man in civil costume and wife, figure of child lost. In S. transept—on S. wall, (12) of George Aynesworth, 1488–9, and Agnes, Isabel and Joan, his wives, figures of man in civil costume and three wives, with figures below the wives of respective children, one son (a priest), five sons and six daughters and two sons. In S. aisle—on S. wall, (13) to Dorothy (Bellamy), wife of Anthony Frankyshe, [15]74, two inscription-plates, on reverse of one part of a canopy with figures of prophet and weeper and part of marginal inscription, on reverse of second plate part of head and shoulders of lady on cushion with supporting angels, figure of St. Paul in niche of canopy and shield-of-arms, three running stags, both palimpsests Flemish and 15th-century. Chest: In upper storey of S. porch—of oak boards, dovetailed at angles, heavy iron straps and two original locks, probably 17th-century. Doors: In N. doorway— of nail-studded battens with arched moulding planted on, oval drop-handle with foiled scutcheon-plate, large stock-lock and large key, late 15th or early 16th-century. In W. doorway of tower—of two folds on square framing, with moulded and fielded panels on outer face, early 18th-century. In upper storey of S. porch—large stock-lock of former door. Font (Plate 10): round bowl with moulded rim and under-side, face cut with a scalloped ornament, stem fluted spirally and moulded base, Purbeck marble, late 12th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. transept —on E. wall, (1) of William Gerard, 1609, erected by his son Gilbert, reassembled monument of freestone, alabaster and black marble, with painted effigies of man and woman kneeling at prayer-desk, inscription on portions of frieze, achievement and two cartouches-of-arms; on N. wall, (2) to William Gerrard, 1584, Dorothe his wife, 1583, and Mary, James and Anne their children, enriched freestone tablet, with alabaster achievement-of-arms in scrolled circle above. In S. transept—on W. wall, (3) to Sir Edward Waldo, 1707–8, white, grey and black marble tablet with cornice, broken pediment, urn and two standing cherubs. In upper storey of S. porch—(4) top left hand part of slab with part of incised figure of man in civil costume and beginning of inscription in Lombardic capitals, HE, early 14th-century. In churchyard—E. of chancel, (5) to Martha, wife of William Greenhill, 1657, also to William, Greenhill, 1667, flat slab; S. of chancel, (6) to John Miller, 1702–3, flat slab. Floor-slabs: In chancel— (1) to William Horne M.A. master of Harrow School, 1685, with shield-of-arms. In N. transept—(2) to John Page, 1667, and Anne (Lock) his wife, 1667–8. Niche: In upper storey of S. porch—in E. wall, with buttressed jambs, semi-octagonal vaulted canopy with trefoiled arches, quatre-foiled frieze and broken cresting, moulded pedestal enriched with pateræ, human and two leopards' faces, remains of red and dark colour, 15th-century. Organ-case: modern, but incorporating portions of 17th-century panelling including panels with carved and pierced foliage and other carved panels. Paintings: In chancel—on old splays of second, third and fourth windows in S. wall, remains of masonry lines etc. in red, with three bands of cheveron-ornament on second window, 13th-century. Piscina: In S. transept—in N. wall, recess with shouldered head, no drain, possibly piscina, 13th-century. Plate (Plate 22): includes a cup and cover-paten of 1568, a flagon of 1633, a cup of 1638, inscribed and dated 1678 and large paten and cover-paten of 1638. Pulpit (Plate 25): of oak, hexagonal with moulded cornice, each face enriched with an eared panel surmounted by a curved and broken pediment with other enrichments above, carved scrolls with cherub-heads at angles, twelve-sided support with six scrolled and elaborately carved brackets, pulpit, 17th-century, given by Tanner Arnold in 1708, restored 1910, one face removed and incorporated in standard to sounding-board. Miscellanea: in upper storey of S. porch—various fragments of stone-work and 17th-century monuments including two cartouches-of-arms of the Gerard family.



(2) Homestead Moat, N.W. of Northolt Road and 1,150 yards S.W. of the church, was formerly rectangular but has been filled in except for a small part of the S.E. arm, which now forms a pond.

Harrow School, Plan of Building Incorporating the Original School-House

(3) Harrow School (Plate 67), 100 yards S. of the church, was founded in 1571–2 but the first building was not opened to scholars till 1611. This building still survives and is of two storeys with basement and attics; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. As originally built it formed a rectangular block with a projecting entrance and staircase-wing on the E. side. In 1819 this structure was considerably enlarged by the addition of a block on the E. corresponding to the original block; at the same time the S. front of the old block was refaced.

The fittings of the Fourth Form Room are of interest.

The W. Front is divided into four bays by original chimney-stacks with modern tops; the smaller stacks rest on moulded corbelling; the stacks partly mask three gables which are finished with stepped parapets of 1819. The openings at the basement level are of doubtful date but the windows on the ground floor are original, two being of four lights and one of two lights, all transomed and with moulded oak frames; on the first floor are two three-light and one two-light windows of similar character and one modern window; the two northernmost have moulded brick jambs but the frames appear to be modern. The N. end has a four-light transomed window on the ground-floor and, on the first floor, a similar window with a two-light window to the E. of it; in the gable is a two-light window. The two large windows have moulded jambs and frames.

Inside the building, the Fourth Form Room (Plate 67) occupies the whole of the ground-floor of the original block. The walls are lined to a height of about 7 ft. with moulded and fielded panelling of c. 1700 with a moulded cornice; at the N. end is a central recess with a semi-circular head above the cornice and a plain key-block; the panelling is covered with the names of schoolboys cut in the wood, the earliest being that of T. Basil 1701, on the N. wall. In front of the N. recess is a heavy semi-octagonal desk and in the recess is a 17th-century chair with turned front legs and curved arms partly broken. The doorway in the E. wall has a moulded frame and a door of six fielded panels with old hinges; on the outside of the door is cut the name and date W. R. James 1663. On either side of the doorway are low screens with curved tops and among the names inscribed on them is Wolmat (?) 1660. The early 17th-century fireplace, in the middle of the W. wall, is of stone with an eared surround, central panel in the head and a cornice with carved brackets. At the S. end of the room is a 17th-century chair with panelled back, curved arms and a flat-topped desk; in the N.W. corner of the room is a similar chair. On either side of the doorway are 17th-century chairs with flat-topped desks. The floor of the room is terraced up from the middle in two tiers and fitted with benches. In this room is the 17th-century oak muniment-chest with iron-bound angles, straps and ornamental scutcheon-plates. The N. room on the first floor is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of c. 1700 and finished with an entablature; the fireplace has an eared architrave, side-pilasters and cornice; the overmantel is of two panelled bays divided and flanked by panelled pilasters, supporting an entablature. The basement has a brick recess, in the W. wall, with a four-centred head.


(4) The Old House, on the S.E. side of High Street, 220 yards S. of the church, is of three storeys with cellars; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was at one time an inn called the Queen's Head and appears to have been largely re-built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. It contains, however, some chamfered beams which may be part of an earlier structure. The top storey is a modern addition raised above the original eaves-cornice. Inside the building is a small piece of early 17th-century panelling and two early 18th-century panelled doors.