Harrow, including Pinner : Harrow church

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.

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Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley, 'Harrow, including Pinner : Harrow church', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner, (London, 1971) pp. 249-255. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp249-255 [accessed 27 May 2024].

Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley. "Harrow, including Pinner : Harrow church", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner, (London, 1971) 249-255. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp249-255.

Bolton, Diane K. King, H P F. Wyld, Gillian. Yaxley, D C. "Harrow, including Pinner : Harrow church", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner, (London, 1971). 249-255. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp249-255.


It is not known whether Werhard, the priest who owned land in Roxeth in the 9th century, had a church in Harrow. (fn. 1) A priest is recorded in Domesday Book. (fn. 2) In 1094 the consecration of a church built by Lanfranc provoked one of the first disputes over archiepiscopal peculiars. The archbishops assumed that Harrow was wholly under their jurisdiction, diocesan as well as manorial, but Maurice, Bishop of London, claimed the right to consecrate the church since it lay within his diocese. Anselm carried out the ceremony in 1094 in spite of an abortive attempt by one of the Bishop of London's clerks to steal the consecration oil, and afterwards he won support from the last surviving English bishop, Wulfstan of Worcester. (fn. 3) Thereafter Harrow remained a peculiar of the archbishopric of Canterbury within the deanery of Croydon until 1845 when, on the abolition of the Middlesex peculiars, it became part of the London diocese. (fn. 4) There were medieval chapels of ease to Harrow church at Pinner and Tokyngton. Tokyngton chapel was suppressed with the chantries but Pinner survived to become an independent parish in 1766. (fn. 5) Nineteen parishes were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries within the original parish of Harrow.

Harrow had a landed estate, manorial rights, and tithes drawn from a large area; closely connected with the archbishop's residences, it was also accessible to London and on the route from Canterbury to the king's palace at Woodstock. Thus it always attracted ambitious and important men. Werhard was probably the first of many non-resident priests, (fn. 6) some of whom provided deputies. A vicar is mentioned in 1170, (fn. 7) although it was not until 1233–40 that a charter endowed the vicarage and regulated the endowments of the rectory. (fn. 8) The rectory continued, usually as a sinecure, until it was impropriated in 1546 to Christ Church, Oxford, and soon afterwards to the secular lords of Sudbury manor.

The advowson of the rectory was exercised by the archbishops of Canterbury, except sede vacante in 1278, 1294, 1366, and 1396, when the Crown made the appointment. (fn. 9) Once, c. 1170, the king usurped the advowson, whereupon his nominee was excommunicated by Becket. (fn. 10) In 1312–17 there were three claimants, presented respectively by the archbishop, by the king sede vacante, and by the pope. The archbishop's candidate, William de Bosco (Boys), won but had to pay £40 a year to the papal nominee, William de Testa. (fn. 11) In 1537 Cranmer granted the 'gift, collation, and free disposition of the parish churches of Harrow and Hayes' to Sir Roger Townsend and others, (fn. 12) but the rectory was impropriated before another vacancy occurred. The medieval rectors held the advowson of the vicarage (fn. 13) and after impropriation the lay rector normally presented. (fn. 14) In 1601, however, William Gerard of Flambards and in 1625 Simon Rewse of Headstone did so, Gerard probably because of the confusion which followed the division of the rectory, (fn. 15) Rewse perhaps as a trustee. (fn. 16) In 1776 the advowson was exercised by Sir John Rushout and John Kennion, in accordance with an agreement made by Rushout in 1764 to sell all his Harrow property; Kennion paid part of the price, mortgaging the estate to Rushout, but Rushout foreclosed in 1782 on failing to receive the rest. (fn. 17) In 1806, expecting the decease of the vicar, Walter L. Williams, Lord Northwick conveyed the advowson for £3,500 to Robert Markland of Ardwick (Lancs.). When Williams died in 1810 Markland, for £5,000, released it back to Northwick, who made the next presentation. (fn. 18) Thereafter the advowson remained with the lords of the manor.

The hide of land which had been granted to the priest before 1086 (fn. 19) was held from the archbishop for suit of court, payment of heriot, and 8s. a year. (fn. 20) This presumably became the rectory estate, which was described variously as one hide (fn. 21) or 1½ hide, (fn. 22) probably because the status of the land east of the parsonage was always ambiguous. From 1233–40 the rector was to have all the demesne of the church except the vicarage site, comprising land, houses, homage, pannage, and other services of tenants of the church, all the tithes of grain, herbage, and hay, except those from Roxeth and Headstone manors, and all mortuaries of beasts worth more than 2s.; he was also to receive 50 geese from the vicar on St. James's Day (25 July). (fn. 23) The reference to homage and services implies that Rectory manor already existed. The rector had sole manorial jurisdiction over Harrow-on-the-Hill and Roxborough, and part of Roxeth and Greenhill. His rectory was valued in 1291 at £40 and in 1535 at £88 4s. 4d. a year. (fn. 24)

Although most of the rectors were pluralists and absentees, it is unlikely that they were content with a modest residence. John Byrkhede, for example, entertained Archbishop Chichele at Harrow in 1440. (fn. 25) William Bolton, Prior of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, and Rector of Harrow, is said to have erected a fortress on Harrow hill in anticipation of a great flood in 1524. This may refer to a rebuilding of the parsonage-house, for in 1537 Richard Layton could offer Thomas Cromwell 12 beds there. (fn. 26)

In 1539 Layton leased the rectory to Thomas Wriothesley (later Earl of Southampton, d. 1550) for 60 years at £78 a year, reserving only the tithes of Pinner, the advowson of the vicarage, and repairs to the chancel. (fn. 27) In September 1544 Richard Coxe, a canon of Cardinal College (Christ Church), Oxford, was collated to Harrow rectory. (fn. 28) In November Cranmer surrendered its advowson to the king, (fn. 29) who in 1546 granted it to Christ Church, (fn. 30) of which Coxe had become dean. Coxe presumably surrendered his title and in 1547 the college alienated the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage to Sir Edward North, reserving the great tithes. The grant was made in fee farm in perpetuity for £13 6s. 8d. annually, (fn. 31) a payment which was still made, although charged exclusively on the rectory-house, in 1881. (fn. 32) In 1550 the 'parsonage and great tithes' were leased to North for 50 years at £74 17s. 8d. a year. The inclusion of the word parsonage, whether through doubt about the title in fee farm or through carelessness in drafting the lease, led to trouble. In 1566 a similar lease in reversion was made to Nicholas Todd for 99 years. After Todd surrendered his interest in 1569 it was granted to William Wightman, who was to pay a peppercorn rent until North's 50-year lease should expire. (fn. 33) Wightman possessed both the rectory and the tithes before 1553. (fn. 34) Sir Edward North paid a total of £88 4s. 8d. (fn. 35) annually to Christ Church, comprising the fee farm for the rectory and the rent for the tithes. He leased the rectory, with all appurtenances except manorial rights, to Wightman for £31 a year, and sub-leased the tithes to him for £74 18s. 10d. a year. Wightman in turn sub-leased some of the tithes, those of Sudbury being leased by Sir Gilbert Gerard for £8 6s. 8d. a year. After Gerard's executors sued Wightman's widow and daughters in 1593 the Wightman lease from Christ Church of the tithes passed to the Gerards, (fn. 36) while another action established that the parsonage was part of the fee farm grant to Sir Edward North. (fn. 37)

The parsonage nevertheless was claimed both by North and his successors and by Christ Church and their lessees. North enjoyed the rights and profits of the rectory; he had a seat in the chancel and received payments for burials there. (fn. 38) The rectory was conveyed to George Pitt in 1630 and thereafter descended with Sudbury Court until 1807, when it was sold by Lord Northwick to James Edwards. Pitt was challenged by Sir Gilbert Gerard, who leased the tithes and, as he thought, the parsonage from Christ Church. In 1550 the college had covenanted to do all the repairs to the chancel and tithe barns except 'the great walling and thatching', (fn. 39) while since 1569 the college's lessee had been held responsible for the chancel. (fn. 40) Gerard repaired it until c. 1632, when his tithes were sequestrated before he could be induced to carry out the work, (fn. 41) but c. 1638, desiring the privileges as well as the duties of rector, he demanded the chancel, the parsonage-house, and the tithe geese. He went to Oxford to incite the college to question Pitt's title, removed the keys from the chancel, and nailed up the doors within the church to prevent Pitt from occupying his chancel pew. (fn. 42) The rectory was thus involved in the general dispute between the two men, until in 1657 Gerard admitted that the grant of 1569 was void because of the previous grant in fee farm to North. He surrendered his lease and took up a lease of tithes only, (fn. 43) for three lives and for the old rent of £74 17s. 8d., agreeing to repair 'the tithe barns and all demised premises with appurtenances and everything in Harrow' for which Christ Church was liable. (fn. 44) Gerard interpreted these as the tithe barns only and in 1661 asserted that the chancel should be repaired by Mrs. Pitt, who claimed that it was the tithe-holder's obligation. (fn. 45) In 1663 a decree ordered £66 13s. 4d. to be paid by the tithe-holder and £33 6s. 8d. by the rector, (fn. 46) but ten years later the issue was raised again. From 1678, after arbitration, the chancel was to be repaired jointly by the titheholder and rector, (fn. 47) but there were similar disputes in the 1780s, in 1829, and in 1847, chiefly because the lay rector was reluctant to pay. (fn. 48)

The rectory and the tithes were held separately after 1593. (fn. 49) In c. 1645 the annual value of the rectory, comprising the house, about 150–180 a., the advowson of the vicarage, and perquisites of court, was estimated at £303; in addition, wood on the manor was said to be worth £1,000. (fn. 50) At this time part of the glebe was leased out. Most of the original glebe—the one hide lying north of Roxborough Lane—was leased in 1654 for 21 years at £50 a year. (fn. 51) In 1671 all the glebe land, including the section east of the house, called Redings and Dodses, and part of the rectory-house called the Dairy, was leased for 21 years at £140 a year. (fn. 52) The lease was repeated in 1682 for a further 21 years at an annual rent of £165, (fn. 53) although for most of the 18th century the Rushouts leased out only Redings and Dodses. (fn. 54) There was an annual rent of £117 c. 1796, when the house and land in hand were valued at £150 a year. (fn. 55) In 1805 Northwick claimed that Redings and Dodses, 50 a. on either side of Kenton Road, (fn. 56) were glebe land and therefore exempt from tithe, saying that he had a map showing the glebe in 1611. (fn. 57) By 1805, however, the distinction between rectorial glebe and other manorial lands was vague, and the inclosure commissioners rejected his claim. In 1807 Northwick sold the rectory-house and 121 a. north of it to James Edwards, retaining the disputed lands which became part of Harrow Park. (fn. 58)

The rectory- or parsonage-house was described c. 1645 as spacious. (fn. 59) Some £441 was spent on repairs between 1654 and 1663, (fn. 60) and in 1664 it was one of the largest houses in the parish, with 17 hearths. (fn. 61) The Pitts and Rushouts reserved most of it for their own visits, and also retained the advowson of the vicarage, the timber, and manorial perquisites. In the 1780s the mansion was occupied by Richard Sheridan (fn. 62) and c. 1796, amid large walled gardens and a pleasure ground, it commanded 'rich and delightful views'. (fn. 63) This house, known as the Grove after its once wooded close, became a boarding house for Harrow School c. 1820. (fn. 64)

The great tithes and tithe barns at Wembley, Alperton, Harrow Weald, and Pinner continued to be leased for £74 17s. 8d. throughout the 17th and 18th centuries on 21-year leases, renewable every seven years for a substantial fine, in 1793 as much as £1,790. (fn. 65) The lease was held by the Conyers family, the first of whom was an executor of Sir Francis Gerard, from 1709 to 1772, then by the Hernes until 1793 and by Richard Page from 1793 to 1803. All tithes were extinguished by the Inclosure Act of 1803. The inclosure commissioners' award to Christ Church of £1,005 annually in corn-rents and 897 a. of land seems to have been excessive, (fn. 66) for in 1657 the tithes had been valued at £800 a year (fn. 67) and in 1764 at only £711, although an 'improvable account' of £941 was also given. (fn. 68) Opponents of inclosure protested that the value of all tithes was only about £1,800 whereas the proposed rate of commutation would give the holders about £3,000–£4,000 a year. (fn. 69) They were probably correct, since a valuation kept by Richard Page gave them as worth £1,625 a year. (fn. 70) The estimate at the time of the award in 1817 was £1,400 for the land and £856 for the corn-rents. (fn. 71) The land allotted in lieu of rectorial tithe consisted of four blocks, mainly taken out of the open fields: 390 a. around Tithe Farm in Roxeth, 229 a. in Kenton and Harrow Weald later forming Black Farm, 176 a. in Alperton, and 104 a. in Preston. (fn. 72) The estate and corn-rents seem to have been leased to Page's executors after his death. From 1830 to 1872 or later they were leased to Henry Young of Essex Street and subsequently to his widow on 21-year leases, renewable every seven years for a fine of £5,700, although in 1831 the college, considering the fallen price of land and corn, assessed the fine at £2,690. (fn. 73) Young sub-leased the land which, in 1831, was divided among seven tenants who paid £1,169 in rent. (fn. 74) In 1845 there were still 7 under-tenants, and the net annual value of land and corn-rents was £2,555. (fn. 75) By 1866 there were only 5 tenants, most of the land being held by Thomas Goodchild, and the net annual value was £1,479 for the land and £674 for the fixed rent-charge. (fn. 76) Corn-rents, supposedly determined by the price of corn from year to year, were reviewed only in 1832, 1846 (at £846), 1902, and 1916, (fn. 77) but most were redeemed between 1893 and 1911. (fn. 78) Small amounts of the land were conveyed to the railways or local authorities in the 1860s, in 1881, and 1893, (fn. 79) but most of it was sold during the 1920s and 1930s for building. (fn. 80)

In 1233–40 Archbishop Edmund Rich, at the request of the rector, Elias of Dereham, endowed the vicarage with a house and a curtilage, with all the oblations of Harrow church and Pinner and Tokyngton chapels, and with all small tithes and mortuaries under the value of 2s. The vicarage was also granted the tithe of hay from Hamo and Hugh Roxeth (Roxeth manor) and of Ailwin and William de la Hegge (Headstone manor). (fn. 81) In 1291 it was valued at £6 13s. 4d., (fn. 82) and in 1535 at £33 4s. 4d. a year. (fn. 83) In 1650 the profits were £50 a year, and a further £50 a year was granted by the committee for plundered ministers. (fn. 84) By c. 1796 the vicarage was said to be worth £200 a year. (fn. 85) The tithes due from Headstone manor were commuted at an early date for a modus of £3 6s. 8d. and a court decision of 1656 upheld this customary payment. Another case in 1731 established the modus for small tithes: 4d. for each cow, for each sow with piglets, and for each orchard, and 2d. for each garden. (fn. 86) In 1804 resources subject to vicarial tithe were about 1,600 a. of grazing waste, 300–400 a. of herbage from annually depastured land, 100 a. each of turnips and potatoes, 5 or 6 pigeon-houses, orchards, gardens, hot-houses and wall fruits, seeds, honey, wax, some 14,000 sheep, 400 cows, 20–30 colts, pigs, and various poultry; there was also the modus from Headstone Farm and another, of £1 10s., from Roxeth Farm. (fn. 87) At inclosure this was commuted for £323 a year in cornrents and 188 a. of land. (fn. 88) The value of the vicarage c. 1811 was £1,080 a year, made up of £323 in cornrents, 295 a. leased at £496 a year, a vicarage-house worth £80 a year and mortuaries worth £180 a year. The vicar also received £25 from Harrow School and £20 for preaching 10 sermons. (fn. 89) In 1835 his average net income was £627, and £160 was paid in stipends for two curates. (fn. 90) By 1851 the net income was £595. (fn. 91) Over 70 a. of vicarial glebe land in Harrow Weald were sold in 1861 (fn. 92) and most of the corn-rents had been redeemed by 1967, although they still contributed about £50 to the endowment of £1,620. At least £1,000 has been surrendered by the vicars to help new parishes. (fn. 93)

The house granted in 1233–40 (fn. 94) stood south of the burial ground, where the vicarage has remained ever since. (fn. 95) It was assessed for 6 hearths in 1664 and subsequently for 5 hearths. (fn. 96) Walter L. Williams (vicar 1776–1811) let the vicarage for use by boarders at Harrow School and lived at Pinner House. (fn. 97) In 1812, after £205 had been paid for repairs, the new vicar, John W. Cunningham, complained that the state of the wall between the playground and parsonage enabled schoolboys to climb in, and warned that it might deter a vicar from living there. (fn. 98) Cunningham moved first to a house at the corner of Roxeth Hill and later to Julian Hill. (fn. 99) Having been let as a boarding house for Harrow School for much of the 19th century, the former vicarage was largely rebuilt in 1870 and reverted to its original use. (fn. 100) The present house is of red brick with stone dressings; a south-east wing may date from c. 1812, the rest being a Victorian Gothic building of 1870.

Tokyngton, one of two chapels mentioned in 1234– 40, (fn. 101) was a free chapel, dedicated to St. Michael and served by its own priest. About 1273–80 Joseph de Chauncey, Prior of Clerkenwell, granted to Benedict 'rector of the chapel of Tokyngton', a messuage with a house and one acre of arable land in 'Kukukes', between the land of Clerkenwell on the east and the road from the chapel to the Brent on the west for 3s. 4d. annual rent. (fn. 102) This was probably the 'priesthouse' which abutted upon lands belonging to Kilburn Priory in 1400. (fn. 103) The chapel's endowments came from the Knights Hospitallers and possibly from Tokyngton manor, to which the advowson belonged. (fn. 104) After acquiring the advowson in 1317 (fn. 105) the Barnville family presented a priest to the 'chantry' or 'perpetual chantry' of Tokyngton chapel in 1367 and 1419. (fn. 106) The chapel was worth £4 13s. 4d. a year in 1535. (fn. 107) The last priest, William Layton, brother of Richard, surrendered Tokyngton to the Crown in 1545, (fn. 108) but three years later John Finch claimed to hold the property, then worth £6 a year, by a grant from Layton made about two years earlier. (fn. 109) A decision not to interfere with Finch's occupation seems to have been followed until 1567, (fn. 110) when the queen leased the property to Richard Read for £3 9s. 8d. The drop in value is explained by the complete ruin of the chapel, for Read undertook to repair and maintain the premises. In 1795 the building was said to have been long since destroyed. (fn. 111) The lease was renewed, for fines of £10 9s. in 1585 and 1597, to Richard Read and his descendants. (fn. 112)

In 1607 the king granted the chapel of Tokyngton, a messuage, barn, three closes of meadow (10 a.), and 2 a. of wood in Tokyngton and Wembley, with a moiety of tithes of corn, grain, hay, and wood, issuing from these premises, in fee farm for £3 9s. 8d. a year to Sir William Herrick and Arthur Ingram, who conveyed them in the same year to John Page. (fn. 113) Thereafter this property descended with Tokyngton manor until in 1650 John Page sold the chapel, tithes, messuage, and lands to Humphrey Wigan, a London merchant tailor, (fn. 114) who in 1672 conveyed them to another tailor, Lawrence Wood of Holborn, for £360. (fn. 115) Wood surrendered his interest in 1724 to John Wyne, who surrendered it in the same year to William Stanlake. (fn. 116) In addition the fee farm rent of £3 9s. 8d. was granted out, being held in 1677 and 1703 by Francis and Richard Wilshaw. (fn. 117) The property apparently reverted to the Pages and was probably included in the conveyance of Tokyngton in 1800, for at inclosure Richard Page and Robert Tubbs claimed exemption from payment of halftithe for lands in Wembley and Tokyngton formerly belonging to Kilburn Priory. While Kilburn may have had privileges which would account for Page's claim as lord of Wembley manor, Tubbs's interest derived from Tokyngton manor. This, too, may have been privileged, as its medieval lords were patrons of the chapel, but the claim is more likely to have derived from the post-Dissolution grant to the owners of the manor. Land allotted in lieu of this tithe was assessed at 11/8 of waste, meadow, and pasture, and 1/10 of arable land. (fn. 118)

In 1324 William de Bosco, rector from c. 1312 to 1324 and probably a member of the Uxendon family, founded a chantry chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, probably on the north side of Harrow church. (fn. 119) He endowed it with a messuage, 101 a. of arable, 5 a. of meadow, and 4s. 4d. rent to support a chaplain to celebrate mass daily. (fn. 120) The messuage was a chantry house at Hatch End. Most of the land, in 1547 a messuage and 39 a. of closes and 61 selions in the open fields, lay in Kenton, where it was said to be held in free and perpetual alms from the manor of Uxendon for a quit-rent of ½ lb. of cumin. (fn. 121) The chantry was valued in 1535 at £6 a year (fn. 122) but in 1548 the property was leased for £9 16s. 5d. a year. (fn. 123) The advowson was usually exercised by the parishioners and occasionally by the archbishop. (fn. 124) In 1548 the property was sold for £747 8s. 6d. to William Gyes of the Strand. (fn. 125) It was then a messuage with 104 a. in Kenton, all in the tenure of William Tanner, the chantry house and other lands in Hatch End, the wood called Thomas Hatches, (fn. 126) held by various members of the Edlin family, and a messuage in 'Harrow Street', held by William Finch. By the end of the 16th century the lands had been sub-divided (fn. 127) and only the name Priestmead or Priest's Meadow in Kenton (fn. 128) and the mistaken local tradition of a chantry in Hatch End recalled the medieval chapel. (fn. 129)

William de Bosco also left 10 a. of wheat, 2 oxen, 2 kine, and a horse, to augment the divine service in Harrow church. The church had one light and two obits: Henry Parson granted a close called Danyelles to maintain a lamp and for the relief of the poor, and a croft called Hamonds for an obit; Agnes Greenhill gave a piece of land, Highfield, to support an obit. (fn. 130) In 1548 Danyelles, probably in Pinner, was held by Robert Edlin for £1 2s. 8d. a year, (fn. 131) and Hamonds, 3 a. in Kenton, was leased to John Seles for 8s.; (fn. 132) Highfield, probably in the south of Harrow Weald, was held by Thomas Bugbeard for 8s. a year. (fn. 133) In 1548 all three closes, worth £1 15s. 1d. a year clear, were among property granted to Sir Michael Stanhope and John Bellowe. (fn. 134)

Other medieval chapels were wholly independent of Harrow church. (fn. 135) One belonged to Bentley Priory and, according to Camden, stood on Weald Common, detached from the monastery. A complaint in 1512 that the Prior of St. Gregory's, Canterbury, had not presented for 20 years, 'to the damage of the tenants of the manor', suggests that the chapel was used for public worship. The chapel was demolished, probably in the 16th century, and all trace of it disappeared. (fn. 136) There was also a hermitage, dedicated to St. Edmund and St. Katharine, on Sudbury Common, which in 1529 was said to have been in the hands of the lord for many years. (fn. 137)

Practically all the rectors were pluralists and absentees, although some stayed at Harrow (fn. 138) a few were buried in the church, (fn. 139) and some contributed to its fabric (fn. 140) or to the welfare of the poor. (fn. 141) Some, like Elias of Dereham (c. 1205 to 1242) (fn. 142) or William Baunton (1390 to 1396) (fn. 143) became rector for their services as the archbishop's steward. Others, like Simon Offeham (c. 1242 to 1278), (fn. 144) Geoffrey of Everley (1278 to 1283), (fn. 145) and John de Bukingham (1366 to 1387), (fn. 146) were presented sede vacante by the king for their work as royal clerks, seal-bearers, ambassadors, or officials in the Exchequer or Chancery. Among these was Nigel de Sackville, (fn. 147) the king's seal-bearer, whom Henry II appointed when Becket was archbishop. Apart from William de Testa, (fn. 148) there was one foreign rector, Raymund Pelegrini de Rapistagno (1353–65), a cardinal and papal nuncio as well as a royal chaplain. (fn. 149) At least two rectors were builders, Elias of Dereham being concerned with Salisbury Cathedral, (fn. 150) and others included a Prior of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, (fn. 151) two chancellors of Oxford University, (fn. 152) and two bishops, one of them Cuthbert Tunstall, translator of the Bible. (fn. 153) In 1483 a papal bull permitted the rectors of Harrow to wear the furred almuce, as though they were canons. (fn. 154) The last rectors were among the most notorious: Richard Layton (1537–44) was one of Cromwell's visitors, the demolisher of Becket's shrine, (fn. 155) and Richard Coxe (1544–6) destroyed books and manuscripts in Oxford. (fn. 156)

Much less is known about the medieval vicars, most of whom seem to have been resident. (fn. 157) In 1401 there were three other celebrants, (fn. 158) and the will of John Byrkhede, rector, in 1468 mentions three chaplains, although one may have been a relation and unconnected with Harrow. (fn. 159) In 1521 a chaplain was fined as a common dice player. (fn. 160) Apart from the priests who served Pinner, Tokyngton, and the chantry chapel, there were clerks in minor orders, like Robert Baldock, 'holy water clerk', mentioned in 1434. (fn. 161) Arthur Layton (vicar 1528–c. 1551), who was probably related to Richard, in 1548 had found two priests to serve the cure. (fn. 162) His successor, Richard Dean (1551–9), seems to have been a pluralist. (fn. 163) William Launce, Headmaster of Harrow School 1615–21, was appointed vicar in 1625 (fn. 164) but was apparently displaced in 1645 by Thomas Pakeman, a favourite of the Puritan Sir Gilbert Gerard who considered him a 'constant preaching mini ster'. (fn. 165) George Pitt, a royalist and possibly a Laudian, who erected communion rails at his own expense, (fn. 166) was less enthusiastic about Pakeman and in 1649 asked Gerard for his opinion of Mr. Lauglie as a prospective vicar. (fn. 167) Pakeman, ejected in 1662, (fn. 168) still resided in the vicarage in 1664, (fn. 169) when the new vicar, Joseph Wilcocks, was presented for the second time. (fn. 170) The parishioners expressed approval of Wilcocks (fn. 171) to Mrs. Pitt, but their relations with Francis Saunders, vicar 1727–76, were not so happy. Six years after establishing the modus for small tithe (fn. 172) they stopped the vicar from burying non-parishioners in the churchyard without their consent, Saunders having buried 91 in 10 years, compared with 21 in the previous 20 years. (fn. 173)

The parish was deeply divided over John William Cunningham, vicar 1811–61. (fn. 174) Cunningham was a well-known evangelical, member of the Clapham sect, and author of The Velvet Cushion, published in 1814, from which he was nicknamed 'Velvet' Cunningham. The first clash with the aristocratic, and, from 1836 to 1844, high-church Anglicans of Harrow School came in 1822, when Byron wished his illegitimate daughter Allegra to be buried in Harrow church. Although both the evangelicals and the School party agreed that there should be no commemorative stone, to safeguard the morals of the boys, Cunningham at the same time made himself ridiculous by obsequiously seeking Byron's friendship. He asked Byron's friend, Henry Drury, a tutor at the school, to compliment the poet on his recently published Cain. Drury repeated the story and his friend Frances Trollope, Anthony's mother, wrote a satirical poem. (fn. 175) In 1839, three years after Christopher Wordsworth became headmaster, Cunningham opposed the building of a school chapel, lest the boys should become papists. (fn. 176) In 1851 the vicar's popularity was attested by congregations of 1,500, 750, and 750 respectively at the three Sunday services. (fn. 177) The parish followed his funeral procession 'like one great family mourning for a father' in 1861, and a lychgate was erected to his memory. (fn. 178) Some parishioners, however, asked for a successor who was a gentleman and scholar, in view of the clergymen at the school, (fn. 179) and Lord Northwick rejected the candidate suggested by the late vicar and his curates, appointing Francis Hayward Joyce out of some 25 applicants. (fn. 180)

The parish church, dedicated to ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, (fn. 181) stands in a commanding position on the top of Harrow hill, possibly on the site of a pagan temple. (fn. 182) It is built of flint with stone dressings and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, a west tower and spire, a 19th-century north-east chapel and vestry. Nothing survives of Lanfranc's church, and the earliest portion, the lower part of the tower and the west door, dates from c. 1140. Elias of Dereham was responsible for the chancel, roofed in oak from Harrow forest in 1242, (fn. 183) which retains its lancet windows, and probably also for the nave, with its five-bay arcades on low circular piers. The transepts were added at the end of the century. The next major period of building was probably during the rectory of John Byrkhede (1437–67), who, like Dereham, was known as a master builder. (fn. 184) The present clerestory and carved tie-beam roof were added, Perpendicular windows were inserted in the aisles, and an upper story and a tall, octagonal spire were built on the old tower. Frequent references were made during the 17th and 18th centuries to the ruinous state of the fabric. Large-scale restoration and alteration took place in the 19th century, (fn. 185) notably in 1846–9 when George Gilbert (later Sir Gilbert) Scott refaced the exterior with flint, added battlemented parapets, and reconstructed the chancel. Minor additions and alterations were made in the 20th century. (fn. 186)

The church contains 13 brasses, the most notable being those of Sir Edmund Flambard (d. c. 1370) and his wife, Sir John Flambard (d. c. 1390), John Byrkhede (d. 1468), George Aynesworth (d. 1488– 9), and his three wives and 14 children, and John Lyon (d. 1592) and his wife. Of the monuments, the largest commemorate two William Gerards (d. 1584 and d. 1609). There is also a memorial of 1815 to John Lyon, carved in relief by John Flaxman, and one to Joseph Drury (d. 1835) by the younger Westmacott. The late-12th-century font is of Purbeck marble and there is a carved late-17th-century pulpit. The plate includes a cup and paten-cover of 1568, a flagon of 1633, and a large paten, patencover, and cup of 1638, the latter inscribed 1678. Except for the cup of 1568, which is silver-gilt, all the plate is silver. (fn. 187) The registers, which are complete, record marriages and burials from 1558 and baptisms from 1562. (fn. 188) There are eight bells: (i, ii, and iv) 1779; (iii) 1665; (v) 1805; (vi) 1683; (vii) 1869; (viii) 1759. (fn. 189)


  • 1. See p. 203.
  • 2. See p. 219.
  • 3. Eadmer's History of Recent Events in England, ed. G. Bosanquet, 46; W. D. Bushell, 'Consecration of church', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, iv.
  • 4. Lond. Gaz. 1845, p. 2541.
  • 5. See p. 256.
  • 6. Werhard probably resided at Hayes: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, i. 22 n.
  • 7. W. D. Bushell, 'St. Thos. of Cant.', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, vi. 23.
  • 8. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 10–16.
  • 9. W. D. Bushell, 'Harrow Rectors', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x, xi.
  • 10. See below.
  • 11. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x. 15–19. Wm. de Testa was apparently the earliest candidate, holding in 1309 and 1312 (Reg. Clem. V, nos. 4667, 8075; Cal. Pap. Reg. ii. 59, 96) but the final decision, by Abp. Reynolds (Camb. Univ. Libr., MS. Ee. v. 31, f. 184) in 1317 favoured De Bosco on the grounds that Harrow was with cure and required the presence of its rector.
  • 12. Cant. Cath. Libr., Reg. T2, ff. 93v–94v. The grant was dated Nov., i.e. after the collation of Richard Layton.
  • 13. W. D. Bushell, 'The Vicarage', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 17–19.
  • 14. Ibid. 19–22.
  • 15. See below.
  • 16. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 20.
  • 17. M.R.O., Acc. 76/403, /406, /1089, /1697; Acc. 166(2)/ 146/20–156; B.M. Add. MS. 29254, f. 6v.
  • 18. M.R.O., Acc. 76/528, /534.
  • 19. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120.
  • 20. M.R.O., Acc. 76/216, mm. 25, 67, 72; /222a; /2413, m. 72. Described c. 1645 as held in socage: ibid. /777.
  • 21. e.g. M.R.O., Acc., 76/216, mm. 67, 72, /2413, m. 72.
  • 22. e.g. ibid. /216, m. 25, /222a.
  • 23. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 10–16.
  • 24. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 176; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434; Newcourt, Repertorium, 636.
  • 25. Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc. xlv), i. 301.
  • 26. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 18–19, 27.
  • 27. Cant. Cath. Libr., Reg. T2, ff. 162v–3v.
  • 28. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 29.
  • 29. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix(2), 383.
  • 30. Ibid. xxi(2), 335.
  • 31. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 187; M.R.O., Acc. 76/1007, /1698.
  • 32. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/560, /562, /683.
  • 33. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1149.
  • 34. Ibid. /222a, /1985.
  • 35. Recte £88 4s. 4d.
  • 36. Cal. Procs. in Chancery Eliz. I (Rec. Com.), i. 345.
  • 37. The court upheld North's lessee, John Button, against Audrey Wightman, who claimed to hold as lessee of Christ Church: M.R.O., Acc. 76/400, /1175; Acts of P.C. 1592, p. 308. Wightman himself had assigned to his widow and daughter the lease of the parsonage, which he had 'by grant of Roger, Lord North', and the lease in reversion of the tithes, which he had 'by grant of Christ Church': P.C.C. 9 Arundell.
  • 38. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1701.
  • 39. Ibid. /1175.
  • 40. Ibid. /1149.
  • 41. Ibid. /1171.
  • 42. Ibid. /826–7, /829.
  • 43. The confusing phrase 'parsonage of Harrow with appurtenances and all tithes' was repeated, but from this date lessees recognized that they were only entitled to tithes.
  • 44. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1150, /1160, /1167.
  • 45. Ibid. /1152, /1155, /1160–6, /1174–5, /1701.
  • 46. Ibid. /1699.
  • 47. Ibid. /1177–81.
  • 48. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/11, /285, /496.
  • 49. M.R.O., Acc. 76/400.
  • 50. Ibid. /777.
  • 51. Ibid. /195.
  • 52. Ibid. /201.
  • 53. Ibid. /202.
  • 54. Ibid. /404–5.
  • 55. Ibid. /1124.
  • 56. Ibid. /234, /238, /242, /404; Acc. 643, 2nd deposit, Messeder map B.
  • 57. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1702–3; Christ Church MS. Estates 47/178, /180, /209.
  • 58. M.R.O., Acc. 794/8; Acc. 643, 2nd deposit, survey of Northwick's estate (1806); Christ Church MS. Estates 47/187, /242, /245.
  • 59. M.R.O., Acc. 76/777.
  • 60. Ibid. /848.
  • 61. M.R.O., H. T. 5.
  • 62. See p. 234. For Sheridan's stables at Grove Hill in 1795, see Druett, Harrow, illustration facing p. 208.
  • 63. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1124.
  • 64. See p. 177.
  • 65. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1149–50, /1166; Christ Church Deeds, Harrow leases 1709–1810; Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 575.
  • 66. C.P. 43/939A.
  • 67. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1166.
  • 68. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/7.
  • 69. M.R.O., Acc. 77/5.
  • 70. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/19.
  • 71. Ibid. /225.
  • 72. Ibid. /306v, /449, /599; Christ Church Deeds, Harrow leases 1830–60, surrender 1872; Christ Church Harrow Maps 5.
  • 73. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/314.
  • 74. Ibid. /306v.
  • 75. Ibid. /449.
  • 76. Ibid. /599.
  • 77. Ibid. /565, /804.
  • 78. Christ Church Redemption Deeds.
  • 79. Christ Church Deeds, Harrow conveyances 1864, 1868; Christ Church Harrow Maps 5.
  • 80. Christ Church Harrow Maps 17–25.
  • 81. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 10–16. Confirmed in 1396 and 1512: M.R.O., Acc. 76/808.
  • 82. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 176.
  • 83. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434.
  • 84. Lambeth Palace MS. 913, Parl. Survey XII, p. 146.
  • 85. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1124.
  • 86. Ibid. /861, /2077.
  • 87. Ibid. /1095.
  • 88. C.P. 43/939A.
  • 89. M.R.O., Acc. 76/562.
  • 90. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], pp. 196–7, H. C. (1835), xxii.
  • 91. H.O. 129/135/1/1/1.
  • 92. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1906.
  • 93. Ex inf. the vicar (1967).
  • 94. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 15.
  • 95. Cf. M.R.O., Acc. 643, 2nd deposit, Messeder maps A and B.
  • 96. M.R.O., H.T. 5, 26, 53, 75.
  • 97. Druett, Harrow, 163.
  • 98. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1321, /1601, /1625.
  • 99. Druett, Harrow, 163. See p. 212.
  • 100. Harrow Sch. ed. Howson and Warner, 37.
  • 101. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 14.
  • 102. B.M. Harl. MS. 601, f. 48; presumably part of the Freren estate: see above, p. 191.
  • 103. Cal. Close, 1399–1402, 297.
  • 104. Elsley, Wembley, 54–56. See above, p. 208.
  • 105. C.P. 25(1)/149/48/231. See p. 208.
  • 106. Reg. Langham (Cant. & York Soc. liii), 281; Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York. Soc. xlv), i. 174.
  • 107. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434.
  • 108. W. D. Bushell, 'The alienation of the Harrow manors and the surrender of the chantries', Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiii. 36–37.
  • 109. E 301/34, f. 31.
  • 110. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiii. 40–41; E 310/19/91, f. 19.
  • 111. Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 575.
  • 112. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiii. 41–42.
  • 113. M.R.O., Acc. 276/6; Newcourt, Repertorium, 638; Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 576.
  • 114. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 465/2.
  • 115. C.P. 25(2)/691/1672 Mich.
  • 116. M.R.O., Acc. 210/48; Acc. 276/6. In 1722 Wood had agreed to sell the premises to John Halsey: Acc. 276/5/8.
  • 117. M.R.O., Acc. 621/Box IV/O.B. IX.
  • 118. M.R.O., Acc. 310(1).
  • 119. P.C.C. 7 Blamyr (Hugh Ives). Probably identifiable with the Wm. de Bosco (d. 1329) who was a prebendary of Chichester and Chancellor of Lichfield: J. Le Neve, Fasti, 1300–1541 (revised edn.), vii. 56, x. 9. See above, p. 207.
  • 120. Cal. Pat. 1321–4, 390; E 310/34, f. 31.
  • 121. M.R.O., Acc. 166/1, Acc. 1052, ff. 221–6.
  • 122. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434.
  • 123. E 301/34, f. 31.
  • 124. Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc. xlv), i. 281; Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x. 32.
  • 125. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 299. The grant was made to Wm. Gyes and Michael Purefoy, but Purefoy quitclaimed his interest: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xiii. 44–46.
  • 126. Probably identifiable with Hatchets, the common field in Harrow Weald (M.R. 612) (pace Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 299).
  • 127. M.R.O., Acc. 76/205; Acc. 276/9/5.
  • 128. M.R.O., Acc. 166/1; Acc 794/8; M.R. 612, no. 221; Lambeth Palace, Estate MS. 478.
  • 129. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. x. 3 (1865 edn.).
  • 130. E 301/34, f. 31.
  • 131. M.R.O., Acc. 76/205, /222a.
  • 132. M.R.O., Acc. 166/1. Said in the survey of 1546–7 to be held by the churchwardens.
  • 133. M.R.O., Acc. 76/205, /222a.
  • 134. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, 391–4.
  • 135. See also pp. 204–5.
  • 136. Druett, Weald, 103.
  • 137. M.R.O., Acc. 76/2421, m. 58.
  • 138. e.g. John Byrkhede: Reg. Chichele (Cant. & York Soc. xlv), i. 301; Wm. Bolton and Ric. Layton: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 18–27.
  • 139. e.g. Simon Marchford (1397–1437): Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 1–4; John Byrkhede: ibid. 5–12.
  • 140. Simon Marchford: Cal. Papal L. vii. 472–3; Elias of Dereham: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x. 10–11, xii, passim; Wm. de Bosco: ibid. x. 15–19.
  • 141. e.g. John Byrkhede: Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 11; P.C.C. 24 Godyn.
  • 142. See p. 224.
  • 143. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 27.
  • 144. Cal. Pat. 1232–47, 316.
  • 145. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x. 12.
  • 146. Ibid. 23–25.
  • 147. Ibid. 9; vi. 20–21.
  • 148. See above.
  • 149. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, x. 23.
  • 150. Ibid. xii.
  • 151. Wm. Bolton: ibid. xi. 18–21.
  • 152. John Letch and Ric. Coxe: ibid. x. 21; xi. 30.
  • 153. Ibid. xi. 16–18.
  • 154. Reg. Bourgchier (Cant. & York Soc. liv), 61–62.
  • 155. Harrow Octocent. Tracts. x(2), 22–28.
  • 156. Ibid. 28–32.
  • 157. Ibid. ix. 15–22.
  • 158. Druett, Harrow, 61.
  • 159. P.C.C. 24 Godyn.
  • 160. Elsley, Wembley, 73.
  • 161. Cat. Pat. 1429–36, 313.
  • 162. E 301/34, f. 31.
  • 163. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 19.
  • 164. Ibid. 20.
  • 165. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 20; Home Cnties. Mag. i. 321.
  • 166. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1162.
  • 167. Ibid. /844.
  • 168. Matthews, Calamy Revised, 379; D.N.B.
  • 169. M.R.O., H.T. 5.
  • 170. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 21.
  • 171. M.R.O., Acc. 76/30.
  • 172. Ibid. /861, /2077.
  • 173. Bodl. MS. Eng. Misc. C. 31, ff. 76 sqq.
  • 174. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 21–22.
  • 175. M. Sadleir, Trollope, A Commentary, 47–48.
  • 176. H.O. 129/135/1/1/2; V.C.H. Mdx. i. 300.
  • 177. H.O. 129/135/1/1/1.
  • 178. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 22; Druett, Harrow, 162.
  • 179. M.R.O., Acc. 76/101.
  • 180. Ibid. /101–20.
  • 181. T.L.M.A.S. xviii(2), no. 77; Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 64–67; Pevsner, Mdx. 97; Robbins, Middlesex, 281–2.
  • 182. See p. 172.
  • 183. Close R. 1237–42, 420.
  • 184. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, xi. 5–12.
  • 185. M.R.O., D.R.O. 3/B4/1; Acc. 76/1152, /1155, /1179, /1699; Acc. 643, 2nd deposit; Robbins, Middlesex, 281.
  • 186. M.R.O., D.R.O. 3/F2/4.
  • 187. E. Freshfield, Communion Plate of Mdx. 29.
  • 188. See list in M.R.O. The registers from 1558 to 1653 have been edited and printed by W. O. Hewlett (1899).
  • 189. T.L.M.A.S. xviii(2), no. 77.