Fifteen Polyramblers and two guests met outside Harrow-On-The-Hill station under a clear blue sunny sky to begin our walk and tour of Harrow School. We set off at a leisurely pace past Greenhill and Harrow College and crossed into Grove Hill with the War Memorial on our right. The noise of Harrow Town diminished noticeably as we progressed up the hill.
We passed the site of Britain’s first fatal car accident in which occurred in 1899. A little further on we saw the plaque on the wall of the Art School, which says that ‘Charles I paused here in his flight from Oxford to Nottingham to water his horse’ and to look out over his kingdom for what turned out to be the last time. We had now reached the first of the historic school buildings on our right-hand side with the first of the boys boarding houses to our left. Many of the boarding houses had been commissioned by and named after Harrow School masters from the mid 1850’s when the school expanded rapidly. The Masters had obviously taken advantage of a money-making opportunity! We continued past the Speech Room and War Memorial buildings and ascended further, with the old school building on the left, to St Mary’s parish church which sits on the top of the hill. St Mary’s dates back to 1050 and some of the original Norman stonework is still visible at the base of the tower. The hill is 124 metres (408 feet) above sea level and offers views out to Windsor to the West and the City of London and Canary Wharf to the East. It was here in St Mary’s cemetery that Lord Byron sat dreaming on the Peachy family tomb. A spot that he remembered with fondness all his life.
We paused here for lunch with some remaining in the churchyard to picnic while others made their way to the ‘Dolls House’ or the ‘Castle’ public house. After lunch we re-convened at the Speech Room entrance to meet up with our tour-guide Miep.
The school tour lasted 90 minutes and we were taken into some of the historic rooms and buildings such as the Fourth Form Room, School Chapel and War Memorial Building. Unfortunately, the famous Speech Room was closed for renovation works. Miep covered much of the history of the school and gave us an insight into the day-to-day life of the pupils and staff. She told us about the education and welfare provision, the strict discipline and the extensive sports facilities available to the boys. Overall, it was a very interesting and informative tour providing a glimpse into life inside Harrow’s other world.
After the tour Tea and Biscuits were served in the West Street Meeting Room.
On a bright but cold Sunday morning, twenty-seven members gathered at Tottenham Court Road station for a short walk to whet appetites for the Club Xmas Lunch later that day. The Bloomsbury area with its literary connections and numerous fine squares was the location for the stroll. The group first headed for the perfectly preserved Georgian Bedford Square which was the centre of British publishing until the late 1980s. Passing many blue plaques, we then moved on to London University’s imposing Senate House on which George Orwell is reputed to have based his ‘Ministry Of Truth’ in the novel 1984. Next, three squares Russell, Woburn and Gordon followed in quick succession before reaching Tavistock Square with its memorial stone to conscientious objectors at one end and a statue of Gandhi at its centre. The eclectic neighbourhoods of Tavistock Street and Lambs Conduit Street on either side of Brunswick Square were traversed before Red Lion was our final square where the Ethical Society has its headquarters at Conway Hall. A few minutes more and the walking group were inside the Freemasons Arms pub in Long Acre. There a further sixteen members and one guest joined the party before adjourning to the upstairs function room for an excellent repast served by the efficient and friendly staff. Our chair Hilary thanked everyone for their contribution to the Club over the past year before everyone headed home to the prospect for many of heavy snowfall overnight.
Twenty-six members were in attendance at Westminster station for the start of a pre-Xmas Lunch walk on . We headed across Westminster Bridge and joined the Thames Path by the old County Hall building. We avoided the temptations of fairground rides and mulled wine stalls as we walked in an easterly direction to the Millenium footbridge, now no longer wobbly. Crossing to the north bank of the Thames, we made for Blackfriars Bridge where we left the riverside to walk to the Middle Temple. However, the plan to go through the gardens to Fleet Street was thwarted because the exit gate was closed. A diversion brought us back enroute at Temple Bar and then onto Lincoln Inn Fields. There, we passed a small classic car rally before crossing into Covent Garden and finishing at our lunch venue, the Freemasons Arms. Twelve more members joined us there and the new management at the pub provided an excellent repast in the upstairs function room. After our chair Hilary spoke about the Club’s past year and thanked the staff, we headed home in a festive mood.
As most of you know, the club had a trip here in June 2015 and this is where our web master Clive lives. I’ve been in touch with him on and off since March. At the beginning, it seemed that the village was isolated from the virus, although there were cases in Ronda. Things have become progressively gloomier over the last 6 months and here’s his latest on how things are in the village.
Businesses over here are dropping like flies… I think now the penny has dropped exactly how much they relied on the UK, German and US visitors… I am not sure how long some places in Grazalema will remain open. Places like Rumores and the Simancon seem to be keeping their heads above water but others are obviously struggling. In Ronda 20 bars shut down permanently last month. The coronavirus is increasing again and we have cases all around us in the villages. Apparently, Ronda only has 2 available intensive care beds available… Spain registered almost 2000 new cases over the last 24 hours. Goodness knows what will happen when the schools re open next month.
On Saturday 14 March, just ahead of the more stringent advice on social distancing, the Club held its AGM at Better Bankside. With the increasing threat of coronavirus, the organisers had thought long and hard about whether to go ahead and email reminders had been sent out about the importance of hand washing, so I was expecting a much reduced attendance. In the event 36 members turned out, only two down on last year, and this in spite of a few older members sensibly deciding to stay at home to reduce their risk of infection. Perhaps we all had an inkling that would be our last physical gathering for a while. Hilary, in the chair, began the meeting with tributes to Solvig Starborg who had died in January and Ian Gordon who had passed away last May. Both had been AGM regulars. Continue reading AGM 14 March 2020→
The Polytechnic Rambling Club – Walking with friends