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.
Mick & Dolly