(Jubilee) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES WALK
(about 2½ miles)
From the Tube station* walk left down the busy but leafy London Road. After a few minutes you will be in The Broadway and see Cottrell Cottages ahead. A plaque announces that they were built in 1565. Continue up the road taking care at the various crossings, until the appealing Ernest Bernays Memorial Institute (1870) which has striped brickwork and an unusual clerestory. The street becomes Church Road which has been developed with a lot of undistinguished commercial premises. However, if you look over the road you can enjoy the mellow bricks of Regent House (No.21). This dates back to c.1680 and was once a milliner's shop. A few minutes later you will come to a long high brick wall. Behind this is Bernays Garden, a small, secluded public park (info in link above). If you go to the west end you can get a view of the rear of some ‘old’ farm buildings. Return to the main road and then go down Old Church Lane.
I have to tell you that much of this apparently Tudor conglomeration, complete with fantastic chimneys, was built in the nineteenth century, though the houses on the west side incorporate a tithe barn rebuilt in the eighteenth century using beams that were already two hundred years old. The range adjoining Bernays Park (Cowmans Cottage to The Church House), was constructed in the 1930’s, using seventeenth-century material to transform cottages and outbuildings that had probably belonged to the original timber-framed manor house. (The present one - also pseudo Tudor - is hidden behind a wall down the road.) One more thing while you are in the area – just past The Church House at the corner of Tudor Well Close is a large carved stone well-head, taken from the grounds of the original manor house - now put to use as a planter.
Go over the lane to reach the church. You may be surprised by the red brick ruin to the west. This was an earlier version of the parish church built in 1632 and dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. By the mid nineteenth century it was said to be both structurally dangerous and too small, so the present St John's, was erected in 1850. In order to raise money for it, parts of the old church were demolished before outraged parishioners prevented its total destruction. Eventually it became a picturesque ruin and is a strange, eerie place; through the gaps where windows should be you can catch sight of the scars left when the memorials were removed from the walls and transferred to the new building. Still consecrated, there is a simple wooden cross under the east window and services still take place occasionally. It is also open on summer Saturday afternoons. To the north is Church Lodge, again in Tudor style and partly clad in decorative moulded tiles. This was built in memory of one of the owners of Stanmore Hall, Robert Holland, who was MP for Hastings (1837-52) and a famous balloonist. Those who are happy to wander up a hill to do some more exploring and see Stanmore Hall should cross the main road via an island and turn into Green Lane which will eventually lead you to Little Common, a delightful enclave of cottages, duck pond and beyond that a large wooded lake.
On the corner of Green Lane is Cherchefell Mews, a clever conversion of the nineteenth-century lodge to Pynnacles House (burnt down 1930). Rylands, ca1880, which includes part of a former barn and the snug 'Olde Cottage' are not far away. Some attractive modern railings at The Glade, and, a bit further on, a cluster of Victorian cottages, plus the handsome Park House with associated buildings set back from the road. Carry on, then turn to the right in front of a row of weather-boarded cottages peeping over a small hedge. You are now on Stanmore Hill. Use the crossing to go over the road and continue left. You can't miss the two houses with green roofs (No.116 and 147 opposite). For an even more fantastic building, turn into Wood Lane.
First comes the ragstone lodge to Stanmore Hall, then the impressive Gothic Revival mansion itself (1843), complete with turrets and castelation. Now luxury flats. Shame about the incongruous office block to the northeast. Cross the road (busier than you might expect) to get to Little Common. First go right towards a large duck pond, with water pump. Across the water is a view of large Victorian cottages with ornate barge-boards.
Retrace your steps and wander up to the gravel roadway to explore an intriguing higgledy piggledy collection of dwellings of different dates. From here you can get a better view of Stanmore Hall (and that office block). At the end of the gravel path is a sign for the London Loop. Follow this left to get to the nearby lake. (Go right at the waymark.) On summer weekends you may see a cricket match being played on a pitch glimpsed through the trees. Stanmore Common lies to the northwest. Near the end of the lake take a small track back towards houses and then make your way right to Stanmore Hill.
Look to the left for the white clock tower of what was once Clutterbuck's Brewery. Further down is a collection of red brick buildings, eighteenth century Hill House.This was once a short-lived school set up in 1771 by a former master from Harrow, Dr.Samuel Parr. As you proceed down the hill you will pass the former Vine pub. Adjoining this is the Old Bake House.
Soon you will come to a few shops and the former Abercorn Arms, an old coaching inn. On the other side of the road is No. 73, a mid eighteenth-century Grade 2[starred] house (formerly the police station) and at the corner of Hewett’s Close, you will find Ivy Cottage, half-hidden in an old-fashioned informal garden.
As you progress down the hill you will discover yet more interesting houses, in particular No. 44, a large white neo-classical mansion (now divided). No 23 has a fine eighteenth-century doorcase. Next door are three gabled houses (Nos. 19-21), once a bank; Elm House (early eighteenth century ) is tucked in behind them.
Once back at the main road don't forget Bernays Park if you feel like a rest before starting your journey home. (You may want to cheat and catch a bus - there are several that go past the station.)
Photos: (click on image to enlarge)
Little Common pond
Cotterell Cottages/No. 21 The Broadway
Old Church Lane
Old church altar/ruins of old church
Olde Cottage, Green Lane
No.147 Stanmore Hill/The Cottage, top of Green Lane
Clocktower, old Clutterbuck's brewery
Those who would like a longer exploration can explore Bentley Priory Nature Reserve, (PDF file giving several routes to follow). The reserve is best reached from Stanmore Hill via Alymer Drive opposite Wood Lane (about ten minutes walk). You might also want to visit the Bentley Priory Museum, headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.
*The Tube station really should have a lift, but there is an easier way to get to the road than taking the very long flight of steps directly in front of the platforms. To the right is a path towards the car park, and I suggest you take that and then go up the short set of steps, which will be a bit easier.
Stanmore is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and whacky buildings to be found, even in the most unpromising areas covered by the Greater London Underground stations. Usually the places listed are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored . You'll be amazed at what's out there!