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Harrow Public School and the attractive town on 'The Hill' (about 3 miles) 

The famous public school is situated on 'The Hill'  - quite separate from the main town of Harrow. To get to it,  take the left exit from the Tube station (signed Roxeth), then left again past Harrow College. After a few minutes you will see Grove Hill (signed ‘Harrow School’ ) across the road. (This hill is quite steep, not really suitable for wheelchairs.) Soon you will begin to see the vast old piles that serve as boarding houses for the boys of the school.   When you reach the top, a detour should be made to St. Mary's church, substantial parts of which date back to the twelfth century. Follow the sign for Footpath No.71 which takes you up an alley to the right. At the bend, stands a handsome late Georgian house, The Grove.

Walk on a bit.To the left  stands the circular Speech Room (1877) by William Burges. Opposite is a lych gate with a slope up to the church.   Before acquiring their own chapel in the 1830’s the boys used to worship on galleries suspended from the belfry and north aisle. As a result there are centuries-old memorials to masters among the many fascinating monuments. These include a pair of life-size Elizabethan figures, now separated from their lost canopied tomb. St Mary’s is usually open during the day, but it is best to check with the Parish Office here before making a special journey. 

One of Harrow’s most famous sons, the poet Byron, used to spend time in the churchyard lying on a favourite large flat gravestone gazing out at the view and writng poetry. Known as the Peachey Stone it is now covered by a protective grill, but the panorama which takes in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire is still amazing – though less rural than in the poet’s time. To get to the viewpoint and Peachey Stone, at the West (main entrance) door of the church continue northwards, passing a hedge. Where the path ends go left.  

Other celebrated pupils of Harrow include such diverse characters as Anthony Trollope, Cecil Beaton and Edward Fox. In addition,  Harrow has produced seven Prime Ministers, the most celebrated being Winston Churchill. Leave the churchyard by the lych gate. Wandering down towards the town,  look to the left for the splendid Vaughan Library (1860's GG Scott).

 As you pass a red brick wall with large oriel window, turn round to see an ornate plaque.  This records that the future 7th Earl of Shaftesbury was so moved by the sight of a pauper's disorderly funeral passing by he resolved that when he grew up he would do something to tackle poverty. In the event he became one of the greatest reformers and philanthropists of his age.To the right, imposing stone steps lead up to the Old School. 
 Although Harrow was founded in 1572, much of the ‘Tudor’ façade of the Old Schools dates back to only 1819, when the original early seventeenth-century building was enlarged. In fact nearly all the school buildings (which form the major part of the town) are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century.  Some of the architecture is attractive, but much is too solidly Victorian to be lovable. One imagines generations of new boys being intimidated by the looming bulk of Druries, the massive boarding house opposite the Old Schools. However, the rest of the High Street has some fascinating smaller buildings of mixed ages and styles.  In vacations it is eerily quiet, since it now exists mainly to service the school. Incidentally, if you visit during term time, please respect the privacy of the boys.

Cross the High Street at the pinch point and proceed right to discover the many charming small shops and restaurants (mostly up-market) as well as the larger boarding houses and tutors' residences.   About half-way along comes Flambards, an elegant late eighteenth-century house. In the wall of The Park next door is a Coade stone lion relief. No. 32 - the official school outfitters, after which are several eating places. No.45 - another outfitters, which has a particularly pretty window. Finally, glance up to admire the pair of vases piled high with plaster fruit placed in external wall niches at No.51.
You are now at the The Green where you will see a strange wood construction. It is thought that a gantry of some kind was erected about 230 years ago to display a sign advertising the nearby Kings Head Hotel. The inn was converted into flats in 2001,  but a new (2013) sign portraying Henry Vlll has been hung there to commemorate the old hostelry.   Cross over the road at the zebra. In front of you is the old Fire Station (now offices). Turn right and go past the  white buildings of the old Kings Head, then left at Waldron Road. 
While going down the hill (quite awkward) pause to admire the view. Turn right at Crown Street (uphill). On the corner is an ex-pub, The North Star. This closed in 1957 and has the words 'Private House' on the frosted glass instead of the usual 'Saloon Bar'. Note the blue tiles  'North Star Stable' set in a low wall adjoining the house. It's good that someone thought to save them. 

Continue up Crown Street, which has many old shop fronts - now, alas, unused - until West Street. (Be warned, the uphill walk is quite a haul.) The eighteenth-century white building on the corner of Yew Walk (Nos.31-35 West Street) was the Poor House. Opposite Short Hill is Hatmakers House (1740), so called because it was once occupied by straw-hat makers. Next door,  a sixteenth century timber framed building. At the top of the street you will find the Hill Shop whose clock and stone plaque inscribed in Latin commemorate the years in WW2 that Malvern College was evacuated to Harrow. Now turn left and walk back along the High Street towards the Old Schools. Cross over, walking past a Victorian Penfold pillar box and the Library. On the wall at the junction of Peterborough Road and Grove Hill is a simple plate remembering the first driver fatality in a petrol-driven motorcar -1899). You should now go to the right down Peterborough Road. At the top of Football Lane is a  quaint Victorian building that housed Harrow's first Music School.  It is now the Museum of Harrow School Life.  The Old Speech Room Gallery is also well worth a visit. Please note both these have limited opening hours which are in term-time only.

To get back to the Tube (about ten minutes' walk),  continue along Peterborough Road and turn left into the short Davidson Lane which leads to Grove Hill.  Once back at the station you may wish to have some refreshment in the town itself (likely to be cheaper than anything you will find on The Hill). Simply walk straight through the station and cross College Road to get to either St. Ann's shopping mall or the newer St George's, which has a cleverly varied set of shops re-creating a traditional High Street. It can be accessed to the left down Clarendon Road.
For an in-depth history of Harrow go to British History Online


Photos: (most will enlarged when clicked on) 
Old schools
The Grove

Speech Room
Elizabethan memorial
Vaughan Library
View of High Street looking North
Harrow School Outfitters
The King's Head sign on The Green/fruit urn at No.51 High St.
Hatmakers House, West Street/Penfold pillar box
is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries 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 above link and  see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR