Monday, 4 August 2014

Over the hill at Harrow

Of late, Eddie and I have made it our habit, when returning from the Midlands to London's suburbs, to make the journey more palatable by diverting via Harrow-on-the-Hill en route to my parents' house in West Ealing. Described by Sir John Betjeman as 'a rocky island' amid the Wembleys, Kentons and Perivales - that endless sprawl of 1930s suburbia - Harrow-on-the-Hill is a beautiful outcrop of tradition, centred around the famous school that dates back to 1572 (somewhat younger than Poland's oldest school, the Małachowianka in Płock, established in 1180). Incidentally, Wikipedia states that 'the other place', Eton College (est. 1440), has far more famous Old Boys than Harrow - 19 British prime ministers schooled at Eton, only seven at Harrow.

Nevertheless, it's the location that makes Harrow more special - location and architecture. Eton, situated on meadowlands across the River Thames from Windsor Castle doesn't quite have the same visual appeal.

Left: The Old School, deserted in the summer holidays. School buildings are scattered all over the Hill, with pupils boarding and studying in disparate locations. Between the houses, distant views of central London, and the skyscrapers of the City.

Below: looking up the hill, the school just out of sight. Eddie  is peering westwards at suburban Middlesex.

Views like this make Harrow-on-the-Hill so special. Strip away the cars, and you could be back in Victorian England. Walk too far down the hill, however, towards Sudbury Hill, Roxeth, South Harrow, Northwick Park, and the charm soon evaporates.

Below: St Mary's Church, Harrow-on-the-Hill. Lord Byron used to visit the churchyard often when he was a pupil at Harrow School. The church dates back to 1094, though the spire is some 350 years younger. Tall trees surrounding the church have made it harder to spot from a distance.

Harrow-on-the-Hill is worth a visit should you be in north-west London - indeed, unlike 'the other place' across the Thames from Windsor - there's little else worth seeing in north-west London.

This time last year:
Behold and See - the Miracle of Lublin - Pt 1.

This time two years ago:
Quiet afternoon in the bazaar

This time three years ago:
The politics of the symbol

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