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HARROW ON THE HILL
Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

HARROW ON THE HILL, (or Harrow), a parish in the hundred of Gore, county Middlesex, 11 miles N.W. of St. Paul's. It is a station on the Watford section of the London and North-Western railway, and is situated near the Paddington canal. The parish, which is well wooded, contains the hamlets of Greenhill, Roxeth, and Kenton, within the ecclesiastical limits, besides which Sudbury, Wembley, and Harrow-Weald form part of the parish for civil purposes.

From its high position, being 200 feet above the sea, it was selected by the Romans as an important military station. By the Saxons it was called Herpes and Hereways, and was purchased in 822 by Wilfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, who left it in his will to his relative Walbedus. During the reign of Edward the Confessor it was held by Earl Lewin at a rent of 60 per annum. The ancient manor house was formerly the residence of the archbishops of Canterbury, and it was here that Thomas-a-Becket resided during his banishment from court. There are no remains of the manor house traceable. Cardinal Wolsey, who was once Rector of Harrow, resided at Pinner, and is said to have entertained Henry VIII. during his visit to Harrow. The manor was exchanged by Archbishop Cranmer with the king for other lands, and was subsequently given to Sir Edmund Dudley, afterwards Lord North, from whose family it passed to the Pitts and Rushouts. The town, which is situated on a hill, is well built and lighted with gas, and now abundantly supplied with water by a company formed in 1851. There are a local board of health, a savings-bank, a literary institute, and a young men's society. Sudbury Grove and The Mount are places here. Harrow has ever been an object of great interest from its varied and beautiful views, extending over thirteen counties, but its chief importance is derived from the renowned Harrow school, founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth by John Lyon, a yeoman of the parish of Harrow. This institution was commenced on a small scale by the founder, who provided education for a few of the poor children in the parish; but in the fourteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth he obtained a charter for regulating the government of the establishment, and constituting it a corporate body under the title of "The keepers and governors of the school called the Free Grammar School of John Lyon, in the village of Harrow-on-the-Hill, in the county of Middlesex. He appointed six trustees, and the Archbishop of Canterbury was constituted visitor, and invested with power to decide all questions and disputes. The course of education pursued at this school is the same as that adopted at Eton. The founder bequeathed certain lands called the Pineapple Estate, in Marylebone and Paddington, for the maintenance and preservation of the roads and highways leading to the institution. But, owing to the greatly increased value of this estate, bringing in nearly 4,000 per annum, it was considered necessary that a readjustment should take place, and that other means should be found for repairing the highways. In 1810 proceedings were instituted in the Court of Chancery with the object of limiting the operation of the school by reducing the number of non-resident children; but the then Master of the Rolls, Sir William Grant, ruled that the original intentions of the founder were carried out, and there the matter ended. The number of pupils has since greatly increased, and now amounts to 480. The original building, situated near the church, is in the Elizabethan style, built of red brick, with stone dressings and lofty bay windows. It was erected three years after the founder's death. The school buildings and pupils' residence formerly consisted of the master's house and chapel; but the whole of the school-house is now devoted to educational purposes, and the scholars are located in the various under-masters' residences, for whom several commodious houses have been erected in the town. Although many modern erections have been added, the original architectural character of the school has been strictly adhered to. The schoolroom is 50 feet long by 21 wide. In the wainscoting of this room are many rude inscriptions, cut by many generations of Harrovians, which are held in great veneration, and among them may be traced the names of Peel, Byron, Jones, Sheridan, Marquis of Hastings, Lord Normanby, Sir William Peel, and many others who have distinguished themselves in literature, politics, and in naval and military capacities. The school chapel, erected in 1856, stands at the lower end of High-street, as well as the Vaughan Library, finished in 1864. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of London, value 627. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure with square embattled tower, containing eight bells, from which rises a lofty spire. It stands on the N. summit of Harrow Hill, and may be seen for many miles round. It contains tombs of Sir Samuel Garth, the poet and physician, the Gerards, Dr. Sumner, and Dr. Drury. There are brasses of the Flambards, &c., bearing date 1770, and in the nave of the church is a tombstone to John Lyon, the founder of Harrow school, with a figure in brass of the deceased, and an inscription recording the objects of his bequest. The register dates from 1558. There are district churches at Harrow-Weald, Roxeth, and Wembley, the livings of which are perpetual curacies The Baptists and Wesleyans have chapels. The parochial charities produce 67 per annum, exclusive of Lyon's estate. There are National schools. The Park, Wembley Park, and Bentley Priory, are the principal residences. The last was purchased by the late Marquis of Abercorn in 1788, and by him sold to J. Kelk, Esq., the present owner. A newspaper is published on the first of each month, entitled the Harrow Gazette. Lord Northwick is lord of the manor. The market has long been discontinued. A fair is held on the first Monday in August.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]
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[Last updated on 9 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. 2003]