Northolt Road, the main high street in South Harrow that greets you when you walk out of the station, has at least five halal butchers, nine pubs and four fried chicken shops. There are Caribbean takeaways, betting shops, pawnbrokers, pound shops, banks and bakers, hairdressers, Sri Lankan and Polish groceries, Indian restaurants, a gold jewellery specialist, and a fish and chips joint. In other words, your typical London high street with a mix of cultures.
Invited for a Sunday roast pub lunch with friends, we turned right out of South Harrow station, followed the road for about five minutes and cut up Middle Road. All of a sudden, we were in a village. The traffic disappeared. There was silence.
There were cute whitewashed cottages and huge victorian terraces behind brick walls crawling with flowers. We peaked through gates into sprawling, manicured gardens. We passed one of the big private schools in this affluent neighbourhood before venturing all the way up to the famous Harrow School for boys.
The boarding school is steeped in history as it was founded in 1572. You can’t walk through the grounds, but the buildings are lovely school’s influence is everywhere with nearby buildings and teenagers in school uniforms, even on a Sunday. You can book a tour if you go on the right day.
Curious, I did my research. Tuition costs a minimum of £36,150 (USD $51,864) per year. The uniform includes morning suits, top hats, canes and straw hats. There’s a photo from 1937 that features three Harrow boys that really exemplifies the class divide in this country. Alumni are called “Old Harrovians” and it’s a pretty impressive list of names including Winston Churchill and seven other prime ministers, three kings and other members of royal families, tons of politicians and members of the military as well as a long list of writers (Alain de Botton, Lord Byron, John Galsworthy), visual artists, actors, musicians and plenty of Olympic medal winners. There’s some other interesting names as well like William Jags (a drugs and manslaughter story), Hugh Massingberd (the late Telegraph obituaries writer) and Sir John Gardner Wilkinson (“the Father of British Egyptology” – the study of ancient Egypt).
At the top of the hill, there’s St. Mary’s, a church with a quiet cemetery and a beautiful view from a lush and leafy corner at the back with a bench in the spot where Lord Byron loved to sit when he was a student there. His daughter, Allegra, is buried toward the front. The story of her life is a bit of a tragedy as he apparently paid more attention to her corpse than he did to her as a child.
We had arrived extra early for lunch especially to explore because neither Jorge nor I had been this far up the Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line. We still had about half hour, so we took a slow walk up to the high street area, which was, again, like a mix of a village and a student town, though with more expensive cars.
The high street has cafes, a small hotel, a few restaurants and a little green area with a random old gantry and a pub sign hanging from the middle (photo below) which I found really curious. I did some digging and found the story (here if you’re interested).
We cut back down an alleyway then to meet friends for our Sunday roast at The Castle, a charming, traditional old pub with original 18th century fittings and fixtures, the Victorian dividers that mean ducking into the dining room and roots that can be traced back to 1716 (though the current building has been there since 1901). It’s cosy inside with dusty wine bottles lining the walls, open fires in the winters and a garden to enjoy in the summers. The food was delicious and the company wonderful as always.
I would have liked to explore the area a bit more after lunch, but I ate so much that walking back up that hill was not an option. Also, we jumped in an Uber about five minutes before a massive downpour which confirmed it was a good decision to head home when we did!
- Just ordered these for more walking adventures.
- About to start this book tonight. Have you read it?
- Loving my new red blender. I’ve been making lots of banana, almond milk and cocoa smoothies!
- A hidden London book from my never-ending Anthro wish list. Wonder how many I know.
- Will London have a real summer this year?
These are affiliate links (but things I love), so I get a little kickback from any purchases (at no extra cost to you). This helps me pay for the hosting costs that keep Little Observationist alive (thank you!).
ramblingmadsJune 22, 2016 at 11:34 am
If you go into St Mary’s and then up onto the church roof (which you have to arrange with the church first!) there is the most amazing view across London. The one from the lookout point by Byron’s tomb is good too, but the added elevation of St Mary’s is just breathtaking.
Mike WoolfJune 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm
Great stuff Steph! Yrs Mike
OliverFebruary 6, 2019 at 9:55 am
I’ve been lucky enough to live on The Hill (on Orley Farm Road) my entire life, and I must say, it is beautiful! I’d highly recommend The Doll’s House on the Hill, for a hot chocolate/ milkshake and definitely a slice of cake! La Collina is a fantastic Italian restaurant that I’d throughly recommend, also.