Discover fascinating local history at your doorstep

For a weekend this September, some of our most historical and fascinating buildings will open their doors for free, giving the public a chance to discover secrets and surprises unique to Harrow.

Running from Thursday 11th September to Sunday 14th September, the Heritage Open Days Festival starts off in Harrow at Bentley Priory – most famous for its pivotal role as Headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

It follows with a number of other buildings which have a key role in Harrow’s history including Headstone Manor with its Medieval and Tudor history, Harrow School, and St Anselm’s Church.

Harrow Council are taking part in the national Heritage Open Days Festival, which celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture, by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Portfolio holder for community, culture and resident engagement, Cllr Sue Anderson said:

“We are lucky to have such rich history and heritage in the borough and we have some beautiful buildings which all have fascinating stories. The Heritage Open Days will give everyone an opportunity to explore and learn about the history of Harrow for free.”

Buildings taking part in Heritage Open Days

Bentley Priory
Mansion House Drive, Stanmore, HA7 3FB
Thursday 11th September
Free tours at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm & 2pm
(Pre booking is essential 0208 950 5526)

The building is most famous for its pivotal role as Headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. It was at Bentley Priory that the plans for the defence of the UK against the Luftwaffe were devised, tested and developed to ensure victory in the Battle.

Come and take a look at the stunning and beautifully designed Grade II listed building which has a rich and long history dating back to the Georgian and Victorian era. It has been a grand home, a hotel, a girl’s school, and has even housed royalty (Queen Adelaide) with frequent visits from Queen Victoria. There is also a unique stained glass window depicting the role of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

West House Pinner
West End Lane, Pinner, HA5 1AE
Saturday 13th September
11am to 4.30pm with last entries at 4pm

Once the home of Lord Nelson’s grandson, it now houses a collection of works by the famous cartoonist and illustrator, William Heath Robinson. Take a look at the shrine room with a Whitefriars stained glass window and explore the Books of Remembrance commemorating those who died in the two world wars. You can also take a look at the plans for the opening of the new Heath Robinson Museum, scheduled to open in Spring 2016, supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Whilst visiting West House Pinner, visitors can also attend The Annual Pinner Village Show, in Pinner Memorial Park where West House is located. There will be plenty of stalls and entertainment available to which everyone is welcome .

Pinner House
Church Lane, Pinner, HA5 3AA
Saturday 13th September
10am to 4pm

This Grade II listed early Georgian House boasts a columned front and magnificent oak-panelled dining room. It was the former rectory of the vicar of Harrow and home of the great-granddaughter of Neil Gwynn and Charles II.

The Zoroastrian Centre for Europe
440-442 Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, HA2 9TL
Saturday 13th September
11am to 5pm

The former Grosvenor Cinema (a grade II listed Art Deco building) with well preserved interior with well preserved auditorium with deep covered ribs, proscenium arch flanked by fluted columns. 
Tours of the building on the hour and talks on Zoroastrian Heritage are available on the half hour.

St George’s Church Headstone
Pinner View, Harrow, HA1 4RJ
Saturday 13th September
10am to 5pm

St George’s Church offers visitors a chance to look at the interior which includes glass and furnishings by Martin Travers and Associates and Whitefriars Glass windows. It also has the largest three manual pipe organ made as new by Frederick Rothwell.

Visitors can take part in leaflet tours as well as organ recital (at 12 noon); there is also a ‘round the building’ quiz for  children with drawing and colouring projects.

Harrow School
Harrow School, Church Hill, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3HP
Sunday 14th September

Harrow School: Fourth Form Room
2pm to 5pm
Harrow School’s original schoolroom, dating back to 1615. Panelled with wainscot in 1660, the room today looks almost exactly like it did then. The carving of their names by boys on the walls continued on every available surface until 1847, when officially carved name-boards were added. Look closely to find carvings by Byron, Sir Robert Peel, Sir William Jones, Lord Palmerston, Sheridan and Sir Winston Churchill.

Harrow School: The Old Speech Room Gallery
2pm to 5pm
Purpose-built room (1819) by celebrated architect Charles Robert Cockerell, for the teaching of public speaking, in Grade I Listed Old Schools building. Converted in 1976 by Alan Irvine into a gallery and museum for the display of the School’s distinguished collection of antiquities and fine art.

Harrow School: Museum of Harrow Life
Football Lane, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3EA
2.30pm to 5pm

Dating from 1873 the building shows historical and modern life at Harrow School. Displays include boys’ rooms, a Harrow football and a photo of the Harrow XI containing two future England cricket captains. Other sections present Harrow in wartime and Old Harrovians of distinction.

St Mary’s Church
Church Hill, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3HL
Sunday 14th September
2pm to 5.30pm

Explore a Norman church which has had various alterations in 1150, 1450 and 1850. There are also medieval brass memorials, and wall paintings. Visitors can also take a look at a burial dated to 1000AD and a medieval carved roof said to be the finest in Middlesex!

Family trails and guided tours are available.

Headstone Manor (Harrow Museum)
Pinner View, Harrow, HA2 6PX
All weekend Saturday and Sunday

Saturday and Sunday; family tours 11 am & 2pm, guided tours 12 noon & 2pm
Bookable in person on day or in advance 0208 8636720; Visitors must be able to walk unaided in Manor; BSL Signed tours on Sunday (11 & 12)

Enjoy a behind the scenes experience in one of the most mysterious and ancient buildings in Greater London. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides will bring the house to life. The site includes a complete water-filled Medieval moat - one of the last remaining in Greater London, and two 500 year old barns currently undergoing restoration. Family Tours will engage young and old in the fascinating Tudor era of Headstone Manor. In Tudor times new buildings were added, the house was transformed and King Henry VIII himself took ownership for six days! You can also enjoy a free kids trail, the Tudor dressing-up box, and feeding the ducks on the moat.

For more information visit Harrow Museum

St Anselm’s Church
Clifton Road, Stanmore HA7 2HU
Saturday 13th September from 1pm to 5pm and Sunday 14th September from 8am to 1pm

Come and enjoy the elliptical columns, apsidal baptistery and general splendour of this late Victorian Basilica, formerly part of the Grosvenor Estate, transported and rebuilt in Belmont in 1939 under architect N. Cachemaille-Day. Visitors can join in for cream teas on Saturday afternoon or services on Sunday at 8am and 10.30am.

St Lawrence’s Church, Little Stanmore
Little Stanmore, Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, London, HA8 6RB

Saturday 13 September: 2pm to 5pm and Sunday 14 September: 2pm to 5pm

St Lawrence’s Church is a Grade 1 listed building. It is a unique continental baroque church almost entirely rebuilt in 1715 by James Bridges, the first Duke of Chandos. Inside the church the walls and ceiling are covered with paintings of biblical scenes by French and Italian artists. There are some fine wood carvings (much of it attributed to Grinling Gibbons). The composer George Frederic Handel was employed by the Duke as composer in residence and he almost certainly performed in the church. The organ has been restored using the surviving parts of the original organ; the keyboard on which Handel would have played has also been preserved. Visitors will be offered fully guided tours. Quiz type worksheets will be available for children.


Harrow Hill Trust  - Heroes of the Hill Walk
Sunday 14th September 2:30pm

Meet outside Blues Restaurant 86 High Street, Harrow on the Hill HA1 3LW. Discover some of the fascinating characters connected to the Hill, on this free guided walk by Harrow Hill Trust!

Pinner Local History Society - Pinner Guided Walk
Sunday 14th September 2pm to 3:30pm

Starting from the corner of Chapel Lane and Bridge Street, HA5 3HR (close to WH Smith). Pinner has an ancient and fascinating history, come and discover its secrets on this free guided walk.

Additional Notes
Heritage Open Days
is organised by a huge network of people who share a passion for places, history and culture. Locally, over 1,400 organisations and some 40,000 volunteers organise thousands of site openings and events, jointly attracting over 1 million visitors. They make Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event.