Visit to Harrow Boys School
23rd August 2021
Aldersgate Ward Club
Visit to Harrow School on Monday 23 rd August 20
After so many months of social inactivity caused by the pandemic, it was a pleasure to meet friends on the visit to Harrow School, kindly organised by our Master Rachelle Goldberg. This was indeed a very special visit and one which meant much to the Master who has had a close link with Harrow School since she was educated at Harrow Grammar School for Girls, just down the road! Harrow School has always had strong community links and it was through the musical links between the two schools that inspired The Master to pursue her career as a professional violinist.
The school was founded in 1572 by John Lytton under a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth 1. John Lyon was a wealthy local farmer and uniquely the school still manages a farm. The schools offers a broad curriculum with of course Latin. Our tour guide, Mepe, (an old Dutch name), was great. She lives locally and was steeped in the history of the school and gave us an exciting delivery. We began the tour with a visit to the Chapel, designed by George Gilbert Scott, the famous, 19th Century architect who designed amongst many other notable buildings, the Midland Hotel at St Pancras Station. The chapel is used twice per week for secular gatherings enabling students from all faiths to come together and meet as one group. On Sundays there are separate services for Anglicans and Catholics. There are many interesting aspects to the chapel including superb stained glass. Sadly, there were also memorial plaques to those boys who had died young, giving service to the country in the wars and through accidents and illness.
As the boys are currently on holiday, we were able to visit the monitors’ room where we viewed their photographs spanning many years. We were amazed at the changes in photographic style moving from uprightness on chairs to poses and photographic elegance, model style, in more recent years. Harrow is made up of 12 houses where there are two monitors per house, elected on an annual basis.
Harrow has educated many distinguished people in the 450 years of its history. Of those distinguished Harrovians, there have been a number of members of foreign royalty, artists, journalists including Bill Deedes, Poet Lord Byron to say nothing of the many politicians such as Pandit Nehru and Winston Churchill. The multipurpose Speech Room used for concerts and stage productions and outside events and created in 1871 is the main assembly room of the school. It is used each day for about fifteen minutes for the purpose of notices and speeches are also encouraged! An excellent training ground for a politician.
We were fortunate enough to also see one of the rooms often used by families and staff requiring some quiet time, the walls of which are covered in panelling from a house in Hackney where Elizabeth the First often held court. Perched on the hill, Harrow School has commanding views across London and its environs which we were able to see from the terrace and from the entrance terrace to the modern Conference Room where we ended our tour with a magnificent champagne tea.
Our thanks to the Master for such an excellent afternoon, to our guide and host Mepe for sharing so many interesting facts and the catering staff for an excellent tea. For members of the Club who have not yet visited Harrow on the Hill or Harrow School, add it to your wish list as it is a gem of an area.
Past Master Jan Yerbury