Canons Park, Harrow
A Metroland dormitory suburb situated between Stanmore and Edgware, especially popular with north London’s Jewish community
Canons Park’s name comes from the former landowners, the canons of the Priory of St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, who were granted six acres of land here in 1331.
James Brydges, afterwards the first Duke of Chandos, created the palatial mansion of Canons around 1718. To complete the ostentatious set-up, Brydges had an orchestra accompany his meals and hired Handel as resident composer. “Having such a composer was an instance of real magnificence … such as no prince or potentate on earth could at that time pretend to,” wrote John Mainwaring in his Life of Handel (1760).
The mansion survived for less than 30 years before a much smaller substitute took its place, built mainly with materials reclaimed from the demolition of its predecessor.
Other parts of the original mansion were sold as architectural salvage and the original colonnade now stands in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
Around 1898, Arthur du Cros, founder of the Dunlop Rubber Company, acquired the house and surrounding grounds and commissioned Charles E Mallows to redesign the gardens, which were considered to be amongst the finest of the Edwardian era.
The house was bought by the North London Collegiate School in 1929, while the Canons Park Estate Company built up the neighbouring land with a startling variety of properties, from modest semi-detached houses to extravagant so-called mansions. The arrival of the Metropolitan Railway in 1932 contributed to the success of the development, which is known as the Du Cros or DC estate.
Harrow council has restored some of the historic features of Canons Park open space with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. To its south, Barnet football club has relocated to a new stadium it calls the Hive.
The Canons ward has an exceptionally large number of pensioners, raising the average age of residents to 43.2 – much older than in most other parts of London. According to the 2011 census, 26 per cent of residents are Christians, 25 per cent are Jews and 18 per cent are Hindus.
North London Collegiate School alumnae include Fenella Fielding, Susie Orbach, Esther Rantzen, Rachel Weisz and Anna Wintour.
The actress Maureen Lipman is a former Canons Park resident.