Headstone, Harrow

The northernmost part of Harrow’s suburban continuum, separated by the River Pinn from Pinner to the west and Hatch End to the north

Headstone Manor - Dermot Carlin

The land hereabouts was in the possession of Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, in ad825. The settlement was called Hegeton in the early 14th century, probably ‘the farmstead enclosed by a hedge’.

A moated manor house was built here in the 1310s and in 1397 the house became the principal Middlesex residence of the archbishops of Canterbury. A small barn may have been erected at the same time as the manor house, and was later rebuilt at least twice. A much larger tithe barn was added in 1506.

The estate was confis­cated by the Crown in 1546 – and then sold on to a court favourite within a week. The rapidity of the resale means that oft-repeated claims that Headstone Manor “once belonged to Henry VIII” are somewhat specious. The manor house was remod­elled in the 1630s, given an extra wing in the 1650s and further altered in 1762. However, it was subsequently used simply as a farmhouse and was allowed to deteri­orate.

Suburban devel­opment began to spread towards Headstone from Wealdstone in the 1880s, although a racecourse continued to operate here until 1899, when it was suppressed after a riot was “started by Londoners.” St George’s church was consec­rated in 1911 and Headstone Lane station opened in 1913. After the First World War private builders filled most of central Headstone’s surviving gaps but Headstone Manor and 63 acres of its grounds were saved by Hendon council – which was at that time responsible for this area.

Hendon’s successor the London Borough of Harrow restored Headstone Manor’s great barn in 1973 and opened it as a heritage museum, with an especially strong collection of ceramics and glass. An 18th-century granary that originally stood at Pinner Park Farm was restored and relocated at Headstone Manor in 1991. The manor house itself, however, lay semi-derelict for three decades, although enough preser­vation work was been done to permit guided tours to be offered on summer weekends.

With financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund a programme of works to restore the Headstone Manor site began in 2014. The renov­ation of the manor house was completed in late 2017, whereupon it took over the barn’s role as the borough’s heritage museum.

Away from the heritage zone, suburban Headstone is a relat­ively affluent place, partic­u­larly the Headstone North ward. The principal ethnic groups are of white British and Indian origin or descent, primarily adherents to Christianity and Hinduism.

Postcode area: Harrow HA2
Population: 21,228 (Headstone North and Headstone South wards, 2011 census)
Station: London Overground (Headstone Lane, zone 5)
Website: Headstone Manor & Museum
The photograph on this page is by Dermot Carlin and is reproduced by kind permission of Harrow council