The Borough of Harrow in northwest London is greatly known for its village-esque suburbanism whilst still being in close proximity to the capital’s centre.
Highly ethnically diverse, it can be said to be one of the most culturally distinctive places in London. This proclamation is tied to the fact that the region hosts a centre dedicated to one of the oldest religions in history, Zoroastrianism.
To understand the origins of the name Harrow, and why it is called so, we’ll be taking a closer look into the etymology associated with the whereabouts title.
The name itself originates from the Old English word hearg which traditionally denotes a pre-Christian temple or shrine.
Though the Zoroastrian centre itself, built in 1936 as a cinema, only has associations with the Iranian religion by name, it’s evident its nomenclature takes inspiration from the etymology of the region.
It’s much more likely that the word hearg is closer in relation to St. Mary’s Church, a monumental structure located on Harrow on the Hill. Built in 1087 and consecrated in 1096, the church long predates the borough and stands as a reminder of the town’s historical and religious depth.
Interestingly, Harrow on the Hill, on the other hand, has its etymology rooted in 767 as gumeninga hergae. Which is suggested to mean the “heathen temple”, of the tribe the “Gumeningas”, traditionally known for pagan worship.
Harrow’s hilltop, being a defining landmark of the Borough, then undeniably speaks to the original etymology of the Harrow name, with hearg indicating a closer relation to pre-Christian practices. In the end, the origins of the town’s name are deeply rooted in spiritualism, whether it be Pagan, Zoroastrianism or Christianity. The region’s nomenclature then speaks heavily to the immense ethnic diversity of the Borough.
The demonym of the Harrow district is aptly “Harrovian”. And to be a member of such a historically profound region, with a complex spiritual etymology backing it, is beyond question, an honour.