St. Mary’s Church in Harrow on the Hill is not just a simple building, but it is an emblem of the borough’s rich history and heritage.
With over nine centuries of history, St. Mary’s Church is the oldest building in Harrow, and its links to the past are beautifully displayed in the magnificent stained glass windows in the clerestory.
The church’s origins date back to the 11th century when William the Conqueror arrived in England, and his Archbishop of Canterbury determined that Harrow should have a significant church. In 1094, St. Mary’s Church was consecrated by none other than St. Anselm, who was sent by William the Conqueror to establish a significant place of worship in the area. Since then, the church has stood as a symbol of worship and devotion for the people of Harrow.
Over the centuries, St. Mary’s Church has played a vital role in the religious and social life of the town. In 1170, St. Thomas Becket preached at the church, just 16 days before he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. This event is a testament to the importance of St. Mary’s Church as a place of worship and community gathering.
The church has also been associated with educational institutions across the borough. John Lyon, a local farmer with philanthropic ambitions, founded a school for local farmers’ boys in 1572. This school is now known as Harrow School, and St. Mary’s Church continues to have a close relationship with the school. John Lyon’s grave can be found in the churchyard, further emphasizing the connection between the church and the school.
The church’s architecture is a testament to its history and importance. In the 19th century, the church underwent a significant extension and renovation by the famous Victorian architect, G.E. Street. His work on the church’s restoration included the addition of a new nave and aisles, which significantly increased the church’s capacity.
The church’s stunning stained glass windows also provide insight into Harrow’s past. The windows depict various historical events and figures, including the story of St. Thomas Becket, the Battle of Waterloo, and the town’s association with King Henry VIII. These windows are a fascinating display of the town’s rich history and a testament to the church’s importance as a place of worship and community gathering.
In the 20th century, the building underwent a significant restoration project that took over a decade to complete. This project included the restoration of the roof and stonework, as well as the replacement of the church’s pews and flooring. The restoration work aimed to preserve the church’s rich history and ensure that it remains a vital part of the community in Harrow for future generations.
Today, the Church remains a vital part of the community in Harrow. It continues to be a place of worship, community gatherings, and historical significance. Its beautiful architecture, rich history, and association with the town’s educational institutions make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring Harrow’s past.
St. Mary’s also hosts a range of community events throughout the year. These events include concerts, art exhibitions, and guided tours of the church and its historic surroundings. The church’s website provides up-to-date information on upcoming events, making it easy for visitors to plan their visit and immerse themselves in the town’s rich history and culture.
Indeed, St. Mary’s Church in Harrow on the Hill is a beautiful and significant landmark that has stood the test of time no doubt. With over nine centuries of rich history, it remains an important place of worship, community gathering, and historical significance. Its stunning architecture, rich history, and association with the town’s educational – if you haven’t been there before, you should really pay a visit and check out this fascinating landmark from our borough’s past.