In fact, St Mary’s Church, Harrow, sits at the very top of Harrow Hill looking across London and Middlesex.
From St Mary’s churchyard, it is possible to see the BT tower, fourteen miles away in Central London.
Also, the church’s spire is used as a guide for aircraft arriving at the RAF base in Northolt.
However, the name Harrow comes from the Old English word for heathen temple – hearg. It was originating from a temple which was situated on the hill which belonged to the Gumeningas tribe.
The earliest recorded use of the name is in 1398 as Harrowe atte Hille. Therefore, historically, the hill has always been used as a place of worship.
Then a Christian church replaces the original pagan temple.
St Mary’s Church Harrow dates from 1087. In fact, when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc begun its construction.
Lanfranc’s successor, St Anselm, dedicated the church to the Blessed Virgin Mary on 4th January 1094.
4th of January is an important date in the Christian calendar. It coincides with the feast of the Epiphany, or ‘Old Christmas Day’. December 25th, was also a traditional pagan festival.
Then the lower section of the tower is all that remains from the original building. The chancel was built in the 12th Century. It was constructed by the Rector of Harrow, Elias of Dereham,
Therefore, Elias Dereham is mentioned as also involved in building Salisbury Catherdral.
By 1450, the windows, the nave and transept, and spire were constructed.
Restored and renovated by Giles Gilbert Scott some 400 years later, Gilbert George enlarged the building covering it with flint and adding a vestry.
This latter renovation marked the name of ‘Harrow’ as the alternate meaning of ‘church on the hill’.
Lord Byron, visited the church between 1801-1805 and wrote ‘Lines written beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow’ as dreamed by ‘his favouite tombstone’ (the Peachy Tomb).
Lord Byron’s daughter Allegra Byron is buried in the churchyard in an unmarked grave.
Memorial plaques inside the church commemorate the head masters of Harrow School, these include one for the founder of the school, John Lyon.
Want to read more interesting stories about Harrow? Visit Plumbers Harrow website’s Harrow Service for Plumbing blog posts.
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