It’s not like Headstone Manor hasn’t changed before, that’s what makes it so very special. Standing on a site that dates back to 825 A.D. (that’s the Dark Ages to you and me), the Headstone Manor that still stands today was first built in 1310 A.D. (about the same time that shoes were first made differently for left and right feet, oh and the Hundred Years War was in full swing). At the time the site and all the land around it was owned by Archbishop of Canterbury John de Stratford (who also happened to be Chancellor of England), and seeing what a grand house with an even grander moat his tenant had built, the Archbishop bought the house too.
In the centuries that followed the Archbishops added and removed annexes, outbuildings and barns (including Great Barn and Small Barn still on the site), but it’s after Henry VIII took possession in 1546 A.D. that things really start to change. Henry gifts all of Headstone to Lord North and from that point until 1928 it stays in private hands. It doubles in size in the Tudor period, has a cottage added to the side and a brick wall added to the front by the fashionable Georgians, and the Victorians add a couple of lean-tos.
By the time the railways arrive in Harrow and farms are being rapidly replaced by factories and houses, Headstone is in decline. The buildings and what is left of the fields are saved by the then District Council to make green space for local people. And it was local people who took back the buildings to open a Museum in the Great Barn in 1986 with a dream to one day transform the whole site into a heritage visitor attraction.
30 years (and a lot of hard work) later, that dream is about to come true. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Harrow Council, John Lyon’s Charity, Country Houses Foundation, and the Garfield Weston Foundation, work has just commenced.
In our blog ‘Notes from the Moat’ we’ll take you with us on the journey to bring this precious but derelict building back to life as a public museum, restoring the Small Barn as one of the exhibits, creating a learning centre in the Granary, and adding a new café and visitors centre to the park. Let the transformation commence…