I’ve been visiting Harrow on the Hill for my entire life. In fact, it’s such a seamless part of my everyday landscape that I don’t know if ‘visiting’ is quite the word. My aunt and uncle live in a gorgeous house teetering on the edge of the hill and my grandmother grew up here, first in a flat above the newspaper shop her father owned and later packed into a terraced house with her four sisters beside the green. I still like to stroll by whenever I find myself nearby. My great-grandparents Claude and Alice are commemorated in small, chalky plaques in the graveyard at the crest of the hill and I like to visit them sometimes although they died before I was born. It’s funny how you can feel a sincere connection to those who share your blood and bone, isn’t it? Even when you never laid eyes upon each other, never heard the sound of their voice, never experienced the smell of their embrace or knew how they liked to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I digress. Harrow on the Hill. Take a walk through the gloomy alleyways swathed in rusty light, appreciate the handsome turn-of-the-century red brick. Ogle future prime ministers and Oscar-winning actors striding through the streets in cloaks and top hats, posture perfect, and find you can easily imagine nothing has changed here since 1915. Sit on Byron’s favourite bench and let the wind whirl through your hair. Listen for lilting sonatas drifting out from the music room windows. Stand on tiptoes between the Speech Room and the school church for an excellent view of the smog-soaked London skyline. Nurse a coffee on the terrace at The Old Etonian (old British irony, hey?) and then treat yourself to a pint of bitter in The Castle pub. Walk out onto the green and breathe in the fresh-for-London air.
You won’t regret it.