Sunday, July 17, 2022

Canons Park

As I am getting closer to the end of the Jubilee Line with just one more stop after this one, I wonder whether this station will be similar to the last as an example of out of town suburbia or will I find something of interest here. The statistics tell me that this is the least used station on the Jubilee Line. As with the last few stations on this branch line to Stanmore, it was opened in 1932 by the Metropolitan Railway and then transferred to the Bakerloo Line in 1939 and transferred again in 1979 to the Jubilee Line. As well as being the next to the last station for me to visit on this line it is also the 165th station I have visited on this 'Above the Underground' challenge I set myself. So that leaves just 107 more to visit! 

The walls on either side of the staircase leading down to the exit are tiled with brown tiles. Brown is the colour of the Bakerloo line on the underground map and I wonder if that's why the colour brown was chosen. On many stations the tiling matches the colour of the underground line.
The ticket office closed here in 2008 and there are only ticket machines available now. The white circular piece of technology on the right is a 'help point' where you can press a button and hope that a human being answers and can help with your query/problem.

The entrance is not attractive just functional. To the left of the station is a small parade of shops, very similar to the last station, so I decided to walk in the opposite direction.

Around the corner from the station is the British Ambulance Response Service (BEARS). I am not familiar with this service which seems to be different from the London Ambulance Service although the ambulances look identical.

This is the station car park. Lots of spaces but then it is early Sunday morning. I was interested in the cost of parking and at £6 per day and half price on a Sunday I thought that very reasonable.

At the end of the road is Canons Park. The name comes the 13th century when the landowners were the canons of the priory of St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield. ( I visited this church when I was researching Barbican underground station). The canons were given 6 acres of land here. The park is full of mature trees. Some easily recognisable and others not so familiar.

Lots of things for the kids to climb on in this playground.
I thought this large rock might have some historical interest until I saw it had a hole in it. Very realistic but it was made from fibre glass or similar.

This is the entrance into the George V ( Grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II ) memorial garden who reigned from 1910 - 1936. The garden was laid out in 1937 within the old 18th cent kitchen garden. 
The estate was bought by the 1st Duke of Chandos, James Brydges, paymaster general to the Armed Forces Abroad and between 1709 and the late 1720s he built a palatial home here with a lifestyle to match. The Duke employed famous artists to decorate his home and renowned musicians to entertain his guests. Handel dedicated some of his most famous works to his patron the Duke. In 1747 the Palace was put up for sale but there were no buyers and was later demolished. In 1954  William Hallet bought the site and built a smaller mansion using materials from the original building. The rest was sold as architectural salvage. In 1929 the house was bought by the London Collegiate School. Around 1937 the park was bought by the borough of Harrow and the George V Memorial garden was created.

The garden looked beautiful despite all the hot weather we are experiencing at the moment and the grass looking a bit brown.

There were 3 volunteer gardeners working in the memorial garden today. This is Tony who organisers a fortnightly group who meet and do the weeding, keeping the garden looking beautiful. The council do the heavier work and mow the outer lawn but can't get the machine  down the steps to mow around the pond area so volunteers do that role. Once again it is the community looking after their own environment.

I found Canons Park to be one of the friendliest I have been to as I was greeted by everyone I passed and a couple of people stopped for a chat. I was very impressed with the feel of the area.

The park has several listed buildings including this garden temple. Built between 1980 and 1838 it has been changed over the years and at one time incorporated a heated glass palm house.

Harrow Council (with the help of Lottery Heritage funding) employed Dannatt Johnson Architects to undertake restorative work on the Temple. Here is an extract from their website. 

When we became involved, the Garden Temple had suffered from vandalism and other anti-social behaviour. This had resulted in smoke and graffiti damage, largely to the rear of the building. Theft of roof flashings had also resulted in loss of slate roof tiles and ingress of water into the temple. In an effort to protect the fabric from further damage, the columns to the rear had been painted at low and midlevel to allow easier maintenance and, ultimately, an anti-scale gated fence was installed to the rear. This damage to the historic fabric was in addition to weathering of the unprotected stonework together with organic growth and urban pollution deposits to the brickwork.

In order to restore and protect this historic feature for future enjoyment, we surveyed the damage and work required to stabilise the fabric and return it to an appearance befitting of it’s value and setting. We oversaw the process of conser­vation of the existing historic brick wing walls with the removal of invasive plant growth and consol­id­ation of the existing brick work, together with the non-corrosive, low pressure, high temperature water cleaning and minor stone repairs to both primary elevations (front and rear).

Just thought it was interesting to know how much work goes into restoring historical buildings no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to the passer-by.

There were a number of information boards around the park. One of them informed me about the Friends of Canons Park which is a local voluntary group formed in May 2003 to support Harrow Council's bid for Heritage Lottery funding to restore Canon's park to its former glory. The bid was successful and by 2007 the work was completed, creating better pathways, repairing park buildings of historic interest and restoring the beautiful walled George V Memorial Garden.The friends meet regularly and are responsible for many initiatives in the park such as the children's adventure playground, the Good Friends' cafe, the gardening group and much more.

Other features in the park include this green gym with all the instructions clearly displayed.

There is a woodland walk.
A bridge over the railway is another exit from the park.

I continued walking through the park and passed the mansion house which is now the North London Collegiate School. I would love to have had a look around but it is not open to the public. I managed to get a photo by sticking my camera through the fence though.

I left the park via the tree lined Canons Drive. The Duke's original estate was broken up in the early 20th century mainly for Stanmore Golf Course and a housing development. There are 320 houses and 66 flats on the estate which was created in the 1930s. The Canons Park Estate Association was formed to maintain the trees, lakes and grass verges that formed the surplus land that was left over after the area was divided up for housing.

The drive was lined with Wellingtonia trees. This tree species originates from California and in the 19th century the seeds were brought back to this country. The trees were given the name Wellingtonia gigantea in reference to the Duke of Wellington who passed away in 1852. Their correct botanical name is Sequoiadendron giganteum but in this country they are still known as Wellingtonia.

There are a couple of lakes on the estate. Only one of them is accessible to the public.

Hiding behind the trees are large mock Tudor and 'arts and crafts' houses, a number of which have been locally listed.

At the end of the drive was one of the last remaining features of the old mansion. The pillars were built in 1712 and refurbished in 1999.  

I followed the road round until I came to the church of  St Lawrence Little Stanmore. It was now 10.45am and being a Sunday there was a service going on so I wandered around the churchyard for a little while waiting for the service to end.

The church was almost entirely rebuilt in 1715 by James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos following his purchase of the Cannons estate. Only the tower of the medieval church (c1360) remains.

I saw the vicar at the doorway and was just about to ask if I could go and have a look inside the church when I was beckoned over. There was an organ recital taking place but I was told I could listen from the back if I wished. A lady escorted me in, which was just as well, because they were enclosed pews and I would have disturbed everyone as I fumbled to open the door into the pew.
I then sat through an amazing recital with a singer and organist, a privileged treat. As I left I took a couple of photos trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. I would have liked to have wandered to the front of the church to have a closer look at the murals but as the event was being filmed that was never going to happen.

The walls and ceilings are covered with paintings of biblical scenes. The artists who had painted the mansion were also employed to paint the church.


The construction of the organ dates from around 1717, the same time that the church was rebuilt. It is one of the few organs with a genuine claim to have been played by Handel as he was the composer in residence for the Duke. Although the organ has had parts replaced the casing is original as are the gilded front pipes. It has also remained in its original position behind the altar which is very unusual. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to have heard the organ being played.

Next to the church  is the Causeway, the original processional route between the Mansion and St Lawrence Church

I walked back through the park  to the station after having another wonderful day not only exploring this part of London but also listening to some of Handel's music being played on the very organ on which he had played.
Sharing with Through the lens