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Built in circa 1310, the moated manor house known as Headstone Manor is the earliest surviving timber framed building in Middlesex. Described as ‘one of the most interesting domestic complexes in the whole country’, the fabric of Headstone Manor contains examples of high quality work dating from the 14th, 17th and 18th centuries. Headstone Manor is a Grade I listed building.
Headstone Manor is surrounded by the only surviving filled moat in Middlesex. The moat is contemporary in date to the oldest part of the building, and was constructed as a status symbol to reflect the wealth of the manor’s owner.
The land on which Headstone Manor stands is recorded to have belonged to Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 825AD. The construction of Headstone Manor began in c.1310, as revealed by the tree-ring dating of the building’s oldest timbers. John Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury, purchased even more land around the site in 1344 and used the site as his main residence in Middlesex. Headstone Manor remained in the ownership of the Archbishops of Canterbury until 1546, when it was surrendered to Henry VIII. Soon after, Henry VIII sold it to one of his court favourites, and it remained in private ownership for almost four centuries.
The numerous owners of Headstone Manor made dramatic extensions and changes to the building, such as adding extra wings and changing the appearance of the interior and exterior of the house. Examples of this include the panelling of the great hall in 1631, and the addition of a fashionable brick façade in the 1770s which gives Headstone Manor the appearance it has today.
Over time, Headstone Manor fell into a state of disrepair, and much of its surrounding land was sold off. In 1925 Hendon Rural District Council bought the site. It then passed into the control of the London Borough of Harrow after local government reorganisation. After years of increasing dilapidation, the decision was made to turn the site into the home of Harrow Museum, which officially opened in 1986. The first stage of restoration at Headstone Manor began in the autumn of 2004, focussing on the oldest parts of the building. Due to the delicate nature of this historic site, only tours are available in order to view Headstone Manor.
The manor has a timber framed aisled hall, and the building is Grade I listed. The building was extensively restored in 2004-5. The manor has records dating to 825AD, and the estate is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The site is currently undergoing further restorations funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. This will see Headstone Manor become a museum on the history of the site itself and Harrow more generally. This is due to open in 2017.
The site includes several other buildings, which make up the rest of Harrow Museum: a Grade II* listed "Great Barn", formerly believed to be a Tithe Barn, of 1506, restored in the 1970s, an 18th-century Grade II listed Granary, restored and moved from another site in Pinner in 1991, and a Grade II listed 16th-century "Small Barn", restored in 1995. The "Great Barn" is now available to hire for functions and weddings as well as being used for community events.
- "History of the Manor". Harrow Museum. Retrieved 1 November 2014.