Tuesday 12 September 2023

Let's draw Harrow-on-the-Hill -- Saturday 23 September 2023

Harrow High Street meets West Street
Sketch by Madeleine Brennan

In September we will draw Harrow-on-the-Hill, a charming historic village in West London best known for the prestigious Harrow School.

[Madeleine Brennan writes]

Harrow-on-the-Hill is a charming and historic area located in West London. Perched atop a prominent hill, it offers stunning views of the surrounding areas and the City in the far distance. Known for its rich heritage and architectural beauty, Harrow-on-the-Hill boasts a mix of quaint cottages, grand Georgian houses and impressive landmarks. 

The area is known for its prestigious Harrow School, with 450 years of history, one of the most renowned boarding schools in the country, which adds to the cultural and academic richness of the neighbourhood. Visitors can explore the beautiful architecture of the old buildings, stroll along the quaint streets, and enjoy the tranquil green spaces, such as the Harrow Hill Park and Churchfields.

With its vibrant history and rich architectural importance, Harrow-on-the-Hill promises to be an adventurous destination for USK London, one that shouldn't be missed.

The day is run by Madeleine Brennan, Sue Woodisse and Zane Karklina.

If this is your first sketchwalk with us, welcome to Urban Sketchers London! 

Every sketchwalk has a leader, a meeting point at the beginning, a gathering place in the middle and another one at the end, when we ‘throw down’ our sketchbooks and pose for a group photo. Sketchwalk leaders know the area and are there to help you feel at ease and give you some ideas about what to sketch. Please note there is no tuition during the sketchwalks. We all draw what we wish, following the Urban Sketchers manifesto and sharing our drawings at the end.
We look forward to seeing you! 

Key times and meeting points

11 am
Join us at 11am on the steps of the Harrow School War Memorial, a Neo Jacobean building with a shrine honouring former pupils of Harrow School who died in the First World War. Decades later the same building served as a bomb shelter for the school during WWII. We will meet near the bus stop for Harrow School, between High Street and Church Street.

You will find all of our meeting points and key features of the sketchwalk in the location map at the end of this post.

There aren't many options for shelter in the village if it's wet on the day, so we will keep an eye on the weather and be prepared!

1 pm
We will return to the war memorial building for our first throwdown and group photo.

3.30 pm
For our final throwdown and group photo we will gather at the Henry VIII gantry on the village green.

After our sketchwalk we will go for drinks -- and perhaps even a bit more sketching! -- to The Castle at no. 30 West Street, an authentic Victorian pub with original features and a large garden.

St Mary's Church
etch by Madeleine Brennan

Options for drawing

Harrow School - The school offers numerous historic buildings on the High Street and Church Hill that are delight to sketching. From the Gothic Revival charm of the Harrow School Chapel and the neo-Gothic facade of the Old Speech Room Gallery to the eclectic style of the Vaughan Library, each structure presents its own architectural interest. 

St Mary’s Church - Consecrated by St. Anselm in 1094 with a notable 12th-century tower, the church holds a fascinating history within its graveyard, featuring tombstones of interest, including the Leighton family's mosaic-adorned monument and a diverse array of crosses, while also being renowned as a place where the poet Lord Byron would sit and compose verse atop a tomb beside an elm tree, reflecting on the surrounding countryside that he affectionately called the "spot of my youth". Tragically, it is also the final resting place of Byron's daughter Allegra, who passed away at a young age and was buried in an unmarked grave on the churchyard grounds, marking a poignant connection to the poet's own eventual demise.

High Street - One of the most iconic views in Harrow-on-the-Hill is found at the junction where West Street and High Street meet, where a charming fountain, accompanied by a Hill Shop’s clock, serves as a focus. This location captures the essence of Harrow's unique character, with its hilly terrain causing the roads to split and meander. The scene offers a picturesque glimpse into the town's history and charm, allowing visitors to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and appreciate the architectural beauty that surrounds this notable intersection. Exploring the surrounding streets reveals a captivating array of architectural delights, ranging from Georgian townhouses to Victorian-era structures, providing a diverse and inspiring urban landscape for sketchers.

The King's Head gantry
At the southern edge of the hill, you'll find a small green adorned with a hanging gantry and a portrait of Henry VIII. This green is home to the King's Head Hotel (now flats), constructed in 1770 on the site where Henry VIII's hunting lodge once stood. The combination of historical significance, the unique hanging gantry, and the green surroundings make this area an intriguing subject for further sketching.

Battels Arts Cafe
Sketch by Madeleine Brennan

Practical information

Food and drink

There are a number of cafes in the High Street: Battels Arts Café at no. 64, Dolls House on the Hill vintage cafe at no. 44 with both pavement and indoor seating, and Eighty-Six restaurant and bar at no. 86 with a garden.

Getting there

By public transport

Harrow-on-the-Hill is easily accessible by mainline trains (Chiltern Railways), London Underground via the Metropolitan Line (Harrow-on-the-Hill Station) or the Piccadilly Line (South Harrow Station and Sudbury Hill Station), and by bus (routes 258 and H17). Harrow School and the village are a steep uphill walk from local stations, so whether you travel by train, Tube or car, we urge you to save your energy for sketching, and take a short bus ride to our meeting point at the war memorial.

From Harrow-on-the-Hill station (7 minutes)
To find the bus station, turn right after you come through the ticket barriers and go down the steps -- the bus station will be on your left. Go to bus stop C, take the 258 or H17 bus towards Wembley Central, and alight at Harrow School. From there the war memorial building is a one minute walk. 

From South Harrow station (8 minutes)
Go to bus stop B, take the 258 bus towards Watford, alight at Harrow School and walk to the memorial building.

From Sudbury Hill station (8 minutes)
Go to bus stop V, take the H17 bus to Harrow, alight at Harrow School and walk to the war memorial building. 

By car

The village streets are narrow, and parking on the hill is limited. But there is parking at Harrow-on-the-Hill station (Saturdays £3) and at the St George and St Ann shopping centres nearby, where food and toilet facilities are also available. 

Even if you arrive by car, it is advisable to take the H17 or 258 bus from stop C at the bus station as the hill is VERY steep. If you prefer to go on foot, please allow 15 minutes to reach the meeting point, but be aware that it is a steep uphill climb. After passing through the ticket barriers at the station, take the exit on the left. At the end of the service road, make another left turn, and then take the first right to go up Grove Hill.


Please let us know if you will need accessibility support on the day. There is step-free access at Harrow-on-the-Hill station, but there are no accessible toilets. Sudbury Hill station is also step-free. For more information on accessibility in general across London Underground, there is a downloadable Transport for London Step-free Tube GuideAccessibility information for specific locations in our Harrow sketchwalk may be available at AccessAble

Health and safety

Urban Sketchers London follow current health and safety guidelines, and we count on all our sketchers to do the same. As always, we keep an eye on developments concerning Covid, and even though restrictions have been lifted, we think it's sensible to do everything we can to keep ourselves and fellow sketchers safe when we're together. The risk of infection for outdoor events is low, but basic guidance still applies:
  • Please do not attend if you feel unwell
  • Wear a face covering when you're close to others
  • Give people space
  • Practise good hand hygiene. 


Remember to tag us when you post your sketches on social media! And do be polite when posting online. We may be biased, but we think kindness comes naturally to urban sketchers -- so go on, show your social media politesse at its best.

#urbansketcherslondon #usklondon

St Mary's Church
Sketch by Madeleine Brennan

Location map

See you at Harrow-on-the-Hill!


Let's draw London in 2023 -- Find our full programme here

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