The Village of Great Stanmore, in the county of Middlesex, has had a rich history down the ages. And this history is not without a claim to more than parochial interest.
These and other lesser known facts of the parish of Great Stanmore form only a very small fraction of a history which would be of surpassing interest if we could but trace through the ages all of the deeds of the fathers of the hamlet who sleep in the old churchyard.......
The name Stanmore, is derived from the Old English stan means stony mere or pool. There are outcrops of gravel on the clay soil here and the mere is most likely to have been one of the Stanmore ponds, which still exist to the present day.
Offa, King of Mercia
Stanmore is first mentioned in 793 when the King of Mercia, Offa, granted lands including those in Stanmore, to the Abbey of St Albans. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the manors of Stanmore reverted to the Crown and were sold off the enterprising landowners Jeffery Chamber took out leases on areas of Great Stanmore. Court Rolls show that by the 1580s, locals had begun to erect houses on the wasteland, which was owned by the Lord of the Manor. These encroachments were frequently permitted to stay and rarely ordered to be pulled down. It may be that many of these early houses were squatters dwellings, whereby if a house was erected overnight then the occupants could claim rights to that plot on the common land. These houses were not well built and are unlikely to have survived, but remnants may exist within later remodelled houses in Little Common. A number of cottages built on the Common in the 17th century probably formed the nucleus of the settlement seen today.
Entries in the The Domesday Survey refer to manors called Stanmere, owned by Robert Count of Mortain (William the Conqerors half brother and landowner) and Stanmera owned by Roger de Rames. By 1574 The Count of Mortains lands became known as "Great Stanmore" whilst Stanmera became "Little Stanmore".
The Domesday Survey records that Stanmore was heavily wooded. The large area of common land at the top of Stanmore Hill was probably denuded of trees by overgrazing and felling oak for timber. By 1754 when Roque published his map of Middlesex, only selected small wooded areas, comprising Pear Wood, Cloisters Wood and the grounds of the Orthopaedic Hospital remained.
Andrew Drummond, the founder of the Drummond bank in Charing Cross purchased the Stanmore estate in 1729 .Stanmore Village railway station was opened for train services to Harrow in 1890 and ran until 1952. The new Stanmore tube station opened in 1932. Stanmore was home to RAF Bentley Priory, which became famous as the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and the Second World War, and it was here that the Battle of Britain was controlled from. Bentley Priory is now is a grade II listed building containing a Battle of Britain museum Another local unit was RAF Stanmore Park, built in the grounds of Stanmore House which was purchased by the Air Ministry in 1938. The unit was opened in 1939 and called Balloon Command, it was responsible for controlling all the United Kingdom based barrage balloon units during World War II. The Bletchley Park code breaking establishment had an outstation at Stanmore where some of the Bombes used to decode German Enigma messages in World War Two were housed.
St. John The Evangelist
Church, Great Stanmore
Stanmore's original St John's Church was replaced by a new one, built on the current site consecrated in 1632 and dedicated to St John the Evangelist.
Its ruin still stands near the present church which was consecrated in 1850.
Queen Adelaides last public appearance was to lay the foundation stone of the new church. She gave the font and when the church was completed after her death, the east window was dedicated to her memory.
From 1632 the brick church of St John's in Great Stanmore served the community.
Now nearly 400 years later an ambitious project is underway to restore the old church, so that one day soon, it may well serve the people of Stanmore once again.
Come take a look, why not get involved yourself and become part of history
This site was once the scene of an epic battle when the British tribes united under the leadership of the King Cassivellaunus defeated the Roman Legions under the leadership of Julius Caesar during his second invasion of Britain in B.C.54.This historic monument was erected as a memorial to what happened here by William Sharpe who was secretary to the second Duke of Chandos in 1750.
The Bentley Priory Nature Reserve is a large reserve immediately north of Stanmore town centre. On warm summer weekends it is busy with walkers and visitors; on a frosty winter’s day it can be deserted of people but loud with passing birds and foraging muntjak deer. The reserve is open all year round and welcomes all visitors.
The delightful Bernays Gardens are located at the junction of Old Church Lane and Church Road and fall within ‘The Old Church Lane Conservation Area’. The gardens take their name in memory of two local Victorian Rectors..
Stanmore Little Common is a small green space adjoining Wood Lane in northern Stanmore. It contains the Upper and Lower Spring Ponds, which are probably man made, dating from at least Roman times and possibly earlier. Indeed Upper Spring Pond is also known as Caesar's Pond, based on a tradition that there was a Roman garrison quartered near there. Boudicca (Boadicea) almost certainly camped by and drank from these ponds. It is these stony ponds or "Stane Meres" that gave Stanmore its name.
In the summer of 1940 a handsome country house set among beautiful gardens on the picturesque hills of Stanmore overlooking London, was quite possibly the most important building in the world. The house was Bentley Priory, the headquarters of fighter command. It was from this elegant spot that its commander Sir Hugh Dowding directed his men in the Battle of Britain....
Today the filter room and the operations room have been recreated at the priory to give the visitor a taste of what it would have been like in the 1930's and tells the fascinating story of the the ground breaking and innovative technology that was used at the time
The Stanmore Park estate, which at its greatest extent covered land north and south of Uxbridge Road between Kenton Lane to the west and Old Church Lane to the east, was largely developed in the C18th by the Drummond family.
Temple Mead Pond, this was once a fish pond in the Stanmore Park estate, a freshwater pond it was formed naturally and has never been in any way cultivated.
There are several important archaeological sites on the common, including Bronze Age tumuli.
In 793 AD land at Stanmore was given by the King of Mercia to St Albans Abbey, which held it until the Norman Conquest.
Following an Enclosure Act in 1813 much of the land was lost to private ownership, but about 120 acres of Stanmore Common remained common land.