Sunday, 1 November 2009

The London/Hertfordshire Boundary - Bentley Priory

The London/Harrow/Hertfordshire boundary goes across Hive Road, Shaw Close, High Road and goes north east to the edge of a reservoir
TQ 15462 93277

A number of streams rise in this area which flow north and east as Tykes Water.

Two large areas of open space divided by a road. To the south the Bentley Priory estate plus the big house with reminders of its time as the base of Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain. Stanmore Common to the north is also an interesting area.

Post to the west Harrow Weald
Post to the north Bushy Heath
Post to the south Bentley Priory


Sites on the London, Harrow side of the boundary

Bentley Priory
Marked on the Ordnance Survey map of 1822, named ‘Benetlegh’ in 1243, ‘Binttley’ in 1291, ‘Bentleye’ in 1315, which mean a ‘woodland clearing where bent-grass grows', from Old English.
Bentley Priory. A 12th Augustinian Priory survived here until the Reformation which and had been founded by Ranulf de Granville. The buildings were demolished in the 18th when the estate belonged to James Duberly and subsequently the Marquess of Abercorn. A house was built, designed by Soane, in 1777. In 1837 when it belonged to Lord Abercorn in 1837, and there were fashionable gatherings with various celebrities of the day. Later Queen Adelaide rented it and died here in 1849. It then became a school and then passed ton John Kelk, a building contractor, who sold to Frederick Gordon, the restaurateur in 1882. Gordon wanted to turn it into a country resort and pressed for the railway to be built. He opened the house as a hotel in 1885 but it failed and he moved in himself with his family of 11 children. In 1904 he died and the building became a school for young ladies and then, in 1935, it was taken over by Fighter Command, partly as a hospital. The Battle of Britain was directed from here and there were Nissen huts in Ministry of Works style and Spitfires on the lawn. This was eventually all demolished by army contractors but it is still air force property and the 18th mansion surmounted by a clock-tower remains. The estate had been broken up in 1926; 40 acres went to the Air Ministry and the rest going to Middlesex County Council. In 1964 the open land went to the borough council.
Grounds. The area includes the Site of an early Roman settlement. There is a lot of grassland which still grazed along with scrub and woodland. As the ground rises there is grassland with open water and woodland and views across the Thames Valley.

Furze Heath
Furze Field
Bevan’s Marsh

High Road
The Windmill c. 1800. Harvester pub and mostly a restaurant,

Kestrel Grove

Magpie Hall Road
County End white stuccoed with trellis, etc. standing on the Greater London Hertfordshire border. Listed

Priory Drive
Posh area, likened to Bishops Avenue Highgate
Gate into Bentley Priory Nature Reserve
Hornbeams, garden designed by the owner showing how to hide the fences and use surrounding landscape for a feeling of space. There are flowers for brilliant colour and a Woodland walk, water features, a fruit cage and conservatory with grapevine.

The Common
Site of Clutterbuck's Brewery which has been replaced with housing but the old brewery house remains. Adjacent are stables with a weatherboarded clock turret.
First Hill House was once a school.
The Alpine. Named after an Italian restaurant.

Warren Lane
Stanmore Common. This is the remains of the common land of Great Stanmore enclosed in 1813 and now a large area of woodland. Once open heath with pillow mounds which may have part of rabbit warren. Part of it is an SSSI. , the common is interesting for its damp environment created by streams, with many fungi. The woodland is oak and beech with birch, with an understorey of bramble and bracken. Heather heathland oak and beech; Under the Common are the rounded stones of Pebble Gravels, and under that the Claygate beds. The wood-land was used for pig husbandry by “commoners”, but many trees were removed by the 17th. Heath land was grazed by sheep until the later 19th.
Little Tyke Stream
Tyke's Water
“Boudicca’s Mound” probably a medieval warren for rabbits destined for the kitchen.
The Spering Stream

Sites on the Three Rivers, Hertfordshire side of the boundary

High Road
Coal post. 20 yards south east of the junction with Hartsbourne Road

Sources
Clunn. The Face of London
Field. London Place Names
Laurie, Beneath the City Streets
London Encyclopedia
Middlesex County Council. History of Middlesex
Pevsner. North West London
Smythe. City Wildspace
Stevenson. Middlesex
Walford.  Village London

 

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