The Buildings of Headstone Manor Museum
Most of our buildings are currently closed to the public for restoration work and are due to reopen in late 2017.
Headstone Manor is a complex of four historic buildings set in beautiful grounds, including the medieval moat. These are all currently being restored and preserved as part of the works taking place on site. This is due for completion in late 2017 when the new museum at Headstone Manor will open.
The Manor House
Headstone Manor House is a Grade I listed building. Built circa 1310, the moated manor house 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 surrounded by the only surviving complete & filled moat in Greater London. 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 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.
The house is currently being restored to re-open in late 2017 as the museum’s main exhibition space, covering the history of both the house and Harrow.
The Great Barn
Construted in 1506, the Great Barn was built to impress, and it is still able to ‘wow’ visitors today, 500 years later.
Formerly known as the Tithe Barn, it would have been mainly used by the tenant farmer to store grains and stable horses. A few bays would have been reserved for the use of the Archbishop, as landlord, but it was never used to store tithes.
The cathedral like structure stands an impressive 45m (149ft) long, 15m (50ft) wide and over 9m (31ft) tall. The framework of the Grade II* listed building is made entirely from English Oak.
An entry in the Archbishop’s accounts for the year ending Michaelmas 1506 reads:
‘Item – paid in cash at the same place for sundry repairs made and carried out this year at Headstone, namely – for the wages of Richard Broughton, Carpenter for the making of one barn and for all woodworking necessities in total £20.00’.
With wages for additional workers and other sundry payments, the grand total comes to £44, 11s, 8d (£44.58p). In 1980 the Great Barn became Harrow Museum’s first permanent home.
The building was restored between 2015 and 2016 and is now used as a space for both community events and private hire.
The Small Barn
The Small Barn is a Grade II listed building. It stands opposite the Great Barn, and originally would have been two buildings standing end to end. Re-roofed as one with a drainage channel through the middle, it is likely to have been used to house livestock. It is thought that a series of structures have stood on the site, though most of the wood today appear to be from the same period as the early 16th century Great Barn.
Excavations at the site of the Small Barn have revealed fragments of prehistoric and Roman pottery, indicating that the site was inhabited thousands of years ago. Archaeological excavation has also shown that the foundations of the Small Barn date back to the 14th century, making it contemporary with the first phases of the building of Headstone Manor house and the moat.
In the mid-1970s the Small Barn was almost destroyed by a fire. After 20 years being covered by a protective plastic canopy, the burnt out skeleton of the building was finally restored. The Small Barn was reopened in 1996, and for a while housed a permanent exhibition about the site.
It will form part of the exhibition space in the new museum opening on site in late 2017.
The Grade II listed Granary is the only museum structure not original to Headstone Manor, having been constructed in the 18th century about a mile away in Pinner Park Farm. By the 1980s it had fallen into disrepair so the decision was made in 1991 to carefully dismantle, restore and rebuild it on the Headstone Manor site.
The Granary was actually a cattle feed store. Although it only has a ground floor and a first floor, the building has an extraordinary number of windows to the upper stories, making it a rather puzzling building. Originally the building would have been longer, but one end stood in damp ground and rotted away, reducing the Granary to its present size.
The Granary first opened to the public in 1992, it has been refurbished as part of the Headstone Manor’s restoration. It now houses our new learning centre.