Visit to Harmondsworth
W. SURREY H.A. BRANCH VISIT TO HARMONDSWORTH, 11 JUNE 2017
Our visit this year will be to Harmondsworth (Middx.), one of the most fascinating of the ‘Heathrow villages’, those ancient, once secluded, settlements on the edge of Hounslow Heath now overshadowed by the mighty airport. In Harmondsworth’s case we will also be visiting a village which, in its present form, will virtually cease to exist if airport expansion goes ahead. Should the proposed third runway be constructed, then the entire southern half of the village will be swallowed up; only the northern part around the village green will survive. Our visit will therefore be one of historic interest in two senses: we will be going to somewhere with a long and remarkable history; and we will be making a visit which we will probably never be able to repeat.
The great jewel of Harmondsworth is the medieval tithe barn, known locally as ‘the great barn’, a masterpiece of carpentry and the largest medieval timber-framed building in Britain. Construction of the structure is fortunately well documented, and we know that it was built by Winchester College, the lords of the manor, in 1425-27, in Henry VI’s reign. Although the barn is owned by English Heritage, it is managed by a local volunteer group and access is somewhat limited. We will be going on one of the summer weekends when it is open and when –crucially – car parking is available. Immediately next to the barn is the medieval village church, which we will also be visiting and which is full of character and has a magnificent Norman door. Inside, there are a number of good wall tablets and some wonderfully quirky bits of architecture. In the churchyard is the tomb of Richard Cox, who developed the Cox’s orange pippin apple and who lived nearby at Colnbrook.
We will meet in the village church at 2pm, and I’ll say a few words there about the history of Harmondsworth and its church. At about 2.45 we’ll move onto the barn, where I’ll arrange for one of the volunteers to tell us about the wonderful carpentry and the story of the recent rescue and conservation of the building.
The best way to reach Harmondsworth is by going north along the M25 to Junction 14 and turning off there to the right (Airport Way), towards Stanwell Moor. At the next roundabout turn left, along Stanwell Moor Rd, under the shadow of T5, going on until you reach the A4, where you turn right, and then after a mile, left onto the A3044 (Hatch Lane), signposted to Harmondsworth. After three-quarters of a mile or so, turn left into the village High St, and fork right when you get to the green, going on through the green gates into the car park for the barn. There is a small (easily missed) signpost on the green pointing to the barn. Since space in the car park is severely limited, we suggest sharing journeys if possible. If you would like to arrive a little early, you could take lunch in the Five Bells, the largely seventeenth-century pub facing you on the green. To allow us to give the staff there an idea of numbers, could you let us know if you’d like to eat?
As the church is usually locked, and they will be opening up especially for us, they would naturally appreciate donations. We suggest a few pounds per head.
To sign up for the trip, please email Jane Saul on:
Nigel and Jane Saul