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Main building, formerly Canons House, North London Collegiate School

A Grade II Listed Building in Harrow, Harrow

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Latitude: 51.6142 / 51°36'51"N

Longitude: -0.2948 / 0°17'41"W

OS Eastings: 518163

OS Northings: 191974

OS Grid: TQ181919

Mapcode National: GBR 7P.VS6

Mapcode Global: VHGQ9.VP0F

Plus Code: 9C3XJP74+M3

Entry Name: Main building, formerly Canons House, North London Collegiate School

Listing Date: 25 May 1983

Last Amended: 26 March 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1286403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 201992

Location: Harrow, London, HA8

County: Harrow

Electoral Ward/Division: Canons

Built-Up Area: Harrow

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Lawrence Whitchurch Lane

Church of England Diocese: London

Find accommodation in
Harrow Weald


Mansion, later 1750s for Thomas Hallett, substantially remodelled in 1912 by C E Mallows for Sir Arthur Phillip du Cros, founder and president the Dunlop Rubber Company. Since 1929 the principal building at North London Collegiate School.


Mansion, later 1750s for Thomas Hallett, substantially remodelled in 1912 by C E Mallows for Sir Arthur Phillip du Cros, founder and president the Dunlop Rubber Company.

MATERIALS: faced in Portland stone, with stone dressings. Windows are predominantly early-C20 metal-framed casements and fixed lights with rectangular leaded lights and ornate window furniture including the original stays, catches and plates. Roof are not visible.

PLAN: roughly square on plan, with the main elevations in three symmetrical bays, and on two storeys and a basement with a full attic storey created in 1912, when the entrance was changed from the south to the west front, and Mallows created an enlarged double-height hall. The north-western range of the house completes the east and west elevations in three smaller-scale bays and forms the northern elevation. It appears to have been added to the original house, but was present by the later C19, and adapted by Mallows. The main entrance on the west elevation is approached by steps and flanked to the right by the screen wall that encloses the terraced gardens created by Mallows. The south and east elevations open directly onto the terrace.

EXTERIOR: the ground floor is channelled, and enriched with Corinthian pilasters and a richly moulded cornice. A shallow storey band forms the cill of the upper floor windows, while the building has a modillion cornice and a balustraded parapet. The entrance on the west front is within a projecting full-height drum, with the upper storeys set back slightly behind the ground floor cornice, which is enriched with husked garlands, and where the frieze carries coats of arms in rectangular moulded panels. The central entrance has paired metal-framed glazed doors with rectangular lights, while the flanking bays of the drum have similar fixed lights, all set on the curve. The first floor windows have segmental-headed eared architraves while those on the upper floor are square-headed. The drum has paired oculi on the returns, while the front-facing windows on the upper floor have enriched brackets and alternate with narrow round-headed lights. Flanking the entrance are single-storey bays, each with a single square-headed window with a pronounced keystone.

To the left of the entrance is a three-storey section, square on plan and in three narrow bays, articulated by grouped Corinthian pilasters. On the ground floor it has a tall central window and a clerestorey window above. The upper floors echo the main range with the first floor central window flanked by oculi and set behind a balustrade.

The south elevation, formally the entrance front, is in three bays with a slightly advanced central bay which contains a segmental pedimented doorcase between paired pilasters. Flanking windows are round-arched in architraves with pronounced keystones and small feet, and have early C20 metal casements with rectangular leaded lights. The first floor has a single segmental-headed window to each bay while the upper floor has a pair of narrow central windows, with single windows in the outer bays.

The east elevation is in four bays, with a full-height semi-circular bay in the centre of the three-bay composition and a slightly projecting northern bay which is square on plan. In general the fenestration pattern and detail of the south front is repeated; the bow-fronted bay has a central pair of metal-framed glazed doors, while the attic windows in the outer bays are arranged in groups of three. The northern bay echoes its counterpart on the west elevation, with a central tripartite window on the ground floor, single first-floor window and paired attic windows.

Whilst it is roughly symmetrical around a richer central bay, the north elevation is not as strongly articulated, and apart from the attic storey it is rendered, and most windows are set flush. On the ground floor it has a tall central, round-headed window, shorter outer windows with shaped aprons, and smaller intermediate windows with square heads. The first floor has groups of segmental-headed windows in moulded architraves flanked by square-headed windows. The attic storey has groups of square headed windows, and the central window has a shallow masonry balcony on shaped brackets and an iron balustrade.

INTERIOR: the vestibule opens to the hall, remodelled by Mallows as a double-height space with a quadripartite vaulted ceiling above a modillion cornice, and a gallery above the entrance. The ceiling has a moulded rose and tapering ribs. The adjoining space, formerly the south-facing room, provides a lower inner hall, and has a large stone chimneypiece with a pronounced keystone. Doors, including the pair of entrance doors and side doors in the vestibule are in oak, with six moulded panels. The lunette between the rooms is painted with a scene by the artist and designer Peggy Angus, former Head of Art at the school, and depicts the arrival of the school at Canons with the title 'We work in hope'. Floors are of oak.

The south-east room (the headmistress's study, former long parlour) has a coved plaster ceiling with a richly moulded cornice and moulded ribs with a rose trail. Pairs of Tuscan columns frame the entrance and form a screen in antis behind the principal opening opposite it, above a dado. The inner wall is lined with a pair of full-height shell-headed alcoves with panelled linings.

The former library (Room B), opening on to the east front, has a flat ceiling with a moulded oak cornice and chamfered and moulded oak joists in a variety of designs, including rose motifs and shields. The metal-framed windows have moulded architraves and elaborate handles and plates.

Leading off the hall, the stair hall has a cantilevered stone stair with an elaborate steel balustrade enriched with brass ornament with columnar newels and a moulded timber rail, and the ceiling again has a modillion cornice. Door architraves are exaggerated in C18 manner, with flat cornices with pulvinated friezes and husk and garland mouldings. Doors are of six raised and fielded panels and painted.

The Drummond Room (former drawing room), a double space, is lined in large moulded panels. Window reveals are panelled with marble cills and windows have moulded pelmets. In half the room the ceiling has a large circular plaster moulding with a bay leaf trail; the other has a rectangular moulded ceiling and a deep waterleaf-moulded cornice. Windows as elsewhere have ornate furniture. It has a simple marble chimneypiece.

The Buss Room (former dining Room) similarly has a modillion cornice and the ceiling has a circular plaster roundel with a bay leaf trail. Door architraves are in C18 manner with pulvinated friezes and doors are of six moulded panels. It has a robust, eared chimneypiece in veined marble. In contrast, the lobby leading off the entrance hall is in vernacular manner, with oak three-over-four panel doors with snakeshead hinges and a pine stair with moulded balusters leading to the basement.

First-floor doorways generally have deep, but plain, moulded architraves and doors are of six fielded panels. The C18 regime appears to survive in the enfilade of connected rooms which have doorcases with deep panelled linings, and raised and fielded panel doors of C18 and early C20 date; the moulded cornices where they are present reflect the hierarchy of the rooms. In the south-east room is a cut down C18 moulded timber mantelpiece, while the adjacent room has a marble chimneypiece with an early C20 fireplace with brass cheeks and hood and the following has a C19 round-arched chimneypiece and cast iron grate. The staff room has a robust moulded chimneypiece with cream tiled cheeks and a small grate.

The attic is reached by a closed string stair with square newels and slender turned balusters. Fireplaces are typically later C19 or early C20 and include a timber mantelpiece with green tiled linings with a green border and a plain marble chimneypiece with 'Dutch' tiles.


In its present form, Canons House, now the core of the North London Collegiate School, dates from the late C18, and was remodelled by C E Mallows in 1912. Attached to it are extensive school buildings (not included in the listing), added by the architect Sir Albert Richardson in 1937-19440 after the school acquired Canons Park in 1929, and extended in the later C20.

Historically, the land was owned by the London Church of St Bartholomew the Great until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Losse family, who built a new house within the manor. In 1604 the estate was bought by Sir Thomas Lake, Clerk of the Signet to Queen Elizabeth I and Secretary of State to James I, who in 1606-08 built a new mansion on the current site, to designs by the eminent Jacobean architect John Thorpe.

The estate remained in their hands until 1709, when it was bought by James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, and it was under his aegis that the house and landscape were enhanced. Thorpe’s house was demolished to create an opulent Baroque palace, built in 1713-24, the early phases from 1716-1719 attributed to James Gibbs, and completed by John Price, with lavish interiors by leading exponents of the day including James Thornhill and William Kent. The palace sat within a park of some 400 acres, where the grounds were laid out by Kent and by Alexander Blackwell, as a series of radiating avenues and allées, intersecting rond points, water features and formal planting, said to be inspired by the Palace at Versailles.

The scheme was short-lived. On Chandos’ death in 1744 the estate was of necessity sold; by 1753 the house had been demolished and the contents were dispersed before Thomas Hallett replaced it with a smaller, four-square two-storey house which forms the basis of the current building. His successor, Sir Thomas Plumer, Solicitor–General and later Master of the Rolls employed Humphry Repton in about 1805 to work on the park, the results captured in a contemporary view of about 1805. C19 Ordnance Survey maps describe the footprint of the building, and the evolution of the pleasure grounds and park, which included a large lake, relics of the C18 formal, axial avenues, a walled garden to the south-west and a home farm or stable yard to the west, the latter now part of the school.

In the early C20, the new owner, Sir Arthur Phillip du Cros, founder and president of the Dunlop Rubber Company, made significant changes to the house and grounds, selling off part of the park for residential development in what was a growing suburb, linked by an expanding network of public transport to central London. In 1912 he employed the Arts and Crafts architect and garden designer C E Mallows to alter and enlarge the house, creating a new entrance on the south-west elevation, and adding a service wing to the north-west of the house. As part of the scheme Mallows designed the flanking screen wall and formal terraced garden that wraps round the house, reinforcing the historic north-south axis and view southwards. Extending northwards from the house he created a formal sunken garden, flanked to the west by what appears to have been an orangery, and by a kitchen court. The footings of earlier service buildings were adapted by Mallows to create a symmetrical approach to the house, recorded on the OS map of 1935, but were later altered when the school hall was erected, while classrooms were built against the formal garden.

The estate was further reduced in the 1920s and 1930s, with more parkland sold for development or to the local authority, who, after the Second World War developed land as the public Canons Park that exists today.

The North London Collegiate School acquired the mansion and approximately 10 acres of land in 1929, at first moving some pupils from their school in Camden, north London, before fully relocating to Canons Park. The eminent architect A E Richardson (1880-1964) was first employed to design a new school hall and three-storey classroom block, attached to the northern end of the house and overlooking the pond to its north-west. In 1957 he designed the small freestanding Art School, also overlooking the pond. His first designs for the school were in a grand Beaux Arts tradition, and more elaborate than the executed scheme, which is an example of his refined neoclassically-inspired work of the inter-war period, and perhaps of necessity reduced in scale and simplified to meet the budget and circumstances of impending war.

The school continues to develop, adapting existing estate buildings and adding new stock. The buildings include the Music School (1971) and Headmistress' House (1977) both by John O'Neilly, a pupil of Richardson. None of these buildings is included in the listing.

Charles Edward Mallows (1864-1915) studied at the Bedford School of Art and after several apprenticeships, including one at the offices of William Wallace and William Flockhart, set up his own practice in London. After travelling and producing measured drawings of English and French cathedrals, which won him the RIBA Pugin travelling scholarship in 1889, he returned to Bedford where he opened an office with George Grocock in 1895. Mallows also designed garden ornaments and pergolas for The Pyghtle Works, the acclaimed joinery firm for whom Lethaby and Bailie Scott designed furniture. Mallows is rightly acknowledged as an architect who equally could turn his hand to Baroque civic and commercial buildings and Arts and Crafts domestic buildings. He is known for his commissions for integrated schemes for houses and gardens, the first at King’s Corner in Biddenham, Bedfordshire of 1898, followed by Three Gables, also in Biddenham (house listed at Grade II, garden registered at Grade II) for his future father-in-law, and where Mallows lived from 1905 until his death in 1915. He is perhaps best known for the Arts and Crafts house and garden at Tirley Garth, Willington, Cheshire West and Chester, which he designed and built from 1906, (house listed at Grade II*, NHLE 1330306 and garden registered, at Grade II*, NHLE 1001593).

A E, later Sir Albert, Richardson, PRA (1880-1964) was a leading C20 architect, artist, historian and teacher who is remembered for his writings as well as for his creative fusion of tradition and modernity. He trained in the offices of the architects Leonard Stokes and Frank T Verity before setting up in partnership with Charles Lovett Gill, one of Verity’s assistants, from 1919-39. From 1945 he worked in partnership with Eric Houfe. Influenced by both the classical Beaux Arts and Arts and Crafts traditions, he had a particular interest in the pared-down neoclassical architectural language of the early C19, especially the work Sir John Soane, and in the Edwardian rediscovery of Neoclassicism, which made him an appropriate choice of architect for new work at the North London Collegiate School. As head of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London for 27 years his influence was considerable, while he was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal for Architecture in 1947, served as President of the Royal Academy from 1954-6, and was knighted in 1956. A number of his buildings are listed, notably Bracken House, City of London of 1955-58, listed at Grade II* (NHLE 1262582).

Reasons for Listing

The former Canons House, now the main building of North London Collegiate School, of C18 origin, remodelled in 1912 by C E Mallows, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a mid- to later C18 mansion, on the site of the earlier C18 Canons Palace, remodelled by Mallows, reflecting in its plan and details the revivalist traditions favoured in the early C20;
* high quality, enriched, Portland stone façades of the C18 and early C20;
* in the symmetrical C18 plan, and alterations to it, principally by Mallows, to create a new western approach, enlarged hall and internal sequence of rooms;
* fixtures and fittings include C18 chimneypieces and joinery, a monumental staircase, early C20 joinery in Jacobean and classical traditions, and an almost complete set of early C20, richly moulded cast iron windows, doors and their furniture.

Historic interest:

* an important historic site, which has seen a sequence of major houses and their landscapes, by leading architects and designers for eminent clients.

Group value:

* with Mallows’ monumental terraced gardens (Grade II) and the registered landscape, Canons Park (Grade II).

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