Hogwarts is not the only school that should come to mind when talking about Harry Potter. Harrow School should too. Indeed, Harrow School has been used as a film location in the Philospher’s Stone movie.
In fact, this incredible site has been used for several commercials, movies and dramas. It has also been used for magazine shoots and documentaries. Sandra took part in a movie there too (The Invisible Woman)! Click on the picture below to find out more information about her experience.
Harrow School is a boy school (sorry girls!) full of history, made of old and new buildings and covers 260 acres of land in North West London. Walking through its various buildings is like travelling through time (the architecture becomes more and more modern as you go down the hill that leads to the sports ground). We were very fortunate to visit it and here we explain why you should visit it too and how you can go about it.
A few facts about Harrow School
- It was opened in 1615
- It was created by John Lyon
- It is a full boarding school for boys aged 13 to 18 years
- In the old days, pupils used to be spanked. They could choose the stick (how nice!). Obviously, this is no longer the case.
- The boys must wear a hat to and from their lessons and on the Hill
- The school in numbers: 820 pupils; 700 staff (including 150 teachers)
- Winston Churchill and several other well-known figures studied at Harrow School!
- Just like Hogwarts… it has got different houses (actually 12 boarding houses to be precise), each student wears some special clothing (including a special hat); teachers and students live on site like a big family (although not all in the same building). They also have their own game… no not Quidditch! It’s called Harrow football which is played with a sort of strange looking (and quite heavy) football.
Why you should visit it?
A few times a year, Harrow School gives the public the possibility to visit the school. All you have to do is book a slot online. If you are interested, click here but bear in mind that there are only 3 tours a year so make sure you secure your place(s) quickly. Then you will receive your ticket(s) to your home address and you will have to go to the school on the day of the planned visit.
When we visited the school, we had a guide called Anne.
She was fantastic! She knew a lot about the school, its history and Harrow’s history in general. She was full of energy. You got to have energy because Harrow is quite hilly (we climbed more than 570 stairs during the visit).
The tour lasted about 2 hours but it really didn’t feel like it as it was very interesting.
We’ll come to what we saw in a minute but it’s worth noting that a great point about the visit is that from the school you can get fantastic views of London. It’s unbelievable the amount of sites you can see: Wembley, Canary Wharf, BT Tower etc.
Now let’s get to the tour….
The War Memorial
The tour started in front of Old Schools which is the original school building at the heart of the hill. We then went to the War Memorial which was built in memory of soldiers who died during WWI.
From there, we walked down to the Amphitheatre which is where plays and concerts take place. It is a beautiful room in which the whole school can sit.
Museum of Harrow Life
This was followed by the Museum of Harrow Life which shows how Harrovians used to live many decades back and also how they live now. It’s a small museum that also shows the many facilities that the students can enjoy throughout the year. They have access to a swimming pool, golf and squash courts, rugby field, fishing lake, tennis courts etc.
We then walked down a lane and went to the sports field, which is enormous and offers a range of sports such as rugby, football, tennis, golf and cricket. It’s a well maintained area with footpaths: some opened to the public and some private. It’s worth noting that the sports facilities are accessible to the local people who get a membership.
We went to the quietest building of the estate: the Vaughan Library.
Vaughan Library was designed by George Gilbert Scott who also designed Saint-Pancras station. What a small world!
The library is spread across 3 floors and the rule within it is very strict and simple: nobody is allowed to talk!
The art gallery
There is also an art gallery which hosts a variety of exhibitions all year round.
The gallery is opened to the public and is located next to the Fourth Form Room (read about it below). It is an interesting place that houses Greek, Roman Etruscan pottery and several paintings. In short…it contains some important and interesting treasures from different corners of the world that we encourage you to see.
Walking in Harry Potter’s footsteps
We finished our visit with a building called the Fourth Form Room.
This is where the first classes took place when the school was opened in 1615.
This room is now very well-known because it featured in the first Harry Potter: Philosopher’s Stone as well as other films. In the movie, we can see the students being taught how to levitate a feather (see YouTube clip below).
It’s an interesting room where students have carved their names in the wood.
This tradition still goes on today but in a much neater way. Nowadays, the names of all the former pupils are written professionally on a board in the school.
Harrow School… where learning never stops
If you would like to discover more about Harrow School, you can watch this informative yet amusing program, which gives you a good idea of what life is like at the school.
The visit was truly interesting and entertaining. Every staff member was friendly. And we can’t repeat it enough… our guide Anne was perfect for the job!
Harrow School is an inspirational institution that has morphed over the years to become a modern elite school where pupils can express/enjoy themselves while being well looked after. However, despite the quality teaching and the exceptional facilities and life that it offers we think that Harrow School could improve in one area…. we can guess that John Lyon will be turning in his grave but we have to say it…. maybe the next step will be for the School to become more open to girls as well so they too can receive great lessons delivered in a stunning environment and fulfil their potential. This might not be such a crazy idea since women are already allowed to teach at Harrow School and some girls can attend 6th Form classes (although very few do).
When that happens, this will make Harrow School an even more magical place to study.