R S Brown, 1976
pages 5, 6
The narratives in the previous volumes of this series have not been arranged in any significant order: the selection of highways has been largely governed by the availability of suitable material at the time of collation of the current volume.
On this occasion however, due to the coincidental manner in which our areas of research have linked together, the narratives are concerned with a particular route through Stanmore. Our journey, which begins on Stanmore Common follows the road down Stanmore Hill diverting briefly to take in Church Road and Uxbridge Road before returning to the Broadway. We then turn right into Marsh Lane and half a mile down the road where the traffic lights are now sited - having mentioned Honeypot Lane in passing - we turn left into Whitchurch Lane. The concluding narrative is concerned with Canons Park - described in the title of this volume as 'Chandos Country'. Thanks to the help of kindly readers, we have been able to illustrate the route with photographs taken earlier this century. We have of course already dealt at some length with Stanmore highways in Vol III but on this occasion we shall travel through the very heart of the old village.
Due to the peculiar fashion in which history evolves, Stanmore developed as two separate areas - Great Stanmore around St Johns Church, and Little Stanmore in the vicinity of St Lawrence's Church.
We have previously devoted space to the early history of Great Stanmore but it will undoubtedly be of interest to quote from a publication which was available very early this century in which a brief description of this area was included.
It stated that "Great Stanmore is a parish and village oh the road from Edgware ........ four miles south east from Watford and 10 from London. The village, which is about a mile in length, is built on the slope of a hill near Bushey Heath, the summit of which commands extensive views of the Surrey hills, with the vale of Middlesex and the valley of the Thames intervening; on the north side is the beautiful vale of Hertfordshire. The parish is situated 474 feet above sea level and is said to be very healthy. Since the opening of the Harrow branch line of the London and North Western Railway, the village has been enlarged by a number of good residences.
"The principal landowners are Thomas Meadows Clutterbuck of Micklefield Hall, Croxley Green, (who is Lord of the Manor); Frederick Gordon, Charles Edward Keyser, MA, JP, of Aldermaston Court, Reading; St Bartholomews Hospital and Mrs Brightwen of The Grove.
"The soil is clay at the bottom of the village and pebble or drift gravel towards the top; the subsoil is chalk into which several public and private wells are sunk. The land is chiefly pasture and there are 1,470 acres of land and 14 of water."
The publication then went on to describe Little Stanmore which it said "is sometimes alluded to as Whitchurch in the area of the church rectory and adjacent houses.
"The Church of St Lawrence, erected, with the exception of the Tower, about 1715, is an edifice of brick in the Italian style and consists of a chancel with a mortuary chapel (built by James, Duke of Chandos); a nave; the south porch and a western tower erected about 1500, containing one fine-toned bell."
Although the inevitable tide of suburbanisation has swept through Stanmore, some semblance of its former rural image has been retained - thanks mainly to the proximity of the Green Belt.
Class distinction, which was rampant for many generations prior to the first world war, still continues to flourish in a modified form but the vast social differentials which once existed between the upper and lower levels of country society have narrowed considerably.
The modest dwellings which once provided homes for the many workers who 'lived by the soil' have been replaced by semi-detached houses, flats and maisonettes.
Most of the large, old houses have been demolished or adapted for non-residential purposes and the wealthier families have moved into luxurious modern villas and bungalows which require the minimum domestic help and provide the maximum garage space: Pynnacles Close, Green Lane and Gordon Avenue are typical of the highways favoured by the more affluent families. Their predecessors of a century or more ago chose similar locations for their lavish homes.
The village shopping centre - particularly at the foot of Stanmore Hill and in Church Road has been altered beyond recognition. Most of the old buildings have been demolished and ultra modern stores have replaced the village shops.
The horse traffic of seventy years ago would be engulfed by the weight of fast, motorised vehicles which now surge into the village from the Uxbridge and London Roads and down the hill from Watford. Parking space is at a premium for motorists and traffic penetration is a hazard for pedestrians.
The older members of the community sadly miss the pleasant country walks which could be
enjoyed in almost every direction, unharrassed by speeding traffic. They believe that the
charm and character of old Stanmore has almost disappeared …