Histories of Harrow Weald Highways - Volume 10,
Harrow Weald Again and Hatch End
Ronald S Brown, 1981.
pages 15 and 17.
The story of the Cedars Estate is a long, romantic one, and concerned very much with the famous Harrow Weald family called Blackwell. Their forefathers can be traced back to the mid-16th century but our narrative begins in July,1768 when a certain John Bodimede (who owned a brick-making business and extensive farmlands) married Mary Waller at Bushey.
In 1771 a daughter - Mary Ann - was born to them, but nineteen years later John was killed in a horse-riding accident. His widow ran the business unaided until Mary Ann fell in love with a good-looking but penniless young man called Charles Blackwell who worked in the Clutterbuck Brewery on Stanmore Hill. Mary's mother resisted any talk of marriage until Charles had left the brewery and taken up the more respectable occupation of a partnership in the Bodimede business. The wedding then took place at Harrow on the Hill and from this point onwards, dates and family progression can be ascertained by reference to the Blackwell's family tree on the next page.
Mrs Bodimede died in 1802 and Charles took over full control of the family business. During the turbulent years when Nelson was winning the battle of Trafalgar and Wellington was triumphant at Waterloo, Charles was devoting himself to his brickworks and farm while his wife presented him with ten children (including twins) at regular two-yearly intervals between 1798 and 1814. Only a couple of the children were to marry but apart from two who died young, the other eight lived on to an average age of 74.
Charles the father died at 80 years of age at the Kiln and is buried in Harrow but his widow, who had taken on increasing responsibility for the businesses lived for another thirteen years - to the grand old age of 92. The eldest son, Charles then took over the businesses and in the 1861 census was shown as employing 54 men and 16 boys in the brick-making business and 18 men, 6 boys and 2 women on the farmland, consisting of 460 acres.
The fourth child Thomas, was another member of the Blackwell family destined for success. As a youngster he was apprenticed to a William Wyatt who retired in 1829. Thomas bought the business and went into partnership with his friend, Edmund Crosse. Thus the famous firm of Crosse and Blackwell was formed.
In 1834 Thomas married June Ann Bernasconi of the Clock House, Harrow Weald at St Anns, Soho. At a later date the Clock House was enlarged and renamed 'The Cedars' - an imposing edifice standing in many acres of ground. Thomas died at the age of 75 and is buried in the Harrow Weald churchyard near his friend and partner, Crosse.
eldest son, Thomas Francis - a great benefactor
to the people of Harrow Weald - continued to live at the Cedars until
his death in 1907.
The house survived for another half century until the
London County Council moved in and
bought the Cedars estate for housing development.
Hundreds of council houses
now line the network of minor roads, intersected in Harrow Weald by
the broad Long Elmes highway (see page 13 of volume 3).
All that remains are the entrance gates in Uxbridge Road ....
Other nearby smaller estates and farms suffered a similar fate. To the east of the Cedars the L.C.C estate overflowed into Southfields Park - once the residence of Mr C.H. Durham - and Belmont Lodge, formerly the home of Mr C.J. Ward, was demolished in 1974 to be replaced by flats and houses built by Laings.
To the south west of the Cedars estate, Weald Farm - owned by John Sandow Anthony (who took over the land from Tom and Bill Durrant before the first world war) was bought up by a private developer called Jackson. Adjoining Anthony's farm (down Weald Lane) was Wealdstone House with a smaller acreage of farmland - all of which has since been bought by the local council for the erection of 56 flats and houses.
On the other side of Harrow Weald High Road was a house called 'The Cottage' reputed to be the birthplace of George Arliss, the famous British actor and film star. Born on 10th April, 1868, he was the third son of William Joseph Arliss Andrews (printer and publisher). Arliss's widowed mother continued to live there until 1928/29 but the Cottage was demolished about seven years later.
Details of the various community-inspired gifts which were offered to the people of Harrow Weald by the Biackwells are included in other volumes of this series and there are still a number of older residents in Harrow Weald who can remember the kindness and generosity displayed by the Blackwells towards local children. Parties were given periodically in the Cedars grounds - or inside the house when the weather was inclement. Other gentry who provided similar facilities for the children were Mr Ogilvy of 'The Glade' in Brookshill and Sir Reginald Blair of 'The Hermitage' Clamp Hill.
Thomas Francis Blackwell would not recognise the once quiet stretch of the Uxbridge Road which passed the Cedars' gates - now throbbing to the passage of heavy motorised traffic.
The Grinling Estate, which is bounded by Kenton Lane, Elms Rood and College Hill Rood, has an interesting background, historically. From the early days of the last century this sloping tract of farmland was divided into some ten fields, irrigated by a stream from the Common which flowed diagonally down the hill. In 1815 the wife of a local physician called Monro gave birth to a son, Edward. He was later educated at Harrow School, married Emma Hay in 1838 and four years afterwards become the first Incumbent of the Parish. He prevailed upon influential friends (including iord Nelson and Lord Selborne) to raise funds to open the College of St Andrews for the training of prospective teachers and clerics. This establishment was in fact a cottage, located on the site of what is now 184 College Hill Rood (near the junction with Elms Road). It did not survive for long after the Reverend Monro moved to Leeds in 1860. Another of Monro's achievements was to initiate the building of the first All Church (consecrated on All Saints Day, 1850). The Church was rebuilt ... ...