This gives a wonderful insight into life at an elite public school and can be combined with the school museum close by. Various schools in the same location have educated boys since 1243, but the School in its current form was founded in February 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I to John Lyon, a local wealthy farmer. In the School's original charter, six governors were named, including two members of the Gerard family of Flambards, and two members of the Page family of Wembley and Sudbury Court. It was only after the death of Lyon's wife in 1608 that the construction of the first school building began. It was completed in 1615 and remains to this day, however it is now much larger. The School grew gradually at first, but growth became rapid during Imperial times as British prosperity grew. Lyon died in 1592, leaving his assets to two causes, the lesser being the School, and by far the greater beneficiary being the maintenance of a road to London, 10 miles (16 km) away. The school owned and maintained this road for many years following Lyon's death, and the whole school still runs along this 10-mile road in an event called "Long Ducker" every November. At first the primary subject taught was Latin, and the only sport was archery. Both subjects were compulsory; archery was dropped in 1771. Although most boys were taught for free, their tuition paid for by Lyon's endowment, there were a number of fee-paying "foreigners" (boys from outside the parish). It was their presence that amplified the need for boarding facilities. By 1701 for every local there were two "foreign" pupils; this was used to generate funds for the School as fees increased. By 1876 the ratio was so high that John Lyon Lower School was brought under the authority of the governors of the Upper School so that the School complied with its object of providing education for the boys of the parish. It is now known as The John Lyon School and is a prominent independent school in England. It maintains close links with Harrow. The majority of the school's boarding houses were constructed in Victorian times, when the number of boys increased dramatically.
Harrow boasts it's own cant with terms such as 'beak', 'capping' - the raising of a finger to the brim of the cap when passing a teacher, and 'skew' - bad behaviour. Harrow has been instrumental in the development of a number of sports. The sport squash (originally called 'Squasher') was invented in Harrow out of the older game rackets around 1830 before the game spread to other schools, eventually becoming an international sport. In the development of Association Football, Harrow was one of seven schools that met to develop the 1863 Cambridge Rules, which would influence The Football Association's first set of rules, the 1863 Laws of the game. An annual cricket match has taken place between Harrow and Eton College at Lord's Cricket Ground since 1805. It is considered to be the longest-running cricket fixture in the world and is the oldest fixture at Lord's. Harrow has its own unique style of football called Harrow Football. The object of the game is to score a "base", which is achieved by kicking the ball between a pair of vertical posts, located at each end of the ground, similar to rugby posts but without a cross-bar. This may be done either from open play or from 'yards' and the kick may be of any height. An important feature is the offside rule whereby a player must be behind the ball before he can play it. Handling is allowed from a kick on the volley: the ball may be caught and a call of "yards" allows the catcher a space of three running yards unmolested and a free kick out of the hands.
Harrow has many notable alumni, who are known as Old Harrovians, including seven former British Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and Robert Peel (the creator of the modern Police Force and founder of the Conservative Party), and the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. In addition, twenty Old Harrovians have been awarded the Victoria Cross and one the George Cross. The School has educated three monarchs: Mukarram Jah the last Nizam of Hyderabad, King Hussein of Jordan and his cousin, Faisal II, the last King of Iraq, and had among its pupils a large number from the Thai, Indian, Malaysian and Middle Eastern royal families. A number of members of the British Royal Family have also attended the School. Other notable alumni include writers (including Lord Byron, Sir Terence Rattigan and Richard Curtis), numerous aristocrats (including the current richest British subject, the Duke of Westminster and the prominent reformist Lord Shaftesbury) and business people (including DeBeers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, Pret a Manger founder Julian Metcalfe) and the big game hunter and artist General Douglas Hamilton, as well as Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. In sports, the school produced the first two Wimbledon champions (Spencer Gore and Frank Hadow) as well as FA Cup founder C.W. Alcock and current England rugby international Billy Vunipola. Alumni in the arts and media industry include actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Cary Elwes, singer James Blunt and horse racing pundit John McCririck. The school is wheelchair accessible. The Museum of Harrow Life shows many items from the past and present of Harrow School. These include a modern boy's room and one from about 1890, the time of Churchill. There is a games section, including a Harrow Football with its peculiar flattened shape, and a photo of the Harrow XI that contained two future England cricket captains. There are pictures of Old Harrovians who achieved distinction as statesmen, writers, artists, scientists and others. Other sections show Harrow in wartime, the many activities that take place in Speech Room and a collection of beautifully made scientific apparatus that was once in regular use for the teaching of Physics.
Location : Harrow School, 5 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex HA1 3HP
Transport: Harrow-on-the-Hill (Metropolitan Line, National Rail). London Buses routes 258 and H17 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Termtime Weekdays 14:30 to 17:00.
Harrow Life Museum: Termtime Sundays 14:30 to 16:00.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 8872 8021