The Suburb in the Countryside
Stanmore is one of London’s hidden gems. It’s off the tourist trail yet well known enough for Londoners to enjoy spending time there in the town’s numerous eating establishments. Stanmore has a diverse population, which means it can cater for every taste and culture, offering food from all over the world. Stanmore isn’t just a foodie heaven — it’s conveniently close to the capital but far enough out for residents to feel away from the bustle of city life. Stanmore sits next to Stanmore Hill, which at 152 metres above sea level is one of the highest points in London, so many homes take advantage of the stunning views across into London and the countryside of Hertfordshire beyond.
12 miles from Central London, Stanmore is a village in the city. It sits high up on the Ridgeway, which runs through Barnet out into Hertfordshire, so it’s possible to find a modest home with stunning countryside views in the Stanmore Hill area. The hill itself is a popular country park and there are other open spaces nearby to give a feeling of the countryside rather than the city.
Stanmore is very old and was noted down in the Domesday Book under the name ‘Stamere’. The name derives from the Old English words for ‘stony pool’. The only evidence for this stony pool are the areas of gravel on the mainly clay soil. There are several ponds close to the summit of Stanmore Hill still in existence and it could well be that one of these ponds or ‘meres’ may be the very pool that gave the town its name.
During Medieval times the area was divided into a number of estates and it’s from these that two distinctive areas evolved. Great Stanmore developed faster and by 1574 was known by this name and it forms the main centre. Little Stanmore was a little parish built around the historic church. It’s believed that the original church dating back from Saxon times was wooden, though the site may have been used for a Roman shrine. A stone church named after St John the Evangelist was built in the 14th century but replaced in 1632. The ruins of this building are still in existence. The current church, standing between rows of 1930s semis, was opened in 1850 by Queen Adelaide, who donated the font.
The rate at which Stanmore property developed, as with so many other London suburbs, was greatly boosted when the railway arrived in 1890. Until then Stanmore had been an important stopping point for coaches travelling north. The line linked Stanmore Village to Harrow and Wealdstone, but the design of the station was such that a through route to London wasn’t possible so trains were forced to come into Stanmore Village and then be either pulled or pushed out of it back to the mainline. By 1932 the Underground had arrived. The opening of the Metropolitan line resulted in Stanmore having its own tube station with a direct service into the centre of London. For a time the two lines competed directly for business. Another mainline station was built on September Way in Belmont, but by 1964 the Underground won the day when Beeching axed the main line.
Today Stanmore is served by the Jubilee Line and it takes just over half an hour to reach Bond Street station in Central London. The Jubilee line also runs a connection at West Hampstead to Luton Airport and extends as far as Docklands, so that someone with a job in Canary Wharf could enjoy an easy daily commute from their property in Stanmore. Other nearby rail connections include the Thameslink station at Mill Hill and the mainline service from Harrow and Wealdstone into Euston. Road access from property in Stanmore out of the area is easy, with the M1 and M25 motorways within easy reach and linking Stanmore to the major airports and the rest of the UK.
Much property in Stanmore was built in the early 20th century. Large parts of the town were built by Laing homes. The building company constructed much Stanmore property in the form of 1930s-style semi-detached and detached homes. The demand for new homes surged in the 1970s and 1980s and it was around this time that another large swathe of homes was built to the west of Stanmore Hill. In the 21st century building work has begun again, including several good-quality purpose-built apartment blocks close to Stanmore tube station.
In the last five years the average price paid for Stanmore property has been just over £400,000. However, prices are rising and the value of property in Stanmore has risen more than 9% in the last year, with the average value rising more than £42,000. The average letting fee for a rental property in Stanmore stands at £1620 per calendar month. Money for property in Stanmore does go further than in locations further in. Holding a Hertfordshire postcode rather than a London postcode makes a difference, and for the sake of an extra stop or two on the tube, thousands of pounds can be saved by purchasing Stanmore property rather than a home further into London.
Prices within the HA 7 postcode vary depending on proximity to the tube stations. A three-bed semi close to Queensbury tube station would fetch around £400,000, whereas further out towards the Uxbridge Road prices drop to £325,000. Some of the new-build flats in the centre of Stanmore will also be more expensive, but that’s because of location and the quality of the build. Attlee Court, named after one of Stanmore’s famous residents, the former prime minister Clement Atlee, is a modern purpose-built block with landscaped gardens close to the A4140, Honeypot Lane, which leads into the town centre. Brand new two-bedroom flats are on offer for around £400,000. Larger-sized Stanmore property, such as a four-bedroom 1930s detached property close to the tube station, goes for around £900,000. A four-bed 1970s property west of Stanmore Hill and further out from the town centre is closer to £700,000.
£350,000 will buy a two-bedroom period cottage close to Stanmore Hill. Property in Stanmore Hill and the nearby streets keep their prices because this is a very desirable neighbourhood. Great views across to Hertfordshire can be seen from some of the homes on the hill across Cloisters Wood, Herriots Wood and Stanmore Common. It’s here where the more unusual Stanmore property can be found, including those period Victorian cottages. Luxury detached homes cost into the millions, depending on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of the plot and the views.
Not all property here is hundreds of years old. Bentley Priory is a new gated development built in the grounds of a historic mansion. The grounds are a mixture of formal Italian gardens accompanied by 9 acres of woodland and 12 acres of parkland. Beyond the boundary is a 135-acre nature reserve. The buildings have a visual identity that’s highly distinctive, but they do reflect the site’s past as a priory and latterly the former RAF base from where the Battle of Britain was coordinated. Such is the site’s history that plans are in place to build a commemorative museum. On-site facilities include tennis courts and a concierge service. Prices start from around £675,00, rising to £1.4 million for a four-bedroom luxury home with high-spec fittings.
There’s a good selection of Stanmore property to rent. A two-bedroom flat close to Stanmore tube station in a modern purpose-built block will cost around £1400 per calendar month. A one-bedroom property in a converted house off Stanmore Broadway would rent out for around £900 pcm. Modern studios start from £700 pcm. Rental prices for Stanmore property depend on the location and size. A three-bed semi within walking distance of the Jubilee line rents for around £1500 pcm. For those who fancy living alongside celebrities, try renting a two-bed apartment in the gothic Stanmore Hall at £2500 pcm with private gym and indoor swimming pool. Hollywood A-listers Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio are rumoured to have owned property here in the past. Other famous residents past and present living in Stanmore property include England footballer Theo Walcott, rock star Billy Idol, drummer Peter Van Hooke and the actors Roger Moore, Cyril Shaps and Matt Lucas.
The centre of Stanmore has a village-style feel, with many independent shops and restaurants and a local library run by the London Borough of Harrow. Two large supermarkets, beauty salons, upmarket clothing boutiques, opticians and the high street banks and building societies can be found on Stanmore Broadway. The restaurants are legendary. All the usual fast food and international cuisines are available, but some of the food establishments, including Madison’s salt beef bar, bring in food lovers from many different parts of London.
The area has great sports facilities, including sports fields and the 160-year-old Stanmore Cricket Club, which is the oldest club in the local league, Middlesex County Championship. Such is the success of the club that two players of note, Angus Fraser and Mark Ramrakash, have risen through the ranks and into professional cricket. Local golfing facilities include a course on Gordon Avenue and a driving range on Brockley Hill. Stanmore Tennis club and a new ten-pin bowling alley can be found in the town centre.
Canons Sports Centre provides a public swimming pool, fitness studio and multi-purpose sports hall. Just over two miles away is Harrow Leisure Centre, one of London’s biggest sports and leisure centres and a focal point for many cultural activities and functions. For those who like to watch sport, Loftus Road, the home of Queens Park Rangers and Saracens Rugby Union club, is within easy reach.
Stanmore’s schools are excellent and one of the most popular secondary schools is Park High School, which offers education up to sixth-form level for both boys and girls. Canons High School is also mixed but smaller and also with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grading. Bentley Wood High School serves the Stanmore Hill area. Stanmore College is a successful sixth form college.
The good schools help to maintain the price of Stanmore property as people move to the area specifically so their children can attend local schools, which have the reputation of being the best in North London.
At primary level there is a good choice of infant, junior and primary schools. These include Aylward Primary on Pangbourne Drive and the very popular St John’s Church of England School on Green Lane. There is also a Jewish primary school on Cannon Lane and options for parents wishing to choose a Catholic school for their child.
One of the country’s most successful schools is in the district. The North London Collegiate for Girls is regularly placed close to the top of the exam league tables for its GCSE and A level results. Other independent schools include the Haberdasher’s Schools for boys and girls at Elstree, which sees many of its pupils go on to study at Oxford or Cambridge.
Local healthcare includes the Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, which is home to the nearest accident and emergency unit and a new stroke unit, which is one of only eight in London offering the fastest treatment to stroke victims. It’s been judged to be excellent by the Care Quality Commission. Another nationally recognised healthcare establishment is also on the doorstep. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital based in Stanmore is a national centre of excellence for spinal injuries, treating patients from across UK with rare and complex conditions.
As London suburbs go, Stanmore has so much to offer its residents. It’s close enough to work and the bright lights of Central London but far enough out to enjoy the countryside. It’s not surprising that it’s so popular with families, single people, couples and celebrities.