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The Crown & Anchor public house in Harrow-on-the-Hill

There were at least three inns in Harrow in 1759. The 'Crown and Anchor' in High Street was mentioned, as 'le Anker', in 1683. We know that John Munk Bliss was the innkeeper of the Crown and Anchor that was located in the grounds of Harrow school. It was known by the locals as the "abode of Bliss". John would have known many influential young people like Lord Byron (pictured below) and other young men who would do great and glorious things.

He (Bliss) unexpectedly had to entertain King George III on one of his impromptu visits

to the Hill in 1804. Not sure where I got the following quote from:

During the summer of 1804 the second royal visit to the town of Harrow and the

first to its school was paid, namely, by George III., under happier auspices than

when his predecessor. King Charles I, stood on the Hill and gazed over rebellious

London. George III. was driving out from Windsor and alighted at the old Crown and

Anchor quite unexpectedly. Charles Drury, the youngest son of the then head-master,

being senior monitor, showed His Majesty over the school, after which the Sovereign

visited Lord Northwick at the Park and admired the prospect stretching towards Kingsbury

and Hendon, expressing his satisfaction by a handsome compliment.

There is a story current that Mr. Bliss, the landlord of the Crown and Anchor, thought to exalt Harrow in the good King’s eyes by producing a local sprig of nobility, and therefore accosted His Majesty thus, ‘‘ The Duke of Dorset, Your Majesty.” The King, who expected to see an adult representative of the title, appeared surprised at seeing the youthful patrician whom Byron speaks of as Dorset, whose early steps with mine have strayed, Exploring every path of Ida’ shade." (Ed: This is a quote from Byron's poem To the Duke of Dorset").

There was no love lost between the townsfolk and the school. Tyerman in his book a History of Harrow School, 1324 – 1991 states that:

relations between Town and Gown were not always harmonious. The school generated considerable wealth for the local community: the cobbler, barber, draper, baker, tailor, confectioners, butcher and blacksmith. Leading beneficiaries included Mr Bliss, publican at the Crown and Anchor (locally known as the abode of Bliss). Harrovians caused resentment by their snobbery and bad manners, thefts, assaults and widespread poaching. One particularly sore point was the enclosure of Roxeth Common, part of which was to be used as the school’s cricket ground. The enclosure of the field provoked a pitched battle between boys and locals over which the masters had no control (or perhaps interest).” Source: ”A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991

Things came to a head after Dr Butler was appointed principal. After this, school fees were increased to the extent that the the locals could no longer afford to attend the school that their forebears had attended. What had begun as local charities were now the preserves of the sons of nobility and gentry. “By 1806 the parishioners had had enough. They held a meeting to discuss the operation of Lyons statutes. They believed they were being cheated of their rights of free education for their children and that the Funder’s intentions and his Statutes were being flagrantly abused by governors, staff and pupils. Their grievances were legal, educational, social and venal.” The full report is fascinating but it mentions specifically (from about page 180) “John Bliss who ran the Crown and Anchor pub” as being one of the strongest complainants. The author had little sympathy because he added that “financially, Harrow traders did well out of the school they disapproved of so greatly”. Source: ”A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991

Little known fact, the Crown and Anchor public house was the first official site of Harrow’s postal service (Don Walter A-Z of Harrow).  Graham, in his book about the life of Butler states that he, Butler, had "had raised (Harrow School)  from a broken-
down, ill disciplined, school of some sixty boys to a thronged, a carefully organised, and, (according to the requirements of the day,) a most efficient place of education."

So we know that the days of the pub were numbered. The school was expanding rapidly under the headmastership of Dr Vaughan. When a new library was proposed (to honour him after he left) about 1859, it was decided to build it where the Crown and Anchor was. So the new principal Dr Butler paid Bliss £100 from his own pocket and the pub moved to another building. Quote “just opposite ' Uncle Billy's ' house. His objections were squared by a cheaper outlay, an epigram on oXjSo? avo\fio<t. (Ed: this was in the text – I have no idea what it means!)" Source:  The Harrow life of Henry Montagu Butler online by Edward Graham.

 These are the houses opposite Uncle Billys.  Uncle Billy was the slang term for one of the headmasters.

Bliss is to turn out of the ' Crown and Anchor ' Sept. 2nd.  This I have in black and white, signed and attested. Poor old man, he was left in tears when he signed himself out of the house he had so long inhabited. His son, on the other hand, aged 19, is beyond measure delighted at removing, at the beginning of his professional career, into so incomparably superior a house. I have asked Lord Palmerston to lay the first stone, but he has not yet replied. If he fails, doubtless we can get Abp. Longley to handle the trowel, as he has promised to be here. . . .” Source: The Harrow Life of Henry Montagu Butler.

The demolition of the old ‘‘ Crown and Anchor,” together with Gustos’ house, may, as Harrow Notes suggests, have improved the appearance of the town. But, as we are not of the number who desire to see Harrow Haussmannised,” we hear with regret rather than satisfaction that such old landmarks have been removed. Possibly some of our readers who pass by the familiar ground on which the former hostelry stood, will recall the above-mentioned incident in Harrow history when occasion takes them back to the enchanted ground of early memory."      source: Harrow School and its surroundings


There is a good eyewitness story in Harrow School written by Edmund W Howson, Assistant Master at Harrow School and George Townsend 1898.  Source Harrow School

The Crown and Anchor, a public-house next to the schoolyard, was then in full swing, kept by one Bliss. This inn was pulled down many years ago, and the site is now the property of the school. The Crown and Anchor, though so near, perhaps because so near, the school, was never in my time a nuisance in the way of drink. It was the custom, whenever a fight was on in the milling-ground, for two pots of water and a lemon to be procured from this public-house.

Perhaps the greatest change has taken place in the space opposite the school, between the headmaster's house and the site of the chapel. What is now a lawn, in front of the Vaughan Library, was occupied by two shops, kept by Rowe, a saddler, and Foster, a baker, which were bounded by a narrow road or lane leading down to Angelo's fencing-room — formerly Webb's dancing-room — in which the speeches were delivered previous to the erection, in 1819, of the old Speech- room. Half-way down that road was the entrance to Bliss's stables; while on the other side of the same road was an old cottage occupied by old Gustos, the father of Sam Hoare, and reaching to the site of the present chapel. The head- master's stable was beyond the pond, now filled up, where Mr. Bushell's house now stands.”
















The principal tuck-shops frequented by the boys were those kept by Mrs. Parsons, on the right (before coming to Woodbridge's) of the street leading down to the cricket-ground; Jim Winkley's, next the Crown and Anchor; and Mrs. Winkley's, just beyond the King's Head. But Mrs. Parsons' was the shop at which we sat down for breakfast or dinner during the long period of Dr. H. Montagu Butler's headmastership, from January 1860 to August 1885, benefactions of all kinds — in land, in buildings, in scholarships, in prizes — flowed in freely and almost without interruption. In 1861 came the " Vaughan Library," in memory of the distinguished and beloved headmaster. It was erected on a site which belonged in part to the Governors, in part, on the side next to the chapel, to Mr. Clutterbuck, the owner of the Crown and Anchor public-house. In order to secure this northern part of the site, it was necessary to buy out Mr. Clutterbuck, by giving him another public-house at the top of the hill going down to the cricket-ground. Not till then was it possible to pull down the Crown and Anchor stables which adjoined the chapel. This preliminary operation involved an expenditure of nearly £3500. Other small houses, which fronted the street near the headmaster's house, were also cleared away. On Speech-day, 4th July 1861, the first stone of the Vaughan Library was laid by Viscount Palmerston, K.G., then Prime Minister."

So Clutterbuck owned the building and John Bliss had the business there.

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The Hill shop in Harrow-on-the-Hill in the nineteenth century. I found this in the alamy website ref 2A41WTM. A search of the census reveals no Crakins, so the artist probably used poetic license! I wonder if the columns on the right would be a hint as to where this was sketched?

The cart has milk churns - the Dixon's had a dairy just around the corner - this may well be a sketch of our own Dixons!!! Exciting!

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This page was helped by some excellent publications:

The Harrow Life of of Henry Montagu Butler DD; Edward Graham;  1903 Note that Graham started at Harrow school in 1851

Harrow School;  Edited by EW Howson and GT Warner; 1898

Handbook to Harrow; Ed T Smith; 1850

Harrow School and its surroundings; PM Thornton; 1885

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