The two final destination of this article follows the Metropolitan Line, one is St, John the Baptist church, this time in Pinner and the other is St Mary`s Harrow-on-the-Hill.

On the way to the church we can also find a pub called The Queen`s Head and is said to be Pinner`s oldest inn built in the 16th century. What a tiny little gem to discover on the edges of London...

The old church in Pinner has to some extent a country-churchyard feeling, in the foreground it is reasonably tiny, and it has a large, pyramid-like monument, which is very attractive for the eyes.

Near the church`s main entrance, there are some 17th century black gravestones, with a family crest on them, most of them belonging to the Clitherow family.

In the backyard there is a small memorial garden and further old gravestones, placed next to each other just in front of the wall. At the time of my visit, the church tower was renovated, which somehow spoilt the picture of the church itself with its scaffolding. However, the view in the churchyard was as enjoyable as if there hadn`t been any scaffolding there. Even some calming organ music could be heard from the church, where one of the organist was practising, and coupling this with the view of this small churchyard on a quiet summer Sunday, when the shadows of the graves were lying in such a symmetry on the green grass, with all the by-gone memories of the once-lived people of Pinner, that was just a touch of divine.





 
  My last stop in this article is Harrow-on-the-Hill`s parish church, called St Mary`s. Harrow is not just the home of one of England`s most famous public school, Harrow School, but it has this lovely  11th century church up on the hill, whose tower can be seen from far even from the trains approaching or leaving Harrow-on-the-Hill station.

  The church, and more importantly, the churchyard, was frequented by Byron, the famous English romantic poet, who was studying at the neighbouring Harrow School. He loved spending time in the churchyard with quiet meditation and he wrote down his reflection is countless poems. One of them can be read on a memorial plaque at a grave which was his favourite (the so-called “Peachy Tomb”).

  He loved the views of London from the hill, and it is still breathtaking today (with views to some parts of central London and the Canary Wharf area) though in Byron`s time there were far less houses and more open green space.

  Yes, Byron loved pondering at this spot in this graveyard, and we can read the following in one of his poem written here two hundred years ago:

  “...Mine eyes admire, mine heart adores thee still3. It could be interpreted as a love confession, but actually it is said it was written to the beauty of Harrow-on-the-Hill. Whichever it is, earthly and spiritual love were actually the same thing in the poet`s heart. For me personally it is the expression of the passing moment and also of the eternal which stands still after so many changes. The object/person the poet admires might not be the same or might not exist anymore at all. And this has a sense of melancholy that gives an extraordinary beauty to this single line.

  Byron so much loved this churchyard that for a while he wanted to be interred here, though after his death in the Greek war of Independence, his wish was not taken into consideration and now he is resting at St Mary Magdalene church in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. However, his illegitimate daughter, Allegra, who died in infancy while in Italy, is buried in this churchyard, near to the main entrance of the church. A small plaque can be found bearing her name. It was erected by the Byron Society. At the end, we could say, a piece of Byron is buried here...

  The churchyard has also modern extension, with late 19th and 20th century graves in a wooded area as we descend towards the plain field where we can get a better view of the endless row of houses and of Wembley Arena, and one section in the churchyard is designated to cremation urn burials.

  Leaving Byron`s invisible spirit pondering until eternity over his favourite spot, and thus descending from the hill back to the rushy Harrow-on-the-Hill station, we can gaze out on the window of the train and the tower of this peaceful “ivory castle” looms once more before the train whooshes with us towards the next station.





  The train might have a next station, but our little walk however won`t have more in this North London churchyard tour.

  After all, we can feel that we have been enriched spiritually by trying to meditate on our relative being here while walking amongst many ancestors of ours, trying to imagine their lives, their struggles, their dreams. When doing this, we might have become closer to understand our existence, as these places teaches us, Gloria mundi transit4, the world`s glory passes and all what we have left are the things which cannot rot under the dumb gravestones, but which shine through the beams in a Sunday afternoon.

Notes
1
from Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
2
according to Nikolaus Pevsner (British art historian)
3
from Byron, Lines written beneath an Elm in the churchyard of Harrow
4 “Sic transit Gloria mundi”, an expression used in the inaugurations of the Roman Catholic Popes from the 15th till the 20th century

 

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