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Grims Dyke, Harrow


Grim's Dyke features a mixture of woodland and formal gardens, occupying a site covering about 11 hectares. Sir William Gilbert later developed and extended the gardens, adding a sunken rose garden, in the late-19th to early-20th century. The house became a hotel in the later 20th century.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Gardens and pleasure grounds laid out in the 1870s as the setting to a private residence, developed and extended in the 1890s and early 1900s.



Grim's Dyke is situated to the north-west of Harrow Weald. The 11ha site lies to the north of the Old Redding road and Harrow Weald Common, which forms its southern boundary. To the east the grounds adjoin a further part of the Common; to the north is farmland. The OS map of 1877 shows the present boundaries of the site in place although the land was then still part of the Common.


A serpentine drive leads north from the gate piers between railings at the South Lodge (listed grade II), built in 1871 by Norman Shaw, at the south-east corner of the site. Passing through wooded pleasure grounds, this approach arrives at the yew-hedged court on the north front of the house. A second drive leads off the A409 to the east, passing across the Common and between New Lodge and North Lodge, behind which stand the stables, to join with the southern approach. To the east of the house is a tarmacked car-parking area.


The large, irregular house (listed grade II*) is in a modified Tudor style of two and three storeys. It is built of red brick and stone, with timber-framed gables, and is situated in the centre of the landscape.


To the south of the house lies a formal lawn surrounded by a low wall, with a yew hedge along the top of the retaining wall which forms its southern edge. A walk extends along the west side, beneath the west front of the house, to join with the flight of steps leading up from the entrance court. A second set of steps leads down through the balustraded flint and brick retaining walls to the sunken formal garden which lies to the north-west of the house. Presumably dating from the 1870s, the garden is laid out with a large circular bed at either end.

From the western end of the sunken garden, a yew-hedged walk leads to walks through the wooded pleasure grounds which surround the lake beyond. The lake was dug in 1900 under the personal supervision of Gilbert. A promontory with an artificial rockwork cascade juts into the northern end of the water while to the south the surface is broken by an island. Cibber's statue of Charles II, rescued from Soho Square, stood in the gardens during Goodall's time; it was returned to the Square in the 1930s.

The pleasure grounds are enclosed to west and north by the earthworks of Grim's Ditch (scheduled ancient monument), alongside the garden edge of which lies a long narrow canal formed by the damming of the brook at the bottom of the Ditch. This canal is crossed by two bridges, one from the north side of the sunken garden on an axis with the west terrace, the other, dated 1875 and with rockwork beneath, beyond the west end of the sunken garden. The bridges are said to incorporate fragments removed from Harrow on the Hill parish church during its restoration. Both carry paths leading to the kitchen garden.


Established in the 1870s, the kitchen garden is situated directly to the north of the Ditch. A modern (late C20) hotel annexe has been built within the garden walls. To the east of the kitchen garden are stables and outbuildings built for Gilbert.


Architecture 2, (1897), pp 355-368

The Reminiscences of Frederick Goodall, RA (1902)

International Architect 6, (1980), pp 45-47

A Goodman, Gilbert and Sullivan's London (1988)

B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 3 North West (1991), p 277


OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1877

2nd edition published 1897

3rd edition published 1920

Description written: March 1999

Edited: June 2001

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

020 8385 3100


M1 junction 5. A41/A409 to Old Redding M25 junction 19. A41/A409 to Old Redding


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


Frederick Goodall (1822-1904), artist, purchased about 40 hectares of the Harrow Weald estate from the Marquess of Abercorn in 1856. The land was subject to twelve remaining years of an existing lease, but Goodall obtained permission to plant nurseries of choice conifers and shrubs, particularly rhododendrons and hardy azaleas, as preparation for the development of the grounds.

In 1870-1871, Richard Norman Shaw started work on the house and it was at his request that the name of the property was changed to Graeme's Dyke. Goodall was 'particularly fond of gardening and flowers' and, on completion of the house 'laid out gardens for fruit and flowers, and moved the conifers to their final place' (Goodall 1902). He was responsible for 'laying out thirty acres of ground as a landscape garden', an exercise which he later described as 'the greatest spell of relaxation I ever enjoyed'.

In 1880, Goodall sold the property to a banker, Robert Heriot, who in turn sold it in 1890 to the dramatist W S Gilbert (d 1911, by drowning in the lake). Gilbert changed the name back to Grim's Dyke and, in about 1890-1891, called in the firm of Ernest George & Harold Peto to alter and extend the house. The house became a sanatorium in the 1930s and is currently (1996) an hotel and restaurant.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD 2268
  • Grade: II
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: Grims Dyke
  • Grade: II*
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: South Lodge
  • Grade: II

Plant Environment

  • Environment
  • Woodland Garden


  • Croquet Lawn
  • Boating Lake
  • Greenhouse
  • House (featured building)
  • Now Hotel
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Plant Environment


Principal Building






Open to the public