The Park - History of the House

The House was opened in 1831 under the Revd WW Phelps with fourteen pupils. Early Park parents included the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and two Prime Ministers: the 4th Earl of Aberdeen and Sir Robert Peel.

Sir Robert Peel's (OH) sons included the first Harrovian VC, Captain Sir William Peel, who died in the Indian Mutiny. Other eminent Victorians include CS Calverley, the poet, whose principal feat at Harrow was to leap from the top of the Old School steps to the bottom in one bound; the 1st Earl of Lytton, Governor-General of India; the 1st Viscount Ridley, Home Secretary; Henry Yates Thompson, philanthropist and scholar who gave Harrow the Art Schools; and the 4th Earl Grey, Governor-General of Canada.

The wing containing 'Reader' was constructed in the mid-19th century as a pupil-room (i.e. classroom), but was converted into a library in the early 1920s as a war memorial to the Makant family. It is now the House's 'bill hall' where there is also television and table tennis. The wing was extended by the Revd FW Farrar (later Dean of Westminster and author of the celebrated school story Eric or Little by Little).

A wing with sixteen boys' rooms was built on the north side of Yarder in 1887 by Mr GH Hallam. More boys' rooms were added on the second floor in 1906 by Mr EM Butler and the distinctive Coade stone lion was moved to its present impressive site on the High Street from above the front door. Butler was the son and grandson of Head Masters of Harrow and his own son Guy (The Park 1913) went on to compete in three Olympics and win four medals.

In the 1930s Terence Rattigan (after whom the School's Dramatic Society is named) had Michael Denison as a 'fag'. The Park became known as 'the Scots house' after WH Stevenson, a Scottish rugby international, took over in 1942. The Park's close connection with the Hashemite Royal Family was founded with the arrival of Prince (later King) Hussein of Jordan and his younger brother Hassan, both of whom later sent sons to the House.

Old Parkites in the news include Pen Hadow who made history in 2003 by becoming the first man to walk solo and unsupported to the North Pole, a challenge described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as "the greatest endurance feat left on earth".

Former members of the House include:

Benedict Cumberbatch who starred in the successful BBC drama Hawking in which he played the eponymous professor, Stephen Hawking. He starred in To the End of the Earth, an adaptation of William Golding's Rites of Passage trilogy and has since featured in a number of Hollywood hit films. 

Esme Johnstone, founder of the Majestic Wine Warehouse, has been developing his vineyard at the Chateau de Sours where he dedicates himself to producing high quality wines. His rosé was described as "the best in the world" by the late Auberon Waugh.

The House was extensively refurbished in 1989-1990 when the southeast wing was added. All boys' rooms were re-furnished and all boys have been given new 'storage' beds and all rooms have been carpeted. A generous rolling programme in recent years has ensured that high standards of maintenance have been kept. The boys traditionally look after the House well and it is therefore possible to recognise that care with tangible rewards to enhance their facilities: for example, Sky TV connections, a volleyball net, a House barbecue, a drum kit and cold water dispenser have recently been purchased.

In the summer of 2005 a new museum celebrating over 175 years of Park life was opened in 'Reader'.

In 2006 the Upper Sixth were given a new Common Room ('Finds Room') with up-to-date facilities. The Lower Sixth obtained their own Common Room for the first time and the Computer Room and Music Rooms were relocated and upgraded.

A new cricket net was constructed in the garden in 2008 thanks to the generosity of parents and friends of the House.