Spotlight on Stanmore
The quiet suburb of Stanmore sits between Edgware and Bushey in north-west London, 14 miles from the centre of town. Close to junction 4 on the M1, it is also the last stop on the Jubilee line with direct Tube trains to London Bridge and Canary Wharf offering the big advantage of a seat on the morning train.
On the edge of London, Stanmore is blessed with acres and acres of beautiful commons and ancient beech woods, which at this time of the year are carpeted with bright orange and yellow autumn leaves.
Large mansions feature prominently in Stanmore’s history. Between 1713 and 1724, the First Duke of Chandos built Cannons, the most expensive house of its day. He employed a succession of famous architects and Handel was the resident composer for a few years.
But it didn’t last; the family lost a fortune in the South Sea Bubble financial crash and less than 30 years later the 2nd Duke of Chandos conducted a fire sale of the house’s contents and architectural features, leaving it a ruin.
Today, a more modest house built by a subsequent owner is occupied by the North London Collegiate School, a prestigious private girls’ school.
Stanmore Hall on the corner of Stanmore Hill and Wood Lane is a Victorian gothic mansion with interiors by William Morris & Co. It has featured in many films and TV series and when it was converted into flats 15 years ago there were rumours that Tom Cruise, his then wife Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio had bought flats there.
Now the latest chapter in the story of Stanmore’s mansions is unfolding. Bentley Priory is a magnificent house that was remodelled by Sir John Soane in 1788. Hidden away in the middle of 57 acres of grounds off The Common, it was occupied by the RAF as a non- flying station from 1936 to 2008.
The Battle of Britain was planned here and a Spitfire and a Hurricane bomber sit incongruously on the lawn in front of the house. Now the house has been converted into exclusive and expensive flats, and a Battle of Britain museum in the officers’ mess opens next year.
Stanmore has Georgian houses and cottages, large Twenties and later detached houses, Thirties detached houses and bungalows, and modern flats built over the past 20 years.
The area attracts: Stanmore is popular with Jewish and Asian families and strong family ties keep people here, with around eight in 10 buyers coming from the Stanmore locality.
Renting: Robert Preston of letting agents Preston Bennett & Stone says the Stanmore rental market caters for allcomers, from the shelf-stacker at Sainsbury’s renting a one-bedroom flat for £850 a month to the chief executive of a major company renting a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house in one of the best roads for about £5,000 a month.
Postcodes: most of Stanmore falls into the Harrow postcode HA7, although some parts of the Canons Park area are in the HA8 Edgware postcode.
Best road: Priory Drive is Stanmore’s millionaires’ row. The most expensive home for sale in Stanmore is in this road, where estate agents Preston Bennett is selling a four-bedroom detached house for £3.25 million. The Common and the Aylmer Drive estate are almost equally desirable.
What’s new: the Grade I-listed mansion at Bentley Priory is being converted by developer City & Country (020 8954 5959 and Preston Bennett (020 8954 0044) into 13 flats, with 12 flats and villas in the adjoining buildings. Prices range from £575,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £840,000 for a two-bedroom flat. Barratt (020 8950 5079) is building 93 new homes in the grounds; there will be a combination of semi-detached houses, mews houses and flats.
The latest phase has four-bedroom houses starting at £1.85 million. In a later stage Banner Homes will build seven large detached houses, which will sell for about £5 million each.
Stanmore Place (020 8952 2853) is a large mixed-use development of offices and nearly 800 new homes (200 affordable) with one-, two- and three-bedroom flats on Honeypot Lane close to Canons Park station. Prices in Madeleine Court start at £235,000 for a one-bedroom flat. Shared-ownership flats are available through A2 Dominion (020 8825 1000).
Up and coming: the Laing Estate, west of Honeypot Lane, has roads of mainly Thirties semi-detached houses, which sell for between £300,000 and £400,000. Lee Martin of Preston Bennett says these roads are Stanmore’s bread and butter, but says they also offer scope for imaginative extensions.
Schools: almost all of Stanmore’s primary schools are judged “outstanding” by Ofsted, as are the two comprehensive schools: Bentley Wood High (girls ages 11 to 18) in Bridges Road and Park High (co-ed ages 11 to 18) in Thistlecroft Gardens. North London Collegiate School, known as NLCS, (girls ages four to 18) in Canons Drive is one of the country’s leading private girls’ day schools and the Haberdashers’ Aske’s girls’ and boys’ schools (both ages four to 18) in nearby Elstree are also popular.
Peterborough & St Margaret’s (girls ages three to 16, with boys in the nursery) is in Common Road. Harrow School (boys ages 13 to 18) in Harrow on the Hill is a top boys’ boarding school.
Shops and restaurants: Stanmore’s shopping centre is clustered around The Broadway and Marsh Lane. There is a Sainsbury’s, a Lidl, a lovely old-fashioned Jewish bakery called Yosi’s, and a number of smart shoe shops and boutiques. There is a Pizza Express and a Prezzo.
Open space: Stanmore is in good walking country with the open spaces and woodland of three local nature reserves: Stanmore Common, Stanmore Country Park and Bentley Priory. Canons Park is on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Leisure and the arts: the Grim’s Dyke Hotel is a favourite wedding venue — the former home of Sir William Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, it puts on regular performances of their light operas.
Aspire, in Wood Lane, is a rehabilitation centre for people with spinal injuries and is linked to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Wood Lane. It has a swimming pool open to the public. Canons Sports Centre is the North London Collegiate School’s swimming pool and leisure centre, open to the public after school hours. Golf is popular, with two clubs: Stanmore Golf Club in Gordon Avenue and Hartsbourne Country Club in Bushey Heath.
Travel: Stanmore and Canons Park are on the Jubilee line; both are in Zone 5. An annual travelcard costs £1,992.
Council: Harrow (Labour-controlled). Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,493.27.
Renting in Stanmore
One-bedroom flat: £900 to £1,100 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £1,100 to £1,500 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,100 to £1,400 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,400 to £1,700 a month
Four-bedroom house: £1,800 to £2,500 a month
Five-bedroom-plus house: £2,750 to £5,000 a month
Source: Preston Bennett & Stone
Fun facts for Stanmore: highest value streets