For the first time in history, Harrow School rewound the clocks back to 1877, flung the doors open for an evening of games and food tasting. The 1877 Club presented a pop up event that based the evening’s concept on the victory of William Gore the Harrovian who won the first Lawn Tennis Championships.
Harrow School is an extremely famous public school and was founded in 1572 under a Royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I. The school has incredible architecture dotted across Harrow on the Hill and has been a place I’ve been curious to explore for some time.
We entered the War Memorial Building, which was glowing with green lights and ‘1877 Club’ projected across the great hall floor. The War Memorial Building holds an incredible amount of history, and luckily for us was open for the first time to the general public.
We explored the space and discovered the portico of the building has the name of every Harrovian who died in the First World War inscribed on it. In the Memorial the Harrovians that died in the Second World War were paid tribute to.
The incredible space was full of great history, flags lined the high ceilings and poppies adorned the floor honouring the fallen Harrovians.
We met a gentleman that explained how he had been influential in bringing tennis back to Harrow School. The staff were keen to share their knowledge about the evenings inspiration and explained that in 1877, the first Lawn Tennis Championship was held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in which William Gore proudly won the Gentleman’s singles.
Getting into the spirit of things we enjoyed ginger beer cocktails whilst we played croquette on real grass.
After the pre-match games we were taken through an impressive arched entrance, furnished with a grand clock placed on rich oak panelling. The staircase split into two sections forming staircases that swept up towards the Old Harrovian Room, with portraits of former Harovians that lined the staircase.
We entered the Old Harrovian Room that had been transformed into the first Lawn Tennis court with real grass laid throughout. The room was split into two sections with netting dividing the space and tennis memorabilia evident throughout.
Staff were dressed in tennis attire and the room had a relaxed ambience with sounds of the season playing in the background. The dramatic interior was lit with glowing lights highlighting the portraits of former Headmasters and adding a green glow to the room. At the top of the room was Christabel’s botanical bar serving delicious cocktail concoctions.
The tennis theme was tied together down to minute details such as grass matting table places, and to my excitement teeny tiny tennis players as centrepieces (see if you can spot them.)
The incredibly friendly staff talked us through the evening’s innovative dishes on our five course tennis-themed menu.
We began the evening with a bottle of champagne (always an excuse for bubbles) followed by green tomato gazpacho with creamy basil.
We soaked in our surroundings, and appreciated the rarity of being seated on real grass in such a historical room.
Next we indulged in a new twist of British dining; strawberry with toasted hazelnut, basil, Stilton and balsamic salad.
Then onto one of my favourite dishes beetroot cured smoked salmon accompanied with rocket honey and lemon.
The tastiest course was slow cooked chocolate soy and honey pork; served with figs, bean salad, smashed garlic potatoes and the most delicious wholegrain mustard to top it off.
Lastly but not least we indulged in salted caramel and raspberry tart served with lavender cream, lemon zest and mint that hit our sweet spot.
We were served cocktails sprinkled in glitter that left us ridiculously giddy and tasted amazing.
We couldn’t resist testing out the boys’ school hats, which we were desperate to hold onto as souvenirs, but refrained.
All the glitter went to our heads and we also participated in our own match games.
After our tasting feast we had a tour of the space, and discovered Queen Elizabeth I chair located at the foot of the room situated by the grand fireplace.
The beautifully upholstered throne hasn’t been sat on since Queen Elizabeth I and despite it’s age looked remarkably immaculate.
Then we explored the Alex Fitch Room one of the most fascinating spaces my interior eyes have witnessed.
The room was dedicated to Alex Fitch who was killed in war in 1918, aged 19. His parents provided the furniture and fittings for the Room, as they wanted it to be space for Harrow boys to meet their parents.
The gigantic interior had tremendously high ceilings and timber oak panelling cocooned the room as it wrapped the floors, walls and ceiling. The Alex Fitch room had countless historical pieces – many that we were not allowed to touch.
The fireplace was from Henry V and hung above was a portrait of Alex Fitch that is lighted night and day in his memory.
The stained glass windows are the only modern addition and were designed by Reginald Otto Bell.
Situated against the panelled walls were chairs with Harrovians names scribed, we spotted Winston Churchill’s chair amongst many others.
The panelling on the walls was carver oak that came from Brooke House Hackney where Queen Elizabeth I held court back in 1587.
The solid refectory table was from the Cromwellian era and was situated in the centre of the space spanning a vast length of the room.
The floors were made from teak timber provided from the famous St Vincent ship of the Royal Navy.
Lucky enough to explore the remarkable space we spent a long time admiring the historical setting.
The excitement may have lead to some rather funny role-play at the never-ending table.
We skipped down the steps, having soaked in an evening of incredible history, delicious feasting and plenty of games.
The first pop event was ace; keep your eyes peeled on Harrow Schools events to see what’s next in store.