Screen walls, terraces, retaining walls, balustrades, garden steps and rotunda to former Canons House, now North London Collegiate School


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1079737

Date first listed: 25-May-1983

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Mar-2018

Statutory Address: North London Collegiate School, Canons, Canons Drive, Edgware, HA8 7RJ


Ordnance survey map of Screen walls, terraces, retaining walls, balustrades, garden steps and rotunda to former Canons House, now North London Collegiate School
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Statutory Address: North London Collegiate School, Canons, Canons Drive, Edgware, HA8 7RJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Harrow (London Borough)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: TQ1818391974, TQ1821191883


Screen walls, terraces, retaining walls, balustrades, garden steps and rotunda to former Canons House, now North London Collegiate School, about 1912 by C E Mallows.

Reasons for Designation

Screen walls, terraces, retaining walls, balustrades, garden steps and rotunda to former Canons House, now North London Collegiate School, about 1912 by C E Mallows are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* graduated terraced gardens, reflecting Mallows' skill in integrating a house, gardens and park, using monumental architectural forms and a range of materials that are both historicist and forward looking.

Historic interest:

* an important historic site, which has seen a sequence of major houses and their landscapes, by leading architects and designers, for eminent clients. Group value:

* with the mansion, Canons House (Grade II) and the registered landscape, Canons Park (Grade II).


In its present form, Canons House, now the core of the North London Collegiate School, dates from the late C18, and was remodelled by C E Mallows in 1912. Attached to it are extensive school buildings (not included in the listing), added by the architect Sir Albert Richardson in 1937-40 after the school acquired Canons Park in 1929, and extended in the later C20.

Historically, the land was owned by the London church of St Bartholomew the Great until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Losse family, who built a new house within the manor. In 1604 the estate was bought by Sir Thomas Lake, Clerk of the Signet to Queen Elizabeth I and Secretary of State to James I, who in 1606-1608 built a new mansion on the current site, to designs by the eminent Jacobean architect John Thorpe.

The estate remained in their hands until 1709, when it was bought by James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, and it was under his aegis that the house and landscape were enhanced. Thorpe’s house was demolished to create an opulent Baroque palace, built in 1713-1724, the early phases from 1716-1719 attributed to James Gibbs, and completed by John Price, with lavish interiors by leading exponents of the day including James Thornhill and William Kent. The palace sat within a park of some 400 acres, where the grounds were laid out by Kent and by Alexander Blackwell, as a series of radiating avenues and allées, intersecting rond points, water features and formal planting, said to be inspired by the Palace at Versailles.

The scheme was short-lived. On Chandos’ death in 1744 the estate was of necessity sold; by 1753 the house had been demolished and the contents were dispersed before Thomas Hallett replaced it with a smaller, four-square two-storey house which forms the basis of the current building. His successor, Sir Thomas Plumer, Solicitor–General and later Master of the Rolls employed Humphry Repton in about 1805 to work on the park, the results captured in a contemporary view of about 1805. C19 Ordnance Survey maps describe the footprint of the building, and the evolution of the pleasure grounds and park, which included a large lake, relics of the C18 formal, axial avenues, a walled garden to the south-west and a home farm or stable yard to the west, the latter now part of the school.

In the early C20, the new owner, Sir Arthur Phillip du Cros, founder and president the Dunlop Rubber Company, made significant changes to the house and grounds, selling off part of the park for residential development in what was a growing suburb, linked by an expanding network of public transport to central London. In 1912 he employed the Arts and Crafts architect and garden designer C E Mallows to alter and enlarge the house, creating a new entrance on the south-west elevation, and adding a service wing to the north-west of the house. As part of the scheme Mallows designed the flanking screen wall and formal terraced garden that wraps round the house, reinforcing the historic north-south axis and view southwards. Extending northwards from the house he created a formal sunken garden, flanked to the west by what appears to have been an orangery, and by a kitchen court. The footings of earlier service buildings were adapted by Mallows to create a symmetrical approach to the house, recorded on the OS map of 1935, but were later altered when the school hall was erected, while classrooms were built against the formal garden.

The estate was further reduced in the 1920s and 1930s, with more parkland sold for development or to the local authority, who, after the Second World War developed land as the public Canons Park that exists today.

The North London Collegiate School acquired the mansion and approximately 10 acres of land in 1929, at first moving some pupils from their school in Camden, north London, before fully relocating to Canons Park. The eminent architect A E Richardson (1880-1964) was first employed to design a new school hall and three-storey classroom block, attached to the northern end of the house and overlooking the pond to its north-west. In 1957 he designed the small freestanding Art School, also overlooking the pond. His first designs for the school were in a grand Beaux Arts tradition, and more elaborate than the executed scheme, which is an example of his refined neoclassically-inspired work of the inter-war period, and perhaps of necessity reduced in scale and simplified to meet the budget and circumstances of impending war.

The school continues to develop, adapting existing estate buildings and adding new stock. The buildings include the Music School (1971) and Headmistress' House (1977) both by John O'Neilly, a pupil of Richardson. None of these buildings are included in the listing.

Charles Edward Mallows (1864-1915) studied at the Bedford School of Art and after several apprenticeships, including one at the offices of William Wallace and William Flockhart, set up his own practice in London. After travelling and producing measured drawings of English and French cathedrals, which won him the RIBA Pugin travelling scholarship in 1889, he returned to Bedford where he opened an office with George Grocock in 1895. Mallows also designed garden ornaments and pergolas for The Pyghtle Works, the acclaimed joinery firm for whom Lethaby and Bailie Scott designed furniture. Mallows is rightly acknowledged as an architect who equally could turn his hand to Baroque civic and commercial buildings and Arts and Crafts domestic buildings. He is known for his commissions for integrated schemes for houses and gardens, the first at King’s Corner in Biddenham, Bedfordshire of 1898, followed by Three Gables, also in Biddenham (house listed at Grade II, garden registered at Grade II) for his future father-in-law, and where Mallows lived from 1905 until his death in 1915. He is perhaps best known for the Arts and Crafts house and garden at Tirley Garth, Willington, Cheshire West and Chester, which he designed and built from 1906, (house listed at Grade II* and garden registered, at Grade II*).

A E, later Sir Albert, Richardson, PRA (1880-1964) was a leading C20 architect, artist, historian and teacher who is remembered for his writings as well as for his creative fusion of tradition and modernity. He trained in the offices of the architects Leonard Stokes and Frank T Verity before setting up in partnership with Charles Lovett Gill, one of Verity’s assistants, from 1919-1939. From 1945 he worked in partnership with Eric Houfe. Influenced by both the classical Beaux Arts and Arts and Crafts traditions, he had a particular interest in the pared-down neoclassical architectural language of the early C19, especially the work Sir John Soane, and in the Edwardian rediscovery of Neoclassicism, which made him an appropriate choice of architect for new work at the North London Collegiate School. As head of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London for 27 years his influence was considerable, while he was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal for Architecture in 1947, served as President of the Royal Academy from 1954-1956, and was knighted in 1956. A number of his buildings are listed, notably Bracken House, City of London of 1955-1958, listed at Grade II*.


Terraced formal gardens, about 1912 by C E Mallows

MATERIALS: Portland stone, red brick, coursed stone rubble, stone flags, plaintile and concrete.

PLAN: immediately to the south of the entrance front to the house is a Corinthian screen in Portland stone, with gateways to the garden to each side. A screen wall reached by steps encloses the terrace to the south of, and framing the main western approach to the house before opening up to a loggia to the south-west. A broad terrace contained on the south and west by a bastion-like retaining wall wraps round the south and east fronts, descending via steps to the park below, and originally on the southern axis to the rotunda at the head of the formal gardens. Screen walls, terraces and steps

The Corinthian screen is in three bays with a robust moulded cornice, and abuts lower garden walls and entrances to each side. The screen wall is of bands of red brick with a stone balustraded parapet. Gateways are of alternating courses of stone and stone rubble; the central gateway is round-arched and rises above the parapet. On the northern side the screen wall stands on terraced banks with coursed stone rubble retaining walls and stone flag and brick paving, served by flights of stone steps, and has a semicircular stone basin built against the principal gateway.

The terrace is enclosed to the south-west by an open loggia set on the curve, of paired piers of alternating stone and rubble bands. Stone flag paths lead from the principal entrances, between retaining walls and low parapet walls. These are in coursed rubble stone or coursed tile, with moulded stone copings or stone balustrades, and set on a concrete base; steps are in stone flags with tile coursing. The former axial pond has been filled in, for safety. Lawns replace planted beds. A central stair descends southwards on the main axis to the outer buttressed retaining wall. Here splayed stairs descend between a curved bastion framed by coursed stone and rubble stone piers and stepped parapet walls. On the east front there are straight flights of steps at either end of terraced walks and beds, terminating at each end in an alcove.

Rotunda, also 1912 by C E Mallows, but probably incorporating earlier fabric.

MATERIALS: Portland stone and other limestone, with an iron cupola

PLAN: an open-sided Tuscan rotunda raised on a shallow stone plinth. Aligned on the southern axis beyond the terrace, originally within the formal gardens, where it was enclosed by low hedges, but now at the rear of a tennis court, the Tuscan rotunda is part of the ensemble, terminating the view from the house and forming an eyecatcher at the head of the avenue.

EXTERIOR: the rotunda, formed of a Tuscan colonnade, stands on a three-stepped stone base with inset lozenge panels in different stone beneath the centre. The columns are on tall bases and between each, and set on the curve, is a stone seat, again in a different stone, supported centrally by a carved, stone console bracket. The outer face of each seat is incised with a series of panels resembling strapwork, enriched with floral designs. It is surmounted by a slender iron cupola with enriched curvilinear panels on the section facing the house and on the raised central motif.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 201993

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 3 North West, (2002), 297-8
Houfe, S, Wilton-Ely, J, Powers, A, Sir Albert Richardson 1880-1964, (1999)
ODNB Sir Albert Richardson, accessed 22.01.2018 from
Canons Park, Country LIfe, Oct 28 1916 p 518-25
Ian Dunlop, Cannons [sic], Middlesex, A Conjectural Reconstruction, Country Life, December 30 1949
North London Collegiate School, Edgware, the Builder, November 21 1941, 458-465

End of official listing