Turn right off a quintessentially dull suburban parade of shops and 1930s houses, down a lane past the scrapyard and the playing fields, and there is something so bizarre it seems a hallucination: a medieval manor house, still surrounded by a moat and flanked by its tithe barn, as it has been for almost 700 years.
Headstone Manor is a treasure that most outsiders have never known and most people in the Middlesex suburb of Harrow had forgotten. "Secular buildings of this date are extremely rare anywhere," said Stephen Brindle, an ancient monuments inspector for English Heritage. "To find it surviving here is quite extraordinary." Half a lifetime ago the timber-framed 1310 hall was about to fall to bits: it was stripped of roof tiles, floors and plaster down to a skeletal frame, then wrapped in scaffolding and corrugated plastic. English Heritage offered a grant for restoration, and the local heritage trust raised £50,000, but the rest of the money could not be found. The building, designated a scheduled ancient monument, remained wrapped up for over 20 years.
Have to go all the way to the bottom to find the MYSTERY: Many windows buried in later building work re-emerged, including a little one under the roof of the hall which our photographer found standing open. It was no surprise to project manager Ian Wilson: when the window was reinstated the last worker to leave the site at night would carefully close it - but the first to arrive would find it open. Spooks!
A short description of the manor house (with pictures) can be found here.