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St John's School Hillingdon
Summary: St John's School is located in the grounds of a spectacularly-sited villa, Potter Hill House, which was built in 1924 and had ornamental gardens. The school moved here from Pinner in 1970 and although part of the original Arts & Crafts-style garden remains near the main building, some of the earlier landscaping has been lost to playing fields and school buildings and there is some encroachment by residential development on the north-west. The school acquired additional land in 1990, used for environmental study as well as sports, and is planting a Jubilee Wood in 2012.
Previous / Other name: Potter Hill House
Site location: Potter Street Hill, Northwood
Postcode: HA6 3QY > Google Map
Type of site: Institutional Grounds
Date(s): 1924; 1970s
Listed structures:
Borough: Hillingdon
Site ownership: Merchant Taylors' Educational Trust
Site management: St John's School
Open to public? No
Opening times: private
Special conditions:
Public transport: Tube: Northwood, Northwood Hills (Metropolitan). Bus: 347, 348, H13 (walk)
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

St John's School, an independent preparatory school for boys, was founded in Pinner in 1920 by Claude Norman, when just 5 boys were taught and the school room was in the vicarage of St John's Church Pinner (q.v.). From 1927-1970 the school was at Barrow Point House in Paines Lane, but the site was too small to allow development, particularly for outdoor activities. The then headmaster, Peter Norman, son of the school's founder, learnt that Potter Hill House was up for auction with 30 acres of land and successfully negotiated to buy this before the auction took place. The school moved here in 1970, the main school building facing south with fine views over London. Various facilities were added in the 1970s and '80s, including a gym, science building and new hall, with ground levelled for rugby fields and the lower terrace of the earlier gardens levelled for a cricket pitch.

In 1984 St John's School was taken over by the Merchant Taylors' Company Educational Trust and since then numerous developments have taken place to provide new school facilities. In 1990 an area of grass and woodland to the north was acquired that now provides opportunities for ecological and environmental study. A Nature Trail has been laid out and there are a number of ponds in the school grounds, and also bee-hives, and the school has a Gardening Club. As part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in 2012 St John's is planting a Jubilee Wood on the western boundary of the school grounds, to include rowan, silver birch, hazel and blackthorn, and in all 400 trees are being planted, one for each pupil. In 2006 an all-weather playing surface was laid out on what had been the top terrace and in 2007 the school playing fields were improved.

Although the lower part of the earlier garden was levelled for the cricket pitch, some formal gardens remain near the main building, consisting of an upper terrace of Arts and Crafts-style enclosures in yew with paved walks, pools and steps. Ornamental arches in the form of simple lintels on columns look relatively recent, but paving and hedging is 1920s; a paved path leads south to ponds joined by a cascade and through the remains of a wild garden, with laurel, rhododendron etc. to a tennis court.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); History section on St John's School website
Grid ref: TQ105915
Size in hectares: 14.2
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes (part)
Green Belt: Yes
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:

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