Inventory Site Record

Harrow District Masonic Centre, formerly Northwick Circle (Brent)

Brief Description

Northwick Circle was laid out as part of the Northwick Park Estate developed by Captain E G Spencer-Churchill, who had inherited the Kenton estate in 1912. The opening of 2 stations provided an incentive to Spencer-Churchill's plans to develop an estate of high class residences, with a tennis and social club as the focal point. Although 3 roads were laid out by 1914, the estate was not built until the 1920s/30s, and was less ambitious than planned. The Palaestra was built as the estate's social and sports club in 1923, set in 5 acres of grounds at Northwick Circle. In 1953 it became the home of the Harrow District Masonic Society, and remains set in a pleasant grassed area with scattered trees and shrubs.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
The Palaestra
Site location:
Northwick Circle, Kenton
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
private, but landscaped area is visible from surrounding roads
Special conditions:
Public transport:
London Overground/Tube (Bakerloo): Kenton; Northwick Park (Metropolitan). Bus: 114, 183, 223, H9, H10, H18, H19
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. https://hdmc.org.uk/ 



Full Site Description

The Kenton area was in the Manor of Harrow, which from 1630 had been owned by the Rushout family, who acquired the Barony of Northwick in 1797. Up until the C20th much of the land remained in agricultural use. Northwick Circle was laid out as part of the Northwick Park Estate developed in Kenton by Captain Edward George Spencer-Churchill (1876-1964), who had inherited the Kenton estate in 1912 following the death of his grandmother, widow of the 3rd Lord Northwick (d.1887). Two new stations opened in the area in 1912, providing an incentive to suburban development here. Spencer-Churchill's aim was to develop his Northwick Park estate as high class residences with a tennis and social club as the focal point. He put up his land for development prior to WWI and although three roads were laid out by 1914, the estate was not built until the late 1920s /early 30s and was less ambitious than the original plans.

It was laid out as a geometric pattern of streets radiating from Northwick Circle, in the centre of which The Palaestra was built in 1923, forming the focal point and the estate's social and sports centre. The suburban estate of mock-Tudor houses was predominantly built by F & C Costin, who were the major developers around the Circle, and many of the road names were taken from villages close to Spencer Churchill’s country seats at Northwick Park, Blockley and Gloucester. The Palaestra sports club was the venue for the Brent Junior Lawn Tennis Championships; tennis player Betty Nuttall played here, as did Fred Perry in the 1930s. The club was an active centre for numerous social activities and after the war the Circle Car Club was set up, among whose members were many former members of the tennis and social club. Hence it 'lived on' as a car club into a second generation. 

In 1953 it had been sold to the Freemasons and opened in 1954 as the home of the Harrow District Masonic Society. Planning permission was granted so that the building could be adapted for its new use; one of the squash courts was converted into a meeting room and the tennis courts were covered for a car park. New meeting rooms were built in 1966. The surrounding landscape is a pleasant grassed area with scattered trees and shrubs set in lawn, now with a car park on part of the site, and not publicly accessible. In the Harrow District Masonic Society grounds is at least one tree planted in memory to a senior Mason. 

Freemasonry has a long history in the Harrow area. Harrow Lodge itself was formed in 1870, but there are records of a Lodge being held at the Chandos Arms in Edgware as early as the 1720s. Prior to the Centre being created at Northwick Circle, Lodges met in local pubs and other establishments prepared to provide suitable facilities. Eastcote and Bentley Priory Lodges met at the Rest Hotel in Kenton, with the latter holding its Committee Meetings at Stanmore Golf Club. Harrow on the Hill Lodge met at the Kings Head Hotel on the Hill, which was formerly King Henry VIII's Hunting Lodge. Abercorn Lodge met at the Abercorn Arms, an old coaching house that has stood on Stanmore Hill for more than 170 years. The Greenhill Lodge met at Bridges School, which is now the site of the Harrow Civic Centre. Northwood Lodge met at Denville Hall, the Aged Actors Home in Northwood. With the growing urbanisation of the area in the C20th, Freemasonry developed rapidly. A dedicated Masonic Centre was needed and a group of keen masons met in July 1944 with the object of finding a suitable site and to launch an appeal to raise the sum of £30,000 for the project.

In addition to looking after the Lodges, Chapters, and other organisations, the Centre welcomes non-masonic functions such as anniversary parties, engagement parties, weddings (the ceremony and reception), henna parties, pre-wedding receptions, children's parties, meetings, seminars and funeral wakes/prayer meetings.

Sources consulted:

'Places in Brent: Kenton' (Brent Council, Grange Museum of Community History and Brent Archive, n.d.); 'Northwick Circle Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan' (LB Brent, Planning Service, March 2006); information kindly provided by Andrew Lewis regarding family connections with the social and tennis club and the Circle Car Club.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ171883 (517160,188360)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Brent
Site management:
leased to Harrow District Masonic Society
F & C Costin
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

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:
Conservation Area name:
Northwick Circle
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Harrow District Masonic Centre, formerly Northwick Circle

Northwick Circle, June 2001. Photo: S Williams

Northwick Circle, June 2001. Photo: S Williams
N.J.C. Club House, Northwick Circle, 1930s. Courtesy of Brent Archives

Click a photo to enlarge.

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