This coming Saturday will offer you a chance to walk on the roof of a church and see the exceptional views across North London.

St Mary’s Church is in Harrow on the Hill, and actually at the top of the hill next to Harrow School, and there’s been a church on the site for over 900 years. The current church and spire date from 1450, and heavily restored/modified in the 1840s.

The church opens up the spire and roof a few times a year, and the first open day of the year is Saturday 29th April.

Like all good church towers, it’s accessed via a very narrow spiral staircase of the sort that you need to check if anyone is coming the other way before you ascend as there’s no space to pass each other on the steps.

I happened to be in Harrow last year when there was an open day, and with barely an hour to spare, and a run to the nearest cashpoint to pay, I was able to go up just to the belfry and the bell ringing tower.

And then gingerly wobbled onto the roof. I will admit to the unreasonable fear that I would slide down the sides and over the edges, despite the stone wall along the side and that no one else was falling over. I was wearing office-style shoes though — had I been wearing trainers or boots with decent grips on the soles, I would have probably been fine.

So that’s a tip for you – wear shoes with good grips on the soles.

On my visit, due to lack of time, I was unable to go to the top of the tower for the views from there as well.

The church will have its open day this coming Saturday, 29th April from 1pm to 4pm

  • Admission to tower and roof – free
  • Admission to tower, roof and belfry £5 (no children)
    Admission to tower, roof, belfry, spire and the view from the top of the tower £10 (no children)

I’d recommend bringing cash as they couldn’t take card payments last year. If you forget cash, there’s a Natwest cashpoint in the town, just before the triangle green.

If you can’t visit this Saturday, they’re likely to have another spire open day in June for their annual summer fete.

The church is about a 15 minute walk up a steep hill from Harrow on the Hill station.

St. Mary’s CofE Church,
Church Hill,


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  1. C Ford says:

    It’s worth noting that there will also be a cafe open at the church on the day! We’ll be serving hot & cold drinks, cakes, snacks and lunches throughout the day – all proceeds go to raise money to restore and repair teh iconic St Mary’s spire and church.

    Look out for the signs for ‘Spire Cafe’, and please do check out our website –
    Or our Twitter – @SpireCafe.

  2. Judith Shepherd says:

    Thanks for this fantastic write up, Ian. I am the Communications officer for St Mary’s Harrow on the Hill and am delighted you have highlighted our beautiful roof and Spire to your readers..As well as the Spire Cafe we also have a wonderful concert at 7.30pm. You are right the tower will be open again for visitors June 17th as part of our Summer Fete. Can we refer to your article on our website?

    • Dipti says:

      Hello, is there any reason why children aren’t allowed? My son is 8 years old and would love to come along with me.

  3. Judith SHEPHERD says:

    Yes Dipti–It’s quite a steep roof-so children are too much at risk.

  4. Richard Stewart says:

    Grew up in Northwood Hills until 1977, both sides of family going back 2 generations and aunts/uncles/cousins (beginning of 1920s) South Harrow, West Harrow, Rayners Lane, South Ruislip. Visited spire in the early 70s and long walk up Roxborough Park Rd when growing up in Northwood Hills (around 1973) and remember looking out over London and surrounding suburbs, old Wembley Stadium and London skyline early 70s. Also remember the spire with red light on top from Hawkins Crescent (long gone), iconic above the houses when small along with South Harrow Gasometer with NO on the side, will be visiting again from Dorset.

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