Hidden behind a high wall away from the Stanmore town centre is a garden that sits on the site of an old Manor House.
The Manor House was built in 1930 by the local property developer Samuel Wallrock on the site of an older building, and done in a mock Tudor effect, and the gardens were also laid out in a similar style. The grounds included an alpine garden and caves based on those at Cheddar Gorge; apparently unusual for the time, mature trees were brought in to give the gardens a more mature appearance.
It seems that he intended to make the house self-sufficient with a small farm, and a row of buildings beside the gardens today are still known as the cowsheds.
Unfortunately for Mr Wallrock, he spent too lavishly and had to sell up after he was declared bankrupt. During WW2 the gardens were used for allotments and then the land was bought by Harrow Council and opened as a public park.
The high walls that bound the site, and give it an impression of being much older than it is date from the 19th century, but are listed and preserved.
Inside, the gardens are a curious mix of very municipal planting, alongside some impressive trees and decorative plants, and a newish looking pagoda in the middle. The old cottages on the far side add to the slightly air of the gardens as being much older than they are.
Some paths weave through the plant beds, and it has the odd air of being neglected, but is artificially so, as its actually managed by a local community group.
Although it sits on the former Manor House grounds, it’s named not after the Manor House, but takes its name from the Bernays family, of whom Leopold and later Stewart Bernays were rectors of Stanmore parish church, which is next door.
The old manor house still exists, and you can see its mock-tudor gatehouse just down the road — and considering that’s just the gatehouse, you can probably understand how building the house behind it bankrupted the owner.