Audio Walking Tour

The first of its kind in Harrow

Audio Walking Tour of Canons Park


The Friends of Canons Park have launched a free, professionally-produced audio walking tour of the park – situated on the borders of Edgware and Stanmore – outlining its fascinating history and heritage, thanks to a grant provided by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). The University of Oxford centre was created to encourage and support historical research projects in partnership with other academics, public and private institutions, and local communities and this is the first walking tour of a park that they have supported.  It is also the first walking tour of a Harrow park.
The tour is GPS-synced and can be downloaded directly to visitors’ phones, allowing them to follow the narrative around the grounds at their own pace.  It is led by Dr Aaron Graham, who was a lecturer in Early Modern British Economic History at UCL and who, as an ex-resident of the Canons Park Estate, drew on a decade of research into the colourful career of James Brydges, the first Duke of Chandos, and the history of the house and grounds that he developed as his ‘country seat’ in the early eighteenth century.
One of the era’s most noted collectors and connoisseurs, Chandos was a patron of Handel; an ally of the Duke of Marlborough; a leading financier who won and lost millions in the South Sea Bubble; and a major investor in the Royal African Company and its trade in slaves. Although the magnificent house that he built on the Edgware site was demolished in 1744, substantial parts of the grounds remain and are now a public park managed by Harrow Council, which works closely with the Friends of Canons Park, a voluntary association working to preserve and interpret the heritage for local residents and visitors from around the world.
The one-hour tour covers many aspects of life on the 500-acre estate, upon which Brydges lavished the equivalent of millions of pounds during the ten years of its development.  It focuses on Chandos as a collector and connoisseur of artworks, luxuries and exotic plants and animals from Europe and the Americas, highlighting the global heritage of Canons Park. It also explains how money from slavery supported the house, encouraging visitors to reflect on the legacies of Britain’s colonial past.
Wes Williams, Director at TORCH, says:
TORCH is excited to see – and hear! – the outcome of this Knowledge Exchange project. We had great hopes for this partnership between the university and the Friends of Canons Park thanks to Dr Graham’s careful, but adventurous stewardship. These hopes are richly realised in this freely available guided tour. Addressing a range of important questions and stories the project explores the rich and complex history of Canons Park, from collecting, connoisseurship, and courtly culture, through to finances, real ships, and the politics of empire and slavery. Both local and global in its scope, it serves as a case-study in how to disseminate new forms of historical research freely and in creative ways. We at TORCH would especially like to thank Dr Graham for his perseverance and resourcefulness in seeing this project through to completion, amid a global pandemic. We hope that Aaron’s Canons Park audio tour will evoke further discussion and reflection, and so inspire visitors wanting to find out more about the history of Canons Park, the Duke of Chandos, and the many others whose work and often untold stories contributed to the living history of this place.
The tour can be downloaded to most phones by installing the VoiceMap app ( and selecting Canons Park from the list of London walks offered.