Initially called Norwood Lodge, Norwood Hall was designed by Sir John Soane for John Robins and built in 1801-3. Later occupants, the Unwin family, made alterations to the house. It had extensive grounds, including a walled garden and orchards, with pleasure gardens laid out in mid-Victorian gardenesque style separated from the grazing lands by a ha-ha. From the 1920s all but 19 acres of the estate were sold off for housing development and in 1945 the Unwins sold the house and remaining land to Middlesex County Council. In 1955 it became Norwood Hall Institute of Horticultural Education, instructing students in both theory and practice of gardening, with plants grown on 2 acres of the site. It later became part of Ealing Tertiary College. The site was purchased by Sri Guru Sabha Gurdwara, in order to build Khalsa Primary School, Norwood Hall to be restored.
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Initially called Norwood Lodge, Norwood Hall was designed by Sir John Soane for John Robins, estate agent, auctioneer and furniture maker who had worked with Soane and had provided the furniture for Soane's Bank of England. The house was built in 1801-3, costing £440 1s 8d, and Robins lived here until his death in 1831. Previous occupants of a house here were the Biscoe family for whom Soane built a new house in Hertfordshire. Elisha Biscoe was the last of the family to reside in Norwood Green and was responsible for providing 'a large sum of money to educate and clothe 30 boys and 10 girls belonging to the parishes of Norwood and Heston' and built the free school in 1767, situated c. 80 yards north of St Mary's Church on Tentelow Road. Norwood Lodge was extended and modified in the late C19th by the Unwin family, who lived here from c.1851 - 1945. William Unwin, a landed gentleman and widower, initially lived here with his two unmarried children and 3 servants, and his son Samuel was the occupant here by 1886. The interior was remodelled in Arts and Crafts style, and the entrance at the back of the house was added, which became the main entrance. Soane's original house was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as just discernible 'under the pebble-dash' despite many alterations and extensions since 1803.
The house had extensive grounds in the C19th, including a walled garden and orchards, with grazing land and ponds. First reference to the gardens appears on the 1814 Enclosure Award map, which shows the walled garden, cottage and stable block, as well as a possible ha-ha behind the house, which would indicate that some form of gardens existed by then. By 1865 the layout is shown on the OS map with a glasshouse abutting the house (later the site of the horticultural college's design studio), the path system in the unusual diamond-shaped Walled Garden much as it existed while in use as a college, with a central pond later removed but whose position remained visible. The original front drive is also shown but this was no longer in use by 1934; the eastern entrance became the back gate to the college, and the western entrance, closed by 1914, was nearer the corner of Norwood Green than the present main gate. Two orchards were marked, one behind the walled garden, the other where the glasshouses and polythene tunnels were later established. Immediately behind the house were pleasure gardens laid out in mid-Victorian gardenesque style, separated from the grazing lands by the ha-ha, which by 1894 is no longer marked. By 1934 the walled garden had more glasshouses than in later years, and the gardens at that time included a circle of trees on the back lawn, within which circle the land was cultivated during WWII, and which by the 1960s had disappeared.
From the 1920s all but 19 acres of the estate were sold off for housing development and during WWII the house was damaged by a flying bomb, which destroyed the rectory nearby. In 1945 the Unwins sold the house and remaining 19 acres to Middlesex County Council for £13,000, and part of the grounds became school playing fields. From 1945-56 the house was used as an old peoples' home, from which time dates the change of name to Norwood Hall.
After WWII there had been an impetus to set up horticultural colleges countrywide, due to the fear of food shortages and the need for maximising production. As a result of this the MCC set up a number of colleges in its region and in 1955 the Agricultural Section of its Education Department purchased Norwood Hall for this purpose. It became Norwood Hall Institute of Horticultural Education and students were instructed in both theory and practice of gardening. Two acres of the grounds were set aside for greenhouses to grow fruit and vegetables, including sub-tropical species, with 250 bananas grown in 1960. In 1965 administrative re-organisation led to the MCC's replacement by the new London boroughs, and the college was run by a number of boroughs, later becoming part of Ealing Tertiary College. It was the site for its School of Horticulture, Floristry and Garden Design. The grounds were maintained by students and used as part of course work, with some plant propagation in the glasshouses.
Beyond the southern wall of the Walled Garden the stable range survives with dovecote and coach house. This southern wall divides the grounds from St Mary's churchyard (q.v.), and in the churchyard side of this wall is a stone plaque with the inscription: 'This Wall the Property of John Robins'; the date given is unclear, possibly 1807, thus indicating he paid part of the cost of the boundary wall; another date stone dated 1813 apparently exists in the wall north of the western entrance.
Following closure of the college, the site was later purchased for £2.8m by Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall as the site for a new faith school. The Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara (Sikh temple) was established by Sikhs who had emigrated to England in the 1950s and early 1960s, and Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall was set up in 1964 for the large Sikh population in the area, with the first Gurdwara built on Southall Green that year. Eventually the Gurdwara on Havelock Road was built, the largest Sikh temple in Europe, opening in 2003. Sikhi Summer Camps have been held at Norwood Hall (2006, 2007) and the foundation ceremony for Khalsa Primary School took place on 26 April 2009. The school was due to open September 2010. The Annexe has been renovated, although conversion of Norwood Hall is yet to take place. In 2009 the grounds, which were overgrown, were cleared of wild vegetation, hedges trimmed, grass mown and paths cleared.
Norwood Hall leaflet (c.2000 or earlier); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); LB Ealing Conservation Area Appraisal (April 1999); Middlesex County Times 12/11/1955; Annual Reports of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara 2009, 2010.