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St Martin's Cottages, Eastcote Road, Ruislip - - 1438157.jpg
St Martin's Cottages on Eastcote Road
Grid reference: TQ0887
Location: 51°34’34"N, 0°25’59"W
Population: 31,000  (2001)
Post town: Ruislip
Postcode: HA4
Dialling code: 01895
Local Government
Council: Hillingdon
Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

Ruislip is a town in north-western Middlesex; a suburban town at the county's edge in the Elthorne Hundred which has grown from an ancient village. It marks the outer edge of the metropolitan conurbation; its south and east face the unbroken townscape, but the western and northern sides of Ruislip vanish into woodland and meadow. Manor Farm, though surrounded by houses, remains a reminder of the village's vanished agricultural foundation.

The buildings at the northern end of Ruislip High Street, with the parish church, St Martin's, at their heart, form the core of the original village square and are now Grade II listed. It originally featured a central water pump which was moved out of the road in the 1970s as a result of increased traffic.

The ancient parish of Ruislip covered 6,585 acres, and included the neighbouring villages of Eastcote, Northwood, Ruislip Manor and South Ruislip. The parish appears in the Domesday Book, and some of the earliest settlements still exist today, designated as local heritage sites.

The expansion of the Metropolitan Railway in the early 20th century acted as a catalyst for development in the area. A station was opened in Ruislip in 1904 and the parish council created a new urban district to address the forthcoming population growth. The Ruislip-Northwood Urban District continued until 1965 swallowed by the giganticism of that age. Between 1911 and 1961, Ruislip-Northwood experienced a significant rise in population, from 6,217 to 72,791, largely attributed to the extension of the railway.

Major landmarks in the area include Ruislip Lido, a former reservoir, now an area of public parkland with its own miniature railway and Manor Farm, a settlement dating from the 9th century which is now designated as a local heritage site.


The parish church is St Martin's, which stands at the northern end of the High Street. It dates from the 13th century.


Early Middle Ages

At the time of King Edward the Confessor, the parishes of Ruislip and Ickenham belonged to Wlward Wit, a thane of the king, who owned land in 11 counties. Wit lost much of his land during the Norman conquest; Arnulf de Hesdin took control of Ruislip and his ownership of the manor is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book.[1]

Ruislip appears in the Domesday Book as Rislepe, thought to be the Old English 'rysc hlyp', to mean 'Rush leap' (or "leaping place where rushes grow", in reference to the River Pinn.[2] It is formed from Translated from Latin, an entry reads:

M. Arnulf [Ernulf] of Hesdin holds Rislepe [Ruislip]. It is assessed for 30 hides. Land for 20 ploughs. In lordship 11 hides; 3 ploughs there. There are 12 ploughs between the Frenchmen and the villagers; a further 5 possible.

A priest, ½ hide; 2 villagers with 1 hide; 17 villagers, 1 virgate each; 10 villagers, ½ virgate each; 7 smallholders, 4 acres each; 8 cottagers; 4 slaves; 4 Frenchmen with 3 hides and 1 virgate.

Pasture for the village livestock; a park for woodland beasts; woodland, 1500 pigs, and 20d too.

Total value £20; when acquired £12; before 1066 £30.

Wulfward Wight, a thane of King Edward's, held this manor; he could sell it to whom he would.[3]

Under Edward the Confessor, Ruislip had been valued at £30, though the reduction to £12 by the time Ernulf de Hesdin took possession is believed to have been caused by a passing unit of the Norman Army taking crops. This led to the construction of buildings at Manor Farm to protect produce.[4]

Before leaving England to fight in the Holy Lands, Ernulf de Hesdin gave ownership of Ruislip to the Benedictine Bec Abbey in 1087. He died fighting and is commemorated in annual masses held in June at Sacred Heart Church and on the remains of the Motte-and-bailey at Manor Farm.[4]

Mediæval developments

St. Martin's church was built in the 13th century.

The parish church, St Martin's, has been dated to the mid-13th century. An earlier church is believed to have been built during the Norman period, as a stone was found within the grounds with markings from that time. The name St Martin is believed to have been given to the church by the monks of the Bec Abbey, after Martin of Tours. Before 1245, references to the church only name it as "Ruislip church".[5]

The present church was believed to have been built upon the insistence of the Proctor-General, William de Guineville, under the ownership of Bec Abbey, to serve the growing population. He used the priory at Manor Farm as his main residence [6] The first recorded vicar was William de Berminton in 1327.[7] The building itself has been remodelled in parts over the centuries and was substantially restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1870.[8] It received Grade B listed status in 1950.[9]

Under the ownership of the Bec Abbey, timber from the woods around Ruislip - Park Wood, Mad Bess Wood and Copse Wood - was used in the construction of the Tower of London in 1339, Windsor Castle in 1344, the Palace of Westminster in 1346 and the manor of the Black Prince in Kennington.[10] The woods were coppiced on rotation throughout the years with the timber sold to local tanneries. By the time King's College took ownership of the manor, the woods were let for sport, with pheasants kept for shooting.[10]

Modern urban development

In 1812, Bishop Winnington Ingram School was established by the vestry of St Martin's church in Eastcote Road. The school had 111 pupils by 1845 but fell into a state of disrepair until it was rebuilt in 1931.[11]

Towards St Martin's church from The Oaks

Ruislip came under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police in 1845. By 1869, the police were renting a house in the High Street to serve as the local police station, the copyhold of which was purchased in 1873. A new station was built in The Oaks in 1961.[12]

In 1863, the White Bear public house came under the ownership of the Harman's Brewery in Uxbridge. It had been built close to Primrose Hill Farm near the junction of the Ickenham Road and Kings End. Kings End was a hamlet, with one building dating back to the 16th century. It was named after a family who had lived there at that time.[13]

A well was sunk in 1864 in the High Street at the junction with Bury Street, constructed by Mr Charles Page from Uxbridge. The first 15 feet were dug, before 90' 9" were bored through the London clay and the final 30 feet was cut through chalk. A drought in 1898 led to the parish council requesting that a well be created on what are now the Pinn Meadows, to make use of the natural spring there. The Colne River Water Company agreed, upon the guarantee of £45 per year, and the service was established.[14]

A report had been prepared for the parish council in 1903 which noted the population in Northwood — 2,700 by that time, with 530 houses — compared with the largely rural character of the rest of Ruislip parish. At a meeting of the Ruislip parish council on 28 October 1903, the forthcoming extension of the Metropolitan Railway from Harrow on the Hill to Uxbridge was also discussed as it was known that a station would be opened in Ruislip on the new line. Councillors were also aware that King's College, Cambridge, owners of much of the land in the parish and lords of the manor, were planning to sell some for development. With this in mind, a vote was cast which went in favour of becoming an urban district. The new district was designed to better reflect to increase in development, as councillors felt a parish council would work slower than an urban district.[15]

The railway station opened on 4 July 1904

The first train on the new railway line ran on 30 June 1904, and the new station at Ruislip opened on 4 July. The area became popular with ramblers, who would head to the Ruislip Lido, and general day-trippers who sought out the countryside. Local residents in Ruislip established their own tea gardens, which they advertised for the visitors. In particular, the Poplars, a Georgian house built in 1774 on the corner of the High Street and Ickenham Road, opened a tea garden in the grounds. It was eventually demolished in 1929 to make way for shops. A similar establishment was opened in light of the new railway on the corner of Sharps Lane, known as The Orchard Bungalow. It was eventually expanded and became The Orchard Hotel.[16]

The town had grown such that a new urban district of Ruislip was formed on 30 September 1904, covering the parish. At the time the parish incorporated Ruislip Manor, South Ruislip, Eastcote and Northwood. The new urban district council held its first meeting at Northwood School on 1 October, the day after forming.[17]

Kings End was developed as a residential road in the early 1900s. By 1907, the first of the new homes were completed and residents began to move into them. The road was named Kings End Avenue, though reverted to the original name of Kings End later in the century.[18]

The Great Barn, built around 1280

The district experienced a sharp rise in population, from 6,217 in 1911 to 72,791 in 1961, caused by the extension of the Metropolitan Railway, termed Metro-land, which brought with it an increase in suburban house building. As a consequence, the district was one of the first to devise a statutory planning scheme in 1914, following the Housing and Town Planning Act 1909.[19] The council had been prompted to follow this new act by the Chairman of the Council, a Mr Elgood, an architect, and the Clerk to the Council, Mr Abbot. Members of the council had already raised concerns over some of the new building work around Eastcote and South Ruislip, and the new development near Northwood station which they described as "badly arranged and packed".[17]

Together with King's College, the urban district council worked to establish plots of land for development around Ruislip and Ruislip Manor. A town planning competition was held, won by A & J Soutar from Wandsworth, who sought to create a symmetrical design spreading across Ruislip parish. Many of the woods and historic sites including Manor Farm were to be demolished and cleared as part of the plan, making way for a projected total of 7,642 homes, enough for 35,000 residents. Only St. Martin's church would have been spared. An outline map was made public on 30 November 1910 with few objections recorded. A Local Board inquiry followed on 17 February 1911 which required negotiations with landowners to allow for a full planning scheme to be compiled. This was presented in February 1913 with an adaptation of the original Soutars plan, receiving approval from the Local Government Board in September 1914. Three roads with residential housing, Manor Way, Windmill Way and Park Way were completed before the outbreak of the First World War when all construction work was halted. It did not resume until 1919.[20]

Park Wood and Manor Farm

Manor Farm and the local woods eventually avoided demolition in January 1930, after the visit by a member of the Royal Society of Arts to choose the buildings that should be conserved. The Great Barn and Little Barn were singled out from the site, together with the old Post Office, the Old Bell public house and the Priest's House of the local church. The woods were included in a sale by King's College to the district in February 1931. Park Wood was sold for £28,100 with Manor Farm and the old Post Office included as a gift to the people of Ruislip.[21] King's had wished to also present the wood as a gift but was required by the University and Colleges Act to receive payment as it was the trustee of the land. Middlesex County Council contributed 75% of the cost as the urban district council argued that many of those who would make use of the land would be recreational day-trippers from outside the district. Under a 999-year lease, the council agreed to maintain the wood and ensure no new building was constructed without the permission of the county council. An area of the wood to the south was not included in the lease agreement and three residential roads were later constructed on it.[21]

Ruislip war memorial

Copse Wood was later purchased by Middlesex County Council and London County Council in 1936 for £23,250, later joined by Mad Bess Wood in the same year. The urban district council purchased the 186 acre wood together with Middlesex and London County Councils for £28,000 in a compulsory purchase from Sir Howard Stransom Button,[22] a leading landlowner (and one who served as High Sheriff of Middlesex in 1937-8).

On 6 January 1948 a British European Airways Vickers VC1 Viking flying from Renfrew Airport to RAF Northolt crashed in a ploughed field in Ruislip, five miles from the runway. The crew had tried to land the aircraft twice successfully when the aircraft struck a tree on the third approach attempt. Of the 18 passengers and crew on board, one crew member was killed in the crash.[23]

In 1961, the Portland Spy Ring was uncovered. Peter and Helen Kroger were found to have been involved, while living in Ruislip. They were visited each Saturday evening by Gordon Lonsdale and were eventually placed under police surveillance. The Krogers were eventually arrested and found to have codes, a microdot reader and film of the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment in Portland Harbour concealed within ordinary household items. A radio transmitter hidden in the garden was not retrieved until 1977.[24]

Primrose Hill Farm was demolished to make way for housing in 1965. Field End Farm, covering 50 acres at the junction of Wood Lane and West End Road, was demolished in 1966. The farm house had been owned by the manor of Northolt under the name of Berrengers. Bishop Winnington Ingram School moved to Southcote Rise in 1968 and the original school building was demolished. In 1976, the war memorial dedicated to those killed during the First World War was moved from the graveyard of St Martin's to the entrance of Manor Farm.[8] Bury Street Farm near the Plough was demolished in 1980.[25]

In 1984, the Battle of Britain House, built within Copse Wood in 1905, was destroyed by fire and the ruins demolished. The house became a college in 1948 and included plaques with the crests of all Royal Air Force squadrons involved in the Battle of Britain as a memorial.[26]

In April 2007, restoration work began on the Manor Farm site using funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The work was completed in June the following year,[27] and included the renovation of the Grade II listed library.[28] The Duck Pond Market began in the Great Barn in December 2008, following the refurbishment, and runs once a month.[29] Winston Churchill Hall on the site received a £370,000 grant from Hillingdon Council in March 2011 to enable its refurbishment.[30]

Sports clubs

  • Football:
    • Hillingdon Borough FC, which plays at the Middlesex Stadium
    • Wealdstone FC, based at the St Georges Stadium
  • Rugby: Ruislip Rugby Club, based in West End Road (formed in 1954, succeeding an earlier club from around 1950)
  • Gaelic Athletics: London GAA, whose Emerald GAA Grounds are in Soutyh Ruislip.[31]
  • Golf: Ruislip Golf Course on Ickenham Road
  • Hockey: Eastcote Hockey Club, based at Kings College playing fields (originally based in Eastcote)

Transport links

Stations in the area are:

  • South Ruislip tube and rail station (Central line and Chiltern Railways)
  • Ruislip Station (London Underground Metropolitan Line & Piccadilly Line)
  • Ruislip Manor Station (Metropolitan Line & Piccadilly Line)
  • Ruislip Gardens Station (Central Line)
  • West Ruislip Station (Central Line & Chiltern Railways)

About the village

Village square

The buildings at the north end of Ruislip High Street, Nos 1 to 15, the Duck House restaurant and the Swan public house, which has since been re-branded as Cafe Rouge, form the core of the original village and are Grade II listed.[9] This area formed the village square,[32] at the junction of the High Street, Bury Street and Eastcote Road. The village water pump was sunk in the centre of the square in 1864, to a depth of 105.0 feet (32.0 m) 9.0 inches (228.6 mm), though was moved to be beside the Manor Farm Lodge in the 1970s. It was moved again in 1982 to sit outside 7-15 High Street.[33]

Manor Farm

To the north of Ruislip High Street, the 22-acre Manor Farm site incorporates the remains of settlements dating back to the 9th century, as well as buildings including the Great Barn, dated by English Heritage as having been built around 1280.[34] A working farm until the 1930s, the farm was let by King's College of the Cambridge, the owners of the land from the Reformation until the mid 20th century.[35] It has been designated as a local heritage site and was refurbished between 2007 and 2008 with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.[27]

Ruislip Lido

View across Ruislip Lido
Main article: Ruislip Lido

Ruislip Lido is a Victorian reservoir now transformed into a public space. It has an artificial sand beach, surrounded by woodlands through which runs the Ruislip Lido Railway, a miniature 12" gauge railway with diesel and steam locomotives.

The Lido was established as a reservoir to feed the Grand Junction Canal, by damming and flooding the lower part of the valley between Park Wood and Copse Wood, including the hamlet of Park Hearn. Work began in 1811; the consulting engineer John Rennie announced completion of the project to the Grand Junction Waterworks Company on 5 December that year.[36]

The Orchard Hotel

Following the extension of the Metropolitan Railway to Ruislip, and the resulting influx of visitors to the area, Albert Cross built a bungalow from where teas were served to day-trippers. This became a success and Cross had the building expanded, which soon became The Orchard Hotel. Between 1933 and 1971 it became an Ansells licensed bar and well-known high-class restaurant. It then became a Beefeater steak house, which it remains, and was recently extended with a Premier Inn hotel.[16] During the Battle of Britain, The Orchard was very popular with the pilots of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron stationed at RAF Northolt, who celebrated many of their successes in battle there. The owner was known to open a bottle of Champagne for each German aircraft shot down by the squadron.[37]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ruislip)


  1. Bowlt 1994, p.11
  2. Mills 2001, p.196
  3. Morris 1975, p.10
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bowlt 1994, p.12
  5. Bowlt 2007, p.10
  6. Bowlt 2007, p.11
  7. Bowlt 1994, p.17
  8. 8.0 8.1 Newbery et al 1996, p.28
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Listed buildings". London Borough of Hillingdon. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Bowlt 1994, p.25
  11. Newbery et al 1996, p.49
  12. Newbery 1996, p.35
  13. Newbery et al 1996, p.43
  14. Bowlt 1994, p.79
  15. Bowlt 1994, p.90
  16. 16.0 16.1 Newbery et al 1996, p.44
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bowlt 1994, p.93
  18. Newbery et al 1996, p.42
  19. Delafons, John (1997). Politics and preservation. London: Routledge. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-419-22400-6. 
  20. Bowlt 1994, p.115
  21. 21.0 21.1 Bowlt 2007, p.35
  22. Bowlt 1994, p.119
  23. "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  24. Bowlt 1994, p.138
  25. Newbery et al 1996, p.48
  26. Bowlt 1994, p.136
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Manor Farm, Ruislip". Ruislip, Northwood & Eastcote Local History Society. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  28. "Speak up! Libraries turn new page". BBC News. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  29. "Artisan Food & Craft Market". Duck Pond Market. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  30. Cracknell, James (14 March 2011). "Churchill's theatre shows fighting spirit". Uxbridge Gazette. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  31. Sports & Social Club, Ruislip
  32. Newbery 1996, p.29
  33. Bowlt 2007, p.150
  34. McBean, K. J. (21 March 2011). "A history of the Manor Farm site". London Borough of Hillingdon. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  35. Bowlt 1994, p.16
  36. Bowlt 1994, p.125
  37. Bristow 2005, p.69


  • Bowlt, Eileen. M. (1994) Ruislip Past. London: Historical Publications ISBN 0-948667-29-X
  • Bowlt, Eileen. M. (2007) Around Ruislip, Eastcote, Northwood, Ickenham & Harefield. Stroud: Sutton Publishing ISBN 978-0-7509-4796-1
  • Bristow, Mark. (2005) A History of Royal Air Force Northolt. RAF Northolt: No. 1 AIDU
  • Mills, A. D. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-280106-6
  • Morris, John. (1975) Domesday Book 11: Middlesex. Chichester: Phillimore ISBN 0-85033-131-5
  • Newbery, Maria; Cotton, Carolynne; Packham, Julie Ann; Jones, Gwyn. (1996) Around Ruislip. Stroud: The Chalfont Publishing Company ISBN 0-7524-0688-4