Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Early on a cold Sunday morning I set out to try and visit two stations. Ruislip was the next one on the Metropolitan branch line to Uxbridge. It services both the Piccadilly and the Metropolitan lines. There are five underground stations which include the name Ruislip. West Ruislip, Ruislip Gardens and South Ruislip all on the Central line and Ruislip Manor and Ruislip on the Metropolitan line. 

The word Ruislip first appeared in the Doomsday book, a record of land and ownership, in 1086. It is thought the word is derived from the Old English words for 'rush' and 'leap' refering to a place where the local River Pinn is narrow enough to jump across.  

Although not an enclosed waiting room, it still provides adequate shelter from the wind and rain.

The station is the oldest one on this branch line and originally was the only intermediate station between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge. When it opened in 1904 the services were operated by steam trains until the line was electrified the following year. Ruislip was part of Metroland. The area of suburban London where thousands of houses were built alongside the railway land. Metroland was advertised as a 'rural retreat for those who worked in Central London'.

From the end of the platform you have a good view of this old signal box. It was opened in 1905 and closed in August 1990 when signalling passed to Marylebone Integrated Electronic Control Centre. In 2000 the signal box and the footbridge were given Grade II listed status. It looks as though it has recently been painted possibly for the 160th anniversary of the Metropolitan line in 2023. 


The footbridge over the platforms dates from 1904 but was moved to its present site in 1928.

Other than the installation of the ticket barriers I doubt this ticket hall has changed much since it was built.

I left the station and followed the road round to the High Street. As it was a Sunday it was very quiet but there were numerous shops.

It was good to see that few had closed down. A number of shops did not survive the Covid lockdown and in many towns it is common place to see a closed down sign, on not just small shops, but a number of the larger department stores as well.

Ruislip's department store still looks to be doing ok. They even have two different bank branches here which is unusual these days.

At the bottom of the High street is St Martin's Church. I was surprised to see the Christmas tree was still there in March.The flint and stone building dates from the 13th cent and the tower along with a bell chamber was added in the 15th cent. The church was restored in the 19th century by Sir Gilbert Scott.

The stained glass windows date back to the 19th and 20th cent

It is known that the church already had a set of bells in 1463 when Thomas Bettz died and left £26 13s 4d in his will for the 'mending of Ruislip bells'. This would have been a vast sum of money in those days. A new bell chamber housing the bells in their present position was added in Tudor times. In 1801 the bells were recast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry at a cost of £149. In 1868 the very heavy six bells were replaced by eight lighter ones. These eight bells are still rung today from here on the ground floor. 

Behind the church and running alongside the High street is the churchyard.

On the north side of the churchyard are the Ruislip almshouses. The old timber framed parish house (priest/clergyman's residence) was converted in 1616 into small two roomed dwellings which were used to provide cheap or free dwellings for the poor. During the 18th century the almshouses were used as a workhouse and in 1776 there were 30 paupers living and working here. In 1838 the workhouse closed and the inmates were moved to another workhouse in nearby Hillingdon. The building was then sold and converted into flats. After it was renovated in the early 20th cent, it became a private house.

Standing on the other side of the High street you can see the blue clock on the tower of the church and in front of the white houses is the village pump.

The pump was placed over a well sunk in 1864. It has been moved a couple of times and was put into this prominent position on the High street in 1982. I imagine the village pump would be a place where the women of the village would meet for a chat and gossip whilst filling their water carriers.

I left the village and decided to walk to Ruislip Lido. A place I had heard about but never seen. On the way. I walked past the Ruislip Woods National Reserve which is an ancient semi natural woodland. Some parts of it are a remnant of the Wildwood that once completely covered England after the last ice age about 8000 years ago.  During the Middle Ages the woods were harvested for timber which was used in the construction of buildings which are still in use today.  The Tower of London in 1339, Windsor Castle in 1344 and the old Palace of Westminster in 1346.

It was a long walk to the Ruislip Lido, much further than I had anticipated, but it was worth it. The information board informed me that: The reservoir was dug in 1811 to feed the Grand Junction Canal and for drinking water for Paddington. In times of drought you can see several dwellings from the former hamlet of Park Hearn, drowned by the lake. In the 1930s the canal company turned the reservoir into 'the Lido' with boating, swimming and fishing. You can no longer swim or boat here but there is still a sandy beach and play areas. In the summer there is a 12 inch gauge  railway which does a round trip of two and a half miles around the lake.

I walked round the lake to the beach area and observed many different water birds.

I was really pleased I had made the effort to see Ruislip Lido and enjoyed the short time I spent there. I decided to get a bus back into the town and visit one of the numerous cafes I had noticed on the High Street.
I liked the look of this one which looked impressive from the outside.

I wasn't disappointed when I went  inside. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. I ordered some buttermilk pancakes and a pot of tea. I had a delightful conversation with a family sitting next to me as they spoke about the joys of living in Ruislip. Sadly, after waiting 25 minutes for a pot of tea and another 35 minutes for the pancakes, I changed my mind about the great choice of venue for lunch. Had it not been for the company of the people on the next table I would have left long before my food arrived. An hour's wait for a simple food order is unacceptable. I did leave a review on their website and received an apology with a shortage of staff being their issue that day. Other than that I enjoyed my visit to Ruislip and decided I still had time to visit the next station before going home.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Ruislip Manor

This is the 18th station I have visited on the Metropolitan line. It is on the Uxbridge branch line and serves both the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines. The station opened as a basic wooden halt in August 1912. Completely rebuilt by Charles Holden in 1938 and then rebuilt at platform level in 2008

Here is another 'labyrinth' by the artist Mark Wallinger. There is one on every station apart from the two newest stations on the Northern Line. They were created in 2013, to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground. Each one is unique and is numbered. If I find them at the stations I will post a photo.  I should come across 1/270 when I reach the terminus of the next branch line of the Metropolitan line. The reason for that being number one is that that is the start of the tube Challenge and the last one is at Heathrow Terminal 5 where the Challenge normally ends. The tube Challenge requires you to visit every station on the underground network. According to the Guiness Book of Records, the record for fastest  completion time stands at 15 hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds.

The original signage in the ticket hall.

Not much of a frontage to the station. Looks better from further away.
The station exited onto a wide, busy High Street.

 I turned off the high road to have a look at a large Catholic Church on Pembroke Road. This large Catholic church  was opened in 1939. The colonnade and halls were added in 1984.

Just around the corner from the Catholic church is this Baptist church. In 1937 a wooden hall was built on this site and in 1950 a red bricked hall was constructed next to the wooden church. The building was extended in 1960. Then in 2000 the church took over this building which was redeveloped and provides much needed space for more meeting rooms, offices and a larger kitchen. 

I walked down a few roads and then crossed over the River Pinn a couple of times. A riverside  walk would take me back to Eastcote gardens which I visited a couple of weeks ago when I explored the area close to the last tube station.

During the Second World War the River Pinn was dammed near Pinner High Street to provide water for putting out fires from air raids.

This field is called Copwell Mead, The fields are in the floodplain of the River Pinn and have flooded naturally for thousands of years. Fresh soil and nutrients spread onto the land by the water would have created rich meadows for grazing livestock in summer.

From the river I walked up to Ruislip Manor Farm which has recently been renovated and is now open to the public, free of charge. The manor was first mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086. This was an inventory of the land in England, who owned and who lived there. It was William the Conqueror's idea as he wanted to know what he owned and how much it was worth and how much tax he could raise. The entry for Ruislip Manor shows that the last owner before the Norman Conquest was a Saxon named Wlward Wit.  In 1086 the land was owned by Ernulf de Hesdin and was worth £20.

The Manor Farm House, built c1508 is a grade II listed building that sits at the heart of the Manor of Ruislip. When the lordship of the manor passed to King's College Cambridge in 1451 it was decided that visiting college dignitaries required more comfortable lodgings than the old Priory. A new manor house was built for them. The provost and scholars leased the manor to tenants who were usually of high status and normally non-resident. The tenant then sub-let to farmers who lived in the house and farmed the land. The house provided the venue for manor courts and was known as Ruislip Court until Victorian times. The hall was the courtroom. The house also contained high status lodgings for the Provost or Steward who came from Cambridge to hold courts and deal with any other business. These were in the cross-wing. The cross-wing and the hall formed the High End of the house. The Low End of the house was the residence of the farmer and his family, but they may have used the other rooms when there were no visitors.

The house had its own court room where two types of courts were held. The Court Leet heard cases involving land disputes, assaults and other minor offences while the Court Baron dealt with more administrative matters such as title deeds and wills. Representatives from King's College presided over the manor court which was held twice a year. Court cases and decisions were meticulously recorded in court rolls which can still be seen today in the College archives.
1617 in the stocks:
Case heard by Ralph Hawtry: Richard Godson, joiner, accused and punished of abusing John Cogges, the constable, in the execution of his duties. It is written that he was to be 'sett in the stocks at Ruislippe before the alehouse dore where he was drunke, to sitt there from the beginning of morning prayer until the end of evening prayer upon Sunday'

In 1932 Kings College gave the Manor Farm site as a gift to the people of Ruislip.

I didn't take any photos inside the building as there were a number of families looking around and the rooms were quite small. There were lots of information boards and a few exhibits on display which had been found during the refurbishment.

This bone carving c1420 was found under the floorboards during the restoration works. The carved bone shows an angel holding a shield against a background of foliage.

Establishing the age of the farmhouse.

I thought the brickwork on the outside was very attractive. Apparently this is called 'nogging' where bricks were laid into the spaces between the timber uprights. Nogging was used for decoration and was a sign of wealth and status.

The Little barn was constructed some time before the 1600. With the Great Barn and other outbuildings it formed the main farmyard of Ruislip Manor. It continued in use as a farm barn until the 1930s when the Manor Farm passed into the care of the Ruislip and Northwood Urban District Council. The Little Barn was found to be dilapidated but sound and was restored and converted to become the local library. 

The Cow Byre dates back to the 19th century and forms part of the farm courtyard. In the last century the building was used by the Ruislip Horticultural Society until a disastrous fire in1976. The rebuilding of the Byre in 1981 uncovered flints and wooden stakes thought to be from a much earlier building, possibly a guesthouse for the use of the priory which stood on this site in medieval times.

This is the oldest timber-framed barn in Greater London. It was built c1300 during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) to store the crops and other produce of Ruislip manor and its farmland. The huge timbers used to construct it were grown in Ruislip woods. Although repaired many times, much of the original structure remains and the Great barn looks almost exactly as it did when built.

Also on the Manor Farm site is this 1960s purpose built community theatre and function space.

During the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) this pond was known as the horse pool and was one of the busiest places on Manor farm. It was larger then than it is today and this is where all the farm horses were brought to have a drink and be washed down after a day's work. Today it is known as the Duck pond and gives its name to the twice monthly market held here.
 My visit coincided with the market. It was a very interesting market with an eclectic mix of goods for sale. There was a delicious looking bread stall with numerous different varieties. It was so busy I couldn't get close to take a photo. A meat stall, olive stall, candles, two gin stalls and other hand made items.

This was a fudge stall. I wasn't going to buy anything until I tasted the fudge. It was so delicious I ended up buying three different flavors: pistachio, fruit and nut, lime and coconut. My mouth is watering as I am writing this and recalling those delicious mouthfuls of fudge. I enjoyed my visit to Ruislip Manor with its fascinating history and its market.