A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
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The ancient parish of Ickenham (fn. 1) lay approximately 14 miles west of Hyde Park Corner and two miles north-east of Uxbridge. The old parish (fn. 2) was situated between the River Pinn to the west and the Yeading Brook to the east. (fn. 3) Covering an area of 1,458 a. in 1801, (fn. 4) the parish measured roughly two miles from north to south at its longest, and a little over one mile at its broadest point. In Hillingdon parish, about 200 yards south of the junction of the modern Swakeleys Drive and Long Lane, was Chestlands, a 6-acre field included in Ickenham parish. South-east of the centre of Ickenham village was an area of 12 a. belonging to Hillingdon. Under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882 these fields were transferred to the parishes in which they were geographically situated. (fn. 5) In 1937, after further boundary changes, the civil parish of Ickenham was merged in that of Uxbridge. (fn. 6) Since 1965 it has formed part of the London Borough of Hillingdon. (fn. 7) The name Ickenham survives as the name of the London Transport station in Glebe Lane. This article deals with the area of the old parish before any of the later changes were made.
Ickenham appears as 'Ticheham' in the Survey of 1086, (fn. 8) and it has been generally assumed that the forms 'Ticheham', 'Tickenham', and 'Ickenham' were subsequently used synonymously to describe Ickenham parish. (fn. 9) It seems almost certain, however, that part of one or more of the three Domesday fees called 'Ticheham' lay in Hillingdon ancient parish and that the name Tickenham, forms of which survived until the 19th century, was used to describe an area lying partly in the north-east corner of Hillingdon and partly east of the Yeading Brook in Ickenham. (fn. 10)
The parish lies 136 ft. above sea level at its highest point in the north and 101 ft. at its lowest in the south. (fn. 11) Most of the soil is London Clay but a narrow strip of alluvium follows the course of the Pinn stream. (fn. 12) The Pinn, which formed the northern and western boundaries of the old parish, runs into an artificial lake in Swakeleys Park and thence through Hillingdon parish to join the Colne at Yiewsley. The Yeading Brook entering the parish a little to the north of Northolt airfield, runs westward for about a mile and then gradually turns back to run in the opposite direction. About 400 yards south of Western Avenue the stream divides, one branch flowing towards Ruislip parish, the other towards Hillingdon. In the 18th century there were two woods on the banks of this brook: Great Ditch Wood, known later as Gutteridge Wood, (fn. 13) and Catthroat or Cutthroat Wood, (fn. 14) most of which was cleared during the 19th century. (fn. 15) On the south bank of the Pinn was Beeton Wood and to the southwest, around the lake, the wooded part of Swakeleys Park. Since 1816 a feeder from Ruislip reservoir to the Grand Junction Canal has also run from north to south through the parish. (fn. 16)
Until 1934 no major road passed through the parish. Long Lane, running roughly parallel with and about ½ mile east of the Pinn, connected Hillingdon, Ickenham, and Ruislip. From the centre of the village Back Lane led past the church in a westerly direction to the Pinn and eventually to a lane leading to Uxbridge. Other lanes led into the fields. The most important of these were Glebe Lane and Austin Lane which ran south-east from the centre of the village and joined after about ½ mile. At their junction lay the field which until 1882 belonged to Hillingdon parish. By 1935, when Ickenham was becoming a residential area, Long Lane had been widened (fn. 17) and Western Avenue, the London-Oxford arterial road opened in 1934, driven through the southern part of the old parish. (fn. 18) Rail communications were established in 1904 when the Metropolitan line, which had hitherto terminated at Harrow, was extended as far as Uxbridge. In the following year electric trains replaced steam engines on this line and a station was opened in Glebe Lane. (fn. 19) In 1910 District line trains were introduced and in 1933 Piccadilly line trains also began to run along the same route. For a time all three services ran through Ickenham, but District line services were later discontinued and in 1965 the parish was served by the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines only.
At the inclosure of 1780 the open fields of Ickenham amounted to 683 a. (fn. 20) They began near the junction of Glebe and Austin lanes and covered the south of the parish. (fn. 21) To the north of the Yeading Brook were Tipper Hill and Woe Acres. Two meadows in the parish were called Brook Mead. One was on the Ickenham bank of the Pinn near Beeton Wood, the other lay along the southern bank of the Yeading Brook where it entered the parish north of the modern airfield. Adjoining this Brook Mead was Ickenham Marsh. Middle Field and Bleak or Black Hill were inside the loop of the Yeading Brook on the banks of which were also Tottingworth Field, Swillingtons, Further Field, and Down Barnes Hill, which lay further to the south. Many of these fields are visible from the point where Western Avenue crosses the Yeading Brook. Bleak Hill, mentioned as early as 1367, (fn. 22) rises gradually to about 8 ft. above the level of the road and is topped by a clump of trees.
There were two common meadows in the old parish, Ickenham Green and Ickenham Marsh. Ickenham Green was a long narrow strip extending north-westward from the present Ickenham High Road to the Pinn. In 1836 some paupers inclosed part of it for gardens, and although given notice to quit in 1847, remained there until, by 1860, they had apparently established squatters' rights. (fn. 23) By 1865 a few houses and a chapel occupied the frontage of the Green bordering the High Road. (fn. 24) In 1906 the parish council was granted a lease of the Green by the lord of the manor, and succeeding local authorities have inherited this interest. (fn. 25) In 1950 the local authority leased part of the Green to Ickenham Cricket Club; (fn. 26) the remainder was preserved as an open space.
In 1860, and presumably earlier, every householder had the right to pasture one horse or two cows a day from May Day to Martinmas on Ickenham Marsh. (fn. 27) These rights were abused during the late 19th century and by 1892 the Marsh was severely overcropped. The parish council therefore attempted to gain control of the land by claiming that the inhabitants of Ickenham owed their rights on the Marsh to two women and appealing to the Charity Commissioners to have the Marsh declared a charity. The appeal failed through lack of supporting evidence, (fn. 28) but in 1906 the council took a lease of the Marsh and was able thereafter to regulate its use. Its successor, Uxbridge Borough Council, obtained full control in 1957 when it acquired the manorial rights. (fn. 29) In 1961 the Marsh was still used for grazing cattle.
About 1453 John Charlton inclosed part of Brook Mead as a park. (fn. 30) This was presumably the Brook Mead which lay on the banks of the Pinn, and Charlton's close possibly formed the nucleus of the later Swakeleys Park. It was probably in this area that John Pecche in 1517 inclosed arable land for his park. (fn. 31) The history of other early inclosure is uncertain. At inclosure in 1780 there were a number of 'old inclosures'. The most important of these were the land lying between the glebe and the lands of Ickenham manor, Middle Field, and the area between Cutthroat and Gutteridge woods. All the common fields were inclosed in 1780; Ickenham Green and the Marsh remained open. (fn. 32)
Ickenham village was situated at the junction of the modern Swakeleys Road and Long Lane. At this point Long Lane widened to form a roughly triangular village centre. Until the 1930s most of the houses were grouped around this space, with others on either side of Back Lane (now Swakeleys Road). There were also a few groups of cottages in the fields, connected with the main roads by private paths. Around the central space stood St. Giles's church, the Home Farm, a small post office and shop, and the 'Coach and Horses' with an attached smithy. In the middle of the space were the village pump and pond. The church school stood on the road to Ruislip and the almshouses were in Back Lane. Behind the latter was the rectory house, connected with the road by a private pathway. (fn. 33) Outside the village were the two manor-houses (fn. 34) and a few scattered farms.
The appearance of Ickenham began to change after the sale of most of the Swakeleys estate in 1922. (fn. 35) By 1934 the western part of the parish had acquired the character of a residential suburb. At the old village centre a row of shops had been built on the south side of Swakeleys Road (formerly Back Lane). Swakeleys Road was lined with houses on both sides as far as the parish boundary and beyond, and residential roads led from it. Larger dwellings and blocks of flats had been built near Swakeleys House and along Long Lane. More expensive detached dwellings were soon to be erected around a spacious green at Milton Court. Further north three more residential roads led off Ickenham High Road and there was a row of houses at the east end of Glebe Avenue (formerly Glebe Lane). There were also houses along the south side of Austin Lane. (fn. 36) Part of Northolt airfield (fn. 37) abutted on the south of the parish, but topographical change was less marked in this area, much of which was still used for agriculture. Thirty years later the old village centre had become a busy traffic junction and the shopping parade had been extended along Swakeleys Road. To the north of Swakeleys Road a large new estate of private houses had been laid out, resulting in the demolition of the former rectory and of Ivy House Farm. (fn. 38) There were houses along most of Glebe Avenue and to the south of it several new suburban streets encroached on the former open-field area.
In spite of the rapid development of Ickenham a number of its older buildings still survive (1968). The parish church was enlarged in 1958 but its ancient appearance has not been impaired. To the east of the church Home Farm has a jettied and gabled wing of c. 1500 and the 'Coach and Horses' incorporates 17th-century work. (fn. 39) There are some brick cottages near the pond, including the former post office. The Gothic canopy over the village pump was erected in 1866. (fn. 40) The Buntings, a substantial house in a large garden immediately west of the church, was rebuilt between the two world wars, (fn. 41) but its stable block, converted into two dwellings, has survived. Further west along Swakeleys Road are the mid-19th-century almshouses. (fn. 42) Swakeleys Cottage, standing at the junction of Swakeleys Road and the Avenue, was formerly a lodge at the main approach to Swakeleys manor-house. It is partly timber-framed and partly of brick and has a late18th-century doorcase with an enriched frieze; the mullioned windows with round-headed lights are probably of the same date. A pair of cottages to the east of the Avenue has similar windows. Swakeleys itself is largely unaltered, although no longer in private occupation. (fn. 43) Ickenham manor-house, (fn. 44) of 16th-century origin, has survived together with part of its earlier moat, and Long Lane Farm nearby is an early-18th-century house, now roughcast. Ickenham Hall in Glebe Avenue is slightly later in date and has a symmetrical red brick front and a walled forecourt; in 1968 it was in use as a Youth Centre for North-West Middlesex.
In 1086 thirty-one people were listed on the three estates called 'Ticheham'. (fn. 45) Three of these were knights, and there were also 3 Englishmen, 13 villeins, 9 bordars, and 3 cottars. Until the 20th century the population of the parish increased only slowly. In 1547 there were said to be 80 communicants in Ickenham. (fn. 46) In 1642 54 adult male parishioners took the protestation oath, (fn. 47) and in 1664 37 persons were assessed to hearth tax. (fn. 48) About 1723 there were said to be 30 families in the parish. (fn. 49) The population in 1801 was 213; in 1841 it was 396, the highest figure for the 19th century. Ten years later the population was 364, but by 1861 it had again declined to 351. It increased to 386 by 1871 but then dropped steadily to 329 in 1901. The civil parish of Ickenham, which contained 443 inhabitants in 1921, was incorporated into Uxbridge U.D. in 1929, when its boundaries were considerably extended. In 1931 there were 1,741 people in the revised civil parish, which was absorbed into that of Uxbridge in 1937. The population of Ickenham ward was 7,107 in 1951 and 10,370 in 1961. (fn. 50)
Most of the prominent people associated with Ickenham have been lords of Swakeleys manor and are noticed briefly below. Roger Crab, a hermit and vegetarian, lived at Ickenham for a time during the Interregnum and acquired a small following through his reputation as a seer and physician. (fn. 51) After his retirement in 1886 Admiral the Hon. Arthur Cochrane, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station (1873-5), lived at the Buntings. (fn. 52)