Ickenham: Economic and social history

Pages 104-105

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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Until the second decade of the 20th century Ickenham was an exclusively agricultural community. Few details of the economy of the parish have, however, survived. In 1086 there were four ploughs on Earl Roger's demesne, with room for two more. In addition there was on his estate meadow for four ploughs, pasture for the cattle of the vill, and sufficient woodland to support 200 pigs. On the Mandeville fee there were two ploughs in demesne, meadow for two ploughs, pasture for the beasts, and woodland to support 40 pigs. On Robert Fafiton's land there had been one plough but it was no longer there in 1086. There was meadow for one plough, pasture for the cattle of the vill, and sufficient woodland to support 30 pigs. (fn. 1) Three ploughs on the demesne are mentioned in 1220, (fn. 2) but nothing further is known of the medieval economy. Inclosure seems to have begun about 1453, (fn. 3) but until 1780 most of the arable was cultivated in open fields. (fn. 4) The use of these was regulated in the manor court and enactments of 1632, 1670, and 1685 were enforced by penalties. (fn. 5) In 1801 the main crops grown in Ickenham were beans (149 a.), wheat (126 a.), and oats (48 a.), while 313 a. were lying fallow. In all about 1,200 a. were under cultivation but about 250 a., including some of the best land in the parish, were said to be in common and used by some of the farmers instead of being put at the disposal of all. (fn. 6)

In 1855-6 Swakeleys Farm, owned by the Clarkes, made a profit of £595 on the sale of grain and £255 on the sale of stock. Crops sold in that year were mainly wheat and hay. (fn. 7) At the end of 1855 the stock included 16 horses, 54 cattle, 120 sheep, and 8 pigs. In addition to the profit made on sales there were enough animals to supply the Clarkes' table. Thus in 1865 69 sheep, 9 pigs, and 2 cows were slaughtered for the household. (fn. 8) Profits had declined by the end of the 19th century. In 1890 £254 was made on the sale of animals, £178 on wheat and hay, £31 on dairy produce, and £17 on root crops. (fn. 9)

At the beginning of the 20th century Ickenham still conveyed the impression of 'an old-fashioned country village... with farm houses that look the very picture of comfort and prosperity'. (fn. 10) Nine farms survived in 1922. (fn. 11) Between 1923 and 1927, however, much of the Swakeleys estate was laid out as a residential suburb (fn. 12) and arable in the northern part of the old parish was built over. After the Second World War more building took place in the neighbourhood of Glebe Lane and elsewhere. By 1961 Ickenham had become a residential suburb of Uxbridge Borough. But although much of the arable had been covered with houses, some farming continued. There were still two farms in 1961: Long Lane Farm, near the old Ickenham manor-house, and Home Farm, adjoining the pond in the centre of the old village. (fn. 13)

In the 1830s a cattle fair was held at Ickenham on 3 April and one for pleasure on 4 June. (fn. 14) They do not seem to have been of ancient origin and are not mentioned after 1839. Little else is known of social life in the old parish. From the returns of 1834 (fn. 15) it appears that the overseers were chiefly concerned with relieving agricultural labourers in times of seasonal unemployment. In the same year a number of persons on poor relief came into conflict with the lord of the manor. William Bunce and eighteen others inclosed without permission part of the waste on Ickenham Green for gardens. In 1837 they were allowed to remain as tenants on sufferance, paying 1s. a rood to the lord of the manor. (fn. 16) In the following year they were granted leases from year to year and in 1844 it was decided that they should bear the cost of preparing their leases at 6s. 8d. a rood. Payment was to be made by March 1845. The lessees, by pleading poverty, were able to obtain several postponements, but in March 1847 they were given final notice to quit. (fn. 17) A settlement seems to have been reached since in 1859, when Thomas Truesdale Clarke bought Ickenham manor, (fn. 18) he was informed that part of Ickenham Green had been turned into garden allotments and that the occupiers paid £1 a year. (fn. 19) It seems likely that these occupiers were the lessees of 1837 or their successors.

Little is known about relations between the parishioners and successive lords of the manor. Edmund Wright, Sir James Harrington, and Sir Robert Vyner were probably more often in London than at Ickenham. (fn. 20) But Thomas Clarke, who became rector in 1747 and obtained Swakeleys four years later, probably exercised considerable influence on the life of the parish. The only indication of his attitude to his flock, however, is the clause in his will directing that some money should be distributed among the poor of the parish, but none of it spent on drink. (fn. 21) Ickenham church school depended largely on the financial support of the Clarke family during the 19th century, (fn. 22) and William Capel ClarkeThornhill, who succeeded as lord of the manor in 1890, (fn. 23) maintained some of the traditions of his predecessors although himself living in Kettering (Northants.). He continued to support the school, and donations to the Ickenham poor appear in his accounts. (fn. 24) An annual dinner for the tenants of the estate was provided at the rent audit until 1905. (fn. 25)


  • 1. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 124-6, 128.
  • 2. Bk. of Fees. i. 315.
  • 3. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 647.
  • 4. M.R.O., Acc. 599.
  • 5. M.R.O., Acc. 640/5.
  • 6. H.O. 67/16.
  • 7. M.R.O., Acc. 85/14/637.
  • 8. Ibid. /14/636.
  • 9. Ibid. /13/632.
  • 10. Thorne, Environs of Lond. 374-5.
  • 11. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1922).
  • 12. See p. 101.
  • 13. Ex inf. Uxb. Bor. Council.
  • 14. Pigot's National Commercial Dir. (1834, 1839).
  • 15. Rep. Poor Law Com. App. B (2), H.C. 44, pp. 104 f-k (1834), xxxv-vi.
  • 16. M.R.O., Acc. 640/9, pp. 41-52.
  • 17. Ibid. pp. 68-78.
  • 18. See p. 103.
  • 19. Abstract of title (1860) penes Uxb. Bor. Council.
  • 20. See p. 103.
  • 21. M.R.O., Acc. 640/24.
  • 22. See p. 108.
  • 23. See p. 104.
  • 24. M.R.O., Acc. 85/13/632-3.
  • 25. Ibid.