Ruislip: Churches

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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Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley, 'Ruislip: Churches', 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, (London, 1971), pp. 142-144. British History Online [accessed 14 June 2024].

Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley. "Ruislip: Churches", in 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, (London, 1971) 142-144. British History Online, accessed June 14, 2024,

Bolton, Diane K. King, H P F. Wyld, Gillian. Yaxley, D C. "Ruislip: Churches", 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, (London, 1971). 142-144. British History Online. Web. 14 June 2024,


There was a priest at Ruislip in 1086, (fn. 1) and a church is referred to about 1190. (fn. 2) The church continued to serve the whole parish until 1854 when the new parish of Holy Trinity was formed from the Northwood area of Ruislip parish and parts of the Hertfordshire parishes of Rickmansworth and Watford. Emmanuel parish, Northwood, was taken from that of Holy Trinity in 1909, and the parish of St. Lawrence, Eastcote, from Ruislip parish in 1931. Part of Ruislip parish formed the parish of St. Paul, Ruislip Manor, in 1936, and the area of St. Paul's lying south of the Yeading Brook became the parish of St. Mary in 1952.

Accounts of the early history of the church are confused, (fn. 3) but the church probably accompanied Ernulf of Hesdin's grant of Ruislip manor to the Abbey of Bec in the late 11th century. (fn. 4) The appropriation of Ruislip church to Bec was confirmed by Richard Fitz Neal, Bishop of London 1189-98, (fn. 5) and later bishops reconfirmed the grant during the 13th and early 14th centuries. (fn. 6) Except during periods of Crown confiscation (fn. 7) Bec continued to appropriate the church property until about 1400, and the advowson passed to the Crown on the final confiscation of Bec properties in 1404. (fn. 8) The date of the ordination of the vicarage is unknown, but the first recorded vicar was holding office during the early 14th century, and the Abbot of Bec was exercising the patronage at the time of the first dated presentation in 1327. (fn. 9) Ruislip church was included in Henry IV's grant of the confiscated manors of Ruislip and Ogbourne to John, Duke of Bedford. (fn. 10) In 1421 John granted the spiritualities of Ruislip and Ogbourne to the Dean and Canons of St. George's Chapel at Windsor. (fn. 11) St. George's still retained the advowson in 1962.

The rectory was valued (fn. 12) at £17 in 1291. (fn. 13) In 1547 the 'parsonage', said at this date to be in the possession of Winchester College, was worth £18. (fn. 14) That the college had any interest in the rectorial estate is most unlikely, since the Dean and Canons of St. George's consistently farmed out the rectory after 1476, first to the Waleston family, and from 1532 to the Hawtreys of Eastcote. (fn. 15) In 1650, when it was farmed by John Hawtrey, the 'parsonage' was worth about £300. (fn. 16) The great tithes were said to be worth £250 in 1718. (fn. 17) Under the inclosure award of 1814 the rectorial tithes were commuted for almost 300 a. of land in the old open-field area. (fn. 18) Immediately before its transfer to the Ecclesiastical Commis sioners in 1867 the rectorial estate consisted of 392 a. of arable and pasture on Bourne and Northwood farms, leased to Francis Deane, and valued at £684. (fn. 19)

The vicarage was valued at £5 in 1291, (fn. 20) and at £12 in 1535. (fn. 21) In 1547 the vicar furnished the cure himself; there were then no charities, obits, or lights, and the vicarage was worth £8 a year. (fn. 22) In 1650 the living comprised the vicarage house with a barn, stable, orchard, garden, and 29 a. of glebe, worth in all £37, and small tithes worth £23. (fn. 23) The value of the living in 1778 was only £90, (fn. 24) but by 1835 the net income had increased to £462. (fn. 25)

The priest mentioned at Domesday was said to hold half a hide. (fn. 26) In the mid 13th century the Vicar of Ruislip held land which had formerly belonged to Robert de Rading, and for which he paid an annual rent of twelve pence. (fn. 27) During the 15th century successive vicars were said to hold a house and 13 a. in Copwell Mede in Eastcote at the same rent. (fn. 28) There was said to be no land for the maintenance of the priest in 1547, (fn. 29) but the vicar was holding land in both Eastcote and Westcote common fields in 1565. (fn. 30) By 1650 there were 29 a. of glebe land. (fn. 31) Under the inclosure award of 1814 the Vicar of Ruislip was allotted approximately 160 a. in lieu of tithes, and a further 75 a., including 25 a. of Park Wood, in settlement of an old dispute with the lords of the manor over tithes of underwood. (fn. 32) In 1875 there were 230 a. of glebe, (fn. 33) and in 1887 259 a. (fn. 34) Sales for building purposes in the late 19th and 20th centuries (fn. 35) had reduced the glebe to about 100 a. by 1933. (fn. 36) The bulk of the remaining glebe land has since been sold. (fn. 37)

Early-15th-century rentals mention a house held by the vicar. (fn. 38) A vicarage house is first mentioned by name in 1565, when it was described as lying between Cannons' Bridge and Ruislip Wood. (fn. 39) A map of 1750 showed the vicarage on or near its present site on the west side of Bury Street. (fn. 40) The present vicarage, which was still in use in 1962, was rebuilt in 1881. (fn. 41)

Religious activity from the 12th to the 14th centuries was probably influenced by the foundation at Ruislip of a small cell of the Abbey of Bec. (fn. 42) No conventual priory was ever founded, and the designating of St. Martin's church as a 'priory' church (fn. 43) is inaccurate. Ruislip became an important administrative centre for Bec properties in England, and separate Priors of Ruislip were appointed during the 12th and early 13th centuries. About 1300 food appears to have been regularly distributed among the poor of Ruislip by order of the Abbot of Bec. (fn. 44) A chapel in the manor-house is mentioned in 1294, (fn. 45) and again in 1336 and 1435. (fn. 46) Although Ruislip manor was, for some purposes, merged with the abbey's Ogbourne estate (fn. 47) after the mid 13th century, it remained an important administrative centre until the end of the 14th century. Audits for Bec's English manors seem to have been held at Ruislip, (fn. 48) and a counting house and counting board in the manor-house are mentioned in 1435. (fn. 49)

Little is known of the religious life of the parish during the 15th century. Whether early vicars resided in the parish is uncertain, but some later incumbents seem to have been pluralists, and several combined the cure with other livings nearby. George Gard (vicar 1482-92) was Rector of Ickenham for a time in 1486. (fn. 50) Complaints during the early 16th century that the praise of God was decayed seem to reflect agrarian discontent rather than lack of interest on the part of incumbents. (fn. 51) Dissatisfaction during the incumbency of Thomas Smith (1565-1615), however, resulted in his being examined in the scriptures in 1586. His performance was described as 'tolerable', and he retained the living for another 29 years. (fn. 52) Daniel Collins (vicar 1616-39), who was a canon of Windsor, held the living of Cowley during part of his incumbency, and seems to have resided there occasionally. (fn. 53) John Ellis, who replaced Collins as Vicar of Ruislip from 1633 to 1639, also held the church at Isleworth. (fn. 54) Nathaniel Giles, who was vicar for a time about 1647, was said to preach with a pistol hanging at his neck. (fn. 55) In 1706 profaneness and immorality were said to be increasing rapidly. (fn. 56) This may have occasioned the appointment of the curate who was serving in the parish by about 1723. The vicar was then said to be much indisposed, and received help with his parish from the Rector of Cowley. (fn. 57) Services were held twice on Sundays and there were four Communions a year. (fn. 58) In 1778 the curate's salary was £36: the arrangement of services was unchanged, and there were between 30 and 40 communicants. An additional Sunday sermon during the six summer months was being delivered by 1790. (fn. 59)

The parish church was dedicated to ST. MARTIN before 1250. (fn. 60) The present building, at the corner of Eastcote Road and Ruislip High Street, dates in part from the 13th century, with 15th- and 16th-century additions. (fn. 61) It is built of flint rubble with stone dressings, and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south chapel, west porch, and a south vestry added in 1954. The parapeted tower, built in the 15th century, stands at the south-west corner of the church. The chancel and south aisle, dating originally from the 13th century, were rebuilt in the 15th century. About 1500 the north aisle was also rebuilt and the south aisle re-roofed and perhaps extended to form the south chapel. The exterior of the church was much restored in 1869-70, and the west porch, built in 1875, was replaced in 1896. After slight bomb damage during the Second World War, further restoration work was carried out in 1954. The Purbeck marble font dates from the 12th century. (fn. 62) The tower contains six bells, which were recast by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel in 1801. (fn. 63) In the nave and north aisle are traces of 15th-century wall paintings depicting an unidentified saint, and the Virgin with St. Michael and St. Lawrence. (fn. 64) The plate includes a fine silver parcel-gilt cup and silver cover dated 1595, a silver flagon of before 1685, (fn. 65) and two other flagons date-marked 1725. (fn. 66) There are brasses with figures to Ralph Hawtrey (d. 1574) and John Hawtrey (d. 1593). Other monuments to the Hawtreys and their descendants include an alabaster wall monument to Ralph Hawtrey (d. 1638) and his wife (d. 1647) by John and Matthias Christmas. A baroque mural tablet commemorates Thomas Bright (d. 1673/4), vicar, and some of his descendants. There are several 14th- and 15th-century slabs including one of early-14th-century date inscribed to Roger de Southcote. The church contains two 16th-century iron-bound chests, and an inscribed bread cupboard in the north aisle records the gift of Jeremiah Bright in 1697. (fn. 67) The registers, which are complete, record baptisms from 1689, marriages from 1694, and burials from 1695.

The church of HOLY TRINITY, Northwood, was opened in 1854 on a site given by Lord Robert Grosvenor. (fn. 68) A chapel in the Grange is said to have been used as a place of worship by the inhabitants of Northwood before this date. (fn. 69) In 1961-2 the living was vested in trustees. (fn. 70) A vicarage house adjoining the church was, built in 1856. The church, which is built of flint rubble with stone dressings, was designed by S. S. Teulon in a restrained Victorian Gothic style. It consists of a nave and well-proportioned north and south aisles, with a small tower at the east end. An extension to the north aisle was consecrated in 1895, and the south aisle and baptistry added in 1928. A memorial window to the Grosvenor family was executed by Burne-Jones and installed in 1886. (fn. 71)

The church of EMMANUEL in Church Road, Northwood, was opened in 1904 on the initiative of the Vicar of Holy Trinity. An iron church, tended by a curate-in-charge had been opened in 1896, and after the completion of the permanent building this remained in use as a church hall until 1958, when it was replaced by the present building. (fn. 72) The church was designed by Sir Frank Elgood and is executed in red brick with stone dressings. The chancel was added about 1906, and vestries for clergy and choir were built in 1961. In 1961-2 the living was vested in trustees, (fn. 73) and in 1965 the cure was administered by a vicar and a curate. (fn. 74)

The church of ST. LAWRENCE, Eastcote, was opened in 1933. A mission church on the site of the present parish hall (opened 1955) had been in use since 1920. (fn. 75) The Bishop of London is patron of the living. (fn. 76) The church, which stands near the junction of Field End Road and Bridle Road, was designed by Sir Charles Nicholson. It is built of red brick, and consists of a nave and north and south aisles. The white-washed interior is richly appointed. In 1965 the cure was served by the vicar and an assistant priest. (fn. 77)

The church of ST. PAUL, Thurlstone Road, Ruislip Manor, was opened in 1937. The Bishop of London is patron of the living. (fn. 78) The church, built of dark-red brick with small windows and a tiled roof, consists of a nave and north and south aisles. The roof is supported by brick pillars, and the walls and roof have been white-washed in an attempt to lighten the interior.

The church of ST. EDMUND THE KING was opened in 1935 as a mission church. The Bishop of London is patron of the living. (fn. 79) Services were held in a tent during the building of a semi-permanent structure in Pinner Road, (fn. 80) a few yards inside the parish boundary. A permanent church on an adjoining site had been completed by 1968. The parish of St. Edmund was created in 1952. (fn. 81)

The church of ST. MARY, South Ruislip, was opened in 1959. From 1931 services had been conducted in a wooden hall. The Bishop of London is patron of the living. (fn. 82) The church is of brick and concrete construction, and consists of a lofty nave and a small north chapel. The main external features are a shallow gabled clerestory, a small latticed polygonal spire and a figure of Christ crucified against the west window. Internally, the texture of much of the structural material is retained. The church is connected to the adjoining vicarage by a covered way.


  • 1. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 126.
  • 2. St. George's Chapel, xi. G. 6.
  • 3. Cf. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 723, and A. A. Porée, Histoire de l'Abbaye du Bec, ii. 574.
  • 4. See p. 134; Morgan, Eng. Lands of Bec, 147. Newcourt, in assuming that the church was appropriated to Ogbourne Priory and passed with it to Bec in the mid 12th century, appears to be misled by the later relationship between the Bec properties of Ogbourne and Ruislip: V.C.H. Mdx. i. 202 (a more accurate dating of the grant of Ogbourne to Bec, St. George's Chapel, xi. G. 1, given by Newcourt as temp. Henry II, seems to be between 1122 and 1147: V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 394).
  • 5. St. George's Chapel, xi. G. 6.
  • 6. Ibid. G. 51, 52, 64.
  • 7. See p. 134.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 368: 1401-5, 446; see above, p. 134.
  • 9. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 724.
  • 10. See p. 134.
  • 11. St. George's Chapel, x. 4. 1.
  • 12. The figure given in Val. of Norw., ed. Lunt, 361, as the valuation in 1254 is based on a misreading of St. Paul's MS. W.D. 9.
  • 13. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 17.
  • 14. E 301/34/180.
  • 15. St. George's Chapel, xv. 31. 65-73, xvi. 1. 58-80.
  • 16. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 281.
  • 17. M.R.O., Acc. 249/2280.
  • 18. M.R.O., F. 4, 5; Acc. 261/1.
  • 19. St. George's Chapel, xvii. 21. 3.
  • 20. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 17.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434.
  • 22. E 301/34/180.
  • 23. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 281.
  • 24. Guildhall MS. 9557.
  • 25. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 26. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 126.
  • 27. B.M. Add. MS. 24316.
  • 28. King's Coll., R. 40, 41, 43; S.C. 6/917/27.
  • 29. E 301/34/18.
  • 30. King's Coll., R. 36.
  • 31. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 281.
  • 32. M.R.O., Acc. 261/1; King's Coll., Q. 24.
  • 33. Roumieu, Hist. of Ruislip, 7.
  • 34. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. H.C. 307, p. 92 (1887), lxiv.
  • 35. St. George's Chapel, iii. K. 3.
  • 36. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1953).
  • 37. Ex inf. the vicar.
  • 38. King's Coll., R. 40, 43.
  • 39. Ibid. 36.
  • 40. King's Coll., P. 38.
  • 41. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1886).
  • 42. For a detailed study see V.C.H. Mdx. i. 202.
  • 43. Board outside church.
  • 44. See p. 140.
  • 45. E 106/2/1.
  • 46. C 47/18/1/12; S.C. 6/917/27.
  • 47. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 394.
  • 48. King's Coll., Q. 45.
  • 49. S.C. 6/917/27.
  • 50. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 663.
  • 51. See p. 138.
  • 52. Guildhall MS. 9537/6.
  • 53. V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 175.
  • 54. Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 676.
  • 55. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 222.
  • 56. Guildhall MS. 9800.
  • 57. V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 175.
  • 58. Guildhall MS. 9550.
  • 59. Ibid. 9557.
  • 60. B.M. Add. MS. 24316.
  • 61. It is fully described in Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 104-5.
  • 62. Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 106 and pl. 10.
  • 63. Par. Recs., Vestry Mins.
  • 64. Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 107 and pl. 143.
  • 65. Guildhall MS. 9537/20.
  • 66. E. Freshfield, Communion Plate of Mdx. 43.
  • 67. See p. 147 and plate facing p. 36.
  • 68. This section is based on information supplied by the vicar.
  • 69. Northwood Advertiser and Gazette, 16 Sept. 1932.
  • 70. Crockford (1961-2).
  • 71. Pevsner, Mdx. 126.
  • 72. Section based on information supplied by the vicar, and Golden Jubilee Booklet (1953).
  • 73. Crockford (1961-2).
  • 74. Lond. Dioc. Bk. (1965).
  • 75. Section based on information supplied by the vicar and Silver Jubilee Programme (1958).
  • 76. Crockford (1961-2).
  • 77. Lond. Dioc. Bk. (1965).
  • 78. Crockford (1961-2).
  • 79. Ibid.
  • 80. Ex inf. the vicar.
  • 81. Lond. Dioc. Bk. (1965).
  • 82. Crockford (1961-2).