Ickenham, Hillingdon

A genteel residential suburb situated between Uxbridge and Ruislip

geograph-4891401-by-Des-Blenkinsopp - Ickenham

Exca­va­tions at Long Lane play­ing fields have pro­duced evi­dence of a pos­si­ble Iron Age set­tle­ment, super­seded in the late first cen­tu­ry AD by an exten­sive mul­ti-phase field sys­tem, which was mod­i­fied over the fol­low­ing three cen­turies.

The estate was first record­ed in Domes­day Book as Ticheham, ‘the farm­stead of a man called Tic­ca’. St Giles’ church was in exis­tence by the mid-13th cen­tu­ry and the old­est part of the present build­ing dates from the 1330s.

Three sub­stan­tial homes built from the 16th cen­tu­ry onwards sur­vive today: the mod­est manor house; Sir Edward Wright’s osten­ta­tious Swake­leys House, com­plet­ed in 1638 and shown in the pho­to­graph below; and the mid-18th cen­tu­ry Ick­en­ham Hall, to which the Com­pass The­atre is now attached.

Swakeleys House

Char­lotte Gell estab­lished almshous­es, which were built in 1857 on land she had donat­ed, and bequeathed funds for the con­struc­tion of the canopied vil­lage pump, which was installed in 1866 and is vis­i­ble in the pho­to­graph at the top of the page.*

The open­ing of a halt on the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Rail­way in 1905 failed at first to alter the char­ac­ter of the vil­lage but the sale of most of the Swake­leys estate in 1922 has­tened Ickenham’s entry into Metroland.

The Drum­mond estate was laid out in the north, shops were built in Swake­leys Road, and Princess Vic­to­ria opened the vil­lage hall in 1927.

Sev­er­al more hous­ing estates fol­lowed in the 1930s, includ­ing the Glebe, Swake­leys and Ivy House, while the so-called ‘Ick­en­ham gar­den city’ took the place of Mil­ton Farm.

More pri­vate devel­op­ments filled out the sub­urb in the 1950s and 1960s, after which vig­i­lant pro­tec­tion of the green belt pre­vent­ed fur­ther incur­sions.

A pro­pos­al to build a nation­al exhi­bi­tion cen­tre on Ick­en­ham Marsh met with local oppo­si­tion and the scheme went instead to Birm­ing­ham. Swake­leys House was restored and con­vert­ed to offices in the ear­ly 1980s. Its grounds are the set­ting for the main events of the annu­al Ick­en­ham Fes­ti­val and are also open to the pub­lic on Open House week­end.

By far the most sig­nif­i­cant recent res­i­den­tial project has been the cre­ation of Ick­en­ham Park, on the site of the for­mer RAF West Ruis­lip.

Only the very cen­tre of the old vil­lage remains well pre­served, although on the out­skirts there are three moat­ed sites that are sched­uled ancient mon­u­ments. Ick­en­ham Marsh, man­aged by the Lon­don Wildlife Trust, has open oak wood­land and scat­tered scrub, with damp mead­ows and marsh bor­der­ing Yead­ing Brook. Ick­en­ham Green has an area of unim­proved acidic grass­land.

Six­ty-three per cent of Ickenham’s adult res­i­dents are mar­ried, a very high pro­por­tion. At 41.9 years, the aver­age age is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than the nation­al norm.

In 1665 Samuel Pepys visited Sir Robert Viner at Swakeleys, afterwards recording in his diary that Sir Robert “showed me a black boy that he had, that died of a consumption, and being dead, he caused him to be dried in an oven, and lies there entire in a box.”

Postcode area: Uxbridge UB10
Population: 10,387 (2011 census)
Station: Metropolitan line; Piccadilly line (peak hours) (zone 6)
Further reading: Eileen M Bowlt, Ickenham and Harefield Past, Historical Publications, 1996
and James Skinner, Ickenham, Tempus, 2005
Website: Ickenham Online
* The picture of Ickenham village at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. The picture of Swakeleys House is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Harrison49, at Wikimedia Commons, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence. Any subsequent reuse of either image is freely permitted under the terms of those licences.