Manor Farm (Ruislip) & Ruislip Castle

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Not too far from where I live is Manor Farm (in Ruislip) and the remaining earthworks of a motte and bailey castle on the same site. Manor Farm has a 700-year-old barn which is considered the oldest in London. Once a month, a traveling craft and food market (known as Duck Pond Market, and they are based around west London) turns up at Manor Farm. A craft shop, tea room, and library are also located on the site. Several information points have been put up to explain the history of the site and the buildings on the site, and this information was helpful in my wanderings around the area.


On site at the modern-day entrance from Ruislip High Street is the horse pond. It was known as the 'Horse Pool' in Elizabethan times and was one of the busiest places on the farm because the horses would be brought here to drink and cool off. Nearby was a blacksmith's workshop. The barns in the image above are the Cow Byre, and they date back to the 19th century. The Great Barn is next to them on the other side with the inner courtyard, stables, a pig stye and granary. The original burnt in 1976 and was rebuilt a few years later. Upon rebuilding, flint was discovered as was what could have been foundations of an early building, such as the guest house for the priory that used to be on the same site.



The farm was a working farm and the land around it was farmed until the 1930s when the land was sold by King's College, Cambridge. It was sold and developed into a large housing estate due to the location of the rail station at Ruislip Manor. 


This brings us to the Motte and Bailey (or castle) site. From 1087-1888, the priory was here. It was built by monks on the site which may have been an earlier motte and bailey castle. A new manor house was built in 1506 on the site of the priory, and the remains of the priory were completely demolished in 1613. The northern part of the moat was filled in in 1888. All that remains today of the motte and bailey are earthworks. The mound of land can be seen with a grassy moat surrounding part of it.

This brings us to Manor Farm House.



The Manor Farm House was completed around 1508. The lordship of the manor was passed on to King's College, Cambridge in 1451. However, they wished to have more comfortable lodgings than the old priory, so a new manor house was built. Manor Farm was also used as a court until 1925.


Manor Farm House is now a museum and cultural site that can be visited. Entrance is free, and it's actually a fairly interesting place to spend an hour. The musuem also describes Ruislip's history, such as how it got its name and what it means - a question I have wondered. (For you're information, it is two words combined: "rush" and "leap". It was a place to leap over where rushes grow. However, it's not really pronounced like that anymore and sounds more like Rice-lip.)


Manor Farm House is also important because of a discovery found when work was being completed on the house. It has the oldest in-situ wallpaper of any building in the UK. The wallpaper was even discovered in an old newspaper advertisement, so they could trace the manufacturer and the pattern. The wallpaper in these days was meant to mimic wooden wall panel carvings. This is probably how wallpaper started (to mimic wooden panel interior carvings) before evolving into what it is today.


Further down the hill is a ditch and bank, which was dug. This was probably the boundary betwen the park and the Saxon village of Ruislip. The park was the woodland for hunting animals, and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. Prehistoric fint tools and Roman and medieval pottery were discovered near, and the earthworks date at least 1000 years but are more modern than the other discoveries.


Have you been to Ruislip Manor Farm House, the Great Barn, or this area of London before?

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