Manor Farm Site, Manor House
- Original design
- Unknown, 1506
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in August.
Manor Farm is on the site of the ancient administrative centre of the manor of Ruislip. Evidence of its age still remains in the form of a considerable bank and ditch. This forms an arc to the north of the farmhouse known as Grim's Dyke. The line of the bank and ditch has been traced in an almost complete circle round the village of Ruislip, including Manor Farm. Ruislip was established by Saxon times and the earthworks might date from the the 9th century. It is likely, however, that there had been settlement in the area many centuries before.
In Norman times the area continued as the centre of the district. From 1096 until 1404 Ruislip was in the hands of the Benedictine Abbey of Bec. The Prior sent to administer the lands of the abbey, took over the existing centre and built himself a house on the site. This in turn gave way to the present part-16th century Manor Farm House, and a manorial headquarters as well as a farm. It remained a large and important farm until farming activities ceased in 1932.
Manor Farm House was built in 1505-06. This two-storey building formed the headquarters of the most important estate in Ruislip. Manor courts were held here until 1925. The house was given to the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1932, with the rest of Manor Farm.
The house's wooden frame was made from oaks felled from the nearby Ruislip Woods, with additional timber. The frame was reared on a brick wall. The new building initially adjoined part of the medieval priory buildings, including the old hall and a tower. The priory's remnants would later be cleared c. 1613.
The skilled labourers, including carpenters and bricklayers, who worked on the Tudor construction came from London or Cambridge. Many of the unskilled labourers, carters and suppliers were drawn from the local workforce.
Substantial alterations to Manor Farm House took place later in the 16th century. Notably, rebuilding was required in c. 1547 when part of it collapsed into the moat. Further changes took place in the 17th century with the insertion of an entrance hall and its decoration with fine wallpaper. This would later be covered by wood panelling, but remains of the original wallpaper have survived. A mid-18th century modernisation of the house's exterior included the rendering and windows. By the early 19th century, Manor Farm House was a working farmhouse. A large kitchen extension and back stairs were erected. Access and circulation were improved on in light of the building's twin roles of manorial court house and farmhouse. Restorations took place in 1958 and 2007, following which the property was opened to the public with a heritage visitor centre.
The Great Barn was commissioned by the Norman Abbey of Bec in the late 13th century. It is the oldest building of its kind in the Greater London area. The carpentry techniques used in some of the original parts of the Great Barn make it possible to date it c.1280. The barn was used to keep the produce of the Manor. It was in use as a farm building until 1932.
The Great Barn is 120 feet long and 32 feet wide. It is an aisled barn. This is a type of building whose length is formed of aisles or out-shots, all under the uninterrupted sweep of one roof. It is divided into seven bays marked by the main posts along its length. The main posts are probably the most important timbers in the barn. They are of oak and almost certainly were taken from Ruislip Woods.