Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote
Local History Society

Local Historical Sites

Manor Farm

The archaeological and historical importance of Manor Farm transcends the local area.  Its future is not merely a Ruislip matter, but is of concern throughout the borough and beyond.  The following features make Manor Farm unique in this part of England:
  • the village earthwork, which is connected with the Saxon park in existence at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086;
  • the 11th century motte and bailey castle site;
  • the site of the Abbey of Bec's priory, remains of which were discovered beneath Manor Farm House in 1997;
  • buildings dating from every period since c1300.
The Manor Farm Working Party was set up in September 1993 to decide how to create a heritage centre at Manor Farm and interpret its unusually rich history for the general public.  A Heritage Strategy was adopted by the Ruislip/Northwood Area Committee in January 1994.

Repair and refurbishment of the Manor Farm site commenced in April 2007 financed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Hillingdon Borough Council, and was completed and opened in June 2008 with a remit to encourage more visitors and public use.

The Manor Farm House has been completely repaired and restored, and now contains a Heritage Interpretation Centre where visitors can learn about the history of the site. The House is also now the home of the Society's archive, which has moved from Ruislip Library. For security reasons, immediate access to the locked archive room on the first floor of the House is generally restricted by the opening hours of the House and to certain named members of the Society. Other members and the public can also gain admission to the archive room if accompanied by a named member. Any person not on the named list, which is held at the House, requiring such access should contact the Society Chairman or Secretary. Members of the Society should always bring their valid RNELHS membership card. The House opening time is generally from 12 noon to 3.00pm but may be somewhat longer at weekends, during the summer and on special event days.

The Great Barn has been refurbished, including a new floor and the reinstatement of double doors.

The Little Barn, which houses Ruislip Library, has also been refurbished to include improved public access and new lighting.

The Cart Sheds have been modified and refurbished to create craft studios.

We have put here on this website a brief illustrated history of the site from Neolithic to modern times.

Eastcote House Gardens (Eileen M. Bowlt)

The Community Dig on the site of Eastcote House, under the direction of Les Capon of AOC, completed its third season on 11 July 2015.  Two more digs are planned for 2016 and 2017.  A flint cill, first seen in 2014, has been further uncovered and is generally believed to be connected with the earliest documented house there, called Hopkytts.

The name is intriguing and people wonder what it might mean.  Place names often refer to the topographical location of a site, the flora and fauna in the vicinity, or the type of settlement.  There are usually two or three elements in a place name, one frequently being a personal name of an early settler. As seen from this Society’s logo on the front of the journal, it goes without saying that names, their spelling and pronunciation, change over time, so to work out the original meaning, it is essential to start with the earliest reference possible.  

It has to be said that the study of place-names is not an exact science and experts frequently disagree.  The derivation of ‘Ruislip’ is a case in point.  Ekwall in ‘Concise Dictionary of English Place Names’ suggests  that the word is composed of rysc, meaning ‘rush’ and slaep, ‘a slippery spot – a slippery spot where the rushes grow.  However, the authors of ‘Place names of Middlesex’, whilst agreeing that the first element is rysc, consider that it is allied with hlype meaning leap – a rushy crossing place of the River Pinn perhaps.

So what about Hopkytts?  I have seen the word in six documents dated from 1494 to 1594.

1494 The earliest is a copy of Court Roll relating to a court held at Ruysshlep on the Saturday after the Ascension, 1494. John Amery, ’lying in extremis’ surrendered ‘a cottage and 2 closes called Hopkytts and Droker and 12 acres of land in the fields of Ascote (Eastcote) to the use of Joan, his wife, for 9 years and afterwards to Edmund, his son.  There was a heriot (death duty) of one cow to the value of 6 shillings, to be paid to the lord (Provost and Scholars of the King’s College of Our Blessed Lady and St Nicholas’).

It is not clear whether the name refers only to one of the closes, or to the cottage as well. Since 1494, the name Droker has disappeared altogether.

1507 Copy of Court Roll of a court held at Ruyshelep on the Tuesday before the Nativity of St John the Baptist (24 June).  It records that Edmund Amery had surrendered out of court, a cottage with a close adjoining called Hopkyttes and 12 acres in the three fields of Ascote to John Waleston, Esq.

1527 Copy of Court Roll of a court held at Russhlypp on Friday 26 June. John Waleston, gentleman, surrenders a cottage called Hopkets to the use of Ralph Hawtrey and Wenefrede his wife and their heirs legitimately begotten between them, with remainder in default to the right heirs of Wenefrede, together with a close adjoining the said cottage containing 4 acres and 13 acres of land and meadow in the three fields of Ascott.

There are other forms of Waleston –Walleston, Walaxton, Wallison and Wollaston.  The exact relationship between John Waleston and Wenefrede is unknown, but he was probably her father or uncle. Ralph Hawtrey (c.1494- 1574) was the fourth son of Thomas Hawtrey of Chequers, Bucks and seems to have made an advantageous marriage in Ruislip.

1565 King’s College Terrier RalphHawtrey holds one cottage called Hopkytts with an orchard and two closes containing 4 acres and it lies at Well Grene and abuts north upon Well Grene and it lies west against the close aforesaid and east upon the close of William Nelham.  13 acres of land and meadow in three fields of Ascote went with it.

William Nelham’s close also abutted north upon Well Grene.

The ‘close aforesaid’ was in Clay Hill (Field End Road), probably the present Park Farm.

In the Rental portion of the Terrier,  Ralph Hawtrey’s cottage is named as Hopket.

1575 Copy of Court Roll of a court held at Ruislipp 17 January 1574/5. Ralph Hawtrey had died since the last court.  John Hawtrey and his wife Bridget, were admitted to Ralph’s copyhold property, which is listed in the roll and includes Hopketts and an adjacent 4 acre close and 13 acres in the three fields of Ascote

1594 Copy of Court Roll  of a court held at Ruyslippe 5 November 1594. Surrender by John Walleston, gent. Of all his right in Hopketts  with 4 acre close and 13 acres in three fields of Ascott to the use of John Hawtrey.  

John Hawtrey had died since the last court and was succeeded by his nephew, Ralph Hawtrey (1570-1638) who was to have the property after the death of Bridget, John’s widow.

The holding. These documents show that the cottage, enclosed land near the house and land (sellions or strips) in the open fields formed the Hopkytts holding from at least 1494.  The two closes appear to have been thrown into one of 4 acres at some time and an extra acre was acquired in the open fields over the years.


The ‘hop’ element could refer to hops that may have been growing in the area.   Hops were used for flavouring beer locally by the late 15th century.

Ekwall suggests that the OE hop ‘a piece of enclosed land in the midst of fens’, may have a more general meaning, such as ‘dry land in a fen’.  Hopkyttes was situated on the edge of the very wet area along the River Pinn between Fore Street and Catlins Lane, that was known in 1565 and later as ‘Well Green alias Long Marsh’.

What about the second element, kyttes, ket, kete   or whatever?  A list of tenants of the Manor of Ruislip in 1421-22 contains, among the Eastcote names, one Robert Kitte.

Maybe Eastcote House Gardens are situated on Robert Kitte’s ‘dry land in a fen’.


The 15th century cottage would almost certainly have been a hall open to the roof with a central fireplace and possibly with a two-storeyed crosswing attached.

Did Ralph Hawtrey modernise it and extend it, perhaps by adding a chimney and ceiling the hall?  Whatever he did, he retained the old name over the 47 years that he lived in Eastcote, as did his son after him.  RCHM Field Notes written by G E Chambers, who visited in July 1936, suggest that the house was of 16th century origin and had crosswings on the north and south sides that had either been rebuilt or added in the early 17th century.  In the 18th century the north wing was extended north and east and a new east front was built to enclose the space between the wings.

Any of the first three Hawtreys could have built a new house in the 16th century.  John built the dovecot ‘against the custom of the manor’ (It was largely rebuilt in the 18th century) and the second Ralph obtained a licence for it in 1601.  He presumably erected the stables since an archaeological report, carried out by AOC Archaeology in 2012, suggests a building date of c.1600.  The early 18th century transformation was probably undertaken around 1725 by James Rogers, grandson-in-law of the last male Hawtrey to live there.  

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