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ICKENHAM Piccadilly (Uxbridge), Metropolitan 

There are some attractive things in Ickenham, but it does take the eye of faith to imagine the village being ‘in the wilds’ as it was thought of in the days before there was only a ‘halt’ on the railway, the nearest proper station being Ruislip. Now the delightful village pump faces an uninspiring parade of shops, while motor traffic whizzes past. However, if you're in the area there are some interesting things to see.

Turn left out of the station and right at the crossroads where you will see the pump with its tiled roof and pale blue ironwork. Constructed in 1866 with money from Charlotte Gell, a wealthy widow, it was intended for use by those with no water supply, and was operational until the end of 1914. Behind it, outside The Coach and Horses pub, are wooden stocks in which the legs of people who broke the law used to be locked.  I have been unable to find out if these are original, but since the pub was used as a manorial court until 1878 and stocks were always placed in a central position, it is possible that there was a set here at some point.  

On the other side of the High Road (use crossings) is St. Giles Church (part fourteenth century). The wooden porch was made about 1500 - by the door is a 14th century coffin lid discovered in 1962 while the porch was being renovated. There is also a little bell-turret made of shingles . On the north side is a most unusual addition – a mortuary chapel. If you wander round to the back of the church (shutting your eyes to the unlovely Church Hall) you can see the exterior of this strange seventeenth-century brick addition. Inside, arcading housed thirty coffins (standing upright) dating from 1647 to 1892. These were finally removed in 1914 and buried in the churchyard. 

There is also a poignant marble effigy under a window on the south side - a newborn baby in swaddling clothes dated 1665.  Please check that the church will be open before making a special journey to see it.

After leaving the church turn right down Swakeleys Road. After a few minutes you will see some flint almshouses, dated 1857, with proudly kept front gardens - Mrs. Gell again the benefactor. Continue down Swakeleys Road for about five minutes, crossing several minor turnings, until you reach a zebra crossing at the top of The Avenue. Go over to this, noting the rambling Swakeleys Cottage at the corner, once a lodge to the Swakeleys estate. The Avenue was the main approach to the magnificent seventeenth century Swakeleys House. This building remains,  but large parts of the estate have been split up and developed. To catch sight of the mansion,  pass between the piers of the old estate wall and go down The Avenue (no footpaths).  Eventually you will see woodland on the right hand side and just after Ray House (a block of flats) there is a path to the right into Swakeleys Park. The River Pinn runs through this, and you can ramble along some of its course by following the Celandine Route. 

Swakeleys House can be seen through a gap in the trees if you wander down the narrow wooded path to the left of the lake just after a children's play area.  The building was completed in 1638 and is still predominantly Jacobean in appearance, though the beginnings of the classical style that was to dominate the architecture of grand houses in the eighteenth century is apparent in the curved ‘Dutch’ gables. I have to say that this path may not always be passable, and it is possible that changes in planting will mean that the view is screened off completely, as has happened further along.  If this is the case, you can still get a partial view of the house by going on the other side of the lake along a broader, surfaced path which is in the main park. This eventually leads to Swakeleys Drive and instead of retracing your steps to Ickenham Tube Station you might prefer walking to Hillingdon Tube from there. Although it takes about fifteen minutes, the station itself is in such a dramatic position,  perched over the roaring A40,  that it is almost worth visiting in its own right. From the end of the park turn left at Swakeleys Drive and keep going until Long Lane. Turn right and pass over the bridge to reach the station.  Weird - there's certainly not another like it on the network.

Photos: (click on image to enlarge)
Ickenham Almshouses
Pump and stocks
St. Giles Church
St. Giles:memorial to baby/mortuary chapel
Swakeleys House from narrow lake path
Swakeleys House viewed from park

Ickenham is just one route from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and  see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR