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A library in a sixteenth century barn, and other ancient buildings including a church with three-lock chest and bread cupboard. Total distance is only about 1 ½ miles, but allow time for visiting church and pottering round the Manor Farm complex.

On coming out of the station,  which has a slightly rural air, being the original 1904 building, go straight ahead, past the Kings Lodge flats. Turn left at Pembroke Road and at the traffic lights go right to walk down the High Street. Under ten minutes walk away is a wonderful collection of ancient buildings. Soon after passing a burial ground you will see a long run of plain, whitewashed sixteenth century dwellings (heavily restored) with a handsome parish pump in the courtyard. 
You can have a look at the picturesque backs of these by going through the lych-gate into the churchyard. The thirteenth century St. Martin’s church, enlarged in the fifteenth century, was much altered/restored again in 1870 when the west porch was added. The church is usually open daily from 10am (but check before making a special visit) and is well worth a visit to see the many interesting things to be found inside.
There is a Jacobean bread cupboard (used to store the bread for distribution to the poor ‘every Sunday for ever’ and two large iron-bound chest of the type used to keep Church plate and Parish Registers. The one shown in the photo is typical of such chests, having three locks, the keys of which were held by two churchwardens and the priest. Many Parish records survive but are nowadays archived safely in somewhat more controlled conditions! Also to be found in this church are some just-about-visible wall paintings (c 1500), the range on the north aisle wall of The Seven Deadly Sins being the better preserved.
On the north side of the church are some brick  cottages cosily tucked away among trees. With their tiny old-fashioned front gardens they make a charming, peaceful picture. The cottages were built in 1570 and converted in 1616 to back-to-back dwellings. In the eighteenth century they became almshouses. When you come out of the churchyard go right. At the T junction go round the corner to see the front of the almshouses and then cross Eastcote Road to get to the war memorial. Pass the Horse Pond,  where horses used to be refreshed at the end of the day's work,  to  find the astonishing Manor Farm complex  which in 2008 underwent a £2.5m+ restoration programme, mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Here you will discover a Grade 2 listed  farm house, (top photo),a Great Barn constructed c1300 and a sixteenth century Little Barn which was converted into a Public Library in 1937. There are also the remains of eleventh century fortifications. The 20 acre farm, worked until the 1930s, was owned by King's College, Cambridge from 1500 to the mid twentieth century. Opening times can be found here.
The farm house was built over part of the Abbey of Bec priory, so there is a kind of symmetry in having a library on the site once more. Not many boroughs have a library  contained in a Grade II listed barn! It's worth popping in (check opening hours) to see how cleverly it has been organised.The Great Barn next door is a whopper, 120 foot long, with a breathtaking tiled roof and huge doors that allowed laden wagons to pass right inside. The site now has a museum (with an excellent 'timeline' video) and craft workshops as well as a cafĂ©.

Behind all this is Copwell Mead, a floodplain for the River Pinn. This was rich pastureland where livestock grazed in the summer months. To get to it take the public footpath to the right of the Manor House, passing Winston Churchill Hall. Depending on the time of year, you can walk through the meadow to the left to reach Bury Road, alternatively go towards the white bridge over the River Pinn and turn left at Pinn Way.Continue walking back in the direction of  Manor Farm.  Just before you get to the Great Barn you will see Mill House - the weatherboarded wing on the road was originally another barn.
Return to the Tube station by going past the rest of Manor Farm until you get to  the Horse Pond. Note the Old House opposite - a delightful quirky mixture of sixteenth and seventeenth century additions and alterations, one chimney too large,  another too small!  As you turn the corner to get back to the crossing in Eastcote Road have a look at the seventeenth century building on the corner.   Now a restaurant, this was once a farm building.
One of the many good things about this walk is that it can be done in winter or summer, as there are excellent paths throughout.

Photos (click to enlarge)
Manor Farmhouse
16c. dwellings on High Street
Rear of dwellings
Bread cupboard/Parish chest
Almshouses/Great Barn
Mill House/Copwell Mead


Ruislip is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found, in the area 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 go to to see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR