Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Ickenham was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ticheham, meaning Tica’s homestead or village. It was originally divided into four manors, and subsequently into two, Ickenham and Swakeleys. Ickenham was owned by the Shordiche family from the fourteenth century to the nineteenth. Swakeleys was owned by the Swalcliff family from the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries. One Thomas Swalcliff was the Member of Parliament for Middlesex and Speaker of the House of Commons in the mid-fifteenth century. His son Richard Swalcliff was killed fighting on the side of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
The surviving church of St Giles was built in Ickenham in the Medieval period; and the moated manor house of Ickenham Manor Farm, by the Shordiche family, in the late Medieval (see below). Swakeleys House was originally built in Swakeleys, by the Swalcliff family, in the Medieval period, and was subsequently rebuilt in the post-Medieval (see below).
Ickenham remained an isolated village, and at the heart of an essentially still agricultural community until less than an hundred years ago. Its population in 1921, i.e., immediately before the Swakeleys Estate was sold off for residential development, was only 443!
Church of St Giles
The church of St Giles’ was originally built in the fourteenth century, around 1335, and extended in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and twentieth. The bulk of the nave is original, fourteenth-century (although the western extension is twentieth-century). The north choir and aisle is sixteenth-century, and the St John’s Chapel seventeenth-century.
Inside the porch is an ancient coffin cover, thought to be of one of the Shordiche family, dating to 1350-1450. Inside the church are brass memorials to William Say, who died in 1582, and his wife Isobell, and to Edmonde Shordiche, who died in 1584, and his wife Elen (who was one of William and Isobell Say’s sixteen children); and a particularly fine veined marble memorial to “the Clayton Baby”, which bears the inscription “Robert the sonne of Sir Robert Clayton Knight, Alderm of London, by Dame Martha, his wife who dyed ye 16th August, 1665, within a few hours of his birth … ” (the family were actually from the City of London, and had apparently come to Ickenham to escape the Great Plague). One of the bells in the belfry bears the inscription “Robert Shorditch (sic) Warden 1711”. Another bears the maker’s mark of Robert Mott, the founder of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and the date 1589. And etched on one of the re-set fourteenth-century windows in the brick-built sixteenth-century north aisle is the name Kendall, that of a former Rector, and the date 1589. Also inside the church is a fine Jacobean font that came from Swakeleys House (see below), where for some time it had been in use as a tea caddy!
The church is open to the public, although its opening hours are limited.
Ickenham Manor Farm
The moated manor house now known as Ickenham Manor Farm, but originally known as Ickenham Hall, was originally built, by the Shordiche family, in the late Medieval period (recent dendrochronological or tree-ring analysis of timbers from the house has yielded a felling date of 1483).
The house is now privately owned, and not open to the public.
Swakeleys House was originally built, probably in timber, by the Swalcliff family, in the Medieval period, possibly around the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was subsequently rebuilt, in brick, by the future Lord Mayor of London Sir Edmund Wright, in the post-Medieval period, in 1638.
Samuel Pepys visited the house on September 7th, 1665, by which time it had entered the possession of the future Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London Sir Robert Vyner, and wrote of his visit in his diary:
“[M]errily to Swakeley, … : a very pleasant place … . [Vyner] … showed us all his house and grounds; and it is a place not very modern … , but the most uniforme in all that I ever saw; and some things to excess. Pretty to see over the screene of the hall, … the King’s head, and my Lord of Essex (*), on one side, and Fairfax on the other … ”.
The house is also now privately owned, although it is open to the public once a year, for Open House London.
(*) The bust of Essex apparently subsequently made its way into the aforementioned church of St Giles.