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A history of the Manor Farm site

Manor Farm is on the site of the ancient administrative centre of the manor of Ruislip.

manor farm

Evidence of its age still remains in the form of a considerable bank and ditch forming an arc to the north of the farmhouse, and 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 9th century.

In Norman times the area continued as the centre of the district, with the erection of a small motte and bailey castle. From 1096 until 1404 Ruislip was owned by the Benedictine Abbey of Bec in Normandy and 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 16 th century Manor Farm House. In the 15 th century the manor passed into the hands of King's College, Cambridge, who are still the titular Lords of the manor. It was the venue for manorial courts until 1925 and remained a working farm until 1933. Manor Farm was included as a gift to the people of Ruislip when king's College sold park Wood to the Ruislip-Northwood urban District Council in 1932.

The Barn is at the centre of the farmyard complex. Nearby is the 16 th century Little Barn, converted into a library in 1937. The 19 th century cowbyre was destroyed by fire in 1979 and replaced with a modern exhibition centre. Next to the Little Barn the old rickyard is now the bowling green.

The Barn is 120 ft (36.6 metres) long and 32 ft (9.75m) wide. The building is of a type known as an aisled barn; that is along either side of the main span are aisles or out-shots all under the uninterrupted sweep of one roof. It is divided into seven bays, which have a clear span of 17 ft (5.2m) and aisles of 15 ft (4.6m). The main posts along its length mark the bays. These are probably the most important timbers in the barn. They are of oak and were almost certainly taken from Ruislip Woods. Analysis of the construction techniques has shown that the barn was almost certainly built at the end of the 13 th century, around 1280.

The barn is erected on a plinth, which is brick for the most part, but sections of knapped flint are visible which may well be the original wall. On the west side facing Bury Street is a pair of great doors. The ironwork on the outside of the doors is modern. The outside of the barn is weather-boarded with a tiled roof, half hipped at the ends.

Manor Farm building The framing of the barn is by means of squared main posts which are slightly jowelled at the top to take the long top plate supporting the main roof rafters as well as the slightly curved tie-beams spanning the barn and helping to prevent the spread of the roof due to its great weight. Many of these are original timbers. The rafters of both the higher roof and that over the aisles are supported by purlins in the usual way which are themselves trussed by raking struts which can be seen rising from the tie-beams and the main posts. Collars brace the main purlines towards the top of the roof.

Features to note in the framing construction which are said to be distinctive are the join of the hipped roof by angle ties and dragon pieces said to be an extremely early example of this type of construction; the very slightly curved angle ties which are fitted horizontally to the tie-beams in three instances; the arcade plate scarf joint and the timbers known as passing braces. The latter are the long timbers running from the tie beams diagonally down through the main post, through the aisle beam finishing at a wall post. Most of these have now gone and those remaining have been cut off at arcade plate level but the troughs cut to receive them can be seen in most of the main beams.

In inspecting the barn it must be remembered that over the course of centuries many of the timbers have had to be replaced and there is a great deal of roofing, studding, external walling, floors and the like which is comparatively recent.

Acknowledgements to the late Mr. K.J. McBean for the text.

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