Ruislip Manor Farm

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameRuislip Manor Farm
Alternative NamesBury Street
Historic CountryLondon and Middlesex
Modern AuthorityLondon Borough of Hillingdon
1974 AuthorityGreater London
Civil ParishHillingdon

Norman motte and bailey castle at Manor Farm, Ruislip. The castle was founded by Ernulf de Hesdin after 1066, and altered by the monks of Bec, C.1096, when the ditch between the court and mound was filled in. The round motte, which has been very much lowered, still retains its wet ditch which is 220 feet in diameter and "encloses the humped kitchen garden" of the farm house. The bailey, which is roughly rectangular extends with its ditch about 150 feet to the north, but the ditch has been largely filled in; in the bailey stands Manor Farm House. (PastScape Ref. Braun and RCHME)

It has been suggested that a Norman motte and bailey castle occupied the site of the present Manor Farm. The theory is, however, based entirely on topographical evidence, all of which is open to alternative interpretation. (VCH, 1971)

The scheduled monument of Manor Farm motte and bailey, has been investigated over a number of years. The castle was built by Ernulf de Hesdin soon after the conquest of 1066. After 1097 the manor passed into the hands of the Abbey of Bec, who founded a small house on the site of the castle; this was dissolved in 1446. Later a farmhouse was built on the site, and the bailey ditches were filled in at the end of the 19th century. The Motte and bailey included a portion of village enclosure to south. The latter consisted of a bank some 1.5m high with a ditch to south. The bank is cut through by a modern access road and ditch is wet and reed-filled to west and dry to east. The motte, approximately 45m wide, rises to some 3m above the moat. The moat is some 4m wide at widest point. The bailey has been extensively landscaped and the area is difficult to ascertain, though a bank which may be part of the original remains to north. In 1988 some small fragments of tile noted throughout site, these appear post-medieval, also Victorian pottery sherds

A site visit in September 2005 noted that the motte was grass covered, scrub and bramble has been cut back in the motte ditch, some sherds of Roman pottery eroding out of the exposed banks, and the ditches were dry. (Information from Scheduled monument description) It was noted that a previous excavation had occurred on the site, possibly in 1937 by Mr Ewer. These investigations shoed that the Low motte and part of moat remained, as did an early medieval boundary wall on site of Norman palisade on summit of north rampart of one-time castle bailey. (uncertain source) An archaeological evaluation by AOC Archaeology took place in 2008 on land to the southwest. It was anticipated that evidence of the leat that fed the moat might be found. No such evidence was found, and the only medieval evidence recovered, post holes from a possible structure and a pit, dated to a period after the foundation of the motte and probably after the land passed into the hands of the church. In 2004 a small scale watching brief at 27B St Martins Approach noted the presence of part of the south bank of the earthwork in the north of the scheduled area. (Greater London HER)

Gatehouse Comments

The history given by Braun is not unreasonable but is probably based on received wisdom rather than actual evidence. An alternative scenario may be an existing Saxon ditched enclosure had a motte added to it (and it ditches redug and enlarged) in the late C11 as at Goltho, Lincolnshire.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ090877
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Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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  • Osbourne, Mike, 2012, Defending London (Stroud: The History Press) p. 26
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 51
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 269
  • Cockburn, J.S. and Baker, T.F.T. (eds), 1971, 'Ruislip: Manors and other estates' VCH Middlesex Vol. 4 p. 134-37 online transcription
  • RCHME, 1937, An inventory of the historical monuments in Middlesex (HMSO) p. 107-8 no. 4 (plan) online transcription
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1911, 'Ancient earthworks' VCH Middlesex Vol. 2 p. 1-14


  • Watson, S., 2014, ‘Ruislip Manor Farm: results of an archaeological watching brief and geophysical survey on the site of a motte and bailey castle and a medieval manorial complex’ Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol. 65 p. 231-45
  • Franklin, Geraint, 2008-9, 'A manorial court-hall in Metroland: Ruislip Manor Farm' Research News Vol. 10 p. 24 -25 online copy
  • Bedford, R. and Bowlt, C., 1977, 'Excavations of an earthwork at Manor Farm, Ruislip' The London Archaeologist Vol 3.4 online copy
  • Braun, Hugh, 1933, 'Earliest Ruislip' Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol. 7 p. 99-123, 228 download copy
  • Lees, A.D., 1933, 'Report on a trench through a sector of the Ruislip mound' Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol. 7 p. 649 download copy


  • Franklin, G. and Hall, L., 2008, Manor Farm, Ruislip, London Borough of Hillingdon: A Historic Building Report (English Heritage Research Department Reports series 63/2008) online copy
  • AOC Archaeology Group, 2008, Land off Bury Street, Ruislip: An Archaeological Evaluation Report
  • Bowlt, Colin, 2004, Report for the Owner of No 27B St Martin's Approach, Ruislip, Middlesex, of an Archaeological Watching Brief During Development Work for a Single Storey Rear Extension