St. Martin's, Ruislip
The early history of settlement in Ruislip is uncertain. Lots of what is known about its past, such as the existence of a park for ‘wild beasts’, cannot be reliably dated. It is known that, before the Norman Conquest, the manor of Ruislip was held by Wlward Wit, a Saxon noble. By 1200, the parish had developed a distinct hamlet, Eastcote, and later on, another distinct hamlet, Northwood.
Ruislip High Street hosts an unusual number of timber-framed buildings which are thought to survive from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. The parish is also home to ‘Mad Bess Wood’, thought to be named after the wife of a local gamekeeper who allegedly prowled the woods at night hoping to catch poachers.
Residential development expanded in the parish following the construction of establishments associated with the Royal Air Force, based in an airfield in neighbouring Northolt from 1915 onwards. RAF Northolt was used as a training site for foreign fighter pilots – Russian during the First World War, and Polish, Belgian and Canadian during the Second – bringing the inhabitants of Ruislip into contact with people from all over the world. During the Second World War, RAF Northolt was designated a Fighter Command operational base, further increasing the number of servicemen living in the parish.
Mount Vernon Hospital was constructed on its present site between 1902 and 1904. It was originally a branch of the North London Consumption Hospital, which specialised in the treatment of tuberculosis patients, but has since vastly expanded its remit.
Nowadays, Ruislip is perhaps best known for its lido: a 60-acre lake with sandy beaches surrounded by a 726-acre nature reserve.