This was the home of Charlotte Gell who gave money to build the almshouses in Swakeleys Road and the Pump, and also for annual gifts to needy village folk. She died in 1863.
The house was then owned by Admiral Arthur Cochrane - the son-in-law of Thomas Truesdale Clarke of SWAKELEYS - who had many influential friends, including Howard Carter of Tutankhamen fame. Carter often came to spend the weekend in Ickenham.
The house was demolished in 1920; the present house (now part of a Sheltered Housing Scheme) is slightly further back on the site and incorporates parts of the old mansion. The cellars of the original BUNTINGS are now a garden.
The big house had a fine range of coach houses and stables with living accommodation above. During World War I a Cavalry Regiment and their horses were billeted in them. Their job was to bale hay of the local farmers for use by the Cavalry Regiments on war service. All the local hayricks were confiscated by the War Department. After the war the coach houses and stables were converted into private dwellings by the new owner, Miss Tompson.
LITTLE BUNTINGS was built after 1835 on the garden ground of Ickenham poorhouse. LITTLE BUNTINGS - now owned by Cathcart & Co. - was an annexe to BUNTINGS and was often used as a guest house.
BUNTINGS FIELD covered the area between what is now the Tichenham Inn (formerly a self-service garage) and Ivy House Road. The first tennis courts were in BUNTINGS FIELDS, and in 1919 peace celebrations were held on the Field.
On 30th June 1904 a special train left Harrow-on-the-Hill to make the ceremonial opening trip to Uxbridge. As the train passed, villagers waved from the bridges in Austins Lane and Glebe Avenue. By March 1905 the steam trains had given way to electric engines and there was a service between Baker Street and Uxbridge. The nearest halt to Ickenham was at Ruislip - Ickenham was not considered important enough to merit a station.
In 1905 Ickenham Parish Council asked Uxbridge Rural District Council to approach the Metropolitan Railway about a halt in Ickenham, and an Uxbridge Councillor exclaimed: "What ! a halt out in the wilds of Ickenham!" Nevertheless, Ickenham Halt opened on September 25th, 1905. The platform was short - there was no room for more than three carriages at a time and longer trains stopped twice.
Shelters for waiting passengers were requested by the Parish Council in December 1905. The first booking hut was built 1910. As an advertisement it flew a red flag which, one windy day, frightened a horse being led past the station, and the man leading the horse was knocked over. The Metropolitan Railway lost the law suit which followed, and the flag had to come down.
The roads were so muddy in the early days that staff at the booking hut got used to looking after the wellington boots of commuters. These would be re-claimed for the dirty walk home.
The Joint Committee of the two railways opened their line through Ruislip and Ickenham (it is now called West Ruislip) on 20th November 1905. Where the railway passed over the River Pinn, a bridge and small road were provided alongside the stream so that the commoners would have access to the part of The Green north of the railway. The station did not open until 2nd April 1906.
The Olympic Games of 1908 were held in London. The marathon race was started in the grounds of Windsor Castle, and the runners passed through Uxbridge, Ickenham, Ruislip and Eastcote on their way to the White City Stadium.
The event was memorable because of the ill luck that befell the Italian runner, Dorando. he was the first man to enter the White City Stadium, but collapsed before reaching the finish and was helped to his feet by an over-enthusiastic fellow countryman, for which he was disqualified.
Many local people gathered to watch the runners.The local press commented:
"Probably those usually quiet villages of Eastcote, Ruislip and Ickenham have never before received the like attention or been brought into such prominence."
Certainly people came from far and wide - dressed in their Sunday best - and some travelled on the new Metropolitan Railway. Local tea rooms did good business on that day!
Village children attended the school which was near The Fox and Geese, on the corner of the High Road and Austins Lane.
Serious illnesses like diphtheria and scarlet fever occurred, as well as minor medical conditions associated with malnutrition. Hard weather kept many children at home as they did not have appropriate clothing, and the timing of the summer break depended on local haymaking and harvest when the children helped in the fields. Time was also taken off for treats such as fairs and May Day, or to follow the hounds, when the hunt came to the village. Beating at shoots was popular with the boys as the money paid was good and a meal was given at mid-day - better than going to school !
The school was built in 1866. In 1928 over-crowding made it necessary for the older pupils at the Church School to move to the Village Hall, which was then referred to as Ickenham Temporary Council School. In 1929 the old building was closed in preparation for the widening of the High Road. The older children were moved again to a new building in Long Lane, and the infants were moved to the Village Hall.
Both schools were run by the County Council.
Ickenham Hall was sold to the Metropolitan Railway in 1902, and was bought by Charles de Winton Kitcat after the line was opened in 1904. Dame Maude Lawrence, Director of Women's Establishments at the Treasury, lived at Ickenham Hall until her death in 1933. Her father was Lord Lawrence, Viceroy of India.
The Gilbey family rented the house in 1901 from the executors of the late William Capel-Clarke Thornhill (d. 1898). Arthur Gilbey was a partner in the family wine and spirits business.Mr. Gilbey was a great benefactor to the village.
He was an enthusiastic and proficient croquet player. Soon after the family took up residence, the Croquet Championship for All England was held at Swakeleys House.
In Mr. Gilbey's time the grounds near the House had formal flowerbeds, and there were also walled gardens and glasshouses, where grapes and peaches were cultivated. It was also famous for its ornamental lake by the River Pinn.
In 1900 a Middlesex Guide Book noted:
"Ickenham is situated off the beaten track and far from the encroachment of any railway. Ickenham village changes little year to year and remains one of the most rural of our Middlesex villages."
In 1901 there were 329 people living in Ickenham. When the muffled bells tolled mournfully in the parish church and the village shops put up their shutters on hearing of the death of Queen Victoria on 22nd January 1901, it was the beginning of not just national, but profound local change.
It is difficult for us to appreciate just how rural the area was in 1901. There was only one direct road to London, via Pinner and Harrow (or from Hillingdon village to Ealing) and only one railway - the Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Line through Northwood. The more adventurous villagers could walk to Uxbridge for the GWR train - a mere two miles!
The winding, narrow 'main' roads were difficult in winter, and the lanes that branched off them frequently led to isolated groups of cottages, which, although outwardly picturesque, were insanitary and primitive. The visitor from London was greeted like a stranger from a far-off country - yet the great imperial capital was only 16 miles away.
There was no industry in Ickenham (unlike Harefield) and most people were employed on the farms, or as servants at the large houses SWAKELEYS, THE BUNTINGS and ICKENHAM HALL. The few shops were in the centre of the village - behind the pond, between the Fox and Geese and the Coach & Horses public houses, and opposite ST. GILES CHURCH. The village smithy was in a lean-to at the Fox and Geese.