History of St Martin's

A Domesday reference to a priest holding 40-60 acres of land in Ruislip suggests that a church, possibly wooden, existed from at least the 11C. The Norman lord Ernulf de Hesdin granted the manor of Ruislip and probably the church to the Benedictine Abbey of Le Bec Hellouin in 1087.

Officials administering this alien priory’s English lands had a small chapel at Manor Farm. The prestige of Bec and an increase in population apparently caused the church’s enlargement. The present flint and stone building dates from mid-13C and probably stands on the site of earlier wooden and Norman stone buildings. Heavy taxation of alien priories in the 14C brought about disrepair and confiscation. John, Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry V, became the sole possessor and in 1422 he granted the church’s income to the Dean and Canons of Windsor who continue to appoint the vicar.

Major reconstruction of the building followed in the 15C when the tower was added and the chancel and south aisle were rebuilt. The north aisle was rebuilt around 1500 and the bell chamber was added to the tower and the south aisle was extended. In early 17C the tower staircase was added. Around 1870 Sir Gilbert Scott and Ewan Christian restored the church. A west porch and two lych-gates were added, followed by a 20C vestry, sacristy and hall.

Medieval features survive, notably wall-paintings, two piscinas, a priest’s door and two wooden chests.  Furnishings include monumental brasses, linenfold panelling, 17C pulpit and livery cupboard, wall monuments and funeral hatchments.  The stained glass windows are of 19C and 20C.

A booklet, giving a more detailed history and illustrating features of the church building, is available at the back of the church priced £1.00.

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