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Ruislip Woods and National Nature Reserve Hillingdon
   

Ruislip Woods and National Nature Reserve

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Ruislip Woods contain a number of woods including Park Wood, Copse Wood, Mad Bess Wood, Bayhurst Woods and Poors Field, and the site is a substantial fragment of the formerly extensive Ruislip Park, at one time comparable to Enfield Chase. The woods were worked into the C20th but in 1932-36 the estate passed into public ownership. Ruislip Woods was preserved as part of the Green Belt and designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1950.
   
Previous / Other name: Park Wood, Copse Wood, Mad Bess Wood, Bayhurst Wood, Poor's Field
Site location: access: Ducks Hill Road/Bury Street/Wiltshire Road, Ruislip
Postcode: HA4, HA6, UB9
Type of site: Public Park 
Date(s): medieval
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
Borough: Hillingdon
Site ownership: LB Hillingdon
Site management: Parks and Open Spaces (Trees and Woodlands Service); Friends of Ruislip Nature Reserve/Ruislip Woods Advisory Group
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: Ruislip Woods Walks (marked routes through the woods)
Events:
Public transport: Tube: Ruislip (Metropolitan, Piccadilly) then bus. Bus: 331, H13.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.ruislipwoodstrust.org.uk; www.ruisliplidorailway.org

Fuller information:

Ruislip Woods, now a National Nature Reserve, is a substantial fragment of the formerly extensive Ruislip Park, at one time comparable to Enfield Chase (q.v.). There are records that Richard de Cliffe, Receiver of the Archbishopric of Canterbury was ordered in 1270 to deliver five live does from Harrow Wood to the Prior of Ruislip to stock his Park. Sale of wood and pannage provided 25% of the Manor's income in 1289; there was tile-making in the Tile Kiln Lane area and in Northwood from the C14th-C19th. In the C18th the woods were still intensively worked: 30 men were recorded working Park Wood making hoops and peeling bark (GLRO Acc 249, 1748). The park remained a working and hunting landscape well into the C19th with gamekeepers' cottages built in c.1875 by Lawrence J Baker, who rented shooting rights and raised pheasants on his Haydon Hall estate (q.v.). By the late C19th, advertisements in local newspapers were recording unsustainable sales of maiden trees and asset stripping, and in 1932-36 the estate passed into public ownership, with Mad Wood and Copse Wood estates acquired by MCC in 1935. A remnant of Ruislip Common of 16.38ha, known as Large Poor's Field, is registered common land.

Ruislip Woods chiefly comprises oak standards with hornbeam coppice, which are rare now, and perhaps the best example of the type surviving. There are significant lengths of boundary ditches and banks relating to inclosures and boundaries, many marked with 2-3ft high stub hornbeams of great age. Within the site is Ruislip Lido (q.v.), formed from a lake originally made in 1811 as a feeder to the Grand Junction Canal, which inundated the hamlet of Park Hearne. Ruislip Woods were preserved as a result of Green Belt legislation and designated a SSSI in 1950. The Nature Reserve was established at the north end of the estate in 1959.

In the woods to the north west of the Lido was a building known as the Battle of Britain House, which burnt down in 1984. It was built in 1905-7 for Josef Conn on land leased in Copse Wood and from 1907-14 it was run as a Health Hydro by Mrs Conn and then from 1916-40 was a private house. In 1940 it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Works and leased to the American Secret Service and in 1948 purchased by MCC as a memorial to those who died in the Battle of Britain. It was originally intended to be a Memorial Youth Centre and was opened as such by Victor Stanyon who ran courses here. In 1975 it was renamed Ruislip College, and later saved from closure by Mr Seal who leased it and ran community courses here until it was burnt down. In 1993 the site was taken back into Copse Wood, and it is currently not accessible to the public.

A 100-year Long Term Management Plan was adopted in 1982 building on experience of Ruislip Woods Management Advisory Group and LB Hillingdon Woodland Managers. The initial management concentrated on reintroduction of coppicing, aiming to create a system for recording and retrieving all available information about the site, improving public access and developing community involvement.

Sources consulted:

LB Hillingdon, Ruislip Woods Management Plan, 1982; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p348; Joanne Verden 'Ten Walks Around Pinner', (The Pinner Association) 1999 ed. P84; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993)
Grid ref: TQ088898
Size in hectares: c.297
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Yes: Common (Large Poor's Field CL94)
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Metropolitan Importance + SSSI
Green Belt: Yes
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: SSSI: Ruislip Woods; National Nature Reserve
   

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