WHODUNNIT AT ICKENHAM HALL?
Ickenham Hall in Glebe Avenue certainly rates as one of the jewels in Ickenham’s historic crown. Yet visitors to the Compass Theatre may not be aware of its association with or proximity to the Hall. And since the Hall may have borne the name Ickenham Manor for a short period, it is sometimes confused with Ickenham Manor Farm (see ICN June 2008), a fine building a mile or so away.
The Hall has been associated with a number of residents who are remembered in local street names today. The Shorediche family (hence Shorediche Close) were Lords of the Manor of Ickenham and large property owners locally. They owned the land on which Ickenham Hall, with its Georgian frontage, was built in about 1740, replacing an earlier property known as Sherwyns. The Hall was later acquired by another landowner, John Crosier (so Crosier Road). John Crosier also owned Home Farm, Milton Farm and Hill Farm (now part of Northolt Aerodrome).
Numerous occupants followed, including the Hilliard family, Charles de Winton Kitcat and Dame Maude Lawrence (yes, Lawrence Drive!), and finally the Revd Ralph Potts Guy. In 1940 the Hall was used as a school and when Ralph Potts Guy died, it was sold to Middlesex County Council (MCC). In 1948, the Hall became a Community Centre.
A personal memory: the Community Centre’s lawn was used for English country dancing. On a particularly glorious summer’s day, when the dance was at its height, the caller instructed her friend Janet Watt to, “go and dance with that boy in the pink shirt.” That boy was me and in my case it was love at first sight. This year Janet and I celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary!
The Hall was next placed by the MCC in the care of Mrs ‘Kit’ Beaven, who was involved with the local amateur dramatic group, the Argosy Players. This led to the construction of a Youth Theatre, opened in 1968 by the Rt Hon. Jennie Lee (widow of fellow MP and Cabinet Minister Aneurin Bevan). The theatre was the basis of today’s Compass Theatre (of which more in a future edition of ICN).
Today, Ickenham Hall is used partly in conjunction with the Compass Theatre as accommodation for further education activities, and by Hillingdon Music Services. But the building is urgently in need of extensive refurbishing and it deserves to be restored to its former glory. A new volunteer group - “Friends of Ickenham Hall” - has been formed to focus on raising funds for the restoration of this notable Grade II listed building.
As part of this initiative, on the evening of 27th February, there will be a Murder Mystery to solve at the Compass Theatre, with a visit to the ‘scene of the crime’ in Ickenham Hall. Tickets are available from the Compass Box Office on 01895 673200, with proceeds to the restoration fund. Why not come along for a little sleuthing?
And for further details about the “Friends of Ickenham Hall”, ring Kevin Masters on 07946 148714.
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and bereavement visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 15th February (then Monday 15th March). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.