While no major historical events have taken place in Ickenham, settlements dating back to the Roman occupation of Britain have been discovered during archaeological surveys, and the area appears in the Domesday Book. Buildings from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries remain standing and have been restored in recent years.
The village was originally split into four manors, which became two: Ickenham and Swakeleys. The old manorial home of Swakeleys, a 17th century Jacobean mansion Swakeleys House still exists for corporate use. Ickenham's manorial home, Manor Farm, now forms part of Long Lane Farm. A military station, RAF West Ruislip, was opened in 1917. Its final use was for the Navy Exchange of the U.S. Naval Activities, United Kingdom command between 1975 and 2006.
According to the 1901 Census, Ickenham at that time had a population of 329, which by the 2001 Census had reached 9,933, although census figures show a marked population decline during the 1960s and 1970s. By 2008, the population had reached 10,133. When Ickenham obtained a railway station on the Metropolitan Railway's line between Harrow and Uxbridge, it brought with it a rail link to London. A great deal of residential development commenced in the village and it gradually became part of the London commuter belt. Ickenham expanded with the sale and development of much of the Swakeleys estate in 1922 and became part of what was later termed "Metro-land".
Ickenham was originally divided into the four manors of Ickenham, Tykenham, Swalcliff (Swakeleys) and Herses (Hercies). Tykenham and Herses were within the parish of Hillingdon, though Herses subsequently became part of the manor of Swalcliff. These manors were eventually merged to form the main manors of Ickenham and Swakeleys. The original lord of the manor of Ickenham was Geoffrey de Mandeville, from whom it passed to William de Brock and then, in 1334, to John Charlton whose son John owned Swakeleys from 1350. By the mid-14th century, Ickenham was owned by the Shorediche family who retained possession until 1819.
The Crosier family, major landowners in north-west Middlesex, moved to Ickenham in the 16th century. They established their manorial home as Sherwyns, and owned Home Farm and Sears house in 1624. After the Shorediche family Milton Farm was bought by William Crosier in 1685. Edward Hilliard become the direct descendent of the final member of the Crosier family, John Crosier. Under the Hilliards, Milton Farm was sold to become part of the Swakeleys estate in 1816, and Hill Farm become Northolt Aerodrome in 1916. The Shorediche family built their manor house on a track off Long Lane. Originally called Ickenham Hall, it was let out to farmers in 1818 and renamed Manor Farm, at which point the Crosier family renamed their manorial home from Sherwyns to Ickenham Hall.
Swakeleys manor, subordinate to Ickenham, was named after Robert Swalcliffe, who owned the manor with his wife Joan in the 14th century. He appears in records as Robert de Swalclyve and Robert de Wykeham, reflecting his ownership of Swakeleys and Wickham Park in Oxfordshire. In 1347, he owed £40 to a money lender, Roger Rikeman, which he was unable to pay, and so his land in Ickenham was passed by Rikeman in 1350 to John de Charlton.
A descendent of John de Charlton, the first Sir Thomas de Charlton, died in 1448 whereupon Swakeleys passed to his son, also named Sir Thomas, who became Speaker of the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for Middlesex. He died in 1465, at which point his son Sir Richard became owner of the manor. Sir Richard was killed fighting on the side of Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The victor of the battle, Henry VII, named him in his Act of Attainder, though he granted Sir Richard's wife Elizabeth a life interest in the manor. However, Sir Thomas Bourchier was subsequently granted the manor of Swakeleys and Covelhall (Cowley). Upon Sir Thomas' death in 1510, the manor passed to Sir John Peeche as his executor. Sir John had no children, so Swakeleys passed to the Earl of Devon, Henry Courteney in 1521. The Earl granted a licence to control Swakeleys to Sir William Fitzwilliam in 1531, who was acting as trustee for Ralph Pexall.
A church at Ickenham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book and it is likely that residents travelled to nearby Harefield for services. The original nave and chancel of St Giles' church have been dated to 1335 while the nave was extended west in 1959. The bell turret was built in the 15th century and a brick aisle added in 1575.
'The Pump' is a significant local landmark. Donated to the village by Charlotte Gell, this water pump stands close to the village pond at the intersection of Swakeleys Road and Long Lane. After Gell's death in 1863, under the provisions of her will a water pump was sunk for the benefit for the community in 1866. The village pond next to the pump was dug at the same time as the well for the pump was sunk to accommodate waste from the construction. An older pond on the other side of the village was filled in with the excavated earth from the new one. In 1857 Gell had also donated some of her land near St Giles's Church for five almshouses to be built for longstanding servants of the Gell household or Ickenham residents who were members of the Church of England. No more than three people were allowed to live in the houses at one time. The cottages remain and are maintained by the local church. Next to the pump stands the Coach & Horses public house, first licensed for the sale of alcohol in 1759 but of 16th-century origin. The house was used for manorial courts throughout the 19th century until the last was held in 1878.
On 25 September 1905, following lobbying by Ickenham Parish Council, the Metropolitan Railway opened a small halt on their line between Harrow and Uxbridge. The railway company had been reluctant to open a station in the area due to a perceived lack of demand, and so a compromise was reached with the construction of the halt. The new stop brought with it travellers from London seeking a day out in rural surroundings. Nearby villagers sold flowers from their gardens and served teas to the visitors. The parish council later requested shelters for passengers on the platforms, which were built in December 1905, followed by a booking hut in 1910. The original platforms, too short to align with all train carriages, were extended in 1922. Ickenham Halt was rebuilt as a station in the 1970s.
As a result of the railway, more commuters gradually moved to Ickenham and travelled to work in London. On 5 July 1922, of the Swakeleys estate was auctioned for development, thereby significantly reducing its size. Roads laid out for the new development were Warren Road, Swakeleys Drive, Court Road, Milton Road, Ivy House Road, The Avenue and Thornhill Road (originally named Park Road). Other land bordering the River Pinn was designated as public open land. Shops were built around Swakeleys Road, while houses were constructed along its length. The road was widened to become a dual carriageway in 1937. Milton Farm, one of the farms on the former Swakeleys estate was demolished in 1939. The farm's pond and listed barn were cleared to make way for housing in what became Milton Road and Milton Court, though marketed as "Ickenham Garden City".
The original village school was built on Ickenham High Road in 1866, although by 1920 it had become overcrowded. Older children were moved to the village hall in 1928 under the name Ickenham Temporary Council School. In 1929 the village school closed and its infant pupils also moved to the village hall. The road was widened in 1934 necessitating demolition of the school building along with the original Fox & Geese public house.
Breakspear Primary School was built in 1937, followed by Glebe Primary in 1952 on the other side of the railway line. The Roman Catholic secondary school Douay Martyrs was built in 1962 and later expanded onto the former site of Swakeleys School nearby. Swakeleys School had opened in 1929 for older children from the village school. In 1952 the boys moved to the newly opened Abbotsfield School and Swakeleys became a girls' secondary modern school. The girls' school moved from Ickenham to share the site of Abbotsfield School for Boys in Hillingdon in 1973. Vyners School opened as a grammar school on 12 January 1960 and later became a comprehensive. Delays in building work meant the first intake of pupils were taught at St Mary's Grammar School in Northwood Hills from 9 September 1959.
The village hall, designed by Clifton Davy, was built on part of Church Farm in 1926. Opened by Princess Victoria, as well as becoming the temporary village school the hall also became a restaurant during the Second World War and went on to be used as a bank and a polling station. A police telephone box was constructed next to the Pump in February 1936, and became operational on 4 May 1936. Church Farm opposite St Giles' church was demolished after the Second World War and replaced with shops, while new roads were built in the area. By 1951 the population of Ickenham had reached 7,107, and this had risen to 10,370 by 1961 and 11,214 by 1971. The ford over the River Pinn on Swakeleys Drive, nicknamed "The Splash", was replaced in 1957 by a road bridge.
During the Second World War Swakeleys House was requisitioned by the military and a searchlight battery established in the grounds. The house was Grade I listed in 1956, and the head gardener's cottage on the junction of Swakeleys Road and The Avenue was Grade II listed in 1959.
The village library opened in 1962 on the site of the 16th century cottage and tea garden, The Orchard. Uxbridge Borough Council installed a three-sided clock commemorating the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II in the library's tower, having been persuaded not to add it to the eight-sided village pump.
In the 1980s, St Giles' church celebrated its 650th anniversary and formed a covenant with the neighbouring United Reformed Church. The United Reformed Church moved to its current building in 1936 after the previous chapel building proved too small for the growing congregation. It is now used by a local company as a wood and scrap metal yard. Nearby, many buildings on the RAF station were demolished to make way for a new housing estate named Brackenbury Village. The US Navy eventually left in 2006 and the base was permanently closed. The site was cleared in 2007 and is currently undergoing redevelopment as residential housing under the "Ickenham Park" name.
The local library was closed for a complete refurbishment in 2009 and reopened in March 2010.
A garden commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II was opened in September 2012 in Swakeleys Park. The garden, featuring a landscaped area and benches around a stone obelisk, was designed by the local council's Green Spaces Team. The opening had been scheduled for 26 May 2012, although this was postponed after vandals destroyed the stone obelisk overnight shortly after it had been installed.
Ickenham is one of the ancient parishes of Middlesex. From 1894 to 1929 it was part of Uxbridge Rural District and from 1929 to 1938 it was part of Uxbridge Urban District. In 1938 all the parishes within Uxbridge Urban District were merged into the parish of Uxbridge. Since 1965 the former territory of Ickenham has been part of the London Borough of Hillingdon.