The Civic History of St. Ives

Listed below you will find listed in chronological order the major historical civic and manorial events of St. Ives;

Year St Ives before Domesday

5th~6th Century

A settlement formed on the banks of the River Great Ouse and was called "Slepe"


The township with its hamlets of Oldhurst and Woodhurst, together with the 'Soke of Slepe' are granted to Ramsey Abbey


The remains of St. Ive or Ivo, a 'Bishop of Persian origin', are discovered at Slepe and the settlement begins to become known as St Ives after the Bishop whose remains are removed to Ramsey Abbey.


Saint Ives Priory, a cell of Ramsey Abbey, is founded at Slepe.


King Edward the Confessor confirmed the grant of 974


King William the Conqueror confirmed the grant of 974


Slepe and its church are mentioned in the Domesday Book

Year 12th Century St Ives


The first mention of a wooden bridge over the River Great Ouse at Slepe


King Henry I grants a charter for a fair to be held yearly commencing on Wednesday in Easter week and to continue for eight days. Owing to the inconvenience the time was later changed to Easter Monday and for seven days thereafter. This charter was the first stage in the establishment of Saint Ives as a future town.


The grant of the fair confirmed by King Henry I


The grant confirmed by The Pope

Year 13th Century St Ives


The grant confirmed by King John. The town of Saint Ives was now firmly established and growing rapidly. The Abbot of Ramsey purchased a licence from the King to hold a weekly market in Saint Ives on a Monday. This weekly market still continues.


The priory and its buildings are destroyed by fire


The 1110 grant of a fair is confirmed by King Henry III


The status of a Vicarage is ordained to the parish church and from this date onwards vicars have been regularly appointed to the parish


Saint Ives Priory is rebuilt


The abbot's jurisdiction in the fair called into question


The burgesses of Huntingdon obtained a charter from King Henry III granting them the right to take all tolls within St Ives during fair times in consideration of their paying an increased fee farm or rent of £20.


The king surrendered his profits in the Saint Ives fair to the abbot of Ramsey on payment of an annual sum of £50


No foreign merchants attended the fair this year and the fair begins to decline


The abbot of Ramsey established 70 customary tenants in 'Le Strete' and 10 more outside the priory gate. This no doubt is the date when the tenements on the north side of the Market Place and the Broadway were first set out.


King Edward I confirmed the weekly market at Saint Ives


Edward I visited the town


Edward I visited the town again. He must have liked it!

Year 14th Century St Ives


The abbot of Ramsey maintained the Saint Ives fair against a new one which had been set up in Ely by the Bishop.


King Edward III visited Saint Ives


King Edward III visited Saint Ives again, he must have liked it too!, and in the same year weavers from Brabant settled in the town


The market was plundered by local brigands - no change there then!


A second fair established in August. It never achieved any importance and was later moved to become the Michaelmas Fair.


The burgesses of Huntingdon obtained a remission of the additional £20 paid to the king as the profits and tolls of the fair had dramatically fallen.


A wooden bridge on the site of the present stone one is first mentioned

Year 15th Century St Ives


The present bridge is built using Barnack stone although half of it was later destroyed by Cromwell


The chapel on the bridge is consecrated


The burgesses of Huntingdon resume paying the additional £20 increment for the tolls of Saint Ives during the fair

Year 16th Century St Ives


The Easter fair is abandoned and transferred to Whitsuntide, and the August Fair to Michaelmas


The dissolution of Ramsey Abbey and Saint Ives Priory


The priory and its estates are sold and the building are subsequently dismantled. The ex-prior of Saint Ives is allowed to retire and take up residence in the Bridge Chapel.


A stone cross mentioned as standing at the north end of Bridge Street


The tolls of the market, fairs and houses in Market Hill are assigned to Princess, later Queen, Elizabeth for 21 years.


A 'ruined chapel' on the south side of the bridge is sold!


The death of the former prior of Saint Ives, the Bridge Chapel now coming into the possession of two laymen.

Year 17th Century St Ives


Robert Wilde, Puritan devine and Royalist poet, born in the town


The so-called 'Manor House' at the south-west end of Bridge Street is built


Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have come to the town to live and is believed to have farmed Westwood farm. He moved to Ely in 1636. There is no evidence that he actually lived in the town and the signature purporting to be in his in one of the church books is probably a later forgery.


Foundation of the Independent, later Congregational, Church


The southernmost arch of the bridge removed and a drawbridge inserted in its place by order of Parliament. Similar instructions were given to Huntingdon and St Neots town authorities.


A large part of the town of St Ives was destroyed by fire


Another disastrous fire which burnt down most of the houses on the south side of Market Hill as far as the quay, together with those on part of Bridge Street.

Year 18th Century St Ives


The tollbooth and shambles are rebuilt


A public clock with a striking bell is erected at the noprht-east end of Bridge Street where the was once a shop operated by Messrs. Kiddle & Co.


The drawbridge is dismantled and the two southern most arches of the bridge are rebuilt in its place.


The 'Saint Ives Mercury' newspaper is founded, later it became the Northampton Mercury and moved from the town.


The Anglican Parish church spire was blown down in a great tempest which destroyed many windmills in the locality. The spire was rebuilt in 1748.


Samuel Jackson Pratt, poet, author and playwright was born in the town. (He died in 1834)

Year 19th Century St Ives


First decennial census. The population of the town was 2099 persons.


The open field called the 'Town Lordship' were enclosed. The enclosure award and map are in the possession of the Town Clerk. John King Watt, later a solicitor and one of the first members of the Royal Geographical Society, was born in the town. (He died in 1884)


The Methodist Church on the Waits was built.


The former causeway to St. Elyn's Close, now Ames Corner, replaced by a new bridge.


A great flood inundates the town


British School built by Potto Brown who was a prominent non-conformist.


National Church of England School built


Old Slepe Hall destroyed and the new Slepe Hall, now Slepe Hall Hotel, was built on a new site shortly afterwards. Cromwell Place was formed and an Act of Parliament passed to provide lighting, watching (Police), draining, cleaning, paving and improving the town.


The Public Institution, which became the Music Box Night Club, built in Crown Yard and the first Railway Station is opened


Priory Barn is pulled down leaving on the remains we see today.


The Corn Exchange is built and the building of the Congregational Church in Market Hill is commenced.


'The Priory' house is built by Mrs. Agnes Coote and subsequently sold to Mr F Warren in 1891. It became the offices of Saint Ives Rural District Council and then later offices of the Huntingdonshire NHS Trust.


St. Ives granted the status of a Municipal Borough by Royal Charter


Another flood inundates the town


The Anglican Parish church spire was again rebuilt as its structure was becoming unstable


Council purchases the market tolls from the Duke of Manchester


The cattle market is held in the streets of St Ives for the last time and moves to the new council owned cattle market laid out close to the railway station.


The Railway Station is rebuilt and an unsuccessful attempt was made to remove the markets and fairs from the streets of the town was made. The markets and fairs still take place in the streets as they have done for around 1,000 years.


A Rood Screen and organ is built into the Anglican parish church


The Vestry was built on the north side of the parish church, replacing one that had been built on the north of the chancel but was since destroyed.


Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrated throughout the town.

Year 20th Century St Ives


The statue of Oliver Cromwell was unveiled on Market Hill


A memorial fountain was built in the Broadway to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of 1897 and the Roman Catholic church built in Needingworth Road.


William Wigston Warner, a former Mayor and Councillor, donates a parcel of land to the town to create what becomes Warner's Park


Methodist church on the Waits was rebuilt


The spire of the parish church was knocked down by an RAF aeroplane taking off from Hemingford Meadow


A war memorial, the Cross of Sacrifice, is erected by the town council in Market Hill and paid for largely by public subscription


Council buys the rights to charge tolls on the bridge from the Duke of Manchester and ceases to charge them


Council purchase Stanley House, former home of the Warner family, from Lloyds Bank for it to be used as the Town Hall and the spire of the parish church was rebuilt.


The Bridge Chapel, which has been a house for many years, was bought and presented to the County Council but administered by the Saint Ives Corporation.


Mrs Olive Sutton gives Ingle Holt Island to the town


The cattle market was altered and improved.


Another flood inundates the town


Council purchases the Corn Exchange


George Lewis Day, the Town Clerk, sponsors the purchase of the St Ives Civic Mace


St Ivo School was opened.


The railway line to March was closed


The opening of St Ivo Swimming Pool and in the same year the closure of the railway line to Cambridge.


St. Ives looses the status of a Borough as a result of the new Local Government Act


St. Ives twins with the German town of Stadtallendorf