What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
St. Ives, Huntingdonshire
=How to get there.=–Train from Liverpool Street or St. Pancras. G.E.R. =Nearest Station.=–St. Ives. =Distance from London.=–70-1/2 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 2 to 3 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 8s. 9d. ... 4s. 10-1/2d. Return 17s. 6d. ... 9s. 9d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–At St. Ives, “The Golden Lion Hotel," “White Horse Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–From King’s Cross to Huntingdon. G.N. Rly.
St. Ives is a town of considerable antiquity, and in Saxon times was known as Slepe, which name is still retained by one of the two manors included in the parish, and it is applied to the town in the Domesday book. The more modern name is derived from Ivo, or St. Ives, a Persian who is said to have visited England in the sixth century, and to have been buried here.
A considerable part of the place was destroyed by fire in 1689, but there are still a number of quaint and interesting buildings. Over the Ouse is a stone bridge of six arches, supposed to have been built by the abbots of Ramsey. The approach to the bridge on the south side is by a causeway raised on arches to admit the passage of the waters in time of floods, which have on different occasions caused much damage here; and over one of the arches, near the centre of the bridge, is a mediaeval building, originally intended for a chapel.
The first church, built by Abbot Ednoth in the reign of King Edgar, was burnt in 1207, and rebuilt. The present structure, dedicated to All Saints, occupies the same site, close to the river, where it forms with the old houses adjoining a very charming picture. Until quite recent years, by a quaint bequest, dicing for bibles on the altar of the church took place every Whit Tuesday. The dicing is now done on a small table.
The interest in St. Ives and the neighbouring town of Huntingdon chiefly centres in the fact of their associations with Oliver Cromwell, who was born at the latter town in 1599. Cromwell went to school at Huntingdon, and from thence to Cambridge, but his father dying shortly afterwards, he returned home to manage family affairs. In 1628 he was elected for the borough of Huntingdon, but after the dissolution of Parliament, Cromwell returned to his native county and devoted himself to farming on the Ouse at Huntingdon and St. Ives. During his residence at St. Ives, Cromwell occupied the manor-house, Slepe Hall, which has been ruthlessly pulled down to allow of the erection of modern houses.
[Illustration: THE BRIDGE AT ST. IVES, HUNTINGTON.]