Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of St Ives

A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.

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'Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of St Ives', A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 1, (London, 1926), pp. 388-389. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of St Ives", in A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 1, (London, 1926) 388-389. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of St Ives", A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 1, (London, 1926). 388-389. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

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The priory of St. Ives was never more than a cell to Ramsey, and has scarcely any independent history. According to tradition, the relics of St. Ive or Ivo, a Persian bishop, who was a great traveller, were discovered in the fields near Slepe about the year 1000 (fn. 1) by a ploughman in the service of the abbot of Ramsey. The legend is so amusing that it deserves a place here. The ploughman was driven by repeated visions of the saint (who seems to have been a little short-tempered) to report his discovery to Aednoth, the abbot's bailiff, who, however, mocked at his story. 'Would you have us translate the bones of some low cobbler?' he asked. The next night Aednoth himself saw a vision of the saint in full pontificals, his brow dark with wrath. 'Do you call me a cobbler?' he said. 'I will give you a pair of boots that will last you a long time.' The unhappy bailiff arose to find himself crippled with rheumatic gout; and, sorely repenting his rash jest, crawled to the abbot to report the whole affair. The monks rejoiced, the relics were translated with psalms and hymns and solemn processions; but poor Aednoth was not forgiven for his irreverence till fifteen days before his death. (fn. 2)

The priory was probably built before the Conquest; it is mentioned in the early chronicles. The prior of St. Ives had, however, no independent seal; he was appointed by the abbot, with the consent of the chapter of Ramsey, and was merely one of the obedientiaries of the abbey. (fn. 3) In the 12th century the churches of St. Ives, Ellsworth, Knapwell, Hemingford, Broughton, Brington, Haliwell, Great Stukeley, Barnwell, Walton, Steeple Gidding and Over were set apart for the maintenance of the priory. (fn. 4)

William, prior of St. Ives, evidently took the part of abbot Walter against Daniel, for he accompanied him on his expedition to Rome. (fn. 5) In 1207 the priory was burned down; (fn. 6) but t was at once rebuilt, and consecrated by Bishop Grosseteste in 1238. (fn. 7) Several priors of St. Ives became abbots of Ramsey: one of these, Hugh de Sulgrave, increased its revenues, that the monks might be better provided for. (fn. 8)

In the 15th century there were still monks at St. Ives besides the prior; two or three of them are named in Bishop Alnwick's visitation of Ramsey in 1439. But at the Dissolution it seems that no one but the prior was left; at any rate only he received any pension. (fn. 9)

Priors of St. Ives

William, occurs 1143 and 1185. (fn. 10)
Richard Scott. (fn. 11)
Benedict, soon after 1231. (fn. 12)
Hugh de Sulgrave, before 1255. (fn. 13)
Walter de Lilleford. (fn. 14)
John Alconbury, occurs 1439. (fn. 15)
Robert Huchyn, last prior, occurs 1539. (fn. 16)


  • 1. Flor. of Worc. Chron. (Eng. Hist. Soc.), I, 154.
  • 2. From a life of St. Ive by Goscelin, a monk at Ramsey in the 11th century. Chron. Abbat, Rames. (Rolls Ser.), pref. xxxii. The miracles of St. Ive, appended to his history, show him to have been a very vindictive saint, and specially resentful of any want of reverence to his relics. There is another story of a monk who passed his shrine for some time without the customary bow. One night in a dream he saw the saint standing before him and pointing sternly to the shrine. 'What sort of personage, think you, rests therein ?' he asked. 'Is it some man of low degree ? Why is it that you do not bow your head when you pass before me—do not so much as lift your eyes ? Do you not know that you have need of my prayers ?' The terrified monk replied, 'Have mercy on me, dearest my lord, have mercy on me; I promise that henceforth I will never again forget.' 'You will do well,' answered the saint. 'But that your faults may be corrected and not repeated, you shall now bear your punishment,' and he accordingly flogged the monk with such severity that his shoulders ached for many days afterwards. Ibid., lxv.
  • 3. Cart. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.), II, 204-5.
  • 4. Ibid. 200-1.
  • 5. Chron. Abbat. Rames. (Rolls Ser.), 329.
  • 6. Ibid. 342.
  • 7. Grosseteste, Epist. (Rolls Ser.), 190-1.
  • 8. Cart. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.), II, 230.
  • 9. L. and P. Henry VIII, iv (2), 565. He received £12 a year, with the chapel and chamber on the bridge of St. Ives.
  • 10. Chron. Abbat. Rames. (Rolls Ser.), 309; and Cart. Mon. de Rames. II, 162-4.
  • 11. Cart. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.), I, 205.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Ibid., III, 182.
  • 14. Chron. Abbat. Rames. (Rolls Ser.), 366.
  • 15. Visit of Bp. Alnwick, Alnwick Tower, Lincoln.
  • 16. L. and P. Henry VIII, xiv (2), 565.