A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1932.
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Slepe, Slepa, le Slepe, villa Sancti Ivonis de Slepe, villa Sancti Ivonis (x to xvi cent.); Sleape (xvi cent.).
The borough of St. Ives is of modern date, having obtained its charter of incorporation in 1874. (fn. 1) It represents the ancient township of Slepe, which, late in the 10th century was given by Aethelstan Mannesone (or Mauvessone) to his daughter Alfwen, with remainder, failing her heirs, to the Abbey of Ramsey. Aethelstan's wife, in agreeing with the monks as to her dower, arranged that this land should go to them directly after the death of Alfwen, (fn. 2) who was presumably childless. King Edgar ratified the gift in a charter purporting to date from 974, (fn. 3) but the date of Aethelstan's death is elsewhere given as 986. (fn. 4)
Ramsey Abbey thus obtained Slepe with all its appurtenances, possibly including the neighbouring townships of Woodhurst and Old Hurst, which were included in the 'soke' of Slepe (fn. 5) and were chapelries of its church. (fn. 6) Abbot Ednoth (9921008) raised Slepe to fame by translating thence to Ramsey the bones of one whom the monks described as Saint Ive, a bishop of Persia. Withman, who was elected abbot in 1016 and later made a pilgrimage to the East, (fn. 7) wrote the story of this Eastern saint, whose relics became famous for their health-giving properties. (fn. 8) It is possible that the stone sarcophagus in which the saint was said to have been found was a Roman coffin; it may even be that the 11th-century legend of an Eastern bishop preaching here preserved a local memory of Celtic missionaries at Slepe, (fn. 9) before the district was overrun by the pagan Danes. (fn. 10) There are traces of early settlement in the neighbourhood. A health-giving spring is said to have arisen from the saint's grave, (fn. 11) and near it Abbot Ednoth (before his translation to the bishopric of Dorchester in 1008) set up a cell of the abbey, with its own church dedicated to the honour of St. Ive. (fn. 12)
Slepe was confirmed to Ramsey Abbey by Edward the Confessor, and in 1078 by William I. (fn. 13) In 1110 Henry I gave to 'St Benedict of Ramsey and St. Ive of Slepe' a yearly fair to be held at Slepe in Easter week. (fn. 14) This was the foundation of the importance of Slepe, and eventually gave it the name of St. Ives. The original settlement was no doubt near the church which is mentioned in 1086, but the bridge which existed as early as 1107, (fn. 15) concentrated the traffic, and its northern head became the centre of trade. The position selected for the bridge was probably dictated by the necessities of the site, but it was a common practice to lay out a market place so as to compel the traffic to pass through it. It will be noticed that the road from Ramsey runs south to St. Ives church, where it takes a sharp angle south-eastward to the bridge, and further on another sharp angle south-westward across the bridge to Potton and the south. Extending from the church probably as far as the priory, at all events to the bridge, was the market place and fair ground through which all the traffic had to pass. At first this was open ground upon which houses and movable booths and stalls were erected by the abbots to accommodate the merchants and others who flocked to the fair. (fn. 16) Thus gradually the roadway became confined to the Waits and Broadway and the courts (curiae), rows (rengia or ordines), and lanes or passages were formed. Early in the 12th century men had begun to settle in some numbers about the market place taking up houses from the abbot there. (fn. 17) By 1279 the abbot of Ramsey had established some seventy customary tenants in the 'Street,' now Broadway and Market Hill, referred to in distinction to the 'Green,' which lay along the Ramsey Road north of the church, the two districts into which the town was divided. At the same time the prior of St. Ives had ten more customary tenants at his (the east) end of the 'street.' (fn. 18)
Outside this small, closely built area lay the meadows and common fields to the north, covering rather less (fn. 19) than 2,325 acres. More than half of this area (viz., 1,400 acres) was inclosed by an Act of 1801. (fn. 20) The low-lying meadows and ozier beds have always been liable to floods, and have 'a clammy look, clayey and boggy,' and from them rises the steeple with its 'sharp, high spire, piercing far up from amid the willow-trees.' (fn. 21)
Like most riverside towns St. Ives has its bridgehead, or piece of land at the end of the bridge opposite to the town, for protection of the bridge and collection of tolls. Here at the south-east end of the bridge is a good 18th-century brick house called Bridge House, and a little south on the opposite side is another 18th-century brick house, now used as offices and works. In the bridgehead the abbot formerly owned nine houses built round a courtyard, where the carts and packs of the merchants visiting the town were stored. (fn. 22)
The bridge was of wood down to 1384, being frequently repaired with ash or oak from the Ramsey Abbey manors. (fn. 23) Some thirty years after this date the present bridge was built of Barnack stone. It is of six spans, the four northern arches being two centred and the two southern semicircular. The cutwaters to the piers are carried up to form refuges from the traffic for travellers. In 1645 the southernmost arch was broken down and converted into a drawbridge by order of the Parliament. This and its adjoining arch were rebuilt by Charles 1st Duke of Manchester in 1716; (fn. 24) probably the brick parapet is of the same date.
Over the enlarged middle pier on the south-east side the chapel of St. Leger of St. Lawrence (fn. 25) was built, the altar of which was consecrated in 1426, (fn. 26) before which date the bridge must have been completed. It was to this chapel that the last prior of St. Ives retired after the surrender of his house. It remained in the hands of the crown until 1570, when it was acquired by Hugh Counsell, gentleman of the household, and Robert Pistor. (fn. 27) The chapel was converted into a dwelling house. It was much damaged in the fire of 1689, and in 1736 two additional stories of white bricks were added. The chapel consists of two stories. The first, a basement below the leve, of the roadway but considerably above the water line is lit by a small square-headed light in the two side walls, and has a modern doorway on the east opening on to a modern iron balcony. The second story, or chapel proper, at the level of the roadway, is 22 ft. long by 12 ft. wide, inside, and the east end is formed as a semi-octagonal apse. In the eastern wall was a shallow recess (now filled up) from which a stone niche had apparently been removed. The two sides of the apse have each a two-light window with fourcentred head and simple tracery, slightly restored. The north wall has a two-light window similar to the others, but only the outer orders are original; at the extreme east end is a small niche. The south wall has a window exactly similar to the last, and at the eastern end are the remains of a piscina. The western wall, adjoining the bridge, has a doorway with parts of two-light openings on each side. Of the doorway, part of the rear arch and one stone of the splay are ancient, the remainder modern, but there was part of an outer relieving arch, giving the lines of a flat segmental-pointed door-head, which has now gone. Of the northern opening the north jamb, splay and rear arch remain. Of the southern opening the south jamb, with parts of the sill and a flat head, all with holes where the iron guard-bars went, and the southern inner jamb and part of the rear arch, remain, with two of the hinge hooks for the shutters. This wall is surmounted by a low parapeted gable, in which is a small niche. An ogee-headed recess for a scraper by the side of the door is modern. Until 1930 the chapel was much disfigured by modern windows and doors and the additions of 1736, which have now been removed, the stonework repaired and modern stone parapets added. The ancient oak roof had been refixed on the brick building, and has now been lowered to its original position, but has required considerable repair. A hole which had been cut in the south wall (now filled up) showed that the building is constructed of re-used material, largely parts of semi-circular shafts.
Probably at the south end of the bridge stood another chapel, which was granted to William Gryce and Anthony Forster of Cumnor (co. Berks) in 1563, when it was already in ruins. (fn. 28)
The southern extension or causeway, which passed over the land of the manor of Hemingford Grey (q.v.) as far as 'St. Elyn's Cross,' was rented from the lords of that manor, who amerced the abbot when the bridge was out of repair. In 1822 this old causeway was replaced by a 'New Bridge.' The lord of the manor of St. Ives took toll from persons passing over the bridge until the Duke of Manchester commuted the toll; (fn. 29) the tollhouse, however, still stands between the New and the Old Bridges.
A great part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1680. Another fire, nine years later, started in a malthouse at the end of White Hart Lane 'next Padlemore,' crossing the Sheep Market, in the Market Place east of Bridge Street, and consuming all the houses to the river, with part of Bridge Street. The damage was estimated at 13,072. (fn. 30) Few houses in St. Ives survived these fires, but in Bridge Street there are several 17th and 18th century houses and shops. At the south end, the 'Manor House,' a half, timbered and tiled house of two stories with attics, was one that did escape these fires, being built probably about 1616. (fn. 31) It has an overhanging east front, but the south or river front has been refaced in brick. It still retains many of its original internal fittings. At the north end of Bridge Street stood the stone cross which was still standing in 1549. (fn. 32) In 1715 a new clock and dial with a 'larum,' was erected at the cross. (fn. 33) This probably refers to a clock, apparently maintained at a public charge, on an old house at the north-east of Bridge Street, about opposite to the site of the cross. The house was sold a few years ago by the Duke of Manchester, and was rebuilt. Probably a little to the south of this house stood the 'tolbooth.' Eastward of the cross in the Market Place was Shoemakers' Row, on the south side of which was the Town Pump, and southwards again were the Shambles. There are here on Market Hill some 17th and 18th century houses, including the Parrot Hotel and the Cross Keys Inn. A memorial to the men who fell in the Great War and a statue to Oliver Cromwell (unveiled 1901) stand in the Market Place. Eastward are the modern extensions of the town about the new cattle market opened in 1886, (fn. 34) and the railway station opened in 1848 and reconstructed in 1887.
Westward of the top of Bridge Street were the principal rows or places for the stalls of the various traders at the fair. The island site here bounded by Merryland and Crown Street was an early encroachment on the Market Place, as appears by the house at its south-east corner which dates back to the 15th century. This house was apparently known as the Blue Gate in 1728. (fn. 35) Crown Street, formerly called Fanche Street, took its name from the Crown Inn, an 18th-century house, standing opposite the north end of Bridge Street, with premises going back to East Street, to which other houses here formerly extended. Westward of Crown Street was Barkers Row, where was the Church House Close (fn. 36) with its dovecote. To the west was the Bullock Market, while on the south side of the Broadway was Tanners Row, Skinners Row began by the church, and the Spicers Row was not far off. The men of Ypres had a row on the south side for the sale probably of their cloth. French Row, where the wine merchants congregated, was opposite to Leicester Row. The Lincoln men occupied a row over against the men of Beverley near to the church. (fn. 37) The Barbers had their own street (vicus), (fn. 38) known later as Barbers Lane. Old Fish Lane (Eldefyselane) was a way from the (neat) market to the water, used for carrying water and other things to the market in 1426, (fn. 39) and may be the lane earlier called Fisherislane, (fn. 40) The eastern part of East Street was in 1728 known as Backside, and the western part as Tedds Lane. (fn. 41) On the north of 'Backside' was the Bowlings, where there was a Bowling Green, and west of it was the Pound. (fn. 42) The name Waits for the west end of Broadway goes back to the early part of the 16th century. (fn. 43) Le Thwertway, Thwertpath or Twyrtpath was evidently another name for East Street; on the north side of it in 1315, (fn. 44) lay the houses of the sacristan of St. Ives, (fn. 45) doubtless identical with the 16th-century 'Sexten Row.' (fn. 46) Other small alleys led out of the two main streets, and were called Schaillethslane, or Scaylislane, leading off Bridge Street, (fn. 47) Joseppislane, (fn. 48) Burdoneslane, (fn. 49) and Cowlane. (fn. 50)
The mediaeval buildings must have been chiefly of wood, and in certain cases tenants were allowed no fire, (fn. 51) while the abbot's courts strictly supervised the water supply. (fn. 52) Several 'halls' or houses stood out from the rest. The Stonehall or Old Court House, which stood on the site of the present Post Office, was built possibly in the 15th century and pulled down about 1886. It was of two stories with an attic. Latterly the ground floor was used as a shop, and on the first floor were two small oakpanelled rooms, apparently the steward's offices, the panelling from which is still preserved in the library of Mr. George D. Day's house. Below the shop was a cellar used as a prison, in the walls of which were the rings to which the prisoners were said to be chained. Behind, at right angles, was the hall in which the court of pie powder and other courts were held. This hall became disused, and was converted into six cottages. (fn. 53) Disthall, or the hall 'de Dest,' was also let out in 'booths,' 'bays,' or 'rows,' at fair-time, (fn. 54) and about 1440 was converted into five cottages. (fn. 55) It lay near the priory and the prior's mill, and was given to the prior in exchange for land at Bury, shortly before 1440. (fn. 56) Ballard Hall obviously took its name from the Ballard family. One Geoffrey Ballard acquired a house in St. Ives about 1177, (fn. 57) and this was possibly the house next the priory gate afterwards held by John Ballard. (fn. 58) They owned also Ballard's Orchard or Yard, which had been built over by 1440. (fn. 59) The old tolbooth, which stood next a lane leading to the water, (fn. 60) was let out in tenements in 1458, when a new one had been built. The tolbooth was again rebuilt in 1705 by Charles, Earl of Manchester (except the front next the cross), together with the Shambles and all the row of houses to the Cornhill. (fn. 61)
The 'Freehouse' was a tenement on the Green which was in dispute between the Downes and Beeton families in 1597. (fn. 62) During the 13th century the house called 'le Garet,' which stood at the corner of Bridge Street opposite the Bridge, (fn. 63) was distinguished by its solar which was let out separately from the booths below. (fn. 64)
The crossing of the Ouse at first attracted visitors to the town, and in this way Edward I was here in March 1293 and January 1299, (fn. 65) and Edward III in April 1334 and July 1338. (fn. 66) While the town was famous for its fair it was mainly inhabited by those who were connected with the organisation of the fair, but from the 17th century most of the eminent men connected with it by birth or residence have been famous in literature. Robert Wild, the puritan divine and Royalist poet, was the son of a shoemaker of the town, where he was born in 1609; he was for seven years in a private school there. His enthusiasm for the Royalist cause showed itself in an outpouring of poetry in celebration of the Restoration.
Of greater literary importance was Samuel Jackson Pratt, who was born in St. Ives in 1749. His father was a brewer who was twice high sheriff of Huntingdonshire, and his mother was a niece of Sir Thomas Drury. He was a prolific poet, author and playwright, his principal writings amounting to fifty or sixty volumes, some of which he published under the nom-de-plume of 'Courtney Melnoth.' He died in 1814. William Day, the author of Punctuation Reduced to a System, which has been described as 'the best book ever printed on the subject,' lived at St. Ives, as did his brother George Game Day, whose name in the middle of the last century was famous in connection with the drainage of the Fens. John King Watts, a solicitor, who was born in St. Ives in 1808, and practised there till his death in 1884, was a well-known figure in scientific circles, and one of the earliest Fellows of the Geographical Society. Of more recent remembrance is Walter Theodore Watts Dunton, the literary critic and friend and housemate of A. C. Swinburne, who was born at St. Ives in 1832. He left St. Ives and practised for a few years as a solicitor in London before he became leading literary critic on The Athenum, and gave himself entirely to literary work until his death. Clement King Shorter, the journalist and biographer of the Bronts, was another native of St. Ives, and James Douglas, who edited the Sunday Express and published a Life of Theodore Watts Dunton in 1904, was also connected with the town. Miss Ethel M. Goodman, who was prominent in the struggle for women's suffrage, and who is now a well-known journalist, is the daughter of Henry Goodman, lately of St. Ives, where she formerly lived. (fn. 67)
The literary interests at St. Ives possibly instigated the founding of a series of important printing presses in the town. One of the earliest presses to publish a country newspaper was that owned by Robert Raikes and his partner William Dicey in Fish Street, now Wellington Street. Raikes had succeeded John Fisher, who had started a printing business in Tedds Lane in 1716 which continued until his failure in 1719. In 1720 Raikes and Dicey published the St. Ives Mercury, which, on the partnership being dissolved two years later, became the Northampton Mercury, set up by William Dicey, who settled in that town. Robert Raikes went to Gloucester, where he founded the Gloucester Journal, and his son Robert, who succeeded him, became well known as the promoter of Sunday schools. The St. Ives Press in 1788 and 1793 published pamphlets by William Frend, the Unitarian Fellow of Cambridge University, which called forth much controversy, in which Samuel Coleridge the poet took part. T. Bloom was the printer in 1788 and Peter Croft in 1793. Peter Croft's press was in Crown Street, in what was known as 'The Old House of St. Ives.' Croft's printing office was in the attics, which, with their dark oak panelling, were the most interesting feature of the house. After his death the business was carried on by his widow and daughter, and then by his son-in-law, Mr. Parry, from whom it came to S. D. and J. Cox. The last-named printers started the St. Ives newspaper which after being published under various other titles became the Eastern Counties Gazette. In 1859, after having passed through several proprietors' hands, the printing business came into the possession of Mr. E. Watts, who fitted up new presses and restored the Old House. The picturesque setting of the old panelled attics was retained. Mr. Watts sold the press to the Rev. William Lang, who published there in 1866 an important book by the Rev. John Hunt, 'An Essay on Pantheism,' which attracted great attention at that time. The press was closed in 1867, and the Old House was pulled down twenty years later, the new Post Office, as already stated, being erected on the site. (fn. 68)
The Easter fair to which the town of St. Ives owed its origin reached its zenith in the 13th century. Henry I, by his charter of 1110, had granted to Ramsey Abbey a fair to be held on Wednesday in Easter week until the eighth day, with sac, soc, toll, theam, infangentheof and all other customs. He also extended the king's peace to all coming thither, remaining there and returning thence. (fn. 69) He dated his charter from Brampton (presumably Brampton in Huntingdonshire), and possibly made it under local influence, for his chamberlain, William of Houghton (de Houctone) witnessed it, (fn. 70) and also a later charter, whereby he granted that the fair should last from Easter Monday until the Monday following. (fn. 71) In a more general charter of 1130 Henry again confirmed the fair to the abbey. (fn. 72) Pope Innocent II also included the fair in his general confirmation of the abbey's possessions in 1140. (fn. 73) Henry II, in a charter witnessed by Thomas Becket as Chancellor (i.e., 1155 62) granted that the fair should be held from Monday in Easter week until the Monday following, and set a pain of 10 upon any disturbance of the abbot's rights. (fn. 74) By a later charter the sheriff and other officers were to allow the abbot to have all the liberties, customs and quittances and all his places (loca) in the fair as he ought, and as he had enjoyed them under Henry I. (fn. 75) King John included the fair in his general confirmation of the abbey's possessions on 22 October, 1200, (fn. 76) and about the same time the abbot purchased from him the grant of a weekly market at St. Ives. (fn. 77) In 1227, Henry III commanded the sheriff to allow the fair to be held on Wednesday (sic) in Easter week for eight days, in accordance with the charter of Henry I. (fn. 78)
About 1250, the extent of the abbot's jurisdiction in the fair was called into question. Henry III, who made large purchases there, appointed two wardens of the coming fair on 1 April, 1250, and reappointed the same wardens for the following two years. (fn. 79) Thereupon, in Easter term 1252, the abbot sued these two wardens, Roger the king's tailor and John de Somercotes, representing that his predecessors had held the fair from Monday the morrow of Easter until Tuesday after the close of Easter (i.e., for eight days), taking within that time all the stallage, tronage and passage belonging to the fair; that he and his predecessors had built houses, stalls and booths for which they received rent during the fair, and that on that account the abbey was charged to maintain an additional twenty monks. He alleged that the king's wardens came to the fair and proclaimed the king's peace for all who came thither for three weeks beyond the abbot's term for the fair, which was thus prolonged sometimes by a fortnight, sometimes by three weeks. During that time he charged them with taking 15 in rent and stallage from his houses, stalls and booths, and from the vessels which were moored upon his soil. He complained that the wardens returned to the merchants 13 marks which he had received for rent and stallage, and would only allow him a quarter of the stallage taken, taking to themselves all the tronage, and even collecting 19s. from the abbot's own cart. He claimed all attachments arising within the fair as part of his hundred of Hurstingstone, and complained that the king's wardens had unlawfully determined suits in the fair, taking the amercements and attachments. (fn. 80)
The position was complicated by the claim of the burgesses of Huntingdon to take all tolls within St. Ives at all times including fair times, in consideration of an increment of 20 paid to the king in excess of their ancient farm. This right was confirmed to them on 5 March, 1252, (fn. 81) and was probably based upon their right to collect toll throughout the county. (fn. 82)
The king's wardens contended that they had done nothing against the abbot's fair. On the Tuesday after the close of Easter at the hour of prime they had proclaimed the king's peace and protection for the merchants assembled and promised them the king's justice. They remained there about three weeks, took toll, heard suits and received amercements for the king, as others had done when the fair was in his hand. They declared that the abbot could only claim rent and stallage from booths or boats during the term of his own fair, because the stalls and booths were in the king's highway, and the water on both sides was the king's for two leagues (leuc) below the town of Huntingdon. Directly after the abbot's fair ended, the burgesses of Huntingdon had their bailiffs on the water and on the road where the stalls were set up (apparently the present market hill and Broadway), and likewise in the cross road to the water (evidently Bridge Street), taking toll at all exits and entrances. The 13 marks the wardens had distrained as the whole of the stallage for the petty booths and stalls set up (to the west) on the way to the church. This they claimed should have been shared between the abbot and the king in proportion to the length of the fair held for each; but the abbot had refused to divide it. They denied the abbot's right to attachments after his fair had ended, or in the market. When the fair came into the king's hands they called before them merchants from every one of the nations to inquire what ought to be done while the fair lasted touching food and drink. The merchants desired no assize of food or drink, saying that they came thither to make their profits, and some wished to eat good things at a higher price, some worse things at a less.
The abbot, however, claimed the whole town as his soil, all the stallage, cartage and portage, and the whole of the water to mid-stream (filum aque). The king, he said, was only wont to take custom for trading done and the incidents from pleas while the fair was in the king's hands. The wardens charged the abbot with encroaching upon the highway and on a 'certain greatest part' of the town, where the fair was situate, which was held in serjeanty of the king, evidently referring to some fifty acres which were held by the Hawker family, by the serjeanty of keeping a goshawk for the king during the winter. (fn. 83) The wardens also claimed for the king the increments on the ancient rent of 2s. per frontage, which had been taken by the abbots and raised to various sums from 9s. to 13s. 4d. by Robert de Braybroke, whilst he had held the abbey's lands for King John, during the seven years' vacancy of the abbey from 1207 onwards. (fn. 84)
The king and council referred the points in dispute to an inquest by 24 knights and merchants, (fn. 85) the outcome of which is unknown. Eventually, the various claims were settled by compromise. In 1258, for a fine of 500 marks, the king surrendered to the abbot all profits of the fair, however long it should last, in consideration of a yearly payment into the Exchequer of 50, (fn. 86) apparently based upon the crown's receipts for the previous year. (fn. 87) It is not clear how long the king had set up his claim to prolong the fair. Matthew of Paris (fn. 88) ascribed his attempt to take it into his own hands to the evil counsels of Robert Passelew; but the pleadings in the king's court seem to refer the change back to the time when for seven years the abbey was in the hands of King John.
Within the year of this compromise with the King (12589), the burgesses of Huntingdon claimed a right to collect toll both in fair time and at all other times. They withdrew this suit on account of a technical error in their writ. (fn. 89) Next year, 1260, they sued the abbot because his bailiffs had taken and broken the black rods and collecting boxes of their serjeants as they took toll in the fair; (fn. 90) the abbot then, and later, admitted the right of the burgesses of Huntingdon to collect toll, (fn. 91) and their collectors took the oath of office regularly when the fair was proclaimed. (fn. 92) The right remained unquestioned even within the time of the abbot's market. (fn. 93)
Finally, the abbot assured himself in the possession of the whole of the site of the fair, about 1318, by acquiring the lands which the Hawkers had held of the king in serjeanty for several generations. (fn. 94) John le Haukere, who was charged with park-breaking at Benington, co. Herts, and was (later) implicated in a robbery at Stepney, (fn. 95) sold these lands to William de Corton, from whom the abbot acquired them.
The chief profits in the 13th-century fair arose from the alien merchants who frequented it. (fn. 96) They came chiefly from Flanders and France. (fn. 97) There is record of visits from merchants of Ypres, (fn. 98) Poperinghe, (fn. 99) Ghent, (fn. 100) Brabant, (fn. 101) Malines, (fn. 102) Amiens and St. Omer, (fn. 103) Artois (fn. 104) and Douai. (fn. 105) Occasionally the aliens came to stay, as about 1338, when Brabant weavers settled in the town. (fn. 106) English merchants came to trade with the alien merchants, not only from London and from neighbouring towns such as Huntingdon, Godmanchester, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely; but from more distant places, Lincoln, York, Beverley, Leicester, Coventry and Hereford; some of these, for example the men of Lincoln, Beverley and Leicester, hired whole rows of their own. (fn. 107)
A great part of the trade was in cloth, wool and hides. The cloth trade was much stimulated by Henry III's large purchases of robes for the liveries of the royal household against succeeding Whitsuntides. (fn. 108) In 1262, he pledged silver vessels to the value of 600 to merchants of Douai, Ypres and Liege for purchases at this fair. (fn. 109) In 1237 he had bought there 1,100 ells of green and murray cloth for knights, 180 ells of murray for clerks, 340 ells of murray and green for serjeants, 40 coarse borel gowns for grooms, 160 ells of murray and green for ladies and damsels, 80 ells of scarlet cloth, and 18 hoods, besides finer stuffs (cendales), furs and wax. (fn. 110) Such purchases continued throughout his reign and, less frequently, through those of Edward I and Edward II. (fn. 111) The bulk of the stuffs bought was so great that in 1223 the king required the prior of St. Ives to provide a 'house' within the priory for their safe keeping, (fn. 112) and in 1242 he provided the Prior with ten oaks wherewith to make in the priory a wardrobe for the cloths and other things purchased for the royal household. (fn. 113)
The cloth shearers and tailors had their own part of the fair. (fn. 114) Barkers-row perhaps represented the tanners and dealers in hides. (fn. 115) The London skinners traded here in furs. (fn. 116) Canvas was sold in considerable quantities, (fn. 117) and had a row to itself. (fn. 118) In 1257 the king bought canvas for his tents in the fair, and this was carted from St. Ives to the Tower of London. (fn. 119) Two goldsmiths attended the fair in 1278, (fn. 120) and it was customary to sell jewels there. (fn. 121) In addition to the merchants and the large purchasers, such as the king's tailor or the cellarers of religious houses, (fn. 122) the throngs attending the fair included victuallers selling beer and bread from ships moored to the quays or in booths on land, (fn. 123) numerous women of ill-repute, (fn. 124) the abbot's warden, usually a monk, and his steward and bailiffs, (fn. 125) the tenants of his neighbouring manors, the king's wardens and their sixteen serjeants, the serjeants of the borough of Huntingdon collecting toll, and occasionally royal officers on some special errand, as in 12912, when the royal exchanger rode down with four men to guard the exits of the fair so that no merchant should leave with counterfeit money. (fn. 126)
The administration of the abbot's piepowder court for doing justice between merchants attending the fair and for keeping the peace there has been the subject of two detailed studies. (fn. 127) Until the town received its charter in 1874, there was no attempt to establish anything in the nature of municipal jurisdiction, and piepowder courts, as well as courts baron for the manors of Slepe and the priory, retained a purely seignorial character. Justice was done, according to the nature of the case, by an inquest of merchants and 'neighbours,' or by inquests of jurors for the districts of the Street and the Green, and for Old Hurst and Woodhurst, as lying within the Soke of St. Ives.
The tenure of the houses within the immediate region of the fair was almost entirely copyhold. New tenants took up a row or part of a row upon payment of a considerable fine (gersuma). (fn. 128) They paid a yearly rent, and did customary works, being particularly bound to mow the abbot's Great Holme or meadow, and to be obedient to his bailiff. The widowed tenant or the tenant's daughter could only marry with the lord's licence. The dung from inside or outside the houses might only be sold to the lord's bailiff, but at a reasonable price. Corn had to be ground at the mills of the abbot, or the prior. (fn. 129) While no sales could be made in the fair except in the 'fronts' of the houses which were let out by the abbot, licence was occasionally given for sales in the rear, and the abbot's rents during fair-time were swollen by the hiring out of many rooms (camer) or houses (domus), reserved in letting the rows by the year. For example, one tenant had half a row, whereof the abbot had the letting at fair-time save for a single house; in taking up another tenement, the tenant agreed that at fair-time the abbot should let the fronts with the hall and the solar beyond (ultra) the gate to whomsoever he would; the tenant of a solar with three rooms evacuated all but one room at fair-time. Occasionally tenants, such as Sampson le Candelmaker of Needingworth, gave up the whole of their tenements in fair-time. (fn. 130)
The limits of the town were marked by bars, and the customary tenants of some of the abbot's manors were further bound to bring in faggots of thorns and sticks in Holy Week for making an inclosure about the fair to help to close up with a palisade the spaces between various rows, and to provide hurdles for the outer openings to certain booths. (fn. 131) Twelve neighbouring manors provided armed watchmen from their customary tenants, and each one of the houses in Bridge Street and the Green found one watchman. (fn. 132)
At the height of its prosperity during the 13th century the fair of St. Ives ranked among the greatest of the English fairs, Winchester, Boston and Northampton. (fn. 133) It did not, however, attract so many Londoners as to cause the closing of the Husting Court, (fn. 134) and its importance seems to have been largely due to the convenience of an Easter fair for making the royal purchases for Whitsuntide. The king arranged to pay here the debts contracted at St. Edmund's fair, and at Boston those contracted at St. Ives. (fn. 135) A second, August, fair established on St. Lawrence day by 1354 (fn. 136) never reached the importance of the Easter fair. The whole of the profits of the Easter fair as taken by the wardens of the abbey in 1206 amounted to 101; in 1207 they were 97; in 1212, 180, (fn. 137) but these sums probably included the rents of the rows, courts and booths, which were by far the most profitable part of the proceeds, amounting to between 60 and 80. (fn. 138) The tronage, pleas and other profits taken by the king's officers for the period of the fair after Easter week ranged between 23 in 1249 and 50 in 1257, after the deduction of certain expenses, (fn. 139) the most important item being the perquisites of the court. During the reign of Edward II the fair courts were held less frequently e.g., the profits of the pleas in 1317 were 2 8s. 1d., as against 13, 27 or even 35 in the previous century. (fn. 140) The business of the fair even during the earlier years of Edward the Third's reign evidently diminished by reason of the establishment of the staple system and the outbreak of the Hundred Years War. (fn. 141) Upon an earlier occasion, in 1268, the absence of alien merchants on account of war had led to a suspension of the rent charge from the fair. (fn. 142) Other local fairs also drew business away from St. Ives. The abbot of Ramsey successfully maintained his fair against a new one established by the Bishop of Ely at Ely in 1320, using force to this end upon occasion; (fn. 143) but Stourbridge fair was growing up as a formidable rival, which was attended by the obedientiaries of Ramsey themselves. (fn. 144) After the Black Death and the outbreak of the Hundred Years War the abbot's bailiff continued to ride to St. Ives and proclaim the fair, but the 'fronts' were no longer let for lack of merchants, no God's pence were received for lack of bargains, no courts were held, and the few surviving copyholders on the neighbouring manors were excused from attending as watchmen. (fn. 145) A similar state of affairs continued at least until 1473. (fn. 146)
Local merchants appear to have attended in 1353, when the combined profits of the two fairs and the market, which the abbot had held on Mondays at least since 1200 (fn. 147) was 10 9s. 5d.; but the abbots failed to keep order. Their markets in 1341 were frequented by lawless men who plundered the merchants and held them to ransom, (fn. 148) and in 1350 the Cambridge men were driven from the market and fair by an armed body under John Cheyne of Long Stanton. (fn. 149) By 1361, the profits of markets and fairs had fallen to 5 19s.; after 1384 they never reached 5 a year. (fn. 150) In 1363 the burgesses of Huntingdon obtained a suspension of the increment of 20 which had been added to their farm in consideration of the toll gathered at the fair of St. Ives. (fn. 151) Their petition that no fair had been held for twenty years was an evident exaggeration, though their toll must have diminished to practically nothing for the previous ten years. In 1429 the abbot's officers still held special courts for pleas of debt at fair time and on market days; (fn. 152) and the burgesses of Huntingdon were once more paying the increment of 20, complaining, however, that the fair had not been held for many years. (fn. 153) By 1511, the earlier part of the fair had apparently been abandoned for the later, and the spring fair has thenceforward been kept at Whitsuntide rather than Easter. In 1511 it appears as 'Pentechostes,' and its profits, with those of the fair of St. Lawrence, and the markets together amounted only to 2 odd. (fn. 154) In 1540, when the manor had come into the hands of the Crown upon the dissolution of Ramsey Abbey, the issues of the two fairs at Whitsun and Michaelmas (sic) were 3 16s. 9d., and of the market 2 10s. (fn. 155)
The rent-charge of 50 established in 1258 when Henry III surrendered to Ramsey Abbey his claims to the fair, remained payable, at least until 1487. It was assigned in dower to Queen Eleanor in 1275, (fn. 156) was given to Edmund of Woodstock on his creation as Earl of Kent in 1321, (fn. 157) at first for life, and later in tail male. (fn. 158) It remained with his descendants, the successive earls of Kent, passing, in spite of the terms of the grant, to his daughter Joan, Princess of Wales, and her son Thomas (Holand), Earl of Kent. (fn. 159) It eventually descended to his daughter Eleanor, Countess of Salisbury, (fn. 160) and to her daughter Alice, wife of Richard (Nevill) Earl of Salisbury, (fn. 161) upon whose attainder in 1459 it was forfeited to the crown and granted to John, Duke of Norfolk, for life. (fn. 162) It was apparently restored, and descended through the marriage of Anne Nevill, granddaughter to the above Alice, to Richard III, and was granted during the minority of Edward, son of Richard and Anne, to the king's servant Sir Roger Cotton, knight. (fn. 163) Later the rent-charge appears to have lapsed.
The tolls of markets and fairs, with the stallage in St. Ives and the rents of houses in the market, and the tolls on the bridge and the wharf were all considered to have come to the crown as parcel of the manor of St. Ives on the surrender of Ramsey Abbey. They were assigned to the Princess Elizabeth with that manor, and were let by her to Sir Robert Chester in 1551 for 21 years at a yearly rent of 4 0s. 7d. This lease she renewed, as queen, in 1564, (fn. 164) and in 1574 a grant of the tolls was made to Helen, Marchioness of Northampton, for life. (fn. 165) A new lease was made by the crown in 159091. (fn. 166) The marchioness married Sir Thomas Gorges of Langford, co. Wilts, and they in 1611 leased for life to Richard Langley of St. Ives the fairs and markets with the houses and cellars used for market houses and pickage, pontage, stallage, and toll coming from the market place and upon the bridge, wharf and river, also the messuage called the Dolphin with a croft adjoining of 4 acres and the fishing of the Holts, Willow Holts, and rush beds. The Dolphin Close and fishing were separated from the bailiwick and leased to Mr. Colston and then to Thomas Sharp, and after him to Thomas Baily and Richard Oaty. (fn. 167) In 1628 the tolls were granted to the Earl of Manchester with the manor of St. Ives, (fn. 168) with which they subsequently descended. In 1728 they were in lease to Samuel White and James Bulford for 105 a year. In order to erect a new cattle-market, and remove the cattle from the streets, the corporation in 1886 purchased from the Duke of Manchester the market rights; the general market was left on the streets in the Market Hill. The two fairs held at Whitsun and on 11 October survive as cattle, sheep and general pleasure fairs, and, since an unsuccessful attempt to remove them from the streets in 1887, have occupied nearly every street in the town. (fn. 169)
The main manor of SLEPE having come to the Abbot of Ramsey through the gift of Aethelstan Mannesone, was administered by the bailiffs or reeves of successive abbots until the time of Henry V. (fn. 170) Then, after a succession of reeves had fallen heavily into arrear, (fn. 171) the demesne lands were let out to farm. (fn. 172) In 1532, William Lawrence, great-nephew to abbot John Lawrence (fn. 173) of Ramsey, took from that abbot a sixty-year lease of the manor house, demesne lands, and customary works and services, paying 13 6s. 8d. yearly and certain small sums for rents of geese, cocks and hens due to the abbot. (fn. 174) The manor was seized by the crown when abbot John Lawrence surrendered the abbey in 1539. It was purchased (without the courts) in 1544 by William and John Sewster, (fn. 175) obviously on behalf of the tenant, William Lawrence, to whom and to his wife Frances (fn. 176) they had licence to convey it three weeks later. William Lawrence (fn. 177) died at St. Ives in 1572, seised of the manor, which he had settled upon his second wife Margery with remainder to his son Henry. (fn. 178) In January, 1581, Henry Lawrence settled the manor upon his infant son John, and died in the following month. (fn. 179) This John Lawrence was knighted in 1603 and married Elizabeth Waller. (fn. 180) He was buried at St. Ives in 1604, leaving a son and heir Henry, then three years old, (fn. 181) who became a leading Puritan in the county, acted as President of Oliver Cromwell's Council in 1654, and proclaimed Richard Cromwell after Oliver's death. (fn. 182) Henry Lawrence was buried at Stanstead St. Margaret's in 1664, (fn. 183) and was succeeded by his son Henry, whose son, also Henry, was dealing with the manor in 1688. (fn. 184) It appears to have descended through the Rev. Paul Lawrence, of Tangmere, co. Sussex, to his son, Sir Edward Lawrence, bart., usher to Queen Anne, who inhabited the manor house. (fn. 185)
Sir Edward apparently died without issue in 1749, and was succeeded by his great-nephew and heir, Sir Isaac Woollaston, bart., of Loseby (co. Leic.). Sir Isaac was the son of Isaac Woollaston by Sarah Lawrence, and grandson of Josiah Woollaston who married Elizabeth sister of Sir Edward Lawrence. (fn. 186) After the death of Sir Isaac in 1750, and of his infant son Sir Isaac Woollaston in 1756, the manor passed to the latter's sister Sarah (d. 1802), who married Taylor White (d. 1795). It then went to their second son, Lieut.-Col. Taylor White, (fn. 187) who lived at the manor house and of whose eccentricities many remembrances survive. (fn. 188) He lost his money, and after his death in 1847 the property was sold in lots in the following year. A portion of the land was purchased for the cemetery, and the Hall, which was a red brick building standing on the site of the present Cromwell Place, was dismantled and sold as building material. The house had been let for some time to Rev. John Rugeley, who kept a girls' school, and on its sale he built the present Slepe Hall, on the Ramsey Road. (fn. 189)
The Hall was commonly called Cromwell Place, doubtless in reference to an alleged lease of the house to Oliver Cromwell from 1631 to 16356. (fn. 190) The evidence, however, of Cromwell's occupation of Slepe Hall is slight. (fn. 191) He certainly lived at St. Ives between 1631, when he sold his estate at Huntingdon, and 1636, when he moved to his newly-inherited property at Ely. (fn. 192) He probably farmed either the whole of the Slepe Hall estate or some part of it from Henry Lawrence, with whom he was connected through the Wallers of Beaconsfield. Pettis, writing in 1728, says that Cromwell lived in an old farm house which stood a little behind the new hall. He farmed here till he was very poor, so that he let out some of his farm to two others. (fn. 193)
Separate courts were held in the 14th century by the abbots (fn. 194) for their manor of ST. IVES, otherwise the STREET OF ST. IVES (Sanctus Ivo de Slepe xii cent.; vicus or strata Sancti Ivonis xiiixv cent.). These had doubtless developed with the growth of the fair and its piepowder courts, and the settlement of the 'street' and its immediate neighbourhood. The 'soke' of St. Ives included Slepe in the 13th century, (fn. 195) and the abbot held his view of frankpledge for all his tenants in the neighbourhood, including those of Woodhurst and Old Hurst, in the town of St. Ives. (fn. 196) Separate courts were, however, held for the manor of Slepe as late as 1473, (fn. 197) and the amalgamation of the courts of St. Ives and Slepe apparently dates from the time when the Crown seized both manors in 1539. (fn. 198) About twenty tenants, whose rentals amounted to 4 odd in 1426, were grouped together under the name BUSTELERS, which seems to have denoted rather some specific locality in the town than a distinct manor. Various origins have been assigned to this name, which occurs in later records also. (fn. 199)
The manor of St. Ives, with all profits of both courts, was reserved when Slepe was sold in 1544. After the surrender of Ramsey Abbey in 1539 a single bailiff, Gabriel Throgmorton, who was brother-in-law to William Lawrence, then farmer of the manor of Slepe, accounted to the king for rents of freeholds and copyholds and of tenants at will in the Street of St. Ives, for the farm of the ancient manor of Slepe, for the possessions of the Priory of St. Ives, and for the courts held for all three. (fn. 200) In 1544 William and John Sewster, in buying the farm of the 'manor' of Slepe with the works and services, failed to secure the issues of courts, which were reserved to the crown as parcel of the 'manor of the Street of St. Ives,' Slepe being then taken as parcel of the manor of St. Ives. (fn. 201) Nicholas Tolley, groom of the chamber, was appointed in the year following to be bailiff of the king's manor of St. Ives. (fn. 202) The crown retained this manor until 1550, when it was assigned to the Princess Elizabeth, and at her accession it returned to the crown. (fn. 203) Helen, Marchioness of Northampton, had a grant for life in 1574. (fn. 204) In 1625 Charles I pledged the manor with others to the City of London for the repayment of City loans to his father. (fn. 205) On 17 June, 1628, it was purchased by Henry (Montagu) Earl of Manchester, of Kimbolton, then President of the Privy Council. (fn. 206) It has since descended in his family, (fn. 207) and is now held by the present Duke of Manchester.
The PRIORY MANOR developed from grants of lands and tenants made to the cell of St. Ives by the mother house of Ramsey between 1102 and 1107. (fn. 208) The priory church, with its offices, was burned in 1207, (fn. 209) and rebuilt and consecrated in 1238. (fn. 210) The prior held views of frankpledge for his tenants, and until 1288 kept these courts separately from those of the abbot. Thenceforward the prior's men attended the abbot's court, and their amercements were taken by the prior or his representative, who sat with the abbot's steward. (fn. 211)
After the suppression of the monastery, the site of the priory was occupied by Thomas Audley, then the king's serjeant. (fn. 212) In March 1544 he took from the crown a twenty-one years' lease of the priory, (fn. 213) and in the following May he received a grant of it to himself and his wife Elizabeth in tail male, in respect of his services in the household of Henry VIII. He was then resident at the priory. (fn. 214) His widow died seised of it, 1 April 1560, and their son Robert Audley of St. Ives had livery of it in the following June. (fn. 215)
Thomas Audley, grandson of Thomas and Elizabeth, died childless in 1631, when the priory descended from him to his brother Robert, then aged sixty. (fn. 216) Robert's son and heir, Thomas, (fn. 217) was a Royalist, whom the Parliamentarian inhabitants of St. Ives branded as a murderer and a 'notorious wicked man.' (fn. 218) In 1673, he was still in possession of the priory, and without legitimate issue. An attempt then made to vest in Robert, Earl of Manchester, lord of the manor of St. Ives, the remainder of the priory, contingent upon Thomas Audley's death, (fn. 219) failed, since Thomas's brothers Robert and Mullineux survived. (fn. 220) A new grant made by the crown in 1680 to Thomas Audley in fee simple (fn. 221) apparently enabled him and the remainder men (Robert and Mullineux) to sell.
The property at this time became divided. In 1679 Thomas Audley conveyed his manor of St. Ives to Robert Drury, (fn. 222) and in 1682 Robert and Mullineux Audley with others conveyed it with the advowson to John Dryden, (fn. 223) an attorney, apparently the son of Sir John Dryden, bart., of West Farndon in Woodford. (fn. 224) This part of the property descended to the Piggott family through the marriage of Anne daughter of Sir John Dryden with Walter Piggott of Chetwyne, on the death of her brother John in the lifetime of their father. Walter's grandson, Robert Piggott, M.P. for Huntingdonshire, was holding the manor in 1728. (fn. 225) and settled it in 1734. (fn. 226) He or his son Robert died in 1770, leaving a son Robert, who seems to have sold the estate in plots for building. A part of it on which stood a dovecot became the new market place, and the railway and Station Road now occupy other portions. (fn. 227) The priory barn and the advowson remained in the Piggott family until the early part of the 19th century, when the Barn passed to the Ansley family, who were holding it in 1826. The Barn was pulled down in 1858; only some ruined walls now remain. The Barn property was afterwards bought by Mr. Frederick Warren and was incorporated in the Priory House estate.
The Priory and the Priory Close were sold by Thomas Audley or his representatives to James Nutter, whose grandson James Nutter conveyed them to Miss Elizabeth Birt in 1790. Miss Birt married the Rev. Francis Goodson Panting, who was minister of the Free Church in St. Ives from 1782 to 1814. (fn. 228) They lived at the Priory until the death of Mrs. Panting about 1825, when the property went to Thomas Birt Ulph, who took a great interest in local affairs at St. Ives. He died in 1856, at which time the Priory was occupied by the Misses Osborne. In 1864 it was purchased by Mrs. Agnes Coote, widow of Charles Coote, who rebuilt the house in 1870 (fn. 229) and conveyed it to her son Charles Harold Coote in 1885. C. H. Coote sold the house and grounds, which had been added to from time to time, to Frederic Warren in 1891, who was succeeded by his son Mr. Frederick Maurice Warren, the present owner. (fn. 230)
The Church of ALL SAINTS consists of a chancel (44 ft. by 16 ft.), nave (63 ft. by 16 ft.), north chapel (16 ft. by 16 ft.), north aisle (82 ft. by 16 ft.), south aisle (84 ft. by 17 ft.), west tower (13 ft. by 13 ft.), north and south porches, and a modern vestry (1896) on the north. The walls are chiefly of rubble with stone dressings, but the tower is of ashlar; the roofs are covered with lead.
Although the church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), the earliest existing portion is the 12th-century respond now built into the north-west respond of the nave, which shows that there was an aisled church on this site at that period. A 13th-century arch in the north wall of the chancel indicates a chancel with a north chapel; the chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century, and the east window of the south aisle is of the same period. The rest of the church was rebuilt about 1470, (fn. 231) when the chancel walls were raised to correspond. The spire was blown down by a gale in 1741 and rebuilt in 1748; it was again rebuilt in 1879, (fn. 232) and in 1918 it was knocked down by an aeroplane and was entirely rebuilt of new stone in 1924. The walls of the chancel are chiefly of 14thcentury date, raised in the 15th century, to which date practically all the features belong. The east window is of five lights. In the north wall is a mutilated 13th-century arch into the north chapel, a small arch of late date, two three-light windows and a blocked doorway leading into a now destroyed vestry, indications of which may be seen on the outside. The south wall has three three-light windows and a doorway. The mutilated chancel arch is of 14th-century date, almost hidden by a screen and organ case put up in 1894, decorated in colour, and bearing three shields of arms: (1) Azure, three leopards' heads or impaling Quarterly 1st and 4th, Argent, a lion sable, 2nd and 3rd Azure a cheveron between three molets or; (2) Azure, three leopards' heads or, a crescent for difference: (3) Argent, three Cornish choughs proper, on a canton sable, a fleur de lis coming out of a leopard's head or, a crescent for difference. The organ case is inscribed ' Orate p. aa Georgii Carnac Barnes, C.B.' The rather flat roof is of the 15th century. The present altar and reredos were put up in 1920.
The 15th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, the moulded arches resting on piers composed of four hollow splays and four attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. On the western sides of five of the piers are original stone carved brackets now supporting modern carved and painted figures (1897) viz.: St. Nicholas, St. Margaret, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, St. Andrew, St. George, St. Agnes, St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. John the Baptist. The northwest respond incorporates parts of the capital and arch of a 12th-century arcade, visible in the aisle. A portion of a stone ring in the haunch of the north-east arch (visible in the aisle) is probably the remains of a 13th-century clearstory window. The present clearstory has five two-light windows on each side. The roof is modern. (fn. 233)
There is no structural division between the north chapel (fn. 234) and the north aisle, which are both of 15th-century date. The east window is of three lights, and the north wall has four similar windows (the most easterly with fragments of old glass) and a reset 14th-century doorway, while the west wall has another three-light window. On the south side, just east of the nave arcade, is the blocked 14th-century doorway to the rood stairs, and an upper opening also remains slightly more to the east. The modern roof rests on four ancient carved corbels.
The 15th-century south aisle has an early 14th-century five-light east window with intersecting tracery, and having contemporary niches on each side of it. The south wall has four three-light windows and a doorway; at the eastern end is an early 13th-century double piscina, (fn. 235) having two pointed arches supported on a central and two jamb shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the capital of the central shaft is carved with stiff foliage, the mouldings of the arches interpenetrate, and the whole is enclosed with an outer semi-circular arch on continuous jambs, ornamented with dog-tooth; farther east is a small recess. The west wall has a three-light window. The roof is modern but one ancient corbel remains.
The 15th-century west tower (fn. 236) stands on three arches of two moulded orders, the outer order continuous and the inner resting on engaged shafts. The west doorway has a pointed arch enclosed in a square head with traceried spandrels, and flanked by two niches; above it is a band of quatrefoils. The door itself incorporates some late 15th-century tracery, one half showing a rabbit's head and the other his tail. The west window is of four lights under a square head with traceried spandrels. The belfry windows are two two-lights coupled under square heads. The octagonal spire rises from behind an embattled parapet with crocketed pinnacles at the angles; it has been three times rebuilt, viz., in 1748, when balls replaced the pinnacles at the angles of the parapet; in 1879, when the pinnacles were replaced, and finally in 1924. The lowest stage of the tower has a stone vault.
The north porch is largely modern but contains small portions of the original 15th-century porch.
The 15th-century south porch has a moulded south archway resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and flanked by niches with moulded pedestals and bowed cinquefoiled heads. In each of the side walls is a two-light window.
The 13th-century font has an octagonal bowl panelled with an arcade of intersecting circular-headed arches, on a central and four smaller octagonal shafts with simple capitals and bases.
The pulpit is of oak of late 16th or early 17th century date, with panels carved with arches and strapwork in low relief, and supported on an earlier oak post and ribbed coving.
There are eight bells, inscribed (fn. 237) : 1, A . rise . and . go . to . your . bvsines : Henry . Penn . Founder . Peterborough : 1723 : 2, I . praise . the . trve . God : Henry . Penn . Founder : 1723 : 3, Their . sound . is . gone vp : 1723. 4, Sometimes joy and sometimes sorrow marriage to day and death to morrow, 1723. 5, whne . backward . rvng . we . tell . of . fire . think . how . the world shall thvs expire : 1723 : 6 . Robt . Taylor, St. Neots, fecit, 1796, John Lindsell and James Osborne, Churchwardens. 7 (as 6). 8, When : souls : are : from : these : bodys : torn : tis : not : to : dye : but : to : be : born : (And on second line) Iames : Fisher : Isaac : Jones : Chwardens : 1723 : Iames : Dodgson : Vicar : I. Hy. Henry Penn, Founder. All but Nos. 6 and 7 are by Henry Penn. Seven of them are now standing, temporarily, on the nave floor. (fn. 238)
There are monuments to the following: In the chancel, to Theodore Hill, d. 1771, and two wives, Dorothy (Cook) d. 1727, and Ann (Child); Taylor White, R.N. d. 1804, and Bridget Taylor White, d. 1831; John Lindsell, d. 1834; and windows to the Revd. Thomas Smith, M.A., Vicar, and Ann, his wife, d. 1802; The Revd. Yate Fosbroke, M.A., Vicar, d. 1865; Dingley Askham Brittin, d. 1881, and Anna Maria Brittin, his wife, d. 1902. In the nave, matrix of a 15th-century brass with foliated cross and inscription plate; floor slab to Ann, widow of the Revd. Thomas Smith, d. 1802. In the north aisle, to the Revd. James Dodgson, Vicar, d. 1735; Edward Green, d. 1756, by his wife Mrs. Frances Green, d. 1770; Robert Harris, d. 1773; Rebecca, wife of Anthony South, d. 1782; Wright Ingle, d. 1865, and Elizabeth his wife, d. 1857; Lydia Veale Green, widow of Benjamin Aislabie Green, d. 1886; South African War Tablet and Great War Tablet; and window to the above-named Wright and Elizabeth Ingle. In the south aisle, to Dingley Askham and Frances his wife, d. 1728; William Barnes, d. 1731, Jane his wife, d. 1740, Ann wife of William Barnes, d. 1748, Ann and Jane two of her children, and Harris Barnes, d. 1748; Thomas Barnes, d. 1742, Anne his widow, d. 1747, Joseph Barnes their son, d. 1821, Mary his widow, d. 1829, William Barnes, d. 1756, and two infants; William Hatley, d. 1757, Anne Hatley, d. 1774, Richard Hatley, d. 1792, Richard Hatley his son, d. 1796, and Elizabeth widow of Richard Hatley senior, d. 1811. Elizabeth wife of Robert Thompson Staples, d. 1788; Hannah Earl, d. 1796, and her children Hannah, d. 1788, and George, d. 1789; Alpress Ashton, d. 1808; Lieut. Samuel Johnson, R.N., d. 1809; John Green, d. 1840; John Margetts, d. 1842, and his brother William, d. 1818, only sons of John Margetts and Mary (Rugeley) his wife, of Hemingford Grey; and windows to James and Mary Brittin, James and Mary Brittin and Miranda Brittin (n.d.); Thomas Earl, d. 1858, with a tablet to Eliza, his wife, d. 1884; and William Richard Grove, c. 1895. In the tower, to John Barnes, d. 1750; and window to the Rugeley family.
The registers are as follows: (i) Baptisms, marriages and burials, 18 May 1561 to 12 September 1653; (ii) ditto, 8 September 1653 to 6 March 17334. (iii) ditto, 25 March 1725 to 10 April 1789, the marriages ending on 25 March 1754; (iv) baptisms, 10 April 1789 to 4 Dec. 1839; (v) baptisms, 2 Jan. 1803 to 31 Dec. 1824, and burials, 16 March 1803 to 26 Dec. 1824; (vi) the official marriage book, 27 April 1754 to 8 Aug. 1779; (vii) ditto, 10 Oct. 1779 to 23 Jan. 1796; (viii) ditto, 7 Aug. 1796 to 17 Dec. 1812.
The church plate consists of: A silver chalice, hall-marked for 18689; a silver-gilt chalice, the cup hall-marked for 18989, and the base for 18856; a silver paten, hall-marked for 187980; ditto, for 18856; two large silver flagons engraved with coat of arms, Or, on a chevron azure between three cinqfoils of the same, as many escallops , on a chief sable a griffin . Crest, a falcon rising, checky Or and Sable. Inscribed, 'The gift of Ph: Hawkins sometime Vicar of this Church St. Ives Feb. 1780.' They are hall-marked for 177980. A modern silver-gilt altar-cross; a bronze and brass altar-cross, Italian Renaissance, circa 1540, from Venice, engraved figures of Our Lord in front and of Our Lady at back, and emblems of the Evangelists at ends of the arms: base modern; a silver processional crucifix, Italian, 15th or early 16th century, engraved with Agnus Dei in centre at back, emblems of the Evangelists on the arms, and Satan overthrown at foot: boss and staff modern.
The abbots of Ramsey alienated to the Priory of St. Ives the rectorial tithe of the parish, probably at the foundation of the priory. (fn. 239) A vicarage had been ordained before 1235; (fn. 240) but the abbots retained the right of presentation. (fn. 241) This arrangement continued until the surrender of the abbey in 1539, when both the rectory and the advowson came to the crown. (fn. 242) They were granted to Thomas and Elizabeth Audley in 1544, (fn. 243) and thenceforward until the end of the 18th century descended with the priory. Robert Pigott presented to the living in 1777, (fn. 244) but before 1796 Henry Grace had become impropriator of the rectory. In 1802 George Brooks presented, (fn. 245) for one turn only, and 'Mr. Pigot' was returned as patron in 1817 (fn. 246). Shortly after this date the advowson passed to the Ansley family, probably to John Ansley of London. Joseph Pain presented for one turn in 1839, but Gilbert Ansley of Houghton Hill House had the advowson in 1855 and died in 1860. His widow, Mary Anne, daughter of Horatio Martelli, died in 1896. The advowson seems to have been held by trustees under the marriage settlement of Gilbert Ansley, who shortly after 1899 conveyed it to the Rev. S. J. M. Price and he gave it to trustees for the Guild of All Souls, the present patrons. (fn. 247)
The following charities comprise the United Charities and are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 7 Sept. 1909.
Thomas Cordell in or about 1646 gave a rent-charge of 20s. a year issuing out of a house called Bayleys to be distributed amongst the poor on St. Thomas's Day.
Thomas Sharp in or about 1697 gave a ley of pasture land called 'Fenters,' the rents thereof to be disposed of, viz.: 10s. to the vicar for a sermon on Ash Wednesday and the residue to be distributed in bread to poor widows on the same day.
Elizabeth Johnson, sister of Thomas Sharp, gave the sum of 20, the interest to be disposed of in the same manner on Good Friday.
Robert Langley by will dated 24 Aug. 1656 charged his lands in St. Ives with the payment of 40s. a year to be distributed to poor widows and fatherless children, and with a further sum of 6s. to the churchwardens to be given to the bellringers.
Dr. Robert Wilde by will dated 10 Aug. 1678 gave 50 to the vicar and churchwardens which was laid out in the purchase of copyhold land in St. Ives containing about 1 acre, the rent to be expended in Bibles for poor children, 10s. a year to the minister for a sermon and the residue to the poor.
Town Estate. This estate was vested in feoffees upon trust to permit the churchwardens to receive the rents and profits and to apply them towards the repairs of the parish church, any surplus to be applied for the benefit of the poor. The endowment now consists of 8 a. 2 r. 3 p. of grass land, an osier holt containing 3 roods 36 poles of garden land and two cottages together with 294 16s. 1d. Consols with the Official Trustees.
Under the provisions of the above-mentioned scheme the trustees of the charities consist of the churchwardens (ex officio) and four representative trustees appointed by the council of the borough of St. Ives. The income of the charities, amounting to approximately 75 per annum, is applied in accordance with the directions contained in the scheme.
Dryden's Gift. John Dryden by will dated in 1708 gave 200 for charitable uses which was laid out in the purchase of an estate at Colnworth containing 33 acres the rents and profits to be applied for the augmentation of the vicarage. The land was sold in 1884 and the proceeds invested in the purchase of 278 11s. 6d. Consols in the name of the Official Trustees producing 6 15s. yearly in dividends which are paid by the churchwardens to the vicar.
John Brown by his will proved 10 April 1905 gave a sum of 1,000 to the vicar and churchwardens for the poor of more than 60 years of age who have resided in St. Ives at least 20 years. The endowment of the charity now consists of 750 Great Indian Peninsular 4 per cent. Debenture Stock with the Official Trustees, producing 30 annually in dividends which are distributed in sums of 20s. to about 30 recipients.
Gilbert John Ansley by will proved at Peterborough 30 Jan. 1875 gave to the vicar and churchwardens 200, the income to be applied for the benefit of the poor. The endowment of the charity now consists of 187 Consols producing 4 13s. 8d. yearly in dividends which are distributed to about four recipients.
Johnson's Tomb.The origin of this charity is unknown. The endowment consists of 23 1s. 6d. Consols, the income of which is understood to be for the maintenance and repair of a tablet and tomb in the churchyard.
Wright Ingle's Charity for Poor Widows. Wright Ingle by will dated 13 Oct. 1862 gave 200 to the vicar and churchwardens, the interest to be distributed to four poor widows half-yearly. The endowment now consists of 197 16s. Consols standing in private names; the dividends on which, amounting to 4 18s. 8d. annually, are distributed in accordance with the directions contained in the will.
Wright Ingle's Charity for Tablet and Tomb. The same donor by will as above gave to the vicar and churchwardens 100, the interest to be applied towards the maintenance and repair of the tablet, tomb and memorial windows in the parish church. The endowment consists of 95 16s. 1d. Consols standing in private names, the dividends on which appear, from the accounts rendered to the Charity Commissioners, to be accumulating.