St.Ives is a market town in Cambridgeshire which shares its name with a town in Cornwall. Previously the town was called Slepe until the year 1001/2 when a body was found buried in the town, the body of Saint Ivo and St.Ivo’s Priory was built where the body was discovered. For the past 1,000 years St.Ives had been home to some of the biggest markets in the country. This market town was built on the banks of the River Great Ouse so that goods and merchandise were brought into the town on river barges and livestock stopped here able to rest on the way to be delivered to Smithfield Market in London.
St.Ives suffered flooding in the year of 1947 when the Great Ouse bank broke and again at Easter 1998 and yet again in January 2003. Flood protection work has been carried out to the cost of £9 million, let’s hope it does its job and was worth the price. The poor car park near the Dophin Hotel has seen too often cars up to there roofs under the water.
Built-in 1320 The Priory Barn is the oldest surviving building in St.Ives, only ruins can be seen today. In 1420 the bridge was built, crossing over the River Ouse. The Manor House was built in 1590 and is the oldest house in St.Ives, today it stands on Bridge Street and is a tearoom. Oliver Cromwell moved from Huntingdon to St.Ives in 1631 and lived at the “old” Slepe Hall, a statue of him resides in the Market Hill. In 1774 the leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism, John Wesley the preacher came to St.Ives to give one of his speeches. Over the centuries St.Ives has seen a lot of history in the making.
It still has the flavour of an old market town holding a street market on Mondays and Saturdays. Small in size, a town with the River Great Ouse running through it, hotels, shops, pubs, an old corn exchange and the church in the centre. The main attraction is probably the bridge and the statue of Oliver Cromwell who was Lord Protector and lived in Cambridgeshire. Today it has the guided bus running from St.Ives through to Cambridge and now has several large supermarkets. St.Ives seems to be growing in size.