As I was going to St. Ives,

I met a man with seven wives.

The seven wives had seven sacks,

The seven sacks had seven cats,

The seven cats had seven kits.

Kits, cats, sacks, wives -

How many were going to St. Ives?

St. Ives grew from the Saxon settlement of 'Slepe' which means 'muddy, low-lying ground by the river'. It became St. Ives in about 1200 and was named after St. Ivo, a Persian bishop, who died here some time around 600. St. Ives attracted traders and had its first market in 1290.

The bridge was built between 1415-1426 to replace earlier wooden bridges. The chapel on the bridge is one of only three in the country. In 1736 two brick storeys were added when it was used as a house but these were removed in 1930. The two semi-circular arches at the south end of the bridge were rebuilt in 1716 to replace a drawbridge that had been there during the Civil War in 1645.

The buildings along The Quay are mostly 18th Century. In the 17th and 18th Centuries The Quay was used by barges to unload their cargoes.

The statue of Oliver Cromwell by F.W. Pomeroy which stands on Market Hill was unveiled in 1901. Originally meant to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Cromwell's birth, the statue was intended for Huntingdon, where he was born. But Huntingdon has always been Royalist, Tory and Anglican in its sympathies, so the idea didn't go down too well with the townspeople. Instead the statue ended up in St. Ives where Cromwell had lived and farmed for five years while he was still a young man.

Local Links