St Ives

Click Oliver Cromwell (who once lived here) to go to contents list.

A personal view
by Philip Grosset

What you say about this site (9)

(from February 2007 - May 2008. Latest messages at top of list)

"What a wonderful site! I stopped off in St.Ives on 08/07 on my route home to the south east. I thought it such a lovely place that I intend to return for a few nights stay to explore and also to do some river walking.
Thank you for such a lot of information & lovely pictures." (Gillian Allardyce)

"I'm looking for somewhere near Cambridge to move to and with the proposed improvements to public transport, because of Northstowe, the area up to St Ives becomes a possibility. St Ives looks to be a lovely small town, and it seems that the old houses are built high enough to escape damage from floods." (Sandra Billington)
See my Latest News page for information about our latest Flood Prevention Scheme! (PG)

Very good set up,lots of relevant info, i use the site quite often to keep up to date on whats happening, as my father originally came from St Ives." (Ken Hudson)

"Great. I hope the election of May 1Civic Sunday June 2008st will be covered.It was a great day for St Ives. On the Lib Dem site I have said Conservatives were decimated. Well they lost ten seats so the word is very apt.
I would welcome any suggestions you have for the Norris Museum video/CD player and, in time, the new web site." (colin saunderson)
Colin Saunderson is one of the two Liberal Democratics elected to the St Ives Town Council in May 2008. Eleven Independents were also elected, but only three Conservatives. It will be interesting to see how all this works out.
The photo shows the newly elected mayor, Ian Dobson, inspecting the procession on Civic Sunday, June 1st 2008. (PG)

"I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, having spent a few holidays fishing in Hemmingford grey . St Ives is always a welcoming town to visit, and the website offers that extra bit of information. Well done. How about a questions page." (Ken Bennett)
Thanks for the suggestion - but people already seem to use this as a question page! (PG)

"Very good. I lived in St Ives from 1948 to 1968 then emigrated to Australia. My mother still lives in Hilton (aged 92). I am visiting St Ives in Aug this year. See the Honour Board at the Golf Club!" (John Wilding, Australia)

"Around early part of 1960 a magnificent georgian house called Bridge house (???) was opposite what is now called bridge house.It was a listed building advertised for sale at £150 - but you had to renovate it which would have cost thousands. Years later it had been done up and was the frontispiece in Country Life, I think for sale for several millions.Now this property was on perhaps a two acre site with lots of outbuildings, stables etc.and as you looked at the river, the bridge with its passing places was to the right. am I right in assuming that it must have burned down and been replaced by this newish Hotel???? Or am I thinking of a totally different quaint place with exactly this sort of bridge??  If I am right I have some slides buried somewhere and could look them up.I think your site is very impressive, well done. sincerely Dudley." (Dudley Pritchard)

Bridge House

This photo, taken in about 1890, shows Bridge House on the extreme left. It was pulled down in the 1960s. The old Dolphin Hotel was to the left of it and adjoined it. The new Dolphin opened in 1985 and now occupies the sites of both the old Dolphin and Bridge House.

BridgeThe same scene in April 2008. The new Dolphin Hotel can be seen where Bridge House used to be. The building in shadow opposite it (on the near side of the road acoss the bridge) on the extreme left of the picture used to be the White Horse pub, but was converted into flats, also using the name Bridge House. (PG)

"As an ex pupil of Slepe Hall I found it most interesting.  It would be good to have a link up of all Slepe Hall students on the internet as many of us have lost contact.  It would mean more coming back to visit St Ives.  I have actually been back and stayed in my old dorm!  I was pupil there from about 1959 to 1962 under the name of Delphina Eden." (Dee Alty, Australia)

"Beautiful...I am from the Flanders and Breese line who were married at St Ives in 1851." (Lynn Breese. USA)

"Interesting as I am reading life at the school in the period 1841-1843 from a newly discovered autobiography written in July 1900, by a distant cousin, found in a little library in Huntington, Indiana" (Norman Custance)
I am very grateful to Norman Custance for also sending me the following except from Isabella Custance's diary describing life in the original Slepe Hall School in Cromwell Place in the early 1840s:
My sister and I were in a Boarding School kept by the Misses Rugeley at St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, it was in one of Oliver Cromwell's houses. He was born in Huntingdon, six miles from St. Ives. It was a grand oIsabella Custanceld place with all kind of ghost stories connected with it. Many trap doors and secret passageways.
In the garret it was said Cromwell secreted a thousand of his army for many weeks at a time. The rooms had been very grand when he lived there. The Ballroom, which was used as a school room, the ceiling, mantel and woodwork were elegantly carved, which was quite a study for the young ladies. The reception hall was immense; the floor laid in black and white marble; the stairways from this hall were elegant, there were three other stairways leading up to numberless upper rooms. I have always regretted that I had not a picture of the building but it was pulled down soon after I left school. I think there were a hundred regular boarders, besides many day scholars from the best families in the city and surrounding villages, This was quite an aristocratic establishment and from which I imbibed many of my exclusive old country notions, which still hang to me. It was a little world of itself but made up of young ladies of well-to-do, and proud families.“

The photo is of Isabella Custance. The story about Cromwell hiding his army in the attic is obviously a schoolgirl invention! Cromwell only lived in St Ives for five years when he was a young farmer, many years before he had anything to do with armies. See here for a description of life in the later Slepe Hall School on Ramsey Road in the 1930s. (PG)

"This photograph shows my Grandfather Walter John Wilderspin (1873-1945), with a gardening class, probably in the late 1920s or early 1930s. A note on the back states that the lessons took place on "Land owned by the Church, rented by the School, and known as Bible Orchard, Ramsey Road, St Ives". Boys went two afternoons a week, 2.0pm-4pm. I would be very interested to hear if anybody remembers this or recognises any of the participants." (David Wilderspin,

"very nice thank you ive been to st ives and have always liked it" (Mark Graham West)

"I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Some interesting traditions apparently existed before my time at Slepe Hall (1955-1960).  Often in trouble, I really enjoyed those five years, still maintaining contact with several old girls." (Wendy Maurice, nee Tidd)

"I found the site very interesting. I visited  St. Ives in 2007 to locate the grave of my Gt. Grandfather , Matthew Glover Wilderspin and his wife Elizabeth in the old cemetery in North Road . I was succesful in finding it though it was in a poor state and had to pieced together in order to decipher it . Matthew had been the caretaker of the cemetery and lived in the cemetery lodge. On his death, the position was taken by his son Walter,b.1873.
My father Matthew was born here in 1904, and his sister Mary, who will be 91 in August 2008, was born in 1917. Walter Wilderspin used to give gardening lessons at local schools, and I have a photo of him with a class of lads on the Bible Field, some time between the Wars. My father went on to become a pharmacist in East Bergholt, Suffolk for many years . He was also the Church organist there, having learned to play on the instrument in St. Ives workhouse ! (David   Wilderspin)

"Very well presented site.  Seems a lovely old town, worth visiting some day.  The reason I surfed is that my great-gt-gt grandfather is said to have been the Innkeeper of "The Bell" at St. Ives.  Does it still exist or has it changed his name.  He must have been there in the 18th Century.  His son, William Barnet Stuart, was born in 1786 at Cambridge and later became a schoolteacher and bookseller at Doddington.  How can I best find out if Wm. snr. made any mark on the town?
I don't know what his religion was.  Family legend has it that his father, Alexander, came to East Anglia from Scotland in distressed circumstances and was a "royal".  If so, he might have been a Catholic.  Strange to have ended up in Cromwell country!  I'd love to hear from you. Best regards." (David Powis)
There were two pubs in St Ives called The Bell. The most likely one for you was on The Pavement in the centre of town (on extreme right of photo below). It is now the M & Co clothes shop.You can still see the bell on its wall. The building dates from 1719 but had closed down by 1785. The other one was at 4, The Waits, now a private house next to the Methodist Church, but it did not change its name from The Blue Bell to The Bell until after 1787.
I got this information from the booklet of The Pubs of St Ives by Bob Burn-Murdoch that is available from the Norrris Museum (The Broadway, St Ives. Tel 01480-497314. E-mail: Bob is the curator of the museum and the expert on local history, so may well know more. (PG).

"Very well done made me homesick. Ex Pat living in California" (Michael Frankland)

"Can anyone tell me anything about ELSWORTH HOUSE in East Street, St Ives? My mystery man ARTHUR GAUSDEN (see message below)was living there in 1910." (David Case)

"Only just discovered this interesting site. I am searching for information about an ARTHUR GAUSDEN who lived at St Ives ca 1903-1910. He was living at 6 St Johns Rd in 1905. I cannot find him in any census record. Any scrap of info would be welcome."  (David Case)

"really like it.  would enjoy seeing more old photos and new weekly photos each week. It would be fun to have a live camera taking photos during market day.  How about something sumitted by Hemingford Grey." (dollie fagan)
Thanks for the suggestions. I'd always welcome more old photos to add to the site. My most recent photos are usually to be found on the Latest News and Latest News 2 pages. I'm afraid I have no access to a web camera. Hemingford Grey has already got a website of its own (see my Local Websites page). (Philip Grosset)

"We are from Georgia in the southern US. We spent the first of November in St.Ives. My first trip and I loved St.Ives. We made friends at Floods Tavern. I wish I could have spent a month there. Our friends Steve and Tracy Small showed us around and London."  (Charles and Donna Wheeler)

"I have enjoyed reading all the memories, my daughter Janet found it first and passed it on to me. I married Robert William Purser, son of Charles Richard Purser who had the garage at Purser's Corner.  The land it stood on belonged to his father, William James Purser, at Green End Farm which was later pulled down and the St Ivo Pub was built. I met Bob in the Navy, he was s Chief Petty Officer Air Artificer and I was a leading Wren Aircraft  Mechanic.  We married in 1951 and lived at 4 High Leys, we had 4 children.  I am still in touch with Yvonne Aston (nee Everdell), we were married on the same day and our children were born around the same time.  I have so many memories and remember so many people in St. Ives I could write a book.  We emigrated to Australia in 1962, to Brisbane where I and 3 of my children live.  Sadly Bob died in 2000 and my son Richard was killed in Cambodia in 2003. I remember that Cromwell's Barn stood behind Purser's Garage. Green End Farm apparently belonged to Oliver Cromwell's brother and I was told that Cromwell drilled his troops in the barn. I have photographs of the farm, it was written up with some Purser family history some years ago in the local paper. I remember having to pass the slaughterhouse on my way to pick up my children from school and meeting a runaway bullock coming towards me, I took shelter in Slepe Hall. I would love to hear more of the people I knew, I have been back a few times and will be in England again in May but it is possible I will not get to St. Ives again, age is galloping up on me and I have many places to visit. but I will always remember St. Ives and my life there with affection.  Anyone care to get in touch with me contact me at" (Christine Purser)

"I love St.Ives. Ive never left the states until I went with my wife that works for Perkins. We stayed at Oliver Lodge the first weekend and visited London with our friend Steve Small who was born and raised in St.Ives. We loved our friends we met at Floods Tavern. I  could live in St.Ives and work for farmer Paul. We stayed in Peterborough the remainder of the week and I spent a whole day in the cathedral. I really hope to come back and think of St.Ives every day." (Charles Wheeler)  

"Wonderful! Great pictures - I particularly liked those from the air." (Angela Phillips)

"Excellent! I live in St-Ives and think your site is very informative." (Steven Parker)

"Interesting and useful." (Anne Holland)

"Searching informations about your town because I used to teach Italian in the late 70' and I know Mr and Mrs Nigro of Hill Rise. I found the site wit "English Towns". I think it is very complete." (Paolo Facchin)

"Fantastic - a walk down Memory Lane! I left St Ives to live in Cheshire, in 1959, but my heart remains in St Ives! It was amazing to recognise so many names ect. The most evocative memory was re. Pigs running amok on the way to slaughter. We had a small- holding with pigs, in Pig Lane. Come time for slaughtering,  my father words would be "Turn them in the Lane they are all my Dad's!" So, we may have to the cause of ....!" (Pamela Jessop nee Lincoln)

"Great site. Really informative and it must have taken ages to get all this info together. Was wondering if you might me able to point me in the right direction with a bit of research of my own? I have just obtained a copy of my Grandfather's birth certificate which states he was born in 1911 in Kidman's Row, St Ives, Cambs. It doesn't appear to exist anymore. Do you have any idea where it might have been? or could you direct me where I might find old maps of St Ives? Thanks in advance!" (Andrea Neve)
The best place to try for all local history questions is the Norris Museum, The Broadway, St Ives. Tel 01480-497314. E-mail: (PG)

"1st class. I lived in St Ives till 2003, then sadly moved away. Still miss it so much and your site has brought back some fantastic times. Info and pics are fantastic. Thank you" (Graham)

"I have never been to St Ives but have been recommended to go. I propose to bring a party of friends, so I hope you are as interesting as you look. The more pictures the better." (Pat Naylor)

"Cool! It gets me see evrything I want!" (adriano oliveira)

"I was born in St. Ives in 1957, and we lived there again when I was a teen, stationed at Alconbury. The 6th Alconbury Reunion for those living there while attending MJH and LHS between 1968-1975 is planned for July 6-8, 2007 in Williamsburg, VA. See for details." (Kim Morgan)

"Just browsing photos. left St Neots & moved to Australia in 1981, St Ives was a great place. Great photos, thanks. All the best." (Tony Evans)

"Excellent and very informative!" (David Ward)

The one-time Manchester House School."Excellent - even tho' I did not find what I was looking for! 1871 Census listed a Manchester House School, no address but came after entries for Bullock Market and Lime Tree House, Church End. Is building still there?" (Peter Gray)
Manchester House School was on what are now the premises of Pope Woodhead at the north end of The Waits, near the parish church. Manchester House was where the St Ives local historian Herbert Norris went to school. (It was Norris who, on his death in 1931, left his local collection and money for the founding of the Norris Museum.) The building was subsequently used for the boys' grammar school. (PG)

"Awesome site .I was born in St Ives. And miss it very much. I now live in the usa. I went to St Ivo school is it still there i didnt see anything about it?" (Donna Norman)
Yes, it is very much there. There is a link to it on my Local Websites page. (PG).

"I used to live near St Ives, about 20 years ago now. It was great to read all about it and be able to view photos that brought back so many memories! A fantastic and refreshing website....well done and thank you!" (Charlie Wood)

"Excellent. Am now very much looking forward to seeing St Ives for myself. Photographs very interesting. Congratulations." (Mrs Edna Buck)"

"Nice, informative. Would be nice if the monthly images were kept up as it shows the "life" of the town also would be nice to see an active webcam!" (Mark Pritchard)
I used to have a link to a webcam showing a side view of the St Ives bridge - but it packed up - and, quite honestly, it was never very interesting. (PG)

"Hi there. Love this site, as always. Grew up in St. Ives. I see Lisa Dickeson Brand left a post. Lisa - please email me ( if you are visiting the site." (Astrid)

"I think this is a fabulous website and the photos just wonderful. My friend has lived in Cromwell Place for about 30 years and now I am (hoping to) come and live at Hemingford Grey this summer. I will feel very privileged to live in such a beautiful area and intend to immerse myself in the community 100 percent. Can't wait to get up there. Philip, keep up the good work - this is an excellent site for visitors and new resident alike." (Esther Harrod)

"I think the site is wonderful. I have a daughter who lives at Enderbys Wharf and I could just see her house in the aerial picture. Also, I lived next to Ian Littlewood's (from Nova Scotia) parents and was thrilled to see his note." (Muriel Stoves)

"I eventually finished reading all the comments from your "visitors" and wondered if you could arrange for Peter Foster who now lives in Australia to get in touch with me. My husband and I lived next door to Peter and his family at RAF Wyton and I always kept in touch with his late parents. Perhaps Peter could now let me know how he and his brother and sister are doing. I live in Earith now having moved around quite a bit with the RAF." (Muriel Stoves)
I'm afraid I no longer have Peter Foster's email address. Can anyone help? (PG)

"great...feels like I'm still there" (adriano oliveira)

"very interesting" (Karen Brewer)

"Very interesting. The colour photos look very nice. I did want a good map to take me around st Ives without getting lost. The map wasn't clear. The small part that I could print didnt show enough detail." (Mrs Collins)
Good street plans of St Ives are included in free booklets/pamphlets available from the public library and the Norris Museum. (PG)

"Excellent information but I am trying to find out the name of the corner to the south western side of the main traffic lights here in the town (between the Shell filling station and the Seven Wives pub). I think it was known as Purses Corner (or similar) and wondered if you knew?" (Duncan Sanders)
It was called Purser's Corner, after a Mr Purser who ran a garage where the new flats now are. See the letter above from Christine Purser. (PG)

"Thanks for a great site. I am very interested in Thomas Earl who was the brother of James Earl who was the father of the James Earl who began the Earls in Australia back in the 1860s. (I am an Earl). His son my grandfather went on to become Mayor of Cairns in northern Australia in 1907. Thomas was therefore the brother of my great great grandfather. He owned the Unicorn pub which has gone and only has names like Unicorn House over J. Wadsworth Wine Merchants. Also at the back is the Unicorn Terrace in the old blue sign. I visited this place recently and was told by a lovely lady sitting in the doorway next to J Wadsworth that Earls were in St Ives right up into the 1960s and then went to Huntingdon. I think. Does anyone know of any Earls still living in the area who may be related to this Thomas Earl? They would be related to me. I am an Earl on my mother's side. Thomas also owned the land where the car park is today. He also owned the White Hart at this time and it is said 5 other pubs as well. He must have been very famous in St Ives . So I am very interested in any information about him. He has connections with Morborne where his father Francis Earl owned or ran Earl Farm which is still standing today and up to recently had the Earl name outside it. I went there also. I am back in Brisbane. I am fascinated with St Ives and love the fact that my ancestors were connected in such a big way." (Robert Prinzen-Wood, Brisbane, Australia)

"Fabulous site & very informative. Does anyone remember the Newsome family? They lived at "wayside" St Ives Road, Hemingford Grey in the early '60s. Have been trying to find them for years. They seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth, If anyone knows anything my email address is in advance." (Ken Denton)

Go on to WHAT YOU SAY (10)