The market town of St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England sits about 15 miles to the northwest of the famous city of Cambridge. It is also only about 68 miles to the north of the city of London. Today, it has a current population of nearly 16,000 people. For the last millennium, it has played host to more than a few of the largest markets in England.
The town at one time in its past was officially known as “Slepe.” Its name was changed to St. Ives after the discovery of a body in the town that was believed to be that of the Persian bishop, Saint Ivo. Saint Ives grew up on the banks of the River Great Ouse. Of historical note is that the St. Ives Bridge is also the home of a chapel, which sits in the middle of the structure.
This bridge, first constructed in the 15th century, is one of only four structures of this type that has a chapel which is incorporated as a part of the bridge. During the Anglo-Saxon era, the town occupied a strategic position due to its being the last natural fording (wading) point across the Great Ouse for nearly 50 miles, to the sea.
During the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, St. Ives became a focal point for trade and wider-ranging navigation, as barges filled with goods and livestock were brought up the river and then on to London. With the advent of the rails, though, this trade traffic gradually melted away. Today, the waterways are mostly used for recreation and leisure boating activities.
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire is notable in archeology as being the site of some of the earliest Neolithic human settlements in the country and the United Kingdom. Today, it has a current population of around 761, 000 people and is the home to the world famous University of Cambridge, the fourth-oldest university in the world. St. Ives and Cambridgeshire are fine examples of classic English history.