Historical Introduction to Ixworth

Ixworth Village SignToday, Ixworth is a thriving community of around 3 000 inhabitants possessing facilities that might be considered to be the envy of a number of Suffolk villages

With two schools, police and fire station, doctors surgery, a Post Office, two general stores ( one with a butchers), two pubs and a café, restaurant, take away, plus various other small enterprises. Indeed, this current day vibrancy very much reflects a rich cultural legacy that is still evolving today.

Very little is known about Ixworth during the Neolithic period apart from scattered finds of various flint hand tools. Prior to the Roman occupation the area was occupied by Celtic tribes such as the Iceni and Trinovantes. During the 19th century, a number of finds were discovered, including those in bronze that figured Cunobelinus, King of the Trinovantes, whose capital was Camulodunum (modern day Colchester), and who Shakespeare immortalised as the eponymous Cymbeline.

First real settlement came with the Romans when, initially, a military Fort of the 1st Century AD was built – probably part of the suppression of the local Iceni tribe, and their infamous Queen Boudicca. This later became a thriving market town (possibly named Sitomagus) covering an area of some 7 acres now on both sides of the Ixworth by-pass down the hill from the windmill. The whole area was excavated during 1985 prior to the construction of the long awaited Ixworth by-pass, and a number of interesting finds were uncovered including personal adornments, coins, and building remains. The town was well served by several Roman roads.

When the Romans returned to their homeland, the Angles and the Saxons arrived settling in scattered hamlets close to the former Roman settlement. By the time of Edward the Confessor there were two main Manors in the village and even by 1086 (the Doomsday Book) the population was little more than 50 people. The advent of the Normans created great upheaval with the arrival of the Baron Robert Le Blund who took over both Manors. It was his son Gilbert who founded the Ixworth Augustinian Priory around 1100 which lasted until its dissolution in 1537.During that period Ixworth developed apace and many of the fine timber framed buildings, which can be seen today, were constructed.

The first substantial map of Ixworth was assembled in 1625 and gives a unique insight into the community at that period. The next major survey had to wait until the Tithe mapping of 1846 with all the apportionments of both land and property. Finally there has been the major growth of the 20th century, likely to continue in the 21st, which has shaped and will continue to shape  our village as we know it today.

One cannot leave without allusion to the name of Ixworth as there may be some understandable confusion. The current name, derived from place names studies, is probably a spoken corruption of the Saxon person Gycsa / Gisca’s soil (or place). There isn’t really any evidence to suggest that the ‘Icks’ sound, common to Icklingham and Iceni, is anything more than coincidence, nor is there any evidence to suggest that the IX, Roman numerals for 9, suggests the 9th Legion or 9th district, which would, sadly, be a romantic but probably illogical connection.

Content Submitted by Mike Dean of Ixworth’s History Group


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