Today, 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
The earliest written reference to bathing in Ixworth comes in newspaper reports of August 1892. William Nichols had committed suicide in the river at the Abbey Meadows and the East Anglian Daily Times identified the spot as being near to Ixworth’s Bathing Place. What was probably quite a casual arrangement became more formal in July […]
In February 1852 the Bury & Norwich Post said this: “The neighbourhood of Thetford has for several years been infested by a formidable gang of poachers, whose exploits have from time to time been referred to in our pages. It is supposed to consist of as many as thirty, whose homes are chiefly in […]
The earliest known map of Ixworth was created in 1625 to show the land holdings of the Lord of the Manor John Carill Esq. That map was then copied by hand in 1834. The 1834 version was deteriorating when, in the 1970s, a local photographer recorded it. That record, in the form of a pair […]
The earliest reference to the Greyhound Inn that I can find is in an advert in the Suffolk Mercury in March 1728. At that time it would have looked like many of the timber-framed, plastered buildings in the High Street. Then, early in February 1916, Mr H W Lake came along to the Ixworth […]
Cattle in the High Street? (or even geese or turkey for that matter) It’s funny how something seemingly random sets off an interesting train of thought, is it not? In my case it was the discovery in a shed, of a seemingly unloved, though undeniably, battered old paperback dating back to the 1970s. It concerned […]
Robert Reeve was born in 1853 to William and Charlotte Reeve who lived in Thetford Road. I first found him at the Ixworth Petty Sessions in August 1870, fined for drunkenness at the Woolpack. In January 1871 he was given 14 days in gaol for disorderly conduct and in March convicted of assault and fined […]
We were fortunate to be passed two pictures from around the start of the 20th century by an Ixworth resident. Two photos are shown below – one looking up the high street and one looking down Stowmarket Road. Fascinating visual history and lovely to see how little has changed over the last century. If anyone has […]
Left Holding the Baby In February 1850 Henry Cooper, surgeon and general practitioner of Ixworth, entered the Police Court at Worship Street, Shoreditch. He was not charged with any offence, nor was he involved in litigation, he was simply seeking the advice of a magistrate regarding the unusual position in which he found himself. A month […]
Ixworth Church of England School (an insight into its earlier history via the school logs) All of you will know of the former village school located in Thetford Road, as even today the exterior is a dead give away of its original use. It was, however, way back in the year of 1840, to be […]
In raiding the precious memories of local residents the Ixworth History Group found that several people had copies of two photographs of the Gloucester Hussars. One showed troops and horses encamped behind The Beeches in the High Street and the other was of three officers on horseback outside the Cyder House. No-one had any explanation […]
Those of you who may have taken time out to wander around our village Church of St Mary’s to have a look at the architecture, plaques and gravestones may well have noted the distinctive family name of Boldero which appears in a number of places; several male members went to Cambridge and went on to […]
At the bottom of the High Street stands the rather imposing Cyder House with a lovely timber-framed shop frontage next to it and a run of low brick buildings along the Bury Road. This was home to the Ixworth Cyder Factory (Cyder House was only given that name in 1958, before that it was Trayton […]
The Greyhound is a very familiar sight in the High Street but I have always been intrigued by the building as I could never work out its age; this is because it is very well disguised. In trying to find out more I discovered that little is known of its history – even Greene King […]
Many of you in the village will be very familiar with our local Anglican church – St Mary the Virgin Church, but I wonder whether you often lift your eyes above shoulder height to really take in the magnificent west tower? The tower (started about 1471) is very impressive with walls at least 6 feet […]
A Brief History of Ixworth Methodist Church – Past & Present. Written by Tessa W. Ixworth History Group. May 2013. The photograph below is titled ‘Visit of General Booth’ and dated 1903-1904. The scene is obviously outside Ixworth Methodist Church in the High Street. William Booth (10 April 1829 – 20 August 1912) was a […]
During the late 19th century Ixworth could lay claim to fame, in fact a genuine World First, although the roots of this were not particularly glamorous. The items in question appear on the 1905 Ordinance Survey map, but not on the 1886 edition, which means they must have been constructed between these dates. In fact […]
This fascinating article on Ixworth’s World War Two Defences was produced by The History Group of Ixworth. To download or view the original article please click on the link to the “Ixworth’s World War Two Defence” pdf. The Commanding Officer of the Home Guard in Ixworth was Major Gilbert Kilner; as well as being the […]
Should you find yourself with a spare moment one day when you are in the vicinity of St Mary’s Church, then an assiduous search of the old Churchyard will finally reward your tenacity, as you will discover the gravestone of one Joseph Warren, another long forgotten, yet important, person from our village’s long history. Not […]
On the evening of 14th May 1940 Anthony Eden, the Secretary of State for War, made a broadcast to the nation calling on able-bodied men between the ages of 17 and 65 to go to their local Police Station and enrol in the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). The war in Europe was not going well; […]
For the next hundred years, life was quite settled. A market was held every Friday and a fair on May Day. Another fair was thrown mid October. Research has even shown that taxes were collected at the Pykkerel Inn, which has kept its name to date and still sits on the High Street. During this […]
One road that runs through Ixworth connects Colchester and Brancaster. The Romans erected a fort across the road, protecting one of the village’s main points of entry. Once they had left England, the Saxons began to settle in the area and Ixworth continued to grow in the same place. Ixworth has always had strong farming […]
The article below is taken from the Domesday Reloaded. In 1986 the BBC launched an ambitious project to record a snapshot of everyday life across the UK for future generations. When the new Ixworth Bypass was planned the route went over a known Roman site. The builders allowed local archaeologists some months in which to […]