infobox UK place
country = England
region=East of England
Ickwell is a hamlet in
With the settlements of Upper and Lower Caldecote, Thorncote, Hatch, Brook End, Cow Pastures, Vinegar Hill and Budna, the hamlet of Ickwell makes up the
civil parishof Northill. [http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Bedfordshire/IckwellGreenRollofHonour.html Ickwell Green war memorial] at roll-of-honour.com (accessed 26 April 2008)]
Ickwell is not mentioned in
Domesday Bookof 1086. Its name is first documented in the thirteenth century, as 'Ikewelle'. Variations in the name's spelling (including Chikewelle, Geykewelle, Gigewel, Yekewell; Yikewell; Zekewekk and Zykwell) suggest that its origin is an Anglo-Saxon toponymmeaning 'Gicca's spring'. [http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Ickwell/Introduction.aspx Bedfordshire County Council: Ickwell] at bedfordshire.gov.uk (accessed 27 April 2008)]
The manor of Ickwell (or Ickwell Bury) was part of the Barony of Eaton, with the other lands in Bedfordshire of Eudo, son of Hubert. Before 1284, it was given by William Hobcote to the prior of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, who held it through the
Dissolution of the Monasteries, relinquishing it in 1544. It was then granted by the Crown to John Barnardiston, whose heirs sold it in 1680 to John Harvey, who rebuilt the manor house in 1683 and whose family held it until the twentieth century.
Ickwell Bury is a country house, at the heart of the former
manorof Ickwell, first built by John Harvey in 1683 near the site of an older manor house. The Harvey family continued to own the house until 1925, although from 1900 it had housed Horton Preparatory School. [http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Ickwell/IckwellBury.aspx Ickwell Bury] at bedfordshire.gov.uk (accessed 26 April 2008)]
In 1898, Ickwell Bury was the property of John Edmund Audley Harvey DL JP and was described as "a mansion of red brick, in the Queen Anne style, standing in a park and woodlands of about five hundred acres, approached by an avenue of trees about a mile in length"."Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire" (Kelly, 1898)]
The school closed in 1937, and soon afterwards the empty house was destroyed in a fire. The property was then bought by Colonel George Hayward Wells, chairman of the brewery Charles Wells, who rebuilt the house on a smaller scale and on his death left it to the Bedford Charity to be used by
Bedford School, his own old school. The school uses the grounds for field studies and as a conservation reserve, but it lets the buildings, which are too far from the main school to be useful to it.
In a wood between Ickwell Bury and Northill church is an ancient
earthwork, with a high bank on the east side, enclosing long pools which are thought to have been fish ponds for the monks of a college at Northill or for the priory of Ickwell Bury.
Crickethas been played on Ickwell Green for more than one hundred and twenty years, and Ickwell Green Cricket Club is one of the oldest such clubs in Bedfordshire. [ [http://ickwell.play-cricket.com/home/home.asp Home page] of Ickwell Green Cricket Club at ickwell.play-cricket.com (accessed 26 April 2008)]
Ickwell was the home village of the English master clockmaker and watchmaker
Thomas Tompion(c. 1639–1713), and Ickwell Green still boasts the family cottage, which is maintained by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. Tompion was the son of a local blacksmith, another Thomas Tompion, and is believed to have worked at Ickwell as a blacksmith, but to have left by 1665 when his father died and the smithy was taken on by his younger brother, James. [Evans, Jeremy Lancelotte, "Tompion, Thomas (bap. 1639, d. 1713), horologist and maker of scientific instruments" in " Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" (Oxford University Press, 2004)]
All parts of the parish of Northill share a war memorial, which is at Ickwell Green and takes the form of a stone cross made of
Portland stonebearing a bronze sword of sacrifice, designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield.
Ickwell May Day
The Ickwell May Day festival, first documented in the
Churchwardens' accounts of c. 1565 but perhaps originating in the pre-Christian Beltane, takes place on Ickwell Green and celebrates the arrival of Springon May Morning, or 1 May. In the time of the Puritans, the festival ceased. A permanent Maypolewas first erected in 1872 by the local squire, John Harvey, to celebrate the birth of his son. There is Morris dancing by the Ickwell Mayers, the Old Scholars dance around the Maypole with their children and grandchildren, and with other games, contests, dances, and music a May Queenis crowned. [ [http://www.northill-parish.info/mayday/History.htm Ickwell May Day History] at northill-parish.info (accessed 26 April 2008)] [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O71-IckwellMayDay.html Ickwell May Day] at encyclopedia.com (accessed 26 April 2008)]
* [http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Ickwell/IckwellIndexOfPages.aspx Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service: Ickwell pages]
* [http://www.francisfrith.com/search/england/bedfordshire/ickwell/maps/ickwell_maps.htm Ordnance Survey Map of Ickwell, Bedfordshire, 1882-1900] online at FrancisFrith.com
* [http://www.british-towns.net/en/level_4_display.asp?GetL3=11093 Ickwell] location map at british-towns.net
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