Ickwell village sign
Ickwell is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
OS grid referenceTL1545
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
List of places
52°05′47″N 0°19′18″W / 52.0963°N 0.3218°W / 52.0963; -0.3218

Ickwell is a small, rural village in the Central Bedfordshire district of the county of Bedfordshire, England about 6.5 miles (10 km) south-east of the county town of Bedford.

The 2011 census shows its population as 298.[1]

Ickwell is part of the civil parish of Northill.

The village is known for its maypole and for being the birthplace of Thomas Tompion, the "Father of English Clockmaking".


Ickwell is not mentioned in Domesday Book of 1086. Its name is first documented in the thirteenth century, as 'Ikewelle'. Variations in the name's spelling (including Chikewelle, Geykewelle, Gigewel, Yekewell;[2] Yikewell; Zekewekk and Zykwell) suggest that its origin is an Anglo-Saxon toponym meaning 'Gicca's spring'.[3]

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.[3]

Ickwell Bury

Main article: Ickwell Bury

Ickwell Green

Cricket has 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.[4]

Tompion's Cottage

Ickwell is the birthplace of the English master clockmaker and watchmaker Thomas Tompion (c. 1639–1713), whose family cottage stands on Caldecote Road.[5] 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.[6]

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 stone bearing a bronze sword of sacrifice, designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Ickwell May Day

Main article: Ickwell May Day

Villagers & Morris-men dancing beside the Maypole on Ickwell Green, soon after dawn on 1 May 2005

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 spring on May Morning, or 1 May. In the time of the Puritans, the festival ceased. A permanent maypole was 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, country dances, and music a May Queen is crowned.[7][8]


  1. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Ickwell Built-up area sub division (E35001000)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  2. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP40/689, year: 1433; image at: http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT1/H6/CP40no689/aCP40no689fronts/IMG_0669.htm ; plaintiff: John Smyth, county margin: Beds; where the defendant lives;
  3. ^ a b Bedfordshire County Council: Ickwell Archived 2009-07-19 at the Wayback Machine at bedfordshire.gov.uk (accessed 27 April 2008)
  4. ^ Home page Archived 2008-09-06 at the Wayback Machine of Ickwell Green Cricket Club at ickwell.play-cricket.com (accessed 26 April 2008)
  5. ^ Historic England. "TOMPION'S COTTAGE (1113898)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Ickwell May Day History at northill-parish.info (accessed 26 April 2008)
  8. ^ Ickwell May Day at encyclopedia.com (accessed 26 April 2008)

Media related to Ickwell at Wikimedia Commons