Ickleton is a village and civil parish about south of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire, England. The village is beside the River Cam, close to where a southern branch of the Icknield Way crossed the river. The eastern and southern boundaries of the parish form part of the county boundary with Essex, and the Essex town of Saffron Walden is only about southeast of the village.
The village is mainly grouped around three streets: Abbey Street, Frogge Street, and Church Street, which leads into Brookhampton Street. The village is at the eastern end of its parish, which extends to the west.
The number of Ickleton's inhabitants has been in the low hundreds throughout its history. Early documents record the number of tenants, households or adults rather than total population, so there are no precise figures until the 1801 Census. The number of tenants rose from 43 at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 to 115 in the Hundred Rolls of 1279. The number of households was 68 in 1563 and 65 in 1662, but rose sharply to 98 in 1666. In 1707 there were 120 families and in the 1801 Census there were 121, and this first census counted a total population of 493 people. The population grew for the next half-century, peaking at 813 in the 1851 Census.
Ickleton depended almost entirely on farming and in 1707 many of the families had been poor. Both conditions still applied 150 years later, so many of Ickleton's young men emigrated. Robert Herbert, who inherited the Manor of Ickleton in 1855 and joined the colonial service, encouraged many of them to settle in Queensland, Australia. Herbert was Premier of Queensland 1859–66 and a civil servant at the Colonial Office in London 1866–92.
After 1851 Ickleton's population fell for seven decades, until after the First World War the 1921 Census recorded a low of 543 people. Thereafter the number slowly increased again, but then reached a new low of 526 in the 1971 Census. Since then it has increased substantially, possibly encouraged by the arrival of the M11 motorway in 1979 and the electrification of the railway to in 1987 (see Transport, below). The 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 709.
The Domesday Book records that in 1086 the parish had two watermills, presumably on the River Cam. One was at Ickleton itself, and the other was at Brookhampton just north of the village. By 1432 the road now called Mill Lane was called the fulling-mill street. The mill at the village had gone by 1545, but in 1818 a new watermill was built on the south side of the village. In 1927 the last miller was killed in the water-wheel and the mill was closed.
By 1432 one of the hills of the parish was called Windmill Hill, suggesting that the parish had a windmill by then. By 1545 the windmill was on or close to its present site, about northwest of the village, west of Duxford Road. Early in the 19th century it was replaced with a brick-built tower mill. The mill closed soon after 1900, and by 1925 it had been converted into a house.
The village prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries. A number of buildings survive from that time: Mowbrays in Church Street has already been noted (see Lesser estates, above). Padcot in Abbey Street is another Grade II* listed building dating from about 1500. It is a timber-framed building, originally one house and later divided into two cottages. It was built as a hall house, but early in the 17th century a floor was inserted in part of the house. The house has a cross wing with a crown post roof.
Ickleton has had a number of public houses. In 1592 there was the Bell, and in the same century there was an inn that may have been called the Rose. In the 17th century there was the White Lion, which was in Church Street south of the village green and burnt down before 1699. The Chequer was built in the same site and was recorded in 1778. By 1847 it was called the Duke of Wellington. In about 1957 it ceased trading and it is now a private house. It is a timber-framed building from the end of the 17th century with 19th-century additions.
By 1728 there was a pub in Abbey Street called the Lion. This may be the same as the Red Lion recorded in 1800, which is a timber-framed building dating from about 1700 with 18th and 19th century alterations. It is currently called the Ickleton Lion and is controlled by Greene King Brewery.
There was a New Inn in Brookhampton Street that was trading in 1884. and The Greyhound in the south of the parish on the edge of Great Chesterford was open by 1851 and still trading in 1972. It closed before the end of the 20th century.
As well as the Ickleton Lion, the village has a social club.
There are records from 1601 and 1625 that Ickleton had a schoolmaster, and from 1638 and 1678 that part of the church was used as the schoolroom. However, the school later lapsed and it was not until 1804 that the vicar started a Sunday school. There was a day school in the parish by 1825 and two by 1833, which seem to have been dame schools.
The vicar started a Church of England day school in about 1848 in a room in Mill Lane. A purpose-built school and schoolmaster's house for the school in Church Street were completed in 1871 and enlarged in 1884. The number of pupils increased from 57 in 1872 to 103 in 1888. The school closed in 1961, was bought by the village and converted into the village hall.
In 1845 the Eastern Counties Railway opened its extension from (Essex) down the Cam Valley to , and beyond. The line crosses the river at Ickleton and skirts the eastern edge of the parish. The nearest station is across the river at , about southeast of Ickleton village. British Rail electrified the line in 1987. It is now the West Anglia Main Line.
In 1979 the M11 Motorway was extended from Stansted in Essex to Stump Cross, about east of Ickleton on the Essex–Cambridgeshire boundary. In 1980 the motorway was extended again, from Junction 9 to Cambridge, passing through Ickleton parish only about west of the village.