Royston in 1838
Royston is in the hundred of Odsey, on the North road through Huntingdon, 37 miles from London. The parish extends into Armingford hundred, Cambridgeshire, and the town extends beyond the parish boundaries. The area of the parish is 320 acres : the population in 1831 was 1,757, about one-tenth agricultural. The town is situated in a bottom surrounded by chalk downs, and consists of four principal streets. The principal business is malting ; a large corn trade is also carried on. The market is on Wednesday; the market-house is quite a modern building. The church was formerly the conventual church of a priory of the regular canons of St. Augustine ; the yearly revenues of this priory at the dissolution were £106 3 shillings 1 penny. gross, or £89 16 shillings clear. The living is a vicarage in the deanery of Braughing, archdeaconry of Middlesex, and diocese of London, of the yearly value of £107. There are three or four meeting-houses for different classes of dissenters. A brick building in the northern part of the town was once the occasional residence of James I, who came here to hunt and shoot dotterels, which then abounded on the neighbouring downs. In the town there was discovered, in A.D. 1742, a curious bell-shaped subterraneous cavern, 30 feet high, and nearly 20 feet in diameter, cut out in the solid chalk, and ornamented with rude carvings of sacred subjects, supposed to have been a hermitage. The downs round the town are frequented by the hooded-crow, a species not found in other parts of England, and popularly called the Royston crow : it is a migratory bird, and passes the winter here. There were in Royston parish, in 1833, one infant school with 53 children, a Lancasterian school with 53 girls, eleven day or boarding and day-schools with 194 children, and three Sunday-schools with 259 children.