he St. Ives Historical Society is an outgrowth of the Guild
of St. Ives, a theatrical group which has been an integral part
of the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire since
the early 1980's. Ives was a theatrical powerhouse whose members
created elaborate and often humorous street theater as well
as performing both classic and new theatrical works.
Selected scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"? We had
two groups performing it, one of adults and one of children.
A trial conducted according to English common law? The way we
did it, the judges sometimes paid higher fines than the guilty
parties. An elaborate theatrical banquet, with many courses
of entertainment and a fistfight between the servants? We did
it every week. Elizabethan songs in four-part harmony? Would
you like those in English, Italian, French, or Latin? With or
without our Elizabethan band? Before or after our dance set?
The members of this group met during the course of the year
for Guild meetings, potluck barbecues, and even (occasionally)
rehearsals. At a party following one of our meetings various
members started discussing the large historical libraries and
the breadth of knowledge that existed among various members
of the Guild.
We felt that such a resource of knowledge, documentation,
and skills should be shared, and resolved to create an organization
to encourage the study and re-enactment of history, with an
emphasis on theater, music, and crafts. Though our principal
experience was in the era of Elizabethan England, it was decided
to expand our scope to allow for study and re-enactment of other
periods and cultures.
n 1996 we formed a Board of Directors and filed papers for non-profit
status in the State of California as the Saint Ives Historical
Society. We still do all the things the Guild used to do, but we
do them even better.
At Southern California Renaissance Faire in
1998, we created an elaborately detailed town square which included
a 35 foot high bell tower with carillon, and we filled that area
with craftsmen, artists, a rowdy troop of town constables, a traveling
medicine show, and other historically accurate characters. Since
then, the organization has begun several new programs, including
a donation program for school libraries and crafts apprenticeships
in blacksmithing and historical painting techniques. We are attracting
new people with ancient skills, and helping to keep ancient arts