St Ives Feast | Hurling the Silver Ball
Type: Participatory Event
The St Ives Feast is an ancient tradition that celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 and offers a rare chance to watch the game of Hurling the Silver Ball, a centuries’ old form of rugby.
The feast day falls on the first Monday after February 3rd and starts off with the mayor’s civic procession for the blessing at St Ia Well near Porthmeor Beach, followed by the start of the boisterous hurling of the silver ball when participants attempt to win the ball off each other around the town. Whoever returns the ball to the mayor on the steps of St Ives Guildhall on the stroke of midday receives a silver coin. In the afternoon, pennies are proffered from the balcony by town councillors to the waiting children on the Guildhall forecourt.
Taking place in one of Cornwall’s most popular seaside towns, watching the hurling is an intriguing insight into one of Cornwall’s most ancient traditions. Take a ring side seat near the beach and cheer for your favourite participant, some of whom dive into the chilly sea to escape with the ball.
Hurling the Silver Ball is one of Cornwall's oldest customs dating back at least a thousand years. Of unknown origin, the game involves much physical rough and tumble as each side (traditionally the 'countrymen' and 'townsmen' of a particular parish) tries to keep possession of a cricket ball-sized ball made of apple wood coated in silver. These days, Cornish Hurling has all but disappeared, although it is still played once a year in St Ives and St Columb Major, near Newquay.
Sunday 8th February:
11:15am - Mayor's Parade and Church Service (at Parish Church)
Monday 9th February
9:30am - Venton Ia Well.
Mayoral procession will leave The Guildhall for the Venton Ia Well at Porthmeor and, after the short ceremony there, will return to the Parish Church by 10:30am. As is the tradition, dancers from St Uny School, will dance in the procession, Bagas Porthia will provide the music and take part in Ceremony at Venton Ia Well.
10:30am - Hurling of the Silver Ball
Hurling of the Silver Ball is a very old custom, so old that no one knows when it originated and occurs annually on Feast Monday. At 10:30am on Feast Monday, the Silver Ball is thrown from the wall of the Parish Church by the Mayor, when it is caught by one of the waiting crowd of children and adults and passed from one to another on the beaches and in the streets of St Ives.
The person holding the Silver Ball at Noon takes it to the Mayor at The Guildhall, and receives a reward of a silver coin (originally a Crown Piece).
10:30am to Noon - Coffee morning in The Guildhall
11:00am - Meeting of the Western Hunt
The western hunt will meet at Royal Square at 11am and receive the stirrup cup from the Mayor.
11:30am - Distribution of pennies to children under 7.
The Mayor will distribute the pennies from The Guildhall steps
Noon - Return of the Silver Ball
The Silver Ball will be returned to the Mayor at The Guildhall and pennies will be distributed to children 7 years and above.
7:15pm - Feast Monday Rugby Match - EVENT CANCELLED
The Mayor will kick off the match at the Alexandra Road Rugby Football Ground between St Ives FRC and the Cornwall Clubs.