'A Quick look around St Ives Parish Church'
For over one thousand years Christians have worshipped in this place, and the building in which you now stand is over 550 years old. We welcome you in the Name of the Lord Christ and hope that this brief guide will help you to enjoy your visit. It is arranged on the lines of a 'conducted tour' and begins at the Tower.
The Massive Stones that form the Tower were brought here from Zennor by sea and landed off the east end of the church where a field once existed between the building and the sea. The Tower is over 80 feet high and made of Cornish granite. There are two bells in the Tower, cast locally at Hayle in the last century. The clock (by J B Joyce) replaced an earlier single-handed clock in 1935. The base of the Tower may well be part of an earlier church, and it is suggested that the piscina (where the vessels for Holy Communion were cleansed) just inside the South door on your right marks the East End of an earlier building. From the Tower look down the nave towards the High Altar.
The Piers have a section of four shafts with ogee moulding, and corresponding arch mouldings. They are not granite, as in most Cornish churches, but sandstone, a material easily worked which accounts for the particularly rich and varied carving of the capitals. Notice how the piers near the organ lean outwards. This may be caused by subsidence or by the weight of the roof. The wagon roof is beautifully carved, and the diagonal moulding, with the curved bosses at the intersections, and the vine patterns of the wall plates are all very fine. The recent painting and gilding of the woodwork has helped to highlight the workmanship. The wooden figures of the angels and the saints that line the roof forcibly remind us that heaven and earth meet in this building.
The Bench Ends, also recently restored, are typical of the Cornish carving of the 15th century with its deep cutting.
The Windows have beautiful ancient tracery but the glass is Victorian. Behind you is the dorcas window which deserves study.
Walk now through the benches on your left to the Baptistry. This was completed in 1956. It was designed by Mr Stephen Dykes-Bower and the work carried out by local craftsmen. The chequered pavement is made of hundreds of slates set on edge.
The Font is of granite and is 15th century. The carving represents the demons cast out by Baptism. Today this same font brings men, women and children into the Christian community.
As you walk up the aisle to the Rood note the Jacobean panels of the pulpit.
The Rood Screen at the entrance to the Choir was destroyed by the Puritans in 1647 (St Ives supported Cromwell in the troubles). You can see the small door high in the wall on your right through which the priest came on to the Screen to proclaim the Gospel. The present rood beam is modern.
In the Choir you will find carvings of the 15th and 20th centuries. The clergy stalls were put in in 1915 but the front panels of the choir stalls are 15th century. They may originally have been part of the Rood Screen. Notice the man in the cocked hat, the woman with her coif and the blacksmith's tools (said to be the work of Ralph Clies, the village blacksmith).
The High Altar (High simply means Main) is of alabaster. The silver Cross was made by the Guild of Artificers, London. The statue to the right of the Cross portrays St Ia, our Patroness, a missionary who came here either fom Ireland or Wales in the 5th or 6th centuries and gave her name to the Town. Her legend tells how she sailed into St Ives on a leaf but this was only a symbol of the great difficulties she had to overcome to pursue her vocation. EVERY SUNDAY the local congregation meets at this altar to share in the Sacrifice of Christ through Holy Communion.
On your right is the Lady Chapel, also known as the Trenwith Aisle. It was added to the church between 1450 and 1500 and restored about 70 years ago. In the windows there is some delightful colouring. That over the altar tells the wonderful story of the Incarnation and the window near the door, of the Resurrection (including Jonah's resurrection from the 'whale'). The Lady of the chapel is, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary and we are most fortunate to have Dame Barbara Hepworth's Madonna and Child (bianca del mare, height 31") which she carved for the church in memory of her son, Paul who was killed on active service with the RAF over Thailand in 1953. Let your children run their hands over the Christ Child's head and feel the texture of the stone, and say a prayer to the Mother of all Children. In 1972 Dame Barbara made and gave the pair of stainless steel candlesticks; called 'Christmas Rose'.
The white light burning in the sanctuary reminds us that the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle for those who cannot get to church. The purple veil in front of the aumbry (where the Holy Oils are kept for anointing the sick) symbolises the healing power of the Holy Spirit. By the door is the mutilated brass of Oto Treunwyth (d. 1463) and his wife, invoking St Michael. There is also an old tombstone (mid 17th century).
This Chapel is used every day. The Eucharist is celebrated and the Office said, the Faithful come to pray and the penitent have the burden of sin removed. Before you leave this chapel please say a prayer for those who worship here.
As you go out of the church look at the 15th century churchyard Cross.
Thank you for coming to look at our Parish Church. You have not been visiting a museum but a place where 20th century Christians worship the living Lord of all history. Our forebears built this place for love of God and we do our best to keep that love alive.
If you would like to know more about the Faith or have any questions please ask one of the clergy. You are always welcome at any of our Services.