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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.
The 2019 programme of events will be announced closer to the time.
Itinerary is subject to change
VENTON IA WELL at 9:30 am
The 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 10.30 a.m. As is the tradition, dancers from St Uny School will dance in the procession, Bagas Porthia will provide the music and take part in the Ceremony at the Venton Ia Well.
HURLING OF THE SILVER BALL at 10:30 am
The 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 10.30 a.m. 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 the Town.
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).
The Silver Ball is about the size of a tennis ball and is made of wood covered with Silver Leaf.
COFFEE MORNING IN THE CONCERT HALL from 10:30 am to Noon
The League of Friends of the Edward Hain Memorial Hospital will hold a Coffee Morning in the Concert Hall adjoining The Guildhall.
MEETING OF THE WESTERN HUNT at 11 am
The Western Hunt will meet at Royal Square at 11.00 a.m., and receive the Stirrup Cup from the Mayor.
DISTRIBUTION OF PENNIES TO CHILDREN UNDER 7 YEARS OF AGE at 11:30 am
The Mayor will distribute the pennies from The Guildhall steps.
RETURN OF THE SILVER BALL at Noon
The Silver Ball will be returned to the Mayor at The Guildhall, and pennies will be distributed to children aged 7 years and above.