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.