The patron saint of St Ives, from whom the town takes its modern name, St Ia is said to have travelled from Ireland on a giant leaf in answer to her prayers when she was left behind by other saints travelling to Cornwall. The leaf washed up at St Ives. The parish church is said to be built on the site where the saint founded her oratory shortly after arrival.
The Ghost of the "White Lady"
The story of the "White Lady" is both old and tragic. The young woman was one of many people rescued on a stormy night when a boat got into difficulties in St Ives bay. Unfortunately, the woman's baby was snatched by the sea as she was crossing to one of the rescue boats. Up to her death shortly afterwards, the young woman searched the shoreline by night and day looking for her baby. Legend has it that from the point of her death onwards, sightings of a white lady were reported.
She is often seen on stormy nights holding a lamp, climbing over rocks but on approaching the light it immediately vanishes. So common is this manifestation that "Lamp Rock" takes its name from the ghost.
The Quinquennial celebration at Knill Steeple is an example of one of the many ancient celebrations and festivals which still survive in Cornwall. Every five years on July 25th, the people of St Ives remember John Knill, as he wished, with a procession and ceremony at the steeple which has changed little since it was first carried out in 1801.
Fairs and Feast Days
St Ives has retained many of the ancient fairs and festivals from the pre-Christian era. Fair Day falls the first Monday after the 3rd February. One traditional aspect of this celebration which survives is the "hurling" of a silver ball onto the beachfront prompting an anarchic rugby match which was traditionally a competition between St Ives and nearby Lelant.
A bonfire is held on Midsummer Eve in a lively celebration with a strong Cornish flavour. Herbs are thrown onto the bonfire by the "Lady of the Flowers" and prayers are said in the Cornish language.
The town holds a lively harbour festival during the summer months when residents and visitors alike join in a carnival like atmosphere to celebrate the relationship between St Ives and the sea.
St Ives becomes the focus of great activity at the turn of the year with street partying in fancy dress and fireworks as locals see in the New Year with a bang.
If you need some help finding us please visit our directions page by clicking here for all the information on how to reach Wheal Trenwith.