When: 6th February 2017
Where: St Ives, Cornwall
What is it?
On Monday 6th February, the town of St Ives in Cornwall will celebrate the Feast Day of St Ia by hurling a special silver ball and throwing pennies to children.
St Ives Feast Day always falls on the first Monday after 3rd February; the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Ia in 1434.
The day’s events will begin in the morning, at around 9.30am, with a civic parade beginning at the Guildhall and ending at Venton Ia well. The parish priest will then bless a special silver ball. This silver ball is made of sterling silver which is hammered into two hemispheres and then bound around a core of applewood. The ball is held together with a silver band and contains a motto. After the blessing, the procession returns to St Ia Parish Church yard for the Hurling of the Silver Ball.
The Hurling of the Silver Ball is one of Cornwall’s oldest customs. The Mayor of St Ives will hurl the ball into the awaiting crowd on the beach. The townspeople will then attempt to win the ball from one another. The person who manages to claim the silver ball and return it to the Mayor at exactly midday will be rewarded with a silver crown. The game usually commences at around 10.30am.
Following the return of the silver ball, commemorative pennies will be dropped from the Guildhall balcony by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and town Councillors, to a waiting crowd of children.
This type of Cornish Hurling was once common but now only a handful of places still observe the custom. In St Columb a game is still played annually on Shrove Tuesday.