When: 4th February 2019
Where: St Ives, Cornwall
What is it?
On Monday 4th February, the town of St Ives in Cornwall will celebrate the Feast Day of St Ia with a day of quirky events. This annual celebration traditionally involves 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 specially made silver ball. The silver ball is made of sterling silver that has been hammered into two hemispheres, bound around a core of applewood and held together with a silver band.
After the blessing, the procession returns to St Ia Parish Church yard for the main event, the Hurling of the Silver Ball.
The Hurling of the Silver Ball is one of Cornwall’s oldest customs. At around 10.30am, the Mayor of St Ives will hurl the ball into the 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.
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 the lucky children waiting below.
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.