Hurling the silver ball at St Ives Feast
Published: Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014
Written by: Ginny Kay
The Hurling of the Silver Ball is one of Cornwall's oldest traditions and dates back at least a thousand years. Involving a cricket-size ball, made from apple wood and coated in silver, the game involves two teams from a particular parish (traditionally the townsmen and the countrymen) who try to keep possession of the ball for as long as possible.
The feast, held on February 10th, celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 AD and begins with the mayor’s civic procession for the blessing at St Ia Well near Porthmeor Beach. Then the hurling begins as the teams 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 which has all but disappeared. 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.