St Ives, Cornwall

St Ives, Cornwall

Infobox UK place
official_name= St Ives
cornish_name= Porth Ia

static_image_caption="The harbour at St Ives"
country= England
region= South West England
shire_county= Cornwall
shire_district= Penwith
population= 11,165 [2001 UK census]
os_grid_reference= SW518403
map_type= Cornwall
latitude= 50.21
longitude= -5.48
post_town= St Ives
postcode_area= TR
postcode_district= TR26 1/2/3xx
dial_code= 01736
constituency_westminster= St Ives

St Ives ( _kw. Porth Ia) is a seaside town, civil parish and port in the Penwith district of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town lies north of Penzance, and west of Camborne. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing as an industry. The decline in fishing, however, has caused a shift in commercial emphasis and the town is now primarily a holiday resort. St Ives was incorporated by Royal charter in 1639. St Ives has been named best seaside town of 2007 by the Guardian and has become renowned for its number of artists.


The legendary origins of St Ives are attributed to the arrival of the Irish Saint Ia of Cornwall, in the 5th Century AD. The parish church in St Ives still bears the name of this saint, and the name St Ives itself derives from it. [cite book|last=Mills|first=A. D.|title=The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names|publisher=Parragon Book Service Ltd and Magpie Books|date=1996|pages=p. 282]

The town was the site of a particularly notable atrocity during the Prayer Book rebellion of 1549. The English Provost Marshal (Anthony Kingston) came to St Ives and invited the portreeve, John Payne, to lunch at an inn. He asked the portreeve to have the gallows erected during the course of the lunch. Afterwards the portreeve and the Provost Marshall walked down to the gallows; the Provost Marshall then ordered the portreeve to mount the gallows. The portreeve was then hanged for being a 'busy rebel'.

Modern St Ives came with the railway in 1877, the St Ives Bay branch line from St Erth, part of the Great Western Railway. With it came the new generation of Victorian seaside holidaymakers. Much of the town was built during the latter part of the 19th century. The railway, which winds along the cliffs and bays, survived the Beeching axe and has become a tourist attraction itself. St Ives hit the national headlines on 28th July 2007, following a suspected sighting of a Great White Shark.

In 1999, the town was the first landfall of the Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999. A live BBC programme headed by Patrick Moore was sadly clouded out.


Porthmeor beach is St Ives' major surfing area, and is overlooked by holiday apartments. A hilly peninsula known locally as "The Island", which features a single chapel on the summit, separates the beach from Porthgwidden, a much smaller beach. Much of the town's outskirts are built on steep terrain.



In 1928, the Cornish artist Alfred Wallis, plus his friends Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood met at St Ives and laid the foundation for the artists' colony of today. In 1939, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo settled in St Ives, attracted by its quiet beauty. In 1993, a branch of the Tate Gallery, the Tate St Ives, opened here. The Tate also looks after the Barbara Hepworth Museum and her sculpture garden. It was the wish of the late sculptor to leave her work on public display in perpetuity. The town also attracted artists from overseas like Piet Mondrian who let the landscape influence their work, and Maurice Sumray, who became a successful and respected contributor to the St. Ives art scene when he moved to the town from London in 1968 [ [ Obituary: Maurice Sumray | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at ] ] .Prior to the 1940s the majority of artists in St Ives and further afield in West Cornwall belonged to the St Ives Society of artists however events in the late 1940s led to a growing dispute between the abstract and figurative artists within the group. In 1948 the abstract faction broke away from the St Ives Society forming the Penwith Society of artists led by Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson.


St Ives is home to 3 celebrations of interest. John Knill, a former Mayor of St Ives, constructed the Knill Steeple a granite monument overlooking the town of St Ives. In 1797, Knill laid down instructions for the celebration of the Knill Ceremony which was to take place every five years on 25 July. The ceremony itself involves the Mayor of St Ives, a customs officer, and a vicar - accompanied by two widows and 10 girls who should be the "daughters of fishermen, tinners, or seamen".

A second celebration of perhaps greater antiquity is St Ives feast which is a celebration of the founding of St Ives by St Ia and takes place on the Sunday and Monday nearest February 3 every year. The day itself includes a civic procession to Venton Ia or the well of St Ia and other associated activities however, it is most notable for being one of the two surviving examples of Cornish Hurling (however, in a more gentle format than its other manifestation in St Columb Major).

A third festival is the St Ives May Day which is a modern revival of May Day customs that were at one time common throughout the west of Cornwall.

Finally every year in mid September there is the now famous St Ives September Festival. In 2008 this Festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary from the 6th to the 20th September.

The St Ives September Festival

The St Ives September Festival is one of the longest running and widest ranging Festival of the Arts in the UK. It lasts 15 days and includes all aspects of Art from Music (including Folk, Jazz, Rock, Classical & World) Poetry, Film, Talks and Books. Many of the local artists in the town open up their private studios to allow visitors to see exactly how their art is produced.

In 2008 there will be Seth Lakeman, Nerina Pallot, The Blues Band, The Bootleg Beatles and many more great acts

There is free music in many pubs in the town on almost every night, as well as large concerts. The Festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world to St Ives for the Festival Fortnight. For more information about the festival, go to []

St Ives also boasts its own 300 seat theatre whichs hosts some of the September Festival events. [ St Ives Threatre]

In literature and popular culture

St Ives is well known from the nursery rhyme and riddle "As I was going to St Ives", although it is not clear whether the rhyme refers to the Cornish town or one of several other St Ives around the country.

The Discovery Travel and Living programme "Beach Cafe" is filmed in St. Ives, featuring Australian chef Michael Smith. [,,1749237,00.html]



St Ives railway station is linked to the Paddington to Penzance main rail route via the St Ives branch line which runs regular services to St Erth station. The line was opened in 1877 by the St Ives branch railway, but became part of the Great Western Railway in 1878. A Park-and-Ride facility for visitors to St Ives runs from Lelant Saltings railway station, which was opened on 27 May 1978 specifically for this purpose. The line also links the town to nearby Carbis Bay and Lelant.


The town also has regular services via National Express Coach to London Victoria, Heathrow and numerous other destinations throughout the UK. Other regular services connect St Ives to nearby towns and villages, such as Zennor, Penzance and St Just.


The nearest airports to St Ives are Newquay and Plymouth. Private jets, charters and helicopters are served by Perranporth airfield.

Politics and administration

Prior to 1974, the St Ives Borough Council was the principal local authority for what now forms the civil parish of St Ives. Since the reform of English local government in 1974, St Ives has elected a town council. The principal local authority function for St Ives is now undertaken by Penwith District Council and the Cornwall County Council. For the purposes of election to Cornwall County Council, St Ives forms a single multi-member electoral division returning two members.

St Ives is twinned with Camaret-sur-Mer in Brittany.

See also

* List of St. Ives artists
* St Ives (UK Parliament constituency)
* List of topics related to Cornwall


External links

* ['st%20ives') Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for St Ives]
* ['ghw/12') Manor of St Ives and Treloyhan Archive]
* [ Letter from the St. Ives Arts Club, 1898]
* [ Seventeenth Century Records of the Borough of St. Ives]
* [ Historical Postcards of St. Ives and Lelant]
* [ For all lovers of St Ives]
* [ St Ives Arts Club Society]
* [ Guide to St. Ives]
* [ Photos of St. Ives]
* [ Virtual tour of St Ives with full screen 360 panoramas]
* [ St Ives Business Directory]
* [ Photographs taken at St. Ives by Cornwall resident Ian Lewis - 17th October 2007]
* [ Photographs of St. Ives]

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