St Columb Major

St Columb Major

Infobox UK place
official_name=St Columb Major
region=South West England

static_image_caption="Arms of St. Columb with town motto"
population=3,984 (2001 Census) [ [ Neighbourhood Statistics] ]
post_town=ST COLUMB
civil_parish=St Columb
cornish_name=Sen Kolomm Veur

St Columb Major ( _kw. Sen Kolomm Veur), often simply called St Columb, is a town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, to the south west of Wadebridge and east of Newquay. It has a large church dedicated to St. Columba featuring a four-tier tower and a wide through-arch.

Twice a year the town plays host to "hurling", a medieval game once common throughout Cornwall but now only played in St. Columb and St. Ives. It is played on Shrove Tuesday and then again on the Saturday eleven days later. The game involves two teams of several hundred people (the 'townsmen' and the 'countrymen') who endeavour to carry a silver ball made of apple wood to goals set two miles apart, making the parish the largest pitch for a ball game anywhere in the world.


Bronze and Iron Ages

Several ancient monuments that date from this period:
* "Castle an Dinas", an Iron Age hillfort. [cite web| url=| title=A Gazetteer of Arthurian Topographic Folklore| accessdate=2006-03-07]
* The "Nine Maidens" stone row, the largest row of standing stones in Cornwall. [cite web| url=| title=The Modern Antiquarian site#627| accessdate=2006-09-24]
* The "Devil's Quoit" (sometimes recorded as "King Arthur's Quoit"). [cite web| url=| title=The Modern Antiquarian site#644| accessdate=2006-09-24]
*"King Arthur's Stone", this long lost stone is said to be not far from the Devil's Quoit near St. Columb, on the edge of the Goss moor. It was a large stone with four deeply-impressed horseshoe marks. Legend has it that the marks were made by the horse upon which Arthur rode when he resided at Castle An Dinas and hunted on the moors.

Middle Ages

* "St. Columba's Holy Well", (found in the nearby hamlet of Ruthvoes.). [cite web| url=| title=St Columba Holy Well, Ruthvoes| accessdate=2006-09-25]

*1333 Edward III granted a market in St Columb Major to Sir John Arundell. This was as a reward for supplying troops to fight the Scottish at the Battle of Halidon Hill near Berwick-on-Tweed

*Following the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, William Mayow the Mayor of St. Columb was hung by Provost Marshal, Anthony Kingston as a punishment leading an uprising in Cornwall.cite book | title=An illustrated itinerary of the county of Cornwall| first=Cyrus| last=Redding |coauthors= | publisher=How & Parsons| year=1842 | pages=47| url=,M1| accessdate=september 4| accessyear= 2007]

*In 1645 during the English Civil War, Sir Thomas Fairfax's troops were advancing from Bodmin towards Truro; on the 7th of March the army held a rendezvous, and halted one night, four miles beyond Bodmin. The King's forces were quartered at this time near St. Columb, where a smart skirmish took place between the Prince's regiment and a detachment of the Parliamentary army under Colonel Rich, in which the latter was victorious. [ [ From: 'General history: Historical events', Magna Britannia: volume 3: Cornwall (1814), pp. X-XXIV. URL: Date accessed: 21 August 2007.] ]

*In the year 1676, the greatest part of this church of St. Columb was casually blown up with gunpowder by three youths of the town. [ The Parochial History of Cornwall By Davies Gilbert, Thomas Tonkin, William Hals ]

Twentieth century

*June 9, 1909 The town was visited by the Prince of Wales (George V) and his wife, the Princess of Wales (Mary of Teck). The visit was to open the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show. The Prince gave 2 silver cups: one for the best bull and another for the best horse. [. The Times, Thursday, June 10, 1909; pg. 9; Issue 38982 ]

*In August 1977 The Queen and Prince Philip visited the town during their Silver Jubilee tour of Cornwall.

*On May 27, 1983: The town was visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales (Charles and Diana). The visit was to commemorate the 650th anniversary of the signing of the town charter by Edward III. [. The Times, Saturday, May 28, 1983; pg. 10; Issue 61544 ] A plaque commemorates this visit outside the Conservative club in Union Square.

*In 1992 Australian stuntman Matt Coulter aka The Kangaroo Kid set the record for the longest jump with a crash on a quad bike at Retallack Adventure Park, St Columb Major. [ [ Crashing Records ] ]


St Columb is situated in mid-Cornwall, about 5 miles (8km) inland from the North Coast.

The parish covers an area of 12,884 acres or 20.1 square miles (52km2) [ [ GENUKI: St Columb Major ] ] . Its highest point, at 709ft (216m), is Castle an Dinas, the site of an iron-age hill fort about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of St Columb. Much of the land in the parish is used for farming (both arable and pastoral), with small areas of woodland. There is also some moorland in the generally slightly higher northern and eastern parts of the parish, notably part of the Goss Moor in the southeast, Castle Downs below Castle an Dinas (east) and an area of moorland adjoining Rosenannon Downs (northeast). The Vale of Lanherne, the valley of the River Menalhyl (see below) is famed for its beauty and occupies the area to the west of the town, connecting St Columb and St Mawgan churchtown.


St Columb occupies a plateau at about 300ft (90m) elevation. The north part of the town (known as 'Bridge') decends in to the Vale of Lanherne, having a minimum elevation of approximately 165ft (50m). It was originally a linear settlement built on the main road running north-east to south-west, but modern estates have since been built, extending the town to the south and east. In the older part of the settlement there is much high-density housing with relatively narrow streets, and a number of retail outlets and public houses; the more modern estates are generally of a more low-denisty nature. To the south there is an industrial estate.


A number of small rivers and streams flow through St Columb parish, most rising in the eastern part and flowing west. One of the sources of the River Fal lies just within the boundary on the Goss Moor; this flows southwest to the South Coast. The River Menalhyl, which flows through the north part of St Columb (Bridge), has three branches with a confluence at Gilbert’s Water, just to the east of the town. The longest of these rises next to the Nine Maidens standing stones in the north part of the parish. The Menalhyl was historically important in the area, powering a number of mills along its course. A smaller river rises near Winnard's Perch (north of Talskiddy), later joining the Menalhyl near its mouth at Mawgan Porth. The other main river of the parish is the un-named one (often called the River Porth) that rises to the east of Ruthvoes, and that in its latter course fills the Porth Reservoir and enters the sea at St Columb Porth. This is the river that, according to legend, was begun by the blood of the murdered Saint Columba running down the valley.


Besides the town, there are numerous villages and hamlets in the parish, including Talskiddy in the north, Ruthvoes (southeast), Trebudannon (south), Tregaswith (southwest), Tregatillian (east) and a large number of smaller farming settlements and isolated dwellings.


The A39 main road runs north to south through the parish. Until the late 1970s it went through the town, but a bypass was at that point built to the east of St. Columb. The A30 dual carrigeway also runs through the southeastern part of the parish, over the Goss Moor. The Par-Newquay railway line does not enter St Columb parish but forms part of its southern boundary. A small part of the parish is occupied by a corner of the airfield of RAF St Mawgan, which also serves as Cornwall’s principal civil airport.


* Pall Corporation - Filtration and separation technology. Currently employ 300 people at St Columb.
* Mole Valley farmers - agricultural supplies and equipment
* Borders Books - was here for several years but the site is soon to be taken over by St Austell Breweries.
* Infoteam International Services LTD
* Worlds Apart - designs, develops, manufactures and distributes children’s products around the world.
* Murtaya, a sports car produced locally.


The tower is a fine example of a fifteenth-century building, consisting of four stages with battlements and pinnacles. It is 80 feet high and contains eight bells re-hung in 1950. In 1920 the chiming clock was added as a memorial to the men of St. Columb who died in the Great War.

In 1860 plans were drawn up by William Butterfield, in hope of St. Columb church becoming the cathedral of the future diocese of Cornwall, but the cathedral was built at Truro. [ [ "The Gentleman's Magazine", 1860, p. 147] ]

Some of the more interesting items include:
* Some fine brasses, including Sir John Arundell (died 1591) and his wife (died 1633).
* A fine wooden screen by the architect George Fellowes Prynne [] .
* A fine organ by Bryceston Bros. & Ellis of London.
* A "Letter of Thanks" to the Cornish people sent by Charles I in 1643.
* Some exceptional oak benchends, dating as far back as 1510.
* Two sculptures by the artist Allan G Wyon.

Other attractions

*Cornwall's Crealy Park
*Springfields Fun Park
*Cornish Birds of Prey Centre
*Screech owl sanctuary
* Westworld Raceway (stock-car racing)

In Literature

The fictional character named Alfred John Trewhella (from St Columb) features in "Kangaroo" a novel by D. H. Lawrence, first published in 1923. It is set in Australia. An account of a visit to New South Wales by an English writer named Richard Lovat Somers, and his German wife Harriet, in the early 1920s. This appears to be semi-autobiographical, based on a three-month visit to Australia by Lawrence and his wife Frieda, in 1922. The novel includes a chapter describing the Somers' experiences in wartime Cornwall. vivid descriptions of the Australian landscape, and Richard Somers' sceptical reflections on fringe politics in Sydney.

Notable residents

*Ralph Allen (1693 - 1764) As a teenager he worked at St Columb Post Office. He moved to Bath in 1710 where he became a clerk in the Bath Post Office, and at the age of 19, in 1712, he became the Post Master of Bath.
*Wilfred Theodore Blake (1894 - 1968) Was a pioneer aviator, author and traveller.The man who led the first attempt to fly round the world in 1922. The pilot for this mission was Norman MacMillan. The aircraft was a de Havilland DH9A bought from the Royal Air Force. His ambitious round-the-world trip was cancelled after the first stage of the flight after it came to grief in Calcutta.
*Richard Bullock (1847 - 1921) A legendary figure of the Wild West Cowboy era. His quick-shooting deeds working on the Deadwood stage gained him the nickname "Deadwood Dick".
*Jack Crapp (1912 - 1981) Played in the English cricket team on tour in the winter of 1948-49
*Sir Frank Hopkins , (1910–1990), a former captain of the aircraft carrier HMS "Ark Royal".
*Henry Jenner (1848 - 1934) Regarded as the father of the Cornish language revival. Celtic scholar, Cornish cultural activist, and the chief originator of the Cornish language revival.
*Cyril Bencraft Joly (1918 - 2000) Author and Desert Rat Army veteran.
*Stephen Robert Nockolds, FRS and winner of the Murchison Medal, was born here.
*James Paynter a leader of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion who declared the Old Pretender in St Columb town square.
*James Polkinghorne Champion Cornish wrestler.
*John Nichols Thom the Cornish self-declared Messiah who in the 19th century led the last battle to be fought on English soil.
*Dick Twinney A Renowned British illustrator and wildlife artist.
*Matthew Smith (1879–1959), British artist/painter, lived here in the autumn and winter of 1920 [ [ ART / 4 / 2DAY ] ]

See also

*St. Columb Minor
*POW Camp 115, Whitecross, St. Columb Major
*St. Columb Road
*Bulldog Class locomotive was named "St. Columb"
*List of topics related to Cornwall


External links

* [ St Columb community web site]
* [ St. Columb Old Cornwall Society]
* [ St. Columb Major Church]
* [ St. Columb Major School website]
* [ St Columb Major Roll of Honour] 1914-18 and 1939-45
* ['st%20columb%20major') Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for St Columb Major]

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