St Ives Feast day celebrates ancient 'Hurling the Silver Ball' tradition

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

One of the oldest traditions in Cornwall - a game of Cornish Hurling - has been played as part of celebrations for St Ives' Feast Day.

The centuries old game involves hurling a silver ball over the wall of the St Ia's Parish Church onto Porthminster beach.

The winner of the ancient form of rugby is the person who is able to keep hold of the ball until midday and present it back to the town Mayor for a prize silver coin.

Children are also rewarded with pennies from the dignitaries thrown from the balcony of the guildhall.

Pennies are handed to younger children and thrown to older children from the guildhall balcony Credit: ITV News

12 year old Oscar Walmsley who proudly fought off "the older boys" to win and kept a low profile "walking around top of town".

It was Mayor Cllr Kirsty Arthur's second time hurling the silver ball. She says it's "the most fun" part of being the mayor.

Kirsty says everything about the occasion is steeped in history.

"The chain that I'm wearing is from 1639, so there's been a mayor since then, and the silver ball tradition is from the 1400s. So that predates me and all of my predecessors, and even before the church even where we're standing."

Oscar presented the silver ball back to Mayor Kirsty Arthur at midday Credit: ITV News

St Ives Feast day takes place on the first Monday after 3 February each year.

St Ives Parish council says the ancient tradition started as a celebration of the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 AD.

It starts with a procession of dancing school children, musicians and dignitaries parading through the town to bless the silver ball in the holy well of St Eia.

Then the Mayor of St Ives will shout the Cornish phrase "guare wheg ya guare teg" which translates as "fair play is good play".

Cornish Hurling used to be played throughout Cornwall, traditionally between 'countrymen' and 'townsmen' of a particular parish, but the sport has all but died except for annual games in St Ives and St Columb Major near Newquay.