THE PRESENT Market-House was built on the site of an older one, in 1832, on the upper floor is the room in which the local court meets. The former building was erected in 1490, chiefly be Sir Robert Willoughby (afterwards Lord Broke) whose influence obtained for St. Ives the privilege of a weekly market, held on Saturdays, and two annual fairs.

About this time Perkin Warbeck landed near here with 150 men, and his four ships of war anchored in the Bay. The pretended found but few supporters among the men of St. Ives; but with the rising of 1649 [???] it was different. This last was the Cornish Pilgrimage of Grace, its object being the restoration of the Catholic Religion, to which (like their Celtic cousins in Wales and elsewhere) the Cornubians remained greatly attached for long after the Reformation. The insurrection was headed by the representative of the Cornish Arundels, under whom, among other inferior leaders, was John Payne “alias” Tregenna, Portrieve of Saint Ives.

Being decisively beaten at Exeter, the malcontents dispersed to their homes shortly after which, down came Sir Anthony Kingston with a royal commission for seeking out and punishing traitors. The Mayor of Bodmin was hanged before his own door, and something equally unpleasant was in store for the luckless Portrieve. The latter, hoping that the part he had taken in the disturbances had been overlooked, prepared a sumptious [sic] entertainment for the King’s representative. Dinner was provided at an inn which is still standing in the Market Square, to wit, the old “George and Dragon”, whose quaint penthouses and venerable appearance strikes every visitor. In the course of the banquet the Portrieve heard a noise of hammering outside by the Market House. A ghastly suspicion for a moment overclouded his spirits, but was dispelled when Sir Anthony informed him that they were only about to hang a rebel. Dinner over, the commissioner invited the Portrieve to come out and inspect the gallows. “What say you, Master Portrieve?” asked the man of justice. “Is yon gibbet duly furnished for the hanging of a traitor?” “All seems ready, an’t please you”, was the prompt reply. “Then” said the commissioner, turning to a man-at-arms, “Secure Master Payne and hang him straight away, for such is the King’s pleasure”. An instant’s struggle, a cry, and there was an interregnum in the Portrieve of St. Ives. This is by no means the only bloody scene (though probably the cruellest) which the “George and Dragon” and its aged neighbour the “Golden Lion”, have witnessed; for here of old, stood the whipping-post, the cage and the stocks. The reader will be amused with the following extracts, which concern those obsolete implements, taken from the writer’s transcript of the Borough records.


Disbursements about ye Kaidge and Marked howse; Imprimis for a beame for ye cadge 1/6. Item to ye carpenters for ye making of ye cadge 12/-


Item to one that did whipp the mayde that would drowne her selfe 6d.


Payd the men that did sett up the Pillorye 1/-.


Item paid for whipping of William Nance his wife, and another woman then wipte with her 2/6.


Payde for whipping a thef 6d.


Given to 2 vagrant persons which were Stokt and whipt and sent by passe 2/10.


Payd for whipping Mary Renowden 1/-.


Given Francis Browne by consent who bought a let pas by that name but afterwards his name appeared to be Francis Jackson, 1/-


Payd to Leggo for mending the stocks broake by Elizabeth Richards 3/-


Payd for a cart for whipping Lanyon an Imposter, 5d.

Payd Mr. Matthews subsistance for him 2/-.

From these extracts it will be seen that some genuine fun can be got out of municipal accounts, to which the very phonetic style of orthography much contributes.

The bright idea of whipping as a remedy for suicidal mania is most original see the date 1645. The summary way in which, in 1663, the vagrants were provided for and discharged, is both amusing and instructive, while we sigh over the depravity of Ffrancis Jackson, and mentally the stocks “broake” (broke) by the muscular energy of the captive Mistress Richards, we cannot but feel a glow of satisfaction with the paternal care which provides “subsistance”, as well as whipping, for Lanyon the Imposter.

But to return to the Old Market House. On that side of it which faced the “George and Dragon,” was a certain deep window, which for reasons hereafter explained, was full of terrors for the simple towns folk. For doubtless with the idea of relieving the over-burdened Red Sea from further batches of such spiritual emigrants, a local ghost layer habitually banished to that window the unruly sprites which he exorcised, and then, after dark, they shrieked and jabbered in their prison, in a manner that was perfectly shocking. This exorcisor was James Wallis who was also a renowned will-maker, though not a lawyer. From the fact that a sun-dial on an old house between the market and Barnoon bears his name, and the date 1790, he would seem to have been able to turn his hand to three different trades. However, the old market-house has disappeared and the restless ghosts along with it.

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TURNING OUR back upon the market square with all its weird associations, let us consider that beautiful and important public edifice, the parish church.

Previous to its erection, there had existed, on its site a Chapel, in the Norman style of architecture, dedicated to Saint Ivo, who as Butler tells us, was a Persian bishop who came over from Ireland in the ninth century, to preach the Gospel to the Cornish Britons; they with their customary conversation being staunch adherents to Druidism, the good saint met with much opposition at first, particularly on the part of Tudor, King of this district, who had his palace hereabouts. But shortly after Ivo’s death, there were no fewer than five Christian chapels in this region, namely those of St. Leonard and St. Nicholas, and at Higher Tregenna, Porthminster and Brunnion, besides that of St. Ivo on the site of the present church. Ivo was interred at the Benedictine monastery of St. Ives in Huntingdonshire, where centuries later, his body was accidentally discovered buried in a field. When the stone coffin was opened, the corpse of the holy man was almost entire, and vested in pontifical robes. Nothing remains of the above named Norman chapel save a few carved stones and a beautiful font in the same style. Its carving represents angels bearing shields and scroll in which is inscribed in gothic characters “Ite et baptizate omnes gentes”. On the base are carved lions. At the time when the chapel existed St. Ives was merely a village in the parish of Lelant. But when the place increased in importance, that is to say in the year 1400, the St. Ives people prayed Lord Champernoune then the chief landlord here, to obtain from the Pope licence to build a suitable church and to detach a portion of the cure of Lelant, to be henceforth the parish of Saint Ives. Accordingly in the year1410, Pope Alexander VI issued his bull authorising all the arrangements desired by the townfolk. The church was commenced the same year, and took sixteen years in building, granite being brought by sea from the adjoining parish of Zennor, of which building materials have been probably the only export. From the fact of this good Zennor granite having been sent by water, we learn that at the time neither roads or vehicles existed here. The masons employed in the construction of the church, lived, during the period of their work, in the old house opposite the south porch, which is still in existence, and was afterwards used as the presbytery for the Augustinian Canons who served the parish. The smith, who was a handy man, carved the oak of the benches and choir stalls with symbolical devices, not omitting to represent the instruments of his craft, the forge, the bellows, hammer, nails, and pincers, which the visitor may see for himself. These carved seats, a most interesting feature, also bear the emblems of the Passion, of the Holy Trinity (a triple face) and Tudor roses, shields, monograms, monks and Angels, crowns, saints, fishes, and arabesques. Those in the chancel are beautifully carved. On one choir stall, two monks hold a shield bearing the letters “Jno. Pe” (John Payne) and a figure of Saint Peter with his key.

A corresponding one shows Saint Andrew with his cross and a shield with heraldic bearings held by two other monks. Saints Andrew and Peter are the appropriate patrons of this church, where so many generations of fishermen have knelt. On others of the bench-ends are angels; one holding a pyx for the consecrated wafer another one has before him and open book on a desk. Of oak are also the beams of the wagon-roof, those of the string-course being intricately carved with grapes and foliage. Ranged around the base of the roof are oaken figures of bishops, some holding a shield, others a book, others a wreath etc. Each of these figures is about a foot long. Unfortunately the restorers of this church did not succeed in recovering the ancient rood-screen. The rood loft, the stairs leading to which can still be seen, held besides the rood (or large crucifix) the organ, which was an unusually large one for those times. A wooden “misere”, or seat for the priest, is preserved. It is carved and bears the letters J. S. This wood-work is all clever, but it is difficult to fathom the intention of the workman wearing a fools cap, or the bust of a shrew; yet both will be found in Saint Ives Church—probably the idea was to uphold vice and folly to pious abhorrence. A similar motive is apparent in the hideous grotesques which may be seen on the outside of the south wall. Of these stone grotesques there are seven, representing mocking, leering faces of men and beasts. Two are pulling their mouths open with their fingers and putting out their tongues; a third is evidently intended for an ape, another wears a cap of the period.

The entire building is eighty foot long and sixty in width. The style is perpendicular. The body of the church is larger, and the tower higher, than usual with Cornish churches. There are the nave and two aisles, and an additional half aisle on the south side, called the Trenwith aisle or chapel, constructed shortly after the completion of the rest of the building, by a member of that ancient family. In the intervening angle, visible from without, is the turret containing the steps to the rood loft; it is still known as the “organ tower”. The pillars of the nave are slender groups of shafts, with carved capitals. In the Trenwith aisle if preserved an ancient brass commemorating Otho Trenwyth and his lady, who is represented as praying to Saint Michael. A Latin inscription records that Otho died on the Sunday before Candlemas Day, that is to say on the anniversary of the dedication of the church. The visitor will probably wonder at the very remarkable appearance of St. Michael’s head in this brass; It looks like nothing but a Dutch cheese. The fact is, that this monument formerly lay on the floor of the chancel, where the feet of passers-by so effaced the features of the archangel, that nothing remains but the aurelole [sic], or circle round his head. Some well meaning but mis-guided restorer has evidently mistaken the circle for the outline of the face, and filled in the eyes, nose, and mouth to correspond. The result is awe-inspiring, not to say devotional.

Two other memorials of peculiar interest are affixed to the wall of the Trenwith aisle. One is  a slate put up in 1642. It has a rambling epitaph, commencing:

“Neere to this bet six Sizes late were laid”.

From the inscription we learn that these various Sises were all of one quality, superfine. The other memorial that I would mention commences thus:

“To the glory of God and to the common memory (as God calls each hence) of those who together formed the 11th (St. Ives Battery Duke of Cornwall’s Volunteer Artillery), Robert Smith Hitchins, first commanding officer”.

The first on this touching roll of honour is “Thomas Mathews, Drum-Major; ob. Aet. 71; 5th April, tenant; ob. 1878”. Those of the corps who died at ST. Ives were buried with full military honours, in the new cemetery at Barnoon, Thomas Mathews being the first person there interred.

Yet another interesting epitaph is to be found, composed by a local celebrity whose rhyming fame still lingers. We believe that this epitaph was his only effort at earnest poesy; but it will be admitted that the result shows genuine talent for all its roughness of finish. It runs thus:-

Askest thou, Reader, who it is lies here?
No common corpse; listen, and thou shalt here:
Goodness, rare meekness, zeal, pure chastity
Interred together in this ground doth lie.
Behold her acts whilst here she made abode,
Lived belov’d of man, dy’d lov’d of God.
Methinks I hear her sweet melodious voice
Cease, friends, to weep for me who now rejoice;
No sighs nor groans now from my breast do come,
But everlasting joys are in their room;
Surely your loss to me is greatest gain,
For, crown’d in heav’n I ever shall remain.
Farewell, dear wife, farewell, to thee I’ll haste
For, till we meet in heav’n I cannot rest.

In memory of Ann the wife of John Stevens of Trevalgan who died in 1729, aged 23.

We cannot but commend the good taste of the authorities, who while banishing from the sanctuary the products of the degraded art with which two centuries of Puritanism has encumbered it, yet respected such humble memorials of piety.

The church contains many more monuments of local families, especially of the Stephenses of Tregenna, whose hatchment hangs on one of the walls.

The windows, skilfully and conservatively restored a few years ago, contain some good modern stained glass, but no old. That over the altar contains the effigies of Saints Peter and Andrew.

A good new organ replaces the ancient one, removed (together with the rood-screen and other ornaments) by churchwardens of advanced notions in 1647.

The floor is of encaustic tiles; in the centre is the shield of Henry the Seventh, bearing quartered the arms of England and France. The soil beneath is choke full of human remains. At the end of the last century, Hugh Edwards accidentally rode over a disused mine-shaft, and his body was interred beneath the pavement of this church. Within the memory of persons now living his grave was opened, and it was found that his riding clothes, in which he had been buried, were all decayed with the exception of the yellow tops of his boots; these looked as good as new.

The visitor will be struck with the great elevation of the soil in the churchyard. When quite full of corpses, the burial place was covered over with several feet of sand, and interment went on anew. Three times this was done; and then it was found that to have repeated the process would have been to have buried the church itself, which was considered undesirable. A piece of land was therefore chosen near at hand, and was used as a supplementary churchyard until the opening of the present cemetery.

In the angle of the south porch is an ancient ogival granite cross. On the side facing the street is a representation of the Deity exhibiting to the world his crucified Son. On the other, the Virgin and Child, with subordinate figures of saints. In the upper corners of both sides, are shields which probably bore the arms of the donor. This interesting relic was thrown down by the Puritans, and remained half buried in the soil, until replaced a few years ago, at the cost of John Hichens, Esq., of London, descended of an old St. Ives family.

The church was not always so near the sea as it now is. In the seventeenth century there was a field between the churchyard and the beach, and sheep grazed on it. But about this time there was a terrific hurricane which over-whelmed a portion of the town with sea and sand; and it was probably then that the sea encroached upon the field and finally swallowed it up. When it blows hard from outside, the spray and foam dash against the east window of the church, and over the rood, sprinkling the resting place of the countless dead.

The vicarage is pleasantly situated near the church. The living is a perpetual curacy.

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