Saint Ives parish church was consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter on February 3, 1434 (Hicks’ MS.). We may suppose that the day which united the patronal feast with the consecration of the church was kept with very special solemnity and rejoicings. It was customary in those ages, when a church had been restored or enlarged, or for any other reason reconsecrated, to join another or other saints in a new dedication, in addition to the former patron. This seems to have been done at Saint Ives when the old chapel of Saint Ia gave place to the present parish church. Saints Peter and Andrew were added as the new patrons, and at the present day the church is commonly known only by the name of the latter Apostle; still, the fact that the festival day of Saint Ia (February 3) was chosen for the consecration is sufficient evidence that her name was retained in the dedication. There was no doubt a peculiar fitness in dedicating to God, under the invocation of the Galilean fishermen, the building which was to be used by so many thousands of the toilers of the deep.

The parish festival, locally termed ‘feastentide,’ being the anniversary of the glorious death of the virgin martyr Ia, the apostle of Saint Ives, has its place in the calendar under February 3; but a long time ago it had become the practice to transfer it to the first Sunday after Candlemas Day, and in quite recent times it has been held on the Monday following the first Sunday after Candlemas Day. Among the sports held on the feastentide is the game of hurling, which ancient Cornish sport is now kept up only at Saint Ives and Saint Columb; and, at Saint Ives, only on Saint Ia’s day.

The parish of Saint Ives was anciently under the spiritual charge of the Augustinian canons regular, an order which was very strong in Cornwall, and with which the ancient Celtic monastic foundations had been consolidated. The Ecclesiastical Valuation made by command of King Henry VIII. in 1535 supplies us with particulars as to the church lands and revenues in the Saint Ives district. To these we shall refer later.

The orderly and reverent disposition of Saint Ives church to-day forms a striking contrast to its state during the last century and the first half of the present, and, indeed, gives us a faint notion of what the interior was like at the period which, not without good reason, is called by some the Age of Faith, and by others the Dark Age. It is interesting to reflect upon the various phases through which this parish church has passed, and to contrast the artistic light of the Dark Ages with the, at any rate, æsthetic darkness of the enlightened eighteenth century.

In Catholic times we can imagine the dim interior, its windows storied with angels and saints; the solemn altar of stone, with its crucifix and lights; the beauteous fretwork of the rood-screen, its loft surmounted by the rood or image of the crucified Redeemer, flanked by images of those who ‘stood by the cross of Jesus’—the blessed Virgin, and the disciple whom Jesus loved. We may fancy ourselves to be present at high Mass on the feastentide, and see the deacon, in his dalmatic of red velvet bordered with gold, going from the chancel through the little door in the wall of the Trenwith aisle up into the rood-loft, to chant the Gospel of the feast and to read from an illuminated book the Legend of the Acts of Saint Ia. We hear the organ pealing to the chant of ‘Gloria tibi Domine,’ while the sub-deacon incenses the Book of the Gospels, two surpliced serving-boys standing by, their tapers held aloft; and afterwards the lifting up of the consecrated elements, amid solemn silence, save for the tinkling of the altar-bell, answered by six deep tones from the lofty tower.

Our next picture shall be of the church as it existed under King Edward VI. The rood and its images have been destroyed, and probably burned in the adjacent market-place, along with, let us suppose, a miracle-working image of Saint Ia. The walls have been covered with ‘necessarie partes of scryptour and othere wholesome wrytynges’ deemed suitable to wean the parishioners from the old religion. Sidesmen parade the aisles, keeping strict watch that none cross themselves, or use rosary-beads in the church.

Next let us peep in at the worship of our great-grandfathers. We shall hardly recognise Saint Ives church. Whitewash reigns supreme; the waggon roof is hidden by a flat ceiling, from which depends a huge brass chandelier of many branches. At the east end of the church towers the good old-fashioned ‘three-decker’ pulpit, from the top of which the black-gowned parson looks down upon his flock, over the head of the drowsy clerk; both are barricaded by obese cushions, with heavy tassels at the corners. The altar has long ago given place to a Communion-table, on which what remains of the church plate is displayed; and the sculptured or painted reredos has been replaced by the Ten Commandments, or a list of benefactors on a black board. The wall, where perhaps formerly the worshipper beheld the inscription, ‘He who looks on Saint Christopher’s picture will not suffer sudden death this day,’ only cautions the eighteenth-century parishioner against marrying ‘his grand-mother, grandfather’s wife,’ etc. At the west end of the church a heavy wooden gallery, locally known as the ‘singan-laft,’ faced by the lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown, is the arena for the melodious performances of the bass-viol and the clarionet which accompany the singing of the versified Psalms. The floor of the building is rough and uneven; and most of the old seats have been ousted by family boxes by way of pews, some of them additionally fortified by locks and bolts, and sheltered by red curtains on brass rods. The ‘storied windows, richly dight,’ were smashed a century ago by Major Ceely’s Puritans, and have been replaced by round-headed, square-paned lights like those of an engine-house.

Courtney’s ‘Guide to Penzance,’ printed in 1845, and now a scarce book, gives the following somewhat gloomy picture of the state of Saint Ives church in his time:

‘The church is a very good old building, and the tower one of the best of its time in the county. The interior of the church has been disfigured by the erection of heavy flat galleries in the north and south aisles; and its original symmetry greatly impaired by the substitution of close pews of various heights and shapes, painted according to the tastes of the owners, for the low and uniform seats of beautifully carved oak, with which it was at first furnished, and a few of which yet remain as a memento of its primitive grandeur. The ceiling is also of carved oak, but by divers coatings of whitewash its beauty has been destroyed.’

From these unlovely surroundings it is refreshing to turn to the present interior of Saint Ives church, which is admirable in its neatness and fitness-save only for the well-meant but incongruous reredos, displaying the Ten Commandments in their usurped position on the east wall of the chancel. A handsome brass eagle lectern, copied from that in Wantage church, Berkshire, was by the present vicar, the Rev. J. B. Jones, presented to the church on its restoration; and a crowd of the Saint Ives Dissenters, who perhaps had never been inside the church before, came to ‘hear the great bird sing,’ as they said. A modern organ stands at the east end of the north aisle. The new glass is not of the best; but it was given by those who earnestly desired to beautify the parish church, and it is, at least, better than none. That in the chancel window depicts our Lord and Saints Peter and Andrew. In the south aisle there is a window with paintings of Saint Ia, Saint Levan, and Saint Senan; and an inscription to the effect that it was dedicated in memory of the late John Newman Tremearne and Matilda his wife, by their children John, Matilda and Frances, in 1886. In the spandrels of some of the windows there are fragments of the ancient glass picked up when the church was restored in 1866. At the same date the old flooring of stone was taken up, and encaustic tiles laid down instead. In the centre of the floor of the nave are coloured tiles representing a shield, with the arms of England and France quarterly. The wooden altar-table is covered with a handsome frontal, adorned with artistic needle-work; and on the table are a brass cross, and a pair of candle-sticks of the same metal. At the back is a small carved wooden reredos of a temporary character.

Saint Ives church has two bells, concerning which we extract the following particulars from Dunkin’s ‘Church Bells of Cornwall.’

The first bell has a diameter of thirty-six inches at its mouth. It is inscribed:

‘Richd Hichens Esqr Mayor. M. M. T. T. Junr & W. H. Church Wardens. Copper House Foundry. Jas Oatey Maker 9 June 1830.’

The diameter of the second is forty-eight inches. It bears this inscription:

‘James Halse Esqr M.P. Matthew Major, Thomas Tremearne Junr & William Hichens Church Wardens. St Ives, June 1830. Js Oatey fecit.’

We learn from a writer in the St. Ives Weekly Summary that these bells were cast from the material of five older ones, one of which bore the inscription: ‘Thomas Anthony, Mayor, 1721.

As to the old plate and other belongings of the church, the earliest entry on the subject among the churchwardens’ accounts is the one dated 1650, according to which the goods in question were the following:

‘2 silver flagons holding above a pottle each.’ (The gift of Grace, widow of Lewis Hurley, of Saint Ives, vintner; grandmother of Hicks, the manuscript historian.)

‘2 silver cups with covers.’ (Described in a list of 1680 as flagons or chalices. One of these was presented by Alice, wife of Thomas Sise, of Saint Ives, merchant, and is inscribed: ‘The Guift of Alse Sise to the Church of St Ies. A.D. 1641.’ Davies Gilbert says: ‘There is also a silver cup of much greater antiquity,’ by which he seems to mean a pre-Reformation chalice. In 1713 the squire of Pendarves gave a communion-plate to this church. It bears the inscription: ‘ Pendarves de Pendarves Ecclesiæ dedit Anno 1713.’)

‘2 pewter pottles.

‘2 pewter flagons.

‘6 font cloths.

‘4 table-cloths for the communion table.

‘1 stamen carpet for the communion table.

‘1 green carpet for the table.

‘1 flannel carpet for the table.

‘1 scarlet pulpit-cloth and cushion.

(It is probable that some of these were made out of the old vestments of the priest.)

In the list of 1680 there were in addition:

‘1 new bag to hold the plate.

‘1 large Bible.

‘The works of Bishop Jewel against Harding.’ (Thomas Harding, D.D., the famous Jesuit, whose ‘Rejoinder to Mr. Jewel’s Replie’ was printed at Antwerp in 1566 in black letter. Bishop Jewel’s book was to be found in many churches; moreover, this was the time of the great ‘Popish Plot,’ from which a trembling nation was saved by the patriotic Mr. Titus Oates.)

1The parish registers commence with the year 1651 (baptisms), the earlier volumes having been lost. Those which remain are long narrow tomes bound in old calf.

Many curious entries of different sorts are to be found upon the fly-leaves, especially of the first volume. We cannot do better than transcribe them in full here:

‘A Register.
William Polkinghorne.
John Keigwin Minister of St Ives, 1726.
Jo : Bullock minister of St Ives 1669.
Jonathan Toup lecturer of St Ives, July 4 1721.’

The above are all in the handwritings of these ministers respectively. Under the last is written in another hand:

‘Jonathan Toup editor of Longinus &c born at St Ives 1713; sometime lecturer of St Ives, afterwards curate of Sennen & St Levan; afterwards Vicar [sic] of St Martins where he died.’

Then follow particulars of restorations in the church fabric:

‘The tower of this Burrough of St Ives was Pointed ye Mos of 7ber 8ber & 9ber 1727, By one Mr Knott of Devonshire and a Kinsman of his of the same place and one Pharez a St Agnes man. Likewise Two Pinacles ye North East and Northwest Being blown down, as ’twas supposed, an hundred years since Lying in ye Church yard was put up in Their places all same Time in 9ber Mo and a Vane put up on ye Northwest pinacle, hoping they’ll remaine some Centuries of yeares. This 10th of 9ber 1727.’ (One of the pinnacles was again blown down more than a hundred years later, but was soon put back.)
‘The large Window of ye Southern Isle of ye Church was Taken down And rebuilt ͡p sd Men all same time.
‘The window over the Communion Table att ye East end of sd Church was Taken down and Rebuilt ͡p Fran. Richards joyner [a wooden affair, therefore] and Jno Hall Glasier att same time 1727. Mr Vivian Stevens & Mr Wm Busvargus, Church wardens.’ (And a very churchwarden-cum-joiner result they produced!)
‘All the rest of the sd Windows was Taken down and all New glass put in ͡p Jno Hall Glasier The year Following in 1728. Mr Thos Sprigg and Mr John King, Churchwardens.
‘The Branch of Candlesticks was set up in our Church in April and ye New Canopy was set up in May Following 1730. Mr Charles Worth and Mr John Hichens, Churchwardens.
‘Another new branch of Candlesticks was fix’d up in our Church in the Latter End of the year 1739.’

It would be interesting to know what sorrow oppressed the unknown writer of the lines which are here scrawled across the page:
‘Domine bone mei miserere nam pauper sum & in miseria.’

Then come other notes of restorations, marking the commencement of a return to ancient artistic feeling:

‘The east windows of the north and south aisles, being those referred to on the first page of this book as erected in 1727 and 1728, and made of wood with large square panes of glass of execrable design, were removed in 1850, and the present ones with granite mullions and tracery with painted glass were erected at the sole cost of Robert Hichens, Esq., of London, a native of this town of St. Ives.
‘The east window of the Trenwyth aisle was repaired and filled with new glass at the same time by the said Robert Hichens. The south windows of the Trenwyth aisle were rebuilt and restored to their original form, and filled up with new glass at the same time by the said Robert Hichens.
‘The window over the altar was rebuilt and filled with new glass of beautiful design in the year 1852, at the cost of H. L. Stephens, Esq., and Mrs. Davy.’ (Henry Lewis Stephens, of Tregenna Castle, was brother to Mrs. Sarah Maria Davy.)

On the next page it was evidently intended to commence the registers, as appears by this heading:

‘A Register of the Christenings or Baptizings, Marriages and Burialls of Persons whatsoever wth in the Parish of St Ives in Cornewall beginning Anno Domini 1652.’

Instead, however, the page contains a list of collections levied towards the repair of various churches throughout England, and sundry other charitable purposes, in the years immediately following the Restoration:

‘Collected in this borrough the Tenth day of March toward the Repaireing of the Peere And key of the burrough of Watchett in the Countie of Sumersett the sum̃e of Twenty ffower shillings and sixe pence in the yere of our Lord God 1660.
‘Collected the vjth day of June in the yere of or Lord 1661 toward the Repairing of Illmester in the Countie of Summersett the sum̃e of Eight teene shillings and ffower pence.
‘Collected the 7th July in the yere of our Lord 1661 ffor wakenham in the Countie of Norfolke the sum̃e of ffifteene shillings.
‘Collected the vjth of ffebruarie 1661. Toward the Repaire of the church of the Towne of Bolingbrooke in the Countie of Lincolne the sum̃e of ffower shillings and sixe pence.
‘Collected the 16th octo. 1664. ffor Mr Thomas Willye, Mr William Bedforde late of the Ile of Acorne neere the Countie of Corke in Ireland the sum̃e of sixe shillings seven pence & pd Mr John Wellye.
‘Collected for Grantham in the Countie of Lincolne the sum̃e of eight shillings & presently pd to the Collector the 6th May 1665.
‘Collected the 1st Oct. 1665. for Mr Will. Smith, Eliz. Cooper & Mrs Mary Rich lately inhabiting in the Ile of Glaningquire in Monster & kingdome of Ireland seaven shillings and presently deliuered unto them. The 8th October.
‘Collected then for severall pore Captaines of Gallyes in Barbary nyne shillings, eight pence; left with Mr Bullocke.’

The actual registers then begin at the top of the next leaf:

‘Baptisings or Christnings. Anno Domini 1651. Elizabeth ye daughter of Jo: Richards was baptized ye 4th of Aprill.’

We shall have frequent occasion in subsequent chapters to refer to the contents of these registers.

The following are extracts from the Churchwardens’ Book of the parish of Saint Ives, which begins at Easter, 1726:


Expences with the Court at Helston £1. 6. 9.

Pd to Uny Lelant officers £1. 6. 8.

For the Court fees & Parson 10/6d

Spent with the Parson when drawing the regester 3s

To Bread & Wine for 11 Communions £2. 16. 9.

Spent on the Dean Ruler [Dean Rural] 6/3d

To George Try for a day abt the Church & half a day about the Chapll 2s

To Herbs 1s to laying six graves 3s

To Pastor Keigwin for Vermin.

To the Clark £5. To the Bedman £3.


To expence with the Mayor, Minister & Aldermen settling the rate 7s

To expences on weighing the Church Plate 2/6d

To expences settling the Terrier with the Mayr &c 5s

To pd Mr Shepherd for keeping & copying the Regester 5s & for three bottles of Wine allowed at the three grand festivals 7/6d & his dinner at the Visitation 15s

To pd Mr Saml Nott for pointing the Tower & making the great South Window, setting on two pinnacles &c £15. 14. 0.

To pd Mr Mitchell as Clerk £5.

To pd Phillip Noal as Sexton £3.

Expence of the Wine this year £3. 2. 0.


To Parson Symonds his fee 15s

To the Bedman for covering term graves 5s

To Wine for 14 Communions & to Parson Keigwin £2. 2. 0.

To a branch Candlestick from Bristoll abt £6.

To Mr Ricd Harry for Timber for the Canopy 2/6d


To Mr Troughton for making the Chimes &c £8. 5. 7.

Moveing the Font 5s

To help abt putting up the Commandmts & a Padlock 2/1d

Pd for horses to carry the Prince of Mount Lebanon & retinue £1. 10. 0.


Sending Tiverton Brief Money to Truro 2s

A new Diall with the Charge setting it up £1. 3. 11.

Recd for breaking the ground for taking up Capt Wroth 13/4d

To paid Expences at Mr Anthony’s treating about a Lecturer by Mr Mayor’s order 5s


To the Greek Bishop by order of the Mayor &c £1. 11. 6.


To Wine for 13 Communions £2. 1. 1.

To the Parson, Churchwarden &c as expence collecting rates 1/10d

To the Bedman for covering 12 graves in the Church 6s


To Mr Francis Ley for Velvett & gold fringe for Table Cloth £11.


To expence going to the Visitation at Helstone on acct of Mr Chas Stephens & Mrs Pawley 15/7½d


To paid Carpenters & Masons in order for rebuilding the Chapel on the Island by the Land Messrs Thos Worth & Jno Edwards £3. 3. 3¾d

Novr 4. To the workmen about the Chapple on the Island £4. 16. 0.

To making the Vane & plaistering the Chapple £1. 12. 2.

To Mr Thos Worth’s rate as Churchwarden 4s

To John Edwards—do.—as—do.—6s

To James Quick as—do.—6s


John Noall, Thos Pascoe and Stephen Major, churchwardens.


To George Try for repairing Venton Eia Well 7/6d

To expences paid Mr Nicholls for his dinner 5s


To Wine £7. 6. 2.


Visitation Court Fees at Penzance 8s


To Wine for the Sacrament &c at 10s ͡p gallon £5. 4. 0½d

To Mr John Boutett for a knife for cutting the Sacrament bread with the Postage &c £1. 17. 1.

To pd Mr Hoblyn’s charge at the Spiritual Court 4s


To Mr Boutett for two Silver Basons to collect offerings £7 1. 10.

To John Hall for mending the Windows & glazing the Chapel on the Island £1. 11. 2.

Do to him for a glass Lanthorn 7/6d

To Edward Quick & others for Mason’s work on the Church & Chapel £4. 1. 7.

To Emanuel Riggs for Joiner’s work on Church and Chapel £1. 3. 1.


To parchment for the Terrier and Register Book 3/7d

To expence on getting the Terrier signed &c 1/3d


To Emanuel Riggs for joiners work on Church and Island Chapel 17/4d


Mr Richard Harry to boards for the Chapple 8s


To George and Thomas Try for work on the Chapel 5/2d


To John Michell for binding the Bible and Carriage 13/11d

To Mr Henry Bennetts for Silver work thereon £3. 10. 6.


To John Stephens Esqre for balk and boards £2. 6. 0.

To John Nance and Co for cieling Trenwith Isle £2. 2. 11.


To the Clerk his Salary £4. 17. 0.

To the Sexton his Salary and keeping the Clock £4. 17. 0.


To Thomas Try for work on the Chapell per rect 10/3d


Paid the Curate as customary 5s

To Mr James for Canary and Carridge home £4. 0. 1.

Decr To my Journey to Penzance Horse hire and expence and pd the Court Feese of being sworn a Sidesman 10/6d

Pd Wilmot Kerlyon for George Try breakfast when on the Chappel 6d


By six Sacraments pd the Sexon at 1/6d P. Do 9s

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper hath been administer’d six times—for which had Bread five 9d loaves and one 12d loaf at Easter 4/9d

For the aforementioned Sacraments were used nine gallons comes to £3. 14. 6.


Septr 15. To pd Exps at Mr Hickes’s with Doctor Borlace Dean Rural 8s

June 30. Expence on the Dean Ruler Mr Ley 1s


Patrick Hawking Parish Clerk £5.

May 11. To Wm Leadus for the Dial plate £9. 1. 3.


Recd for old Lead and Timber £13. 18. 4.


Septr 20. To Jasup>s Clerk and James Jewell for labour to Charnel house 1s

To bread for six sacraments 3s


July 30. To pd Thos Rogers’s bill for building the reprising seat 17s [The ‘uprising’—i.e., ‘churching’ seat.]


March 27. Account taken by Hugh Mulfra and deliverd’ him by Mrs Symons the Church Plate belonging to the Church of St Ives as under:

One Platt and Salver.
Two large Calless.
One large and small Cup with Covers.
Two collecting Platts with Handlins.
Kniff and Fork—one baskett. Deliver’d to Mr Hicks by Mulfra.

April 12. Be it remembered that James Wallis Schoolmaster of St Ives was this day chosen and nominated parish Clerk of this Borough by the Aldermen thereof at their Vestry held for the same in the house of Thomas Matthews Innkeeper within the said Borough.

Hu: Edwards.

(Mr Rhodes the Vicar not present.)


Pd James and Robert Quick the new Galery £21.


To pd Matthew Noal for a Grey’s head 8d [i.e., a badger’s].

To pd John Williams a quarter’s salary £1 13. 9.


To pd Jas Quick building the new Cage £1. 8. 6.


July 25. At a Vestry held this day in the Church it was unanimously agreed, that no Corps should be buried in the sd Church without paying twenty one Shillings for breaking the ground, and in no part of the Chancel without paying thirty one Shillings and sixpence, the money to be paid to the Churchwardens then being before the ground can be broke.

Timo Wheelwright.
Nath. Hicks. (Churchwardens.)


The Worshipfull Mayor.
Mr Hugh Edwards.
Mr John Stevens Junr
Mr Hugh Mulfra.

For work about the Church Chaple &c £1 7. II. [Note that the chapel on the Quay seems to have been used for religious services at this late date.]


Pd Mr Scadden for gilting Vane [on the church tower] £2. 2.0.

Pd Robt Nicholls for Vane £7. 6. 7.


Pd Francis Stevens for acting as Parish Clerk 5s

1 [Ed. The accents and other textual decorations in this section, which I have tried to replicate as closely as possible, may come out strange on some systems due to the limitations of the fonts available.]