Saturday 23 July 2011

John Knill Celebrations

Knill Ceremony - St Ives Cornwall. Pic by Colin Sanger

On Monday (25th July 2011) the quinquennial (5 yearly) celebrations for the Knill Ceremony will take place in St Ives.

John Knill was Collector of the Customs at St Ives from 1762 to 1782. He was appointed Mayor of the Borough of St Ives in November 1767 and apparently developed a "warm and abiding affection for the town and its people". Given his job - an affection that was almost certainly not reciprocated by many town traders and residents !

He built a Mausoleum in 1782, up on Worvas Hill above St Ives and close to the present day Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve. Known today as Knill's Steeple. He intended that this imposing 50 ft high structure to be his final resting place. But he died in London in 1811 and his body was never brought back to the town.

He did however prepare an Indenture which dated 29th May 1797.  He appointed the Mayor, the Vicar and the Customs Officer to be Trustees and charged them with the duty of ensuring that a ceremony was performed every five years on 25 July, being the Feast of St James The Apostle.

Ten girls, not exceeding 10 years, being native of St Ives and daughters of Seaman, Fishermen or Tinners, should dance around his monument. To be accompanied by two widows aged over 64 years, being widows of Seamen, Fishermen or Tinners.  They should be accompanied by the Vicar of St Ives, The Mayor and The Customs Officer. All to be led by a fiddler (the musical type - not a plumber who has failed to declare his VAT).

The ceremony on Monday starts at 10.30 am when the party of children, widows, fiddler and assorted local worthies assembles at The Guildhall. The party will then proceed to the Malakoff - via Street-an-Pol, St Andrew’s Street, High Street, Tregenna Place, Tregenna Hill and Fernlea Terrace. A bus will then take them up to Knill's Steeple. Dancing at the steeple will start at 12.00 noon.

Should be quite a spectacle and another celebration of our local traditions - so well worth a look.

More information is on:
St Ives Town Council Website

There is a nice video where Harding Laity explains more of the historical background on:
St Ives TV - Heritage

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