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St Columb Major

st columb major, st columb major cornwall
St Columb Major Cornish: S Colom Veur2 is a civil parish and town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom Often referred to locally as St Columb, it is situated approximately seven miles 11 km southwest of Wadebridge and six miles 10 km east of Newquay 3 The designation Major distinguishes it from the nearby settlement and parish of St Columb Minor on the coast An electoral ward simply named St Columb exists with a population at the 2011 census of 5,0504

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 Ives5 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 3 km apart, making the parish, around 25 square miles in area, the de facto largest sports ground in the world6


  • 1 History and antiquities
    • 11 Bronze and Iron Ages
    • 12 Middle Ages and early modern period
    • 13 Twentieth century
  • 2 Geography
    • 21 Town
    • 22 Settlements
    • 23 Rivers
    • 24 Protected areas
    • 25 Transport
  • 3 Architecture
  • 4 Church
    • 41 Notable features
    • 42 Monumental brasses
    • 43 War Memorial
    • 44 Other
    • 45 St Columba's Well
  • 5 Literary associations
  • 6 Notable residents
  • 7 St Columb Town crest
  • 8 Education
  • 9 Amenities, large employers and tourist attractions
    • 91 Main employers
    • 92 Amenities
    • 93 Tourist attractions
  • 10 See also
  • 11 External links
  • 12 References

History and antiquitiesedit

See also: Timeline of St Columb Major

Bronze and Iron Agesedit

Monuments that date from this period include: Castle an Dinas, an Iron Age hillfort;7 the Nine Maidens stone row, the largest row of standing stones in Cornwall;8 the Devil's Quoit sometimes recorded as King Arthur's Quoit in the hamlet of Quoit;9 and 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 and early modern periodedit

There are four Cornish crosses in the parish: two are in the churchyard, one is at the hamlet of Black Cross and another defaced at Black Rock1011

In 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 hanged by Provost Marshal, Anthony Kingston outside a tavern in St Columb as a punishment leading an uprising in Cornwall1213 The link between the Cornish language and Catholicism was also exhibited in the activities of John Kennall, at St Columb, where he was still holding Mass as late as 159014

In 1645 during the English Civil War, Sir Thomas Fairfax's troops were advancing from Bodmin towards Truro; on 7 March the army held a rendezvous, and halted one night, four miles 6 km 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 victorious15

In the year 1676, the greatest part of the church of St Columb was blown up with gunpowder by three youths of the town16

Twentieth centuryedit

Royal visits were made to St Columb in 1909, 1977 and 1983 On 9 June 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 horse17 In August 1977 The Queen and Prince Philip visited the town during their Silver Jubilee tour of Cornwall On 27 May 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 III18 A plaque commemorates this visit outside the former 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 Major19


Map of St Columb Major and surrounding area, by Robert K Dawson, 1810

St Columb is situated in mid-Cornwall, about 5 miles 8 km inland from the north coast

The parish covers an area of 12,884 acres 5,214 ha or 201 square miles 52 km220 Its highest point, at 709 ft 216 m, is Castle an Dinas, the site of an Iron Age hill fort about 2 miles 32 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

Neighbouring areas of Cornwall


St Columb occupies a plateau at about 300 ft 90 m elevation The north part of the town known as 'Bridge' descends into the Vale of Lanherne, having a minimum elevation of approximately 165 ft 50 m 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 have housing which is generally lower in density To the south there is an industrial estate


Besides the town, there are numerous villages and hamlets in the parish, including Talskiddy and Gluvian in the north, Ruthvoes southeast, Trebudannon south, Tregaswith southwest, Tregatillian east and a large number of smaller farming settlements and isolated dwellings There are also Halloon, Lanhizey, Rosedinnick, Tregamere, Trekenning, Trevarron, Trevolgas and Trugo21


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 unnamed 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

Protected areasedit

Borlasevath and Retallack Moor SSSI, noted for its biological characteristics, is located south of Nine Maidens and north of the resort of Retallack22


The A39 main road runs north to south through the parish Until the late 1970s it went through the town but a bypass now carries traffic east of St Columb The A30 dual carriageway also runs through the southeastern part of the parish north of 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 Newquay Airport, which is Cornwall’s principal civil airport


Union Square

The older part of the town follows a linear layout along Fair Street and Fore Street Many houses on the narrow main street are slate hung Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail designed Lloyds Bank and the school Private houses by Trevail include Ashleigh House 1896 and Treventon House 1897 There are some good examples of architect William White's work including Bank House circa 1857,23 Rosemellyn House 187124 Penmellyn House25 Old Rectory and alterations to Trewan Hall26 The Retreat27 was formerly St Columb Workhouse and was designed by George Gilbert Scott20 In recent years there has been a surge of high quality new buildings on the edges of the town, including Jenner Parc and Arundell Parc Other buildings of note include Barclays Bank,28 the Red Lion public house, Bond House, Hawkes shop29 and the town hall30 The oldest house in St Columb is the Glebe house31


The church is dedicated to St Columba, a local saint: her well is at Ruthvoes For most of the Middle Ages the church belonged to the Arundells of Lanherne and was lavishly endowed Within the church were two chantry chapels served by six priests altogether five for the Arundell chantry32 The tower is a fine example of a fifteenth-century building, consisting of four stages with battlements and pinnacles It is 80 feet 24 m 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 Truro33

The church is the venue for the "Classic Cornwall" music festival34

  • St Columb Major Churchyard at Find a Grave

Notable featuresedit

Stained glass window at St Columb Major church detail

Monumental brassesedit

Some of the more interesting items are some fine monumental brasses, including:

  • Sir John Arundell 1474–1545, KB, of Lanherne, St Mawgan-in-Pyder, Cornwall, "the most important man in the county", Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall,35 perhaps not buried here His brass was described by Dunkin 1882 as "perhaps the most elaborate and interesting brass to be found in Cornwall"36
  • Eleanor Grey wife of the above John Arundell She was granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville, who was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV
  • Sir John Arundell, 1591, and his wife died 1602, brass engraved 1635
  • John Arundell and his wife, 1633 on the same stone37

War Memorialedit

The granite War memorial is designed to represent a classic Cornish cross It names 55 men connected to the parish who lost their lives in the first and second world wars


There is also fine wooden screen by the architect George Fellowes Prynne "St Columb screen"  and some exceptional oak benchends, dating as far back as 1510 The fine organ is by Bryceston Bros & Ellis of London and a "Letter of Thanks" to the Cornish people sent by Charles I in 1643 is found in many Cornish churches There are also two sculptures by the artist Allan G Wyon and a stained glass window portraying St Columba the Virgin In the churchyard is St Columba's Cross illustrated above

St Columba's Welledit

50°24′22″N 4°54′29″W / 50406°N 4908°W / 50406; -4908 The holy well dedicated to Saint Columba is situated in the hamlet of Ruthvoes, about two miles from the town338 According to legend, she was beheaded here The hamlet is near to the A30 dual carriageway and the Par to Newquay railway line39

Literary associationsedit

  • St Columb features several times in the 1961 novel Castle Dor, by Daphne du Maurier with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch In particular it mentions the parish church, Castle An Dinas, The Red Lion Inn and Tresaddern Farm40
  • 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 and is 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 couple's experiences in wartime Cornwall, vivid descriptions of the Australian landscape, and Richard Somers's sceptical reflections on fringe politics in Sydney

Notable residentsedit

  • Ralph Allen 1693–1764, Post Master 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
  • Percy Bennett 1869 - 1936 was an international rugby union forward who played club rugby for Cardiff Harlequins and international rugby for Wales
  • Wilfred Theodore Blake 1894–1968, a pioneer aviator, author and traveller He was 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, gunman 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, England cricketer who played in the English cricket team on tour in the winter of 1948–49
  • Edward Hamley baptised 1764, died 1834, clergyman and poet
  • Robin Harvey, left-handed cricketer, Captain of Cornwall Cricket team
  • William Hicks Royal Navy Officer Royal Navy Officer, wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Henry Jenner 1848–1934, Celtic scholar, Cornish cultural activist, and the chief originator of the Cornish language revival
  • Cyril Bencraft Joly 1918–2000, inventor, author and Desert Rat Army veteran
  • John Kennall, Rector of St Columb, Cornish scholar
  • Stephen Robert Nockolds, FRS, geochemist, petrologist and winner of the Murchison Medal
  • James Paynter, a leader of the Jacobite uprising in Cornwall of 1715 who declared the Old Pretender in St Columb town square
  • James Polkinghorne Champion Cornish wrestler
  • Matthew Smith 1879–1959, artist/painter, lived here in the autumn and winter of 192041
  • Ernest Smythe 1904–1975, cricketer and Indian Army officer, who lived in the town in his later years, where he died in 1975
  • John Nichols Thom, the Cornish self-declared Messiah who commanded one force in the last battle to be fought on English soil
  • Dick Twinney, illustrator and wildlife artist
  • Vivian family, for over three centuries owners of Trewan Hall

St Columb Town crestedit

Town crest

The town crest consists of a hand holding a silver hurling ball with the motto "Town and Country do your best" The design originally appeared on medals awarded to winners of the hurling game and were first awarded in the 1930s Later the design was adopted by the town council as a symbol of civic pride The emblem appears on the mayoral chains and it is used on the uniform of St Columb School Roadsigns at each end of the town also bear the design


St Columb Major is served, at primary level, by St Columb Major ACE Academy - part of the Atlantic Centre of Excellence Multi Academy Trust

Amenities, large employers and tourist attractionsedit

Main employersedit

  • Pall Corporation – Filtration and separation technology Currently employs 300 people at St Columb
  • Mole Valley Farmers – agricultural supplies and equipment
  • St Austell Breweries has a distribution centre here opened 2009
  • Western Flat Roofing Co


  • Four pubs The Ring O' Bells, The Coaching Inn, The Red Lion and The Silver Ball
  • Chinese takeaway Sun House
  • Fish and chip shops Westlakes and The Happy Fryer
  • Convenience store with cashpoint Co-op
  • Post Office
  • St Columb doctor's surgery42
  • Penmellyn veterinary surgery
  • Primary school St Columb Major Academy
  • St Columb Library with internet facilities
  • Garage – Teagles MOTs and repairs, no petrol
  • Petrol station Westways is just outside the town
  • Town and Country kitchen cafe

Pink peach cafe

  • Pharmacy Boots the Chemist
  • Two butchers Morris' and Ellery's
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • Agricultural store – Mole Valley Farmers – clothes, DIY, gardening, building materials
  • Ironmonger and builders store Glanvilles
  • Two estate agents Donald Weekes and Clarkes
  • One bank Lloyds Bank
  • Florist Ginny's Flowers
  • Printer Edyvean's
  • Surf warehouse – wetsuits and surf gear Ann's Cottage
  • Dentist Dental World43

Tourist attractionsedit

  • Cornish Birds of Prey Centre
  • Cornwall's Crealy Park
  • Screech owl sanctuary
  • Springfields Fun Park
  • 'The Flowrider' – surf simulator at Retallick Park 44

See alsoedit

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

External linksedit

  • St Columb at DMOZ
  • St Columb community web site
  • Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for St Columb Major


  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics "Check Browser Settings" Neighbourhoodstatisticsgovuk Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  2. ^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" PDF Cornish Language Partnership May 2014 Retrieved 11 January 2015 
  3. ^ a b Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  4. ^ "Ward population 2011" Retrieved 12 February 2015 
  5. ^ It is also played irregularly and less frequently at Bodmin, but nowhere else
  6. ^ Hornby, Hugh 2008 Uppies and Downies: The extraordinary football games of Britain English Heritage p 142 ISBN 978-1-9056246-4-5 
  7. ^ "A Gazetteer of Arthurian Topographic Folklore" Arthuriancouk Retrieved 7 March 2006 
  8. ^ "The Modern Antiquarian site#627" Themodernantiquariancom Retrieved 24 September 2006 
  9. ^ "The Modern Antiquarian site#644" Retrieved 24 September 2006 
  10. ^ Langdon, A G 1896 Old Cornish Crosses Truro: Joseph Pollard; pp 206, 219 & 395-96
  11. ^ Beacham, Peter & Pevsner, Nikolaus 2014 Cornwall New Haven: Yale University Press ISBN 978-0-300-12668-6; p 519
  12. ^ Redding, Cyrus 1842 An illustrated itinerary of the county of Cornwall How & Parsons p 47 Retrieved 4 September 2007 
  13. ^ Payton, Philip 1996 Cornwall Fowey: Alexander Associates
  14. ^ Payton, Philip, Cornwall: a history ISBN 1-904880-05-3; p 126
  15. ^ "From: 'General history: Historical events', Magna Britannia: volume 3: Cornwall 1814, pp X-XXIV" British-historyacuk 22 June 2003 Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  16. ^ Gilbert, Davies The Parochial History of Cornwall
  17. ^ The Times, Thursday, 10 June 1909; pg 9; Issue 38982
  18. ^ The Times, Saturday, 28 May 1983; pg 10; Issue 61544
  19. ^ "Crashing Records" Johnnyairtimecom Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  20. ^ a b "St Columb Major" GENUKI 28 March 2012 Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  21. ^ "St Columb Major" GENUKI Retrieved 7 September 2010 
  22. ^ "Borlasevath and Retallack Moor" PDF Natural England 1994 Retrieved 29 October 2011 
  23. ^ Historic England "Bank House 71251" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  24. ^ Historic England "Rosemellyn House 71205" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  25. ^ Historic England "Penmellyn House 71203" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  26. ^ Historic England "Old Rectory 71209" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  27. ^ Historic England "The Retreat 71340" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  28. ^ Historic England "Barclays Bank 71234" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  29. ^ Historic England "Hawkes shop 71239" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  30. ^ Historic England "Town Hall 71240" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  31. ^ Historic England "Glebe house 71243" Images of England Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  32. ^ Cornish Church Guide 1925 Truro: Blackford; pp 50, 74–76
  33. ^ "''The Gentleman's Magazine'', 1860, p 147" Googlecouk Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  34. ^ "Classic Cornwall" thefestivalcalendarcouk/ 2013 Retrieved 7 August 2013 
  35. ^ Byrne, Muriel St Clare, ed The Lisle Letters, 6 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1981, vol1, p307
  36. ^ Dunkin, EHW The Monumental Brasses of Cornwall, 1882
  37. ^ Dunkin, E 1882 Monumental Brasses London, Spottiswoode; pp 27–31, 75–82, pl XXVII, LVI, LVII
  38. ^ St Columba Way website Retrieved May 2010
  39. ^ "St Columba Holy Well, Ruthvoes" Retrieved 25 September 2006 
  40. ^ "''Castle Dor''" Dumaurierorg Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  41. ^ "Art 4 2-day item on Smith" Safran-artscom Retrieved 31 January 2013 
  42. ^ "Overview - St Columb Major Surgery - NHS Choices" Nhsuk 2012-06-28 Retrieved 2017-03-12 
  43. ^ "Overview - Dental World - NHS Choices" Nhsuk 2014-01-15 Retrieved 2017-03-12 
  44. ^ "Learn to surf at FlowRider Cornwall, near Padstow and Newquay" Retallackresortcouk 2014-06-20 Retrieved 2017-03-12 

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