St Ives John Knill Ceremony

Where: St Ives, Cornwall at the Guildhall and Knill's Steeple Monument on Worvas Hilll (south of town)
When: 25th July every 5 years
Time: 10.30am at the Guildhall in town; Ceremony at 12 noon at Knill's Steeple.



Around again

John Knill built a pyramid shaped monument in 1767 on Worvas Hill just south of St Ives ,which is known as Knill’s Steeple. In his will he left detailed instructions for ceremonies to be carried out in his memory every five years at the Steeple, including dancing by ten little girls in white accompanied by a fiddler, singing of the Old Hundredth Psalm, and a charity cash dole. Knill would surely be gratified that his wishes are still being carried out well over 200 years on. The day begins at the Guildhall in St Ives, where the triple-locked chest containing the monies to be distributed to the participants is opened by the Mayor, Vicar and Customs Officer, and sums are handed out to the dancers, eligible widows and fiddler. The procession makes its way first of all around the streets of the town, then up to the hill ready for the ceremony at noon.

Helpful Hints

The Steeple was intended to be Knill’s mausoluem but he’s actually buried elsewhere.

There is time for pedestrians to witness the ceremony at the Guiildhall (which lasts around 15 minutes) then walk up to the Steeple – the distance is a little over a mile and is steep in places but is fine for those who are reasonably fit & able. When we went in 2016 refreshments were available at the Steeple, and programmes could be purchased at the Guildhall and at several points en route to the Steeple.

The next Knill Ceremony will be in 2021 on July 25th.

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