to St Ia
St Ia is one of the beautiful Cornish churches that are part of the Anglican Diocese of Truro, England (Church of England, C of E). It is dedicated to the Celtic saint St. Ia, and also to St. Andrew, patron saint of Fishermen and St Peter, the Rock. The church is built of Cornish granite, almost on the harbourside of the picturesque seaside town of St. Ives. Its tower is one of the tallest of the Cornish churches, standing over eighty feet high and the most visible landmark in the town.
St Ia was consecrated in 1434, and many Christians have worshipped in the building over the centuries. It was built as a place within which to worship Jesus and that is what still happens there today - Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever - not much in life is unchanging these days but, here at St. Ia we think that the truth about Jesus is a solid rock on which to build.
As well as being able to join us at one of our services, we try to keep the church open as much as possible and you will normally find the church open between 10 am and 4 pm every day. This is part of our service to the community, allowing locals and tourists to find a place of peace and spiritual refreshment in the middle of bustling St Ives.
Within the church, there are lots to see, including a painting by Bryan Pearce (one of the St. Ives Artists) and a statue of the Madonna and Child, donated to the church by Barbara Hepworth. For more information on the artistic heritage of the church and the history of St Ia please read the items below.
The CHOIR STALLS have 15th century panels which may have been part of the original rood screen. The man in the cocked hat, the woman with her coif and the blacksmith’s tools are said to be the work of Ralph Clies, the village blacksmith.
The rood screen at the entrance to the choir was destroyed by the Puritans in 1647. Access was by the small door high in the wall and the turret staircase previously called the Organ Tower (now closed) in the Lady Chapel.
The rood, or crucifix, was placed over the screen which divided the chancel from the nave. The ROOD BEAM dates from 1932: Mary and St. John stand alongside our crucified Lord.
The three-manual ORGAN by Hele and Company of Plymouth was given in 1907 was restored by Lance Foy of Truro (with David Briggs as consultant) in 1991. It is encased in fumed oak, carved by Pinwells of Plymouth. Look for the small fish swimming in and out of the carving.
Look up to see the WAGON ROOF which is beautifully carved with diagonal moulding, curved bosses and symbolic vine patterns. The painting and gilding of the woodwork (1962) highlight the workmanship. The FIGURES of apostles, angels and saints remind us that heaven and earth meet in this building. The wall plate of the chancel and sanctuary is embellished with painted and gilded figures of angels. Two are Seraphim, carrying wreaths, while the others, five on each side, carry shields, scrolls, and books.
The PIERS are not of granite as in most Cornish Churches but sand rock probably from across the bay at Godrevy. This easily worked material accounts for the attractive carving of the capitals. The piers lean outwards, perhaps caused by subsidence, the weight of the roof or, it was traditionally thought, to represent the sides of a boat.
The colourful east window was inserted in 1905 after the previous window glass was blown out when the dynamite works at Hayle suffered a massive explosion. The oldest memorial is a brass to a member of the local Trenwith family who died in 1463.
The BENCH ENDS were restored in the 1940’s and are typical of 15th century Cornish carving with its deep cutting. In some instances one bench end has been made out of two. The Churchwarden’s bench-end was locally carved to match in 1948.
The HIGH ALTAR REREDOS is of alabaster. The statue on the right of the crucifix portrays ST IA our patron saint, a missionary who came either from Ireland or Wales in the 5th or 6th Centuries and gave her name to the town. Legend says she sailed into St.Ives on a leaf, but this may simply symbolise the difficulties she had to overcome to pursue her vocation.
One of the highlights is a sculpture by the celebrated artist Barbara Hepworth in honour of her son Paul who died in 1953 while serving with the RAF. The sculpture is in the 16th-century Trenwith aisle, which now serves as a Lady Chapel.