St Columb

Street Map

[amazon_carousel widget_type=”SearchAndAdd” width=”600″ height=”200″ title=”” market_place=”GB” shuffle_products=”False” show_border=”False” keywords=”St Columb” browse_node=”” search_index=”Books” /]

St Columb Major (Cornish: Plew Golom) is a civil parish and town, often referred to locally as St Columb. The designation Major distinguishes it from the smaller settlement and parish of St Columb Minor on the coast.

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 Ives. 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 world.

Monuments that date from this period include: Castle an Dinas, an Iron Age hillfort.; the Nine Maidens stone row, the largest row of standing stones in Cornwall; the Devil’s Quoit (sometimes recorded as King Arthur’s Quoit); 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.

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 Cornwall. 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 1590.

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 victorious.

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

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 horse. 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 III.[14] A plaque commemorates this visit outside the 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 Major.

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 (52.14 km2) or 20.1 square miles (52 km2). Its highest point, at 709 ft (216 m), is Castle an Dinas, the site of an iron-age hill fort about 2 miles (3.2 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.

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.

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.

Borlasevath and Retallack Moor SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), noted for its biological characteristics, is located south of Nine Maidens and north of the resort of Retallack.

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.

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, 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), Rosemellyn House (1871) Penmellyn House and the Old Rectory. The Retreat was formerly St Columb Workhouse and was designed by George Gilbert Scott. 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, the Red Lion public house, Bond House, Hawkes shop and the town hall. The oldest house in St Columb is the Glebe house near the church which is now a tea room.

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 chantry). 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 Truro.

The holy well dedicated to Saint Columba is situated in the hamlet of Ruthvoes, about two miles from the town. According to legend, she was beheaded here. The hamlet is near to the A30 dual carriageway and the Par to Newquay railway line.

  • 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 Farm.
  • 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.

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.

Main employers include:

  • 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).
  • Infoteam International Services Ltd.
  • Worlds Apart – designs, develops, manufactures and distributes children’s lifestyle products around the world.

Amenities include:

  • Five pubs (The Ring O’ Bells, The Coaching Inn, The Liberal Club, The Red Lion (inn) and The Silver Ball)
  • Chinese takeaway (Sun House)
  • Fish and chip shops (Westlakes and The Chippy)
  • Convenience store with cashpoint (Co-op)
  • Post Office
  • St Columb doctor’s surgery
  • Penmellyn veterinary surgery
  • Primary school (St Columb Major County Primary)
  • St Columb Library (with internet facilities)
  • Garage – Teagles (MOTs and repairs, no petrol)
  • Petrol station (Westways is just outside the town)
  • Antique shop (Stiltkin & Walrus Antiques)
  • Tea-room (Glebe house)
  • 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)
  • Two banks (Lloyds TSB and Barclays Bank)
  • Florist (Ginny’s Flowers)
  • Printer (Edyvean’s)
  • Surf warehouse – wetsuits and surf gear (Ann’s Cottage)

Tourist attractions include:

  • Cornish Birds of Prey Centre
  • Cornwall’s Crealy Park
  • Screech owl sanctuary
  • Springfields Fun Park
  • ‘The Flowrider’ – surf simulator at Retallick Park
Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

No reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.