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Coordinates: 50°25′55″N 4°56′24″W / 50.432°N 4.940°W / 50.432; -4.940

St Columb Major
Cornish: Sen Kolomm Veur
Arms of St Columb Major.jpg
Arms of St. Columb with town motto
St Columb Major is located in Cornwall
St Columb Major

 St Columb Major shown within Cornwall
Population 3,984 (2001 Census)[1]
OS grid reference SW912633
Parish St Columb
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ST. COLUMB
Postcode district TR9
Dialling code 01637
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
List of places: UK • England • Cornwall

St Columb Major (Cornish: Sen Kolomm Veur), often simply called St Columb, is a town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, to the south west of Wadebridge and east of Newquay. It has a large church dedicated to St. Columba featuring a four-tier tower and a wide through-arch.

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 the largest pitch for a ball game anywhere in the world.


History and antiquities


Bronze and Iron Ages

Monuments that date from this period include: Castle an Dinas, an Iron Age hillfort.[2]; the Nine Maidens stone row, the largest row of standing stones in Cornwall;[3] the Devil's Quoit (sometimes recorded as King Arthur's Quoit);[4] 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 period

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.[5][6] 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.[7]

In 1645 during the English Civil War, Sir Thomas Fairfax's troops were advancing from Bodmin towards Truro; on the 7th of 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.[8]

In the year 1676, the greatest part of this church of St. Columb was casually blown up with gunpowder by three youths of the town.[9]

Twentieth century

Royal visits were made to St Columb in 1909, 1977 and 1983. On June 9, 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.[10] In August 1977 The Queen and Prince Philip visited the town during their Silver Jubilee tour of Cornwall. On May 27, 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.[11] 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.[12]


Castle an Dinas, as viewed from St Columb Major
St. Columb Major as viewed from Castle an Dinas

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) [13]. Its highest point, at 709 ft (216m), 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 (90m) elevation. The north part of the town (known as 'Bridge') descends in to the Vale of Lanherne, having a minimum elevation of approximately 165 ft (50m). 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 are generally of a more low-denisty nature. 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 un-named 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.


Besides the town, there are numerous villages and hamlets in the parish, including Talskiddy and Gluvian (at 50°26′36″N 4°56′12″W / 50.44333°N 4.93667°W / 50.44333; -4.93667) in the north, Ruthvoes (southeast), Trebudannon (south), Tregaswith (southwest), Tregatillian (east) and a large number of smaller farming settlements and isolated dwellings.


The A39 main road runs north to south through the parish. Until the late 1970s it went through the town, but a bypass was at that point built to the east of St. Columb. The A30 dual carriageway also runs through the southeastern part of the parish, over the 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)[14], Rosemellyn House (1871)[15] Penmellyn House[16] and the Old rectory.[17]. The Retreat[18] was formerly St Columb Workhouse and was designed by George Gilbert Scott.[19] 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[20], the Red Lion public house, Bond House, Hawkes shop[21] and the town hall[22]. The oldest house in St Columb is the Glebe house[23] near the church which is now a tea room.

St Columb Buildings
St Columb Church from an old etching (before 1845)  
Glebe-houses from an old etching (mostly demolished now)  
Trewan Hall  
Glebe House  
St Columb Church  
The Red Lion Pub  
Barclays Bank  
Saint Columba's Cross in the churchyard  
St Columba's Cross  


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).[24] 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.[25]

Notable features

Stained glass window at St. Columb Major church (detail)

Some of the more interesting items are some fine brasses, including Sir John Arundell (died 1545, perhaps not buried here; Sir John Arundell, 1591, and his wife (died 1602, brass engraved 1635); John Arundell and his wife, 1633 (on the same stone).[26] 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 Well

50°24′22″N 4°54′29″W / 50.406°N 4.908°W / 50.406; -4.908 The holy well dedicated to Saint Columba is situated in the small hamlet of Ruthvoes, about 2 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.[27]

In literature

  • 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 residents

St Columb Town emblem

Town emblem

The town emblem 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.

Amenities, large employers and tourist attractions

Main employers

  • 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.
  • [1] Worlds Apart - designs, develops, manufactures and distributes children’s lifestyle products around the world.


  • Five pubs (The Ring O' Bells, The Coaching Inn, The Liberal Club, The Red Lion and The Silver Ball)
  • Chinese takeaway (Sun House)
  • Fish and chip shops (Westlakes and the Chippy)
  • Mini-mart Co-op
  • A Post Office
  • St Columb Doctor's surgery
  • Penmellyn veterinary surgery
  • Primary school (St Columb Major County Primary)
  • St Columb Library (with internet facilities)
  • One 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 Chemists)
  • Two butchers (Morris and Ellery's)
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • Agricultural store - (Mole Valley Farmers) - does clothes, DIY, gardening and building materials.
  • Ironmonger and builders store (Glanvilles)
  • Two estate agents (Donald Weekes and Clarkes)
  • Two banks (Lloyds and Barclays)
  • Florist (Ginny's Flowers)
  • Printer (Edyvean's)
  • Surf warehouse (Ann's Cottage) - wetsuits and surf gear.

Tourist attractions

See also


  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics
  2. ^ "A Gazetteer of Arthurian Topographic Folklore". Retrieved 2006-03-07. 
  3. ^ "The Modern Antiquarian site#627". Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  4. ^ "The Modern Antiquarian site#644". Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  5. ^ Redding, Cyrus (1842). An illustrated itinerary of the county of Cornwall. How & Parsons. p. 47.,M1. Retrieved september 4, 2007. 
  6. ^ Payton, Philip (1996) Cornwall. Fowey: Alexander Associates
  7. ^ Payton, Philip, Cornwall: a history. ISBN 1904880053; p. 126
  8. ^ From: 'General history: Historical events', Magna Britannia: volume 3: Cornwall (1814), pp. X-XXIV. URL: Date accessed: 21 August 2007.
  9. ^ Gilbert, Davies The Parochial History of Cornwall
  10. ^ . The Times, Thursday, June 10, 1909; pg. 9; Issue 38982
  11. ^ . The Times, Saturday, May 28, 1983; pg. 10; Issue 61544
  12. ^ Crashing Records
  13. ^ GENUKI: St Columb Major
  14. ^ Bank House on the Images of England website
  15. ^ Rosemellyn House on the Images of England website
  16. ^ Penmellyn House on the Images of England website
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; pp. 50, 74-76
  25. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine, 1860, p. 147
  26. ^ Dunkin, E. (1882) Monumental Brasses. London, Spottiswoode; pp. 27-31, 75-82, pl. XXVII, LVI, LVII
  27. ^ "St Columba Holy Well, Ruthvoes". Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  28. ^ Castle Dor at
  29. ^ Art 4 2-day item on Smith

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


St Columb Major is a town in Cornwall in England.

Get in

Newquay International Airport is around five minutes away by car. [1]

  • BioTravel Taxi and Minibus Company [2]


Nearby beaches include:

  • Constantine Bay Beach - Padstow
  • Crantock Beach - near Newquay
  • Fistral Beach - Newquay
  • Harlyn Bay Beach - Padstow
  • Holywell - Newquay
  • Lusty Glaze Beach - Newquay
  • Mawgan Porth Beach - Newquay
  • Polzeath Beach - Wadebridge
  • Porthcothan Beach - Polzeath
  • Perranporth Beach - Perranporth
  • Porth Beach - Newquay
  • Rock Beach - near Padstow
  • Trevone Bay Beach - near Padstow
  • Treyarnon Bay Beach - Padstow
  • Watergate Bay Beach - near Newquay


For walking there is an excellent footpath to St Mawgan village through the vale of Lanherne. The path is suitable for all walkers and offers good scenic views and passes through some woodlands at Carnanton.

  • Ellery Butchers for Pasties
  • Morris Butchers for Pasties
  • The Glebe House does teas and cakes.
  • The Coaching Inn 'Olde worlde' pub.
  • Red Lion A locals pub with live music on Saturdays.
  • Ring O' Bells Character pub that has a selection of real ales and has a restaurant for food including Sunday lunches.
  • The Silver Ball Family pub, morning coffees available. Occasionally live music. Has a beer garden at the rear.


Although there are no large hotels in the area, there are are a number of self catering and bed and breakfast properties in the St Columb area.

  • Middle Cottage
  • Nankivell
  • Pennatillie Farm (b&b)
  • The Bungalow
  • Trebell Barn
  • Tregarthen Barn [3]
  • Trewan farm [4]
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