Knill Steeple renovations

World Monument Fund in partnership with St Ives Town Council is undertaking a project during Summer 2013 to repair and conserve the Grade II* Listed Knill’s Monument.  This new project in the Cornish coastal town of St Ives is WMF Britain’s first in this picturesque extremity of the British Isles.  Steeped in local tradition dating back for over two centuries, this 50ft high granite pyramid stands on Worvas Hill in the Steeple Woodland area and was the last work of the important architect John Wood the Younger of Batheaston, designer of the Royal Crescent in Bath. 

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Since discussing the conservation needs of Knill’s Monument in 2011 on BBC One’s Inside Out programme, WMF Britain has been working on a restoration project in partnership with the Town Council to secure the future of this historic monument.

The monument was build in 1782 as a mausoleum and memorial for John Knill.  Knill (1733-1811) was born in Callington, Cornwall.  He became a customs collector and later the mayor of St Ives in 1767, and was responsible for building the town’s first pier, before making his fortune as inspector of Jamaican ports for the British Government.

What makes this monument especially important is that Knill prescribed an elaborate quinquennial ceremony to take place on St James the Apostle’s Day, which he personally supervised in 1801, a decade prior to his death.  It involved ten young dancing girls from the families of fishermen, dressed in white; two widows in black, and a fiddler to play the Furry Dance.  Remarkably, this folk ceremony is still enacted here to this day, making the monument the centrepiece of a unique living tradition.

Works begin on July 29th 2013 and are scheduled to run for seven weeks.  The conservation project will include the removal of old pointing, reporting in lime, removing the vegetation growing on the monument and repainting the shield.

WMF Britain’s Project Manager, Melissa Marshall says “Restoring Knill’s Monument to its former glory will ensure this area of outstanding beauty is maintained and St Ives continues to be a top visitor destination”.

The project is generously supported by St Ives Town Council, The Paul Mellon Estate, The Tanner Trust and many other kind individuals, trusts and foundations.