By Seema Anand Chopra
St Ives is seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea, commercially depends on fishing in ancient days
We entered the bustling small scenic town of Saint Ives England, driving on a curving road that overlooked the beautiful harbour at early sunset, rows of boats idled away on the shimmering water of the Celtic Sea. Past inviting restaurants we drove uphill following the Car park signs on a cobbled street lined with exquisite white homes. Soon we found space on the flat portion of the Hilltop where the panoramic view of the sea and cliffs was breath taking.
As the sky was already turning orange and red we decided to first proceed to the hilltop for a better view and explore later the historic Saint Ives town steeped in folklore. The view of the rough sea crashing on the cliffs far-far away was truly for the brave hearted to witness.
While walking downhill towards the town of Saint Ives we came across a stone plaque outside a white home that announced it to be the oldest house in Saint Ives! Further we spotted the granite Tower of the 15th century Saint Ives Parish Church across the blinking lights mirrored in the ink blue sea. A memory jog bought up the recollection of the folklore related to the origin of Saint Ives ascribed to a legend of Irish Saint La of Cornwall in the 5th century. It is believed that Saint La floated over the Irish Sea to Cornwall on a large leaf! The Church was erected on her place of martyrdom and the town takes its name after her.
The slope ended at the seaside wharf that held the slate roofed granite rubble white exterior Sloop Inn whose board proudly announced its creation in Circa 1312- one of the oldest Inns in Cornwall! At sunset the indigo of the sky and the thousands of twinkling lights that came on, reflected in the placid aquamarine Celtic seashore opposite. No wonder Sloop Inn was the favourite of many Victorian Artists whose paintings hung here in the Inn.
We peeped into the low ceiling Public house which is a traditional Bar today but preferred to sit on the sea-view outside Decking area. While buying drinks we chatted with the staff to gather that Sloop Inn was not just a favourite with the Artists but with the Fishermen too. Since centuries it is referred to as the Fishermen’s Pub. He added that some parts of the building were later appended with the main14th century Public house in the 17-18th century. The buzz is definitely captured at the Sloop Inn with its old fashioned aura.
We spent our evening in Saint Ives eating the most delectable Pizza at a Pizzeria overlooking the still harbour with twinkling lights and a movie-set Lighthouse. I open the gates of my memory to recollect the novel ‘To the Lighthouse’ by early 20th century English novelist Virginia Woolf based on her family’s holiday-stays in Saint Ives. She was so fond of the town that she mentioned it in her reflections- ‘A Sketch of her Past’. Time and now Saint Ives has been included in movies, books and Television serials.
OF ART AND ARTISTS
Feeling arty the next day, we decided to visit the branch of the prominent Tate’s Gallery and eminent artist Barbara Hepworth Museum, also looked after by the Tate’s gallery. Since the start of the 20th century Saint Ives has become a centre of British modern Art created by celebrated artists, painters and potters. We browsed around the beautiful Tate museum on a slope overlooking the picturesque Porthmeor Beach. It houses paintings by modern British Artists. As we left we were informed of the 3.9 million construction of an extension Gallery to the present museum.
Next we went to the Sculptor Barbara Hepworth museum and her Sculpture Garden open throughout the year for public display, as directed in her Will. Years after her death it still looks as if it is in use, everything is just as she had left them…. tools, wood , stone ,bronze Sculptures along with drawings, paintings and archive material but the Bronze ones stood out for she created magic with Bronze .
BEACH FOR ALL
We decided to spend the rest of the day exploring the four picturesque Beaches of Saint Ives set inside the western shore of the placid Saint Ives Bay.
- We had passed the busy Harbour few times yesterday and today, so filled up with dissimilar sized Boats and the lively town buildings across it.
- So we headed for the Porthmeor surfing — swimming Beach where the blues of the sky and water unite with each other, a perfect picnic place. Earlier in the day we had caught a glimpse of it from the Tate’s Gallery.
- Next we strolled on the half mile long Porthminster Beach going past the award winning Seafood Café.
- Finally we settled down on the beautiful small sandy cove of Porthgwidden beach watching the white frothy gentle waves hug the seashore. The sea reminded me of the medieval times in Saint Ives when it was a recognized Fishing centre but slowly the Fishing industry dwindled .Then the Victorian Railway rescued its economy bringing in loads of tourists . Saint Ives captured the imagination of the tourists with its natural beauty and intriguing folklore. While enjoying the Cornish Pasties at its Beach café we were informed that this Beach restaurant was a popular venue for weddings.
Saint Ives is unmistakably all about views, wandering in the by-lanes, glimpsing Art Galleries and lazing around on superlative Beaches. Justifiably the holiday resort of Saint Ives won the title of the Best UK Seaside few times recently. If I had to pick one memorable experience it would be indeed impossible!