St Leonard’s fishermen’s chapel, St Ives

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A memorial of an astonishing trip, presumably by a
member of the local artistic community

It was grey and rainy the day we reached St Ives, but I was nevertheless captivated by St Leonard’s, the little port’s fishermen’s chapel on Smeaton’s pier.

Typescript history

A typescript history (we don’t see many of them now!) shows that the building dates back to at least 1577, and has been renovated several times, most recently in 1971, when it was reopened as a small museum. In the old days, it seems, local fishermen retained the services of a friar who led prayers and services in the building.

There are some nice models, a touching memorial erected in 1959 to the fishermen lost to their families and community, and seats for those who wish to sit and pray, or simply think.

That engaging character Mike ‘Kipperman’ Smylie has some good stuff about the St Ives boats in his book Traditional Fishing Boats of Britain and Ireland, which you may find at ABE Books.

Interior, models and memorial, another plaque, and the exterior

And just outside I found the real thing – a mackerel driver. And
notice the ancient lifeboat moored just behind it

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