The St Piran’s Ball

Each year, the chairman of Cornwall Council hosts a ball to celebrate St Piran’s Day.  St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, was an abbot who lived around the beginning of the 6th century and is said to have been cast out of Ireland on the orders of the king who was suspicious of Piran’s miraculous powers.  Despite a millstone tied around his neck, Piran survived stormy seas and washed up at Perranporth where he built an oratory to promote Christianity.  His first disciples were said to be a badger, a fox and a bear.  Hmm.  The oratory is now preserved in the sand dunes at Perran Sands.

Piran is famous for his apparent accidental discovery of tin.  A black stone in his fireplace is said to have got so hot that a white liquid leaked from stone, the first ever incidence of tin smelting. It was this discovery that subsequently earned Piran the additional title ‘Patron Saint of Tinners’, tin mining being the backbone of Cornish industry.  It is this first incidence of tin smelting that is behind the design of the Cornish flag.  The white hot tin forming a cross on the black background of ore.  According to legend, St Piran was fond of a tipple or two but despite his fondness for alcohol, he is said to have lived to the ripe old age of 206.

St Piran''s Flag40px spacerSt Piran’s day celebrations continue to grow in popularity, with the annual St Piran Play on Perran Sands being a highlight.  Hundreds of people make pilgrimage to the site of the oratory and other landmarks.

I was very lucky to have been invited to the St Piran’s Ball on Friday night.  The main reason for my invitation was that one of my photographs was used on the tickets.  The idea being that after dinner, one ticket number would be drawn from the hat and the lucky winner would receive an A3 framed print of the picture as a prize.  This was all the idea of Mr John Wood, Chairman of the council and very generous supporter of Cornwall Photographic.  With my name and website on the tickets, this was very good promotion for my photography amongst a lot of very important people in Cornwall.

Black tie obligatory, I was in my tux by 5.00pm and ready to attend the bucks fizz reception at the Alverton Manor Hotel in Truro at 6pm, prior to taking our places in the great hall for dinner at 7pm.

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A truly beautiful setting for what was a very enjoyable evening.  I was a little nervous about being asked to present the prize in front of all the eminent guests but it all went OK.  The Chairman’s introduction was very complimentary and I found it all a bit embarrassing, Chillbrook isn’t used to taking the stage amidst rather prolonged applause but there you go, it wasn’t so bad ;-)

The print was won by Mr David Simpson, the owner of Kingsley Village, a large retail park on the A30 where coincidentally, I sell prints and cards.  David has just moved house and told me he had just the place in mind to hang his new print.  Here’s the print in question.  A photograph I’ve posted before, taken at Trebarwith Strand on the north Cornish coast..

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46 responses

  1. Great pictures.

    March 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

  2. You sir are an absolutely amazing photographer!

    March 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    • You are too kind but thank you! :-)

      March 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm

  3. Beautiful shot…

    March 10, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    • Thank you Sreejith!

      March 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm

  4. It looks like a great occasion, Adrian. Congratulations to you on achieving fame in Cornwall. :) I love the legend, especially the bit about St Piran living to be 206-years-old. I wonder if my MiL will get there one day. :? Your photo is wonderful, and I’m not surprised Mr Simpson is thrilled with his print.

    March 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    • Thank you Sylvia. Your MIL certainly looks amazingly fit and healthy for such a great age. Does she like a little tipple? I think there’s a lot to be said for it. My great aunt swore by her daily glass of sherry, enjoying it well into her 90’s. :-)

      March 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm

  5. Well done! Congratulations!

    March 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    • Thank you Neil!

      March 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

  6. Fun to learn about St. Piran. Lucky winner!

    March 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    • I love these old legends Elena. There seems to have been quite a few saints with interesting stories to tell in Cornwall between the 6th and 12th centuries. I will endeavour to publish their stories as and when I come across them. :-)

      March 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm

  7. First of nice pictures from, both from the hall and not the least the pictures that was picked for the ticket and to be handed to the evening’s winner. Congratulations with another great achievement. I am sure it was fun, even if it was a little bit challenging to stand in front of the big audience.

    March 10, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    • Thank you Otto. It was a really fun evening that I was able to enjoy with some good friends and some new friends. :-)

      March 10, 2014 at 10:36 pm

  8. This is fantastic Adrian…..a thoroughly deserved accolade and a great image 😊

    March 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    • Thank you Mark.

      March 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm

  9. Well done. Great photography

    March 10, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    • Thank you very much indeed Lou! :-)

      March 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm

  10. You shine, Adrian. How wonderful! Congratulations.
    I love all the history you include, fascinating stuff!

    March 10, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    • Thank you Karen. Very much appreciated as always.

      March 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

  11. Congratulations again, Adrian…such beautiful work you have. It’s nice to see you being so honored. And that’s a photograph that I’d love to see hanging on my wall, as well…hooray for Mr. David Simpson. :)

    March 11, 2014 at 2:51 am

    • Thank you very much Scott. :)

      March 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

      • Most welcome, Adrian. :)

        March 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      • :-)

        March 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm

  12. How fun and very special for you Adrian. Love that they offered your print as a prize and that it was on the ticket – that’s fantastic! Congrats all around and my new goal is 206 years old. Even if I fall a few short I’ll be happy :-)

    March 11, 2014 at 3:27 am

    • Thank you Tina. I was a good evening and a lot of fun. I’m not sure I could cope with all the changes given how much has changed so far in my lifetime but it’d be fun to see.. :)

      March 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

  13. Fascinating snippet of history – thank you. I guess St Piran’s appreciation of a tipple or two could explain his first disciples :)

    March 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

    • A tipple of two could indeed explain his congregation. I did wonder if he’d be fond of burning hemp on his fire.. :-)

      March 11, 2014 at 10:01 am

      • ….. Saving Grace …… :D

        March 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

      • I know what you mean… :)

        March 11, 2014 at 10:36 am

  14. You certainly deserve the recognition Adrian. Well done. I enjoyed the story about St Piran and the background to the Cornish flag, which I’m sorry to admit, I hadn’t known. Glad you had a good evening.

    March 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

    • Thank you very much Dave. I wasn’t aware of the background to the Cornish flag design either.

      March 11, 2014 at 10:36 am

  15. poppytump

    What a grand finale to your eventful week ChillB :-) How lucky was Mr S !
    Glad to know the significance of the design of the Cornish Flag and its origins with St Piran … staring into a fire perhaps with a tipple in hand he sounds like my kind of Saint ;-)

    March 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

    • Thank you Poppy! Noeline suggested the odd tipple or three may have had something to do with his first disciples being a badger etc.. That must have been one interesting night before the first congregation! :-D I too enjoyed the story behind the Cornish flag. I often wondered why they picked black.. :-)

      March 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm

  16. Lovely – congrats! Really enjoyed the backstory.

    March 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    • Thank you Mary! :-)

      March 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

  17. Another nice series, and really enjoyed the write-up on St. Piran, especially the tin discovery…I’m always fascinated by such things. Cheers!

    March 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    • Thank you Randall. I do enjoy digging out these stories and legends. There are a lot of them in Cornwall. :-)

      March 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

  18. Way to go, Chilli! I am so entirely happy for you! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    March 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! That’s very kind. Your support is always very much appreciated! :-)

      March 11, 2014 at 9:27 pm

  19. Stunning seascape!

    March 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    • Thank you very much Phil!

      March 12, 2014 at 6:45 pm

  20. All publicity is said to be good publicity, Adrian. Sounds like it was a good evening and that’s a super image as I said when it first appeared. Interesting story about St Piran whose life story was a little embellished seeing as he supposedly lived at least five or six times longer than the average for his day. All part of folk lore, I guess.

    March 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    • Thank you Andy. It was a good night with some useful contacts made I think. :-)

      March 13, 2014 at 12:28 pm

  21. Awesome photos!

    March 16, 2014 at 8:05 am

    • Thank you very much!

      March 16, 2014 at 9:38 am