Celebrating all things Cornish for St Piran's day

Celebrating all things Cornish for St Piran's day


Cornwall has long been renowned as a centre for the arts and as the county prepares to mark the day of its patron saint, St Piran, on March 5, we take a look at the enduring popularity of the saint as well as Cornish-themed collectables and vintage furniture.


St Piran is a central figure in the culture and identity of Cornwall – Kernow, in the Cornish language – and his distinctive black flag with its white cross can be seen fluttering from shops and homes across the county year-round, as well as stamped on local goods and used in marketing materials to promote Cornish goods and services at home and abroad.


Around St Piran’s Day, there are many Cornish-themed events in the Duchy as well as in areas across the world where there are communities descended from Cornish emigrants, so-called ‘Cousin Jacks’.


A county rich in myth


The story goes that Piran came to Cornwall from Ireland in the 6th century after being tied to a millstone and thrown into a stormy sea to drown after worrying the king with his ability to perform miracles. However, as soon as the saint entered the water, the sea calmed and he floated across the water to Cornwall where he came ashore on the beach at Perranzabuloe, one of five places in the county named after him.


He founded an abbey here where he was joined by other Christian converts. Piran was renowned for his sanctity and austerity as well as his ability to work the miracles that caused so much trouble for him in Ireland. He is also accredited with rediscovering the process of tin smelting, which had been lost after Roman times and brought work and prosperity to Cornwall. This is why St Piran is the patron saint of miners.


As a county rich in myth and history as well having a stunning coastline, Cornwall has inspired the artistic community, including artists, potters and writers, since the mid-1800s. The range of vintage Cornish items on offer is equally diverse, ranging from books and pictures through to furniture and kitchenware. As a result, anyone who wants a piece of this enchanting and magical part of the world can indulge themselves and be sure of finding something to their taste and pocket of far greater value than the mass-produced trinkets and souvenirs churned out for the tourist market.


Inspiration from the landscape


Steve Slimm is one of Cornwall’s most sought-after contemporary artists taking his inspiration from J.M.W. Turner and, of course, the ancient landscape of Cornwall. This highly-collectable landscape in oils is signed by the artist.


Steve Slimm landscape


If your tastes are more literary, you might like to own this 1946 edition of Cornish Tales by Charles Lee. Lee was born in London but moved to Cornwall and lived among the group of artists who formed the Newlyn School of painting. He published five novels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in addition to many short stories and plays about the working people of Cornwall.


Cornish Tales


A beautifully-created piece of china adds charm to any room and this white figurine from the Seton Pottery in Scorrier, near Redruth, fits the bill perfectly with its simple grace.


Seton Pottery Figurine




The seal of royal approval

And if your taste extends to the quirky but nonetheless distinctively Cornish, this serpentine barometer is a great example.

 Serpentine Barometer


Serpentine is found on The Lizard, Cornwall’s most southerly point. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved this polished stone and filled their Osborne House residence with items. With the royal seal of approval, it became a highly-fashionable collectable in elegant homes up and down the land.


And now you can possess your very own piece of this iconic Cornish mineral - and join us in commemorating this special annual celebration. ‘Gool Peran Lowen!’


March 01, 2022 — Francesca Peterson

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