Also known as the Steeple monument, this rather curious 50ft granite obelisk sits atop Worras Hill, behind Carbis Bay, and can be seen for miles around. Originally intended as a mausoleum to it's eccentric creator, John Knill, the structure remains empty as Knill was actually buried where he died, in Holborn, London.
John Knill led a fairly exceptional life. Never married, his positions and occupations include Mayor of St Ives, private secretary to the Earl of Buckingham, Bencher of Gray's Inn and Collector of Customs. Knill was also reputedly a very successful smuggler which goes some way to explaining his wealth. In fact one theory as to the existence of the Knill is that it was a daymark providing ships a useful point of reference for Knill's contraband operations.
On it's four faces are various inscriptions and the Knill family coat of arms. One of the inscriptions reads 'Nil Desperandum', reflecting the sense of humour of a man also responsible for leaving the sum of £5 to the parents of the greatest number of children raised to the age of ten without the assistance of the parish!
On one side of the monument there is what appears to be a blocked up doorway at the head of a small set of steps. This presumably leads to the chamber where Knill intended to have himself interred.
As one last parting gift to the St Ives community Knill left a behind a rather bizarre legacy. It was set in his will that every fifth year, on St James' Day (25th July), ten young girls dressed in white dance through the streets and up to the Monument. Here they would be joined by two widows and the mayor who dance around the monument with the girls, while spectators sing the 100th psalm. And to this day the Knill Ceremony continues with the last one held in 2021 - the 45th.
The 40 acre area around Knill's Monument now form the Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve which features a mix of heathland and woods.