Cornwall

St Agnes Bolster Festival

A celebration of overcoming one of Cornwall’s greatest and most vicious of giants, the Bolster Festival is a two day event beginning with a lantern procession and ending with a dramatic re-enactment of the final confrontation between the giant and the heroine, Agnes.

It’s a well known fact that Cornwall was once overrun with giants, making life for everyday folk very difficult as the giants had a tendency to eat them. Bolster was a particularly nasty character, living near the cliffs of St Agnes and feasting off of children and innocent passers-by. Eventually the locals, having had enough, sent a knight and other nobles to fight Bolster which ended in great bloodshed.

 

It just so happened that Bolster was in love with a local lass named Agnes. This particularly clever girl took advantage of this to overcome the troublesome giant. She asked him to fill a nearby hole in the clifftops with his blood to prove his love for her, knowing that there was a crack in it which lead to the sea. Keen to prove his love, the amorous Bolster did as she asked and died of blood loss.

The festival is a celebration of Bolster’s demise, with the festivities starting with a lantern procession, bonfire and barbeque in the village of St Agnes. The next day, a parade including the doomed knight (Sir Constantine) and accompanying drummers parade the streets in search of Bolster which ends in a re-enactment of his demise on the cliffs above Chapel Porth Beach.

This is one of Cornwall’s oldest legends and the village puts on a great display with masses of huge effigies and puppets including Bolster and Sir Constantine. Taking place at the beginning of May, it’s worth a visit if you’re around to witness a tradition in action.

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