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The St Agnes Bolster Festival and legend of the Giant Bolster

Giant Bolster Chapel Porth St Agnes
Giant Bolster Chapel Porth St Agnes | © Bill Makin

Legend has it that the Giant Bolster could have one foot on St Agnes Beacon whilst the other was firmly on Carn Brea. Discover more about this mythical local figure whose story is celebrated in an annual festival and procession by the villagers of St Agnes.

A local legend

Cornish folklore is full of sea monsters and giants. This particular local giant, named Bolster, was very bad tempered and a bit of a bully, according to legend, making his wife carry stones she'd collected in her apron up to the top of the hill.

He also fell in love with St Agnes, who the village is named after, following her around and proclaiming his undying love. Despite Agnes being a lady of virtue, this was too much for her so she resolved to be rid of this pest.

She was helped by the knight Sir Constantine and his local worthies who searched for the giant to challenge him to a duel. But each was easily overcome and so Bolster remained.

Giant Bolster's challenge

Agnes had a rethink and pretended to be persuaded by the intensity of the giant’s love, telling him she required just one small proof of it. If he could fill a hole in the cliff at the base of Chapel Porth valley with his blood, she would return his love.

Bolster thought nothing of this challenge and stuck a knife in his vein to let blood flow from his arm and down into the hole. What Bolster didn't realise though was that he would get weaker as the hours passed of trying to fill the hole, and he eventually exhausted himself. By the time he tried to rally himself and staunch the flow it was too late and at last he died.

The annual St Agnes festival

Every year the villagers of St Agnes re-enact the legend with a procession of the giant and all the characters from the story through the village and over the clifftops above Chapel Porth.

You can come and see the spectacle every May Day weekend.

Bolster Festival St Agnes
Bolster Festival St Agnes | © Bill Makin
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