ST COLUMB MAJOR. It is the sleeping-place of the Cornwall Arundells, brought here from their great house of Lanherne for their last rest. It is the scene every Shrove Tuesday of the ancient game of hurling, played with a silver ball.
Among its ancient stones are the Nine Maidens in a row, girls turned to stone for dancing on Sunday if legend is true, put 'up for the study of the sun 3000 years ago if Sir Norman Lockyer's theory is true.
A little town it is that has all this interest, yet it has a l5th-century embattled house on a hill, a l7th-century bishop's house, a medieval rectory, and a noble church rising in a lovely setting from a velvet lawn. Its splendid tower is 600 years old and 90 feet high, and it is curious for having three open niches, an unusual sight at the west end, where it leads us in.
The two porches have rooms over them, and the south porch has ballflowers in the hollow of the mouldings, carved 600 years ago. The nave arcades are l4th century when the font was carved with one pleasant face and four grotesques. The charming canopied piscina in the lady chapel has a rose carved in the drain. There is a fine array of 36 medieval bench-ends, carved with quaint animals, birds, flowers, faces, chalices, and symbols of the Passion, and there are 50 angels and 90 bosses in the nave and chancel roofs.
Among the modern woodwork is the pulpit with four saints under canopies, a lofty chancel screen, and linenfold panelling. The peace memorial is a corner canopy of oak under which a light for ever burns, hidden by a vase of wooden poppies but shining on the names that live for evermore.
Security having been given for his good behaviour, he was released after four years, and settled near Boughton, where he gained an astonishing ascendancy o'ver farmers and labourers, declaring
himself able to grant the poor estates and good living, to abolish oppressive laws, and to lead his friends to power. He marched with 100 followers, declared himself the Messiah, professed to work miracles, and announced that he and his disciples were invincible and could never die. Riding a white horse, he led the way through the countryside, enticing labourers from their work, an act which brought the police on him. He shot one constable as well as the parson of Hernehill, then retreated with his force to Bossenden Wood in readiness for soldiers summoned from Canterbury.
As they approached, Tom left his hiding-place, shouting loudly to hearten his companions. Meeting Lieutenant Bennett at the head of the military he shot him, and was himself instantly shot dead by a soldier. A charge followed, in which eleven rioters were killed.
Of those captured some were transported and some imprisoned. Tom was buried at Hernehill, where his grave was guarded so that his friends should not be able to announce that he had risen again on the third day.