Seeking memories of the Palais de Danse in St.Ives

Posted on: 16th April 2024 No Comments

Do you, or anyone you know, have memories of the Palais de Danse?

Whether this be attending a dance, concert, cinema or as guest of Barbara Hepworth who had her second studio in the building. Or, if you can think of anything else, we’d love to hear from you.


The Palais de Danse, located opposite the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St.Ives, was originally built as a navigation school. It later became a community hub and was host to dances, concerts, meetings and cinema screenings. From 1961 Barbara Hepworth owned the building, with her workshop here providing a space to create some of her largest sculptures, such as Single Form. In 2015 the Barbara Hepworth Estate gave the building to Tate, which now manages the site and is currently transforming it into a new ‘community-shaped heritage site’.

As part of this recent transformation, we are excited to be supporting a local history project about Lower Barnoon Hill in St Ives, recording memories of those who have a connection to the Palais de Danse. These oral histories will add to the growing research into the history of the site. This will help decide how the building is cared for and used by the community into the future.


Buildings hold stories in their walls and are a fascinating starting point for exploring local history. Over the past decade Storylines have uncovered stories from buildings around Cornwall, from the Hall for Cornwall (City Hall), to numerous buildings in St.Mawes as part of the ‘A Window in Time’ project.


Our first recording for this project was with the wonderful Roger Brokenshire, who recalled his days singing with concert parties around Cornwall, including the Palais de Danse. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Roger was known as Cornwall’s Wonder Boy Singer, winning numerous local competitions. Roger’s passion for singing has accompanied him throughout life, and his memories of over 70 years of performing were fascinating.

Shirley Beck in the gardenWe then had the pleasure of recording Shirley Beck, who was friends with Barbara Hepworth at the time when she used the Palais as a studio. A fellow potter, mother and active member of the St.Ives community, Shirley talks fondly of Hepworth and St.Ives. As social lives blurred with professional, parties were an important aspect of community life here. We loved hearing Shirley’s recollections of Barbara Hepworth’s parties at the Palais.

We’d love to uncover more stories of this fascinating building and invite anyone interested in hearing more to get in touch.


For more information on the transformation visit: Tate St Ives appoints Adam Khan Architects for refurbishment of the Palais de Danse – Press Release | Tate

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