[from Jenkinson's Practical Guide, 1874]

A Walk to the Top of Douglas Head.

When the tourist has become acquainted with the town, visited the Old and New Piers, the Promenade, and the Iron Pier, he should walk to the top of Douglas Head, the promontory on the south side of the harbour.

Here, after a short pleasant stroll, he will obtain a magnificent view of the town and bay of Douglas, the principal mountains in the island, and a glorious expanse of sea, with the heights of Cumberland and Wales in the distance. Once having visited this spot it will in all probability become his favourite haunt ; and if the weather be fine he will be amply repaid for the slight toil of the ascent, by the grand panoramic prospect, and the invigorating effect of the pure breezy atmosphere.

On the top of the headland is the Douglas Head Hotel, which is crowned with a round tower, and is a prominent object when seen from the bay. Although this hotel is situated in so commanding a position few persons take up their abode here, it being used principally as a day-house, where refreshments are obtained by the numerous visitors who daily, during the season, wend their way to the summit of the hill.

The south side of the Quay may be gained by crossing the river at the Douglas Bridge, or by ferry-boats, which ply at three places ; one near the Steam Packet Office, another at the Market Square, and a third a little higher up, at the Fleetwood Corner. At the ebb of the tide the ferrymen erect temporary footbridges for their passengers. The charge for crossing the ferry is a halfpenny each person. During the winter months the first boat is discontinued.

When over the river the road runs to the left, by the South Quay, and at the gas works branches and gradually ascends, and passes close by some large quarries in the slate rock, the principal source whence the supply of stone for the buildings of Douglas was obtained.

Presently there is a good view of the bay and the principal buildings of the town ; also the Old, New, and Iron Piers, Tower of Refuge, Castle Mona Hotel, and Onchan village.

Passing Taubman’s Terrace on the right, and on the left some gardens, a photographic gallery, Fort William, and Fort Anne tower, a road branches to Fort Anne Hotel.

The road bends to the right and ascends steeply, with the Douglas Head Hotel a fine object directly in front. After passing the back entrances to the private residences of Ravenscliffe House and Harold Tower, a lane on the left is observed, which conducts to the Port Skillion gentlemen’s bathing-place. A few yards beyond the lane the tourist will be struck by the great beauty of the view of the town and of the bay, which is of surpassing excellence, and perhaps of its kind equal to any in the British Isles.

The new breakwater, the jetty, and the Old and New Piers are seen jutting into the water, and the Tower of Refuge is a pretty object on the Conister Rocks. Harold Tower, Ravenscliffe Fort Anne Hotel, and Fort William are close to on the left. Commencing at the Old Pier are the Imperial Hotel, St. Barnabas’ Church, the Court House, St. George’s Church, two Independent Chapels, St. Mary’s Chapel, Scotch Kirk, House of Industry, and St. Thomas’ Church, with many noble-looking terraces rising from the shore one above another to the top of the high ground. Behind these, in the distance, are seen the Asylum, and the Grand Stand on the Race Course. Glancing back to the shore the eye wanders past the well-timbered grounds of Villa Marina and the Castle Mona Hotel, to the Crescent, Strathallan, Derby Castle, and Onchan village and church. Beyond Derby Castle are seen the tempting little creeks of Port-e-Vadda and Port Jack, and on the farther side of Onchan harbour are the headlands of Bank’s Howe and Clay Head. High above all these are the mountains Greeba, Slieu Beay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, and Snaefell.

When the open ground is reached, by keeping near the edge of the cliff some pretty peeps may be had down the wild picturesque rocks, where the sea is constantly dashing and tbrming beautiful silvery spray. The grounds are bounded by a wooden fence, covered with thorns, and there is a notice-board warning persons not to trespass. On the other side of the fence is a game preserve. It is to be regretted that visitors are prevented strolling any farther along the cliffs and rocks, for there are Some delightful nooks. One, which is situated about ¼ mile beyond the fence, is named the Pigeon’s Cove ; near to it is an opening called Quirk’s Cave, in which, about thirty years ago, resided a stonemason named Quirk, an eccentric character ; and not far distant is a cleft down which once went a hare followed by a whole pack of hounds ; a man on horseback was in close pursuit, but fortunately the horse saw the danger and leaped over the gulf, which to this day bears the name of the Horse Leap. Near the same spot there are the Nuns’ Chairs, two hollow rocks, resembling elbow-chairs, one above the other, in which it is said the nuns of the adjacent convent were occasionally punished in ancient times.

" On the slightest accusation," so runs the story, " the poor nun was brought to the foot of the rock, when the sea had ebbed, and was obliged to climb to the first chair, where she had to remain till the tide again flowed and ebbed twice. Those who had given a greater cause of suspicion were obliged to ascend to the second chair, and to sit there for the same space of time. Anyone who endured the trial, and descended unhurt was cleared of all aspersion that had been thrown upon her. Such a lengthened exposure to the elements probably occasioned the death of many of these unfortunate sisters. We are elsewhere told, that if the sentence of death were passed against a female she was sewed up in a sack, and thrown from the top of the rock into the sea. This must have been the Tarpeian rock of the Isle of Man."

These Chairs, the Horse Leap, Pigeon’s Cove, and Quirk’s Cave can be reached in a small boat from Douglas, and they may be seen by those who go by boat to Port Soderick.

At the Douglas Head Hotel is a bowling-green. The charge for admission to the green is 3d. each person. There is also a dancing platform, open during the season from three to ten o’clock, admission 3d., a quadrille band being in attendance. Archery, Aunt Sally, and quoits are also advertised as forming part of the amusements of the place. in the rooms of the hotel is a valuable lot of antiquities and curiosities, and on the outside of the building may be seen a working model of the big wheel at Laxey. Persons are allowed to enter the rooms and inspect the curiosities, whether they spend anything in the hotel or not. The tower is built on the site, and partly composed, of an ancient landmark.

No one ought to visit Douglas Head without descending to the point where is situated the lighthouse, and there watch the sea breakers rushing furiously amongst the wild and contorted rocks. At all times it is a fine sight, but at full tide and in rough weather it is indeed magnificent. A path extends a short distance amongst the rocks, and allows of good vantage points being obtained.

Two keepers and their families reside at the Douglas Head lighthouse. Strangers may visit the building any week-day between sunrise and sunset, without charge. Few will, however, take advantage of the privilege, and give so much trouble, without offering a small recompense. The lighthouse was built in 1833 by the Insular Harbour Board, and was handed over to the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners in 1859. It is about 80 feet high, and has a reflecting white light and an Argand burner, visible 16 miles off.

A path behind a wall leads from the lighthouse to the seluded little creek of Port Skillion, which is a few yards distant. This is a delightful bathing-place, and specially prepared with a concrete platform for the bathers.

" Here the bold swimmer plunges to display
The cunning of his art ; with arms spread wide,
Head, breast erect, he buffets with the spray."

The improvements have been made for the public generally, but more especially for visitors to the island. They were commenced in 1870, and continued at intervals during that year and the years 1871-72-73. The undertaking has been a voluntary work, and involved an outlay of between 6001. and 7001., 5001. of which have been advanced by the promoter and designer, Mr. R. Archer, Douglas. To complete the improvements further contemplated about 2001. more will be required. The sea-water at Port Skillion is remarkable for its purity, the bottom being discernible at a depth of more than twenty feet. The concrete piers are 336 feet in extent, and are so planned that swimmers can plunge into the deep water at any state of the tide. There is also a platform for the convenience of bathers, from which they can plunge into the sea when the water is at various heights. The place during the season is in charge of competent persons, who supply towels and bathing drawers at ld. each, besides lock-up dressing-boxes at a charge of 2d. Persons not requiring the loan of these can bathe free of charge. During the summer months a ferry-boat plies regularly between this point and the Old Pier, and parties can also arrive or leave at the adjoining lighthouse landing-stage.

To regain the road some steps have to be ascended to the Battery, on the platform ofwhich are two 32-pound guns. They are used by the Douglas Volunteer Artillery Corps, which numbers 120 men, and is commanded by Captain Joseph Torrance. It is the only Volunteer Artillery Corps on the Island, and there is only one Rifle Volunteer Corps, viz. that at Douglas, numbering 80 men, under Captain James Spittall. In 1816 a small fort was made at this spot, the only trace of which is a portion of an old wall. Close to the Battery is the Powder Magazine, and here the tourist overlooks the concrete breakwater, which is in course of construction. The workmen are observed quarrying the stone, mixing the sand and cement, and making the blocks. A fine view is obtained of Fort Anne Hotel, and its beautifully-wooded grounds. There are also spread before the spectator the pier and harbour, and most of the town and bay of Dougrlas.

On again reaching the road, Fort Anne Hotel may be visited. It is a large house seated in a pleasant position, and commands an excellent view of the town and its bay. The breakwater, jetty, Old and New piers, and the Tower of Refuge are immediately below. There are two cannons placed in front of the house ; but the one which is fired when the steamers are entering the harbour from Liverpool and Barrow is much smaller, and kept indoors. The hotel will accornmodate sixty visitors. It was built as a private residence by the eccentric Thomas Whalley, usually called Buck Whalley, some 70 years since, was subsequently the residence of Sir William Hillary, Bart., and then was converted into an hotel.

When the South Quay is reached, it is advisable, before crossing the river, to walk to the jetty, which was built in 1837, of limestone. The men in the small boats stationed at the end of the breakwater, supply air to the divers who are working under the water and busily preparing the foundation. The divers generally commence work in summer at about 6 AM. and leave at 5 P.M., remaining below two hours at a time. Strangers are not permitted to visit the breakwater on land without leave, but a boat may be taken to where the men are at work. When the break-water is finished it will be 1000 feet long, 50 feet thick, and 38 feet above low-water spring tides. At the outer end there will be a circular head and lighthouse. The estimated cost is 114,000l. A sea-wall of similar materials is being built on the south side of the harbour, forming an approach to the breakwater 45 feet wide. Sir John Coode, CE., London, is the engineer-in-chief, and Wm. Powell, Esq., C.E., Fort Anne Tower, Douglas, is the resident engineer.

A Walk by the Shore Road to Derby Castle,

Onchan, and Bemahague.

Having visited Douglas Head, the tourist should take this walk, which is in an entirely opposite direction, and to the north of the town. It will he found very delightful, and embraces a view of Douglas which some consider even finer than that from the Head. It may be varied to suit the capability and inclination of the visitor. If the journey back be by Victoria Tower, and down Burntmill Hill, the distance will be 2½ miles ; by Bemahague (where resides the Lieutenant-Governor), Falcon Cliff Brewery, and Broad-way, 3 miles ; and by Onchan harbour and village, 4 miles.

Commencing at the Iron Pier, close to Broadway, the road runs along the shore, with the sands and sea on the right. On the left are passed in succession Clarence Terrace, Esplanade, Derby Terrace, Castle Terrace, Castle Mona Hotel, Falcon Cliff Tower, Marathon Terrace, and the Crescent, in-cluding the Queen’s Crescent Hotel. Then the road ascends Burntmill Hill, but the tourist must cross the road and keep by the shore, having on the left the pretty Swiss-like cottages of Strathallan and some rocks, on the top of which is seen perched the Victoria Tower.

On arriving at the entrance to the grounds of Derby Castle, a modern castellated mansion, a notice will be observed on the gate intimating that the grounds are private. A step-stile in the wall on the right leads over to the low rocks on the shore. After walking along these for a few yards, the charming little creek of Port-e-Vadda is reached. It is a pleasant secluded spot, and few will see it without longing to visit it again, and spend many listless hours watching the never-ceasing waters playing amongst the rocks and pebbles.

" I see the Deep’s untrampled floor
With green and purple seaweeds strown;
I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown
I sit upon the sands al~one,
The lightning of the noon-tide ocean
Is flashed around me, and a tone
Arises from its measured motion,
How sweet ! did any heart now share in my emotion."

A path leads direct to the top of the cliff, but some may prefer threading amongst the rocks to the wilder creek of Port Jack, a few hundred yards distant, and there ascend.

On gaining the top of the cliff, a view of surpassing excel-lence is obtained of the town and bay of Douglas. The whole of the bay is spread below, and on the opposite side are the lighthouse, Douglas Head, and hotel, and the Carnane Hill, nestling at the feet of which are the Fort Anne Hotel, New Pier, harbour, and the old portion of the town. In the bay are the Tower of Refuge and the Iron Pier. Rising gradually rom the beach are numerous crescents, interspersed with the spires of churches. From these the eye wanders past the Castle Mona Hotel Falcon Cliff Tower, Strathallan, and Derby Castle to Port-e-Vadda, close at the spectator’s feet. Looking inland are Bank’s Howe and the spire of Onchan church, and in the far distance is seen the top of South Barrule.

Victoria Tower is visible a few yards off, just behind Derby Castle, and if the tourist desire to reach it, he must follow the footpath round Port-e-Vadda, and then through a field into the road which passes the Victoria Pleasure Grounds and enters the main road at the top of Burntmill Hill, passing Dr. Steele’s large seminary for boys, and the Alpine Terrace, and Strathallan Park, to the Shore Road. At the Victoria are croquet, swings, a camera obscura, and other objects of interest. The charge for entrance is 4d. each person.

To return by Bemahague, the tourist may first visit Victoria Tower, then reach Bemahague direct by crossing the Burntmill Hill Road ; or without going to Victoria Tower, he may go through two fields and then enter the Bemahague Road a few yards from Onchan village.

Those who extend the journey, and visit Onchan harbour, will keep on the brow of the cliffs, over Little Head, and then follow a cart-road which conducts from the pretty little creek to the Onchan church and village.

The spire of the parish church has been a pleasant object on the journey, and it looks very picturesque when seen from many points around, but when closely approached it is found to be only of moderate dimensions, and, though modern, of primitive architecture.

The parish is said to derive its name from St. Conanus, Bishop of Man, A.D. 600. More probably it was derived from that of St. Conaghan, Bishop of Man, AD. 540. The village is generally called Onchan, by a corruption of Kirk Conchan into Kirk Onchan. Some of the oldest inhabitants say the proper name of the village is Kionedroghad.

The Church is attended almost every Sunday by the Lieutenant-Governor, and during summer many strangers stroll to it from Douglas, a distance of 2½ miles. In the graveyard are two ancient slabs ; one fiat on the ground, and the other erect, on the north side, in a direct line with the steeple. They have some grotesque figures marked on them, but no letters. In a private garden fronting St. Catharine’s Cottage, situate in the centre of the village, is fixed the old bell-turret of the church, surmounted by a cross ; and in a rockery under a tree close by are two ancient slabs, one of which is plain on one side, and marked with monstrous animals on the other. The companion stone has figures on both sides, and also some roughly scrawled Runes, which are much worn and partly broken off. The following is one of the various translations which have been given of these Runes :—

" [A. B.] son of [C. D.] erected [this] cross to Mirgiol his wife, mother of Hugigud, Haukr, [and] Athigrid . . . . Thurid engraved [these] Runes Jesus Christ."

Onchan village is a favourite place of resort during the tourist season, there being fifteen acres of well-arranged nursery ground in the centre of the village, close behind the Manx Arms Hotel and the Nursery Inn. In these grounds are some fine and rare specimens of the pine species, such as Wellingtonia gigantea, Cryptomaria japonica, Cephalonia, Pinus pinsapo, Auracaria imbricata, and at the north corner of the inclosure is a small fish-pond which is covered in summer with water-lilies.

At the south end of the village the road divides, the right-hand leading to Douglas by Bemahague and the left by Burntmill Hill. Those who take the former route will pass close by the pretty mansion of Bemahague, now often called Government House, as it is occupied by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Island.

Formerly the Governor resided at Castletown, which is still the seat of government, but as Douglas has become by far the most important town on the island, he has taken up his abode here. Some of the Tynwald Courts are held in the Court Buildings in Athol Street, and efforts are being made to transfer the archives from Castletown, and constitute Douglas the seat of government. For this object it is proposed to erect suitable buildings, and ground for that purpose has been purchased in the neighbourhood of Buck’s Road.

A few yards from Bemahague the tourist will pass the Ðeemster’s, or Heywood’s Bridge, so named owing to the late Deemster Heywood, who lived at Bemahague, having possessed the land in the neighbourhood. This bridge is, however, often called Glencrutchery Bridge, from an adjoining estate of that name, and some people call it also the "Fairy Bridge." The small glen which it spans is named in some histories the "Harper’s Glen."

When over the bridge the road branches, the right-hand leading to Douglas by Buck’s Road, the left-hand passing Sunnyside, the beautiful residence of J. T. Clucas, Esq., Treasurer of the Isle of Man, and then continues down Victoria Road past the Falcon Cliff and Castle Hill breweries, and behind the grounds of the Castle Mona Hotel, and enters Broadway Road close to the shore and the Iron Pier. When returning from Bemahague, a visit might be paid to the Belle Vue or Brown’s Strawberry Gardens.

Douglas to Kirk Braddan, and back by the Nunnery.

This is a favourite walk of 3½ miles. It is often reserved for a Sunday stroll, on which day hundreds go from Douglas to attend the morning and afternoon services at Kirk Braddan Church, commencing at 10.30 A.M. and 3 P.M.

Latterly the old church has been found too small ; and for those who could not find room, an out-door service has been held in the churchyard. An additional church, called the Kirk Braddan New Church, is now being erected on a plot of ground adjoining the old edifice, and in it have been set apart 300 free sittings. It is intended to have it ready by the summer of 1874.

Leaving Douglas by the Peel Road, which commences near the end of the North Quay and Athol Street, close to Douglas Bridge and the Railway Station, a row of large lodging-houses is passed on the right, and then some pleasant villas embosomed in trees. On the left is low ground, which bears the name of " The Lake," the sea having, it is supposed, overflowed it in former times. The railway runs through this to both Peel and Castletown, and on the opposite side of the line are the Nunnery grounds, the ivy-covered mansion appearing here and there through the trees, at the back of which is the Carnane Hill.

One mile from Douglas the well-wooded grounds of Ballaughton and Spring Valley are seen, with the Greeba mountain in the background.

On arriving at the Quarter Bridge, where stands an inn, in the rear of which is a small bowling-green, the road divides, the right-hand branch leading to Laxey and Ramsey the left to Castletown, and the direct road to Kirk Braddan, Union Mills, St. John’s, and Peel.

From the Quarter Bridge appear the heights Greeba, SlieuReay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Slieu Ree, and the Cairn. Here the Glass, sometimes called the Bright and sometimes the Gray river, is crossed. It joins the Dhoo, or Black river, a few hundred yards farther down, and the two form the Douglas river, from which the town is said to derive its name.

On the left is Kirby, the residence of his Honour, Deernster Drinkwater, the judge of the southern part of the island. It was formerly the seat of Colonel Wilkes, the Governor of St. Helena, to whose charge the Emperor Napoleon was commtted in 1815. It is curious to note that the Colonel had in his possession a glass cup, with which there was connected a tradition similar in character to those legends appertaining to the goblets in Cumberland, called the " Luck of Eden Hall," and the " Luck of Muncaster ;" of the former of which it is said:—

" If e’er that glass should break or fall,
Farewell the luck of Eden Hall."

We are told that " in ancient times there stood in the parish of Braddan a mansion named Kirby.‘ Of this building nothing now remains except its site near to an ancient Druidical encampment, and the picturesque churchyard of Braddan. More than two hundred years ago, when Kirby merged into the Fletcher family, the name became changed, and the place took the designation of its new owners. The first of this family possessed a drinking-cup, said to have originally been a votive offering to a goddess for the peace and plenty conferred upon its owners, and at one time to have belonged to Magnus, the last of the Norwegian Kings of Man. Attached to it was the tradition that whosoever had the misfortune to break it would be haunted by the ‘ Lhannan Shee, of Ballafletcher,’ i. e., the peaceful ‘ Spirit of Ballafletcher.’ This glass was never taken from its place or used, except twice in the year, viz., Christmas and Easter days, when it was filled with wine and quaffed off at a breath by the head of the family, as a libation to the Spirit for the prosperity of its owner and his family."

It was purchased at the auction of the last of the Fletchers, in 1778, by Robert Cæsar, Esq., who, in consequence of the ancient tradition, gave it for safe keeping to his niece, Mrs. Bacon, of Seafield, near Kirk Santon. It is a crystal cyathus, encircled with a running indented border, fluted, and having between the colurnellæ elaborately chased floral scrolls. it is 4¾ inches in height, 3¾ inches in diameter at the top, and 2½ inches at the base. From Mrs. Bacon it passed into the hands of Colonel Wilkes, from him to Lady Buchan, and back again to Scafield, where it now remains in the possession of Major Bacon.

* Some writers say the word " Kirby " is derived from " Kirke" and the Danish " by " a village, and means " church-village," as it adjoins the parish church of Braddan ; but old Manx people say that the name is properly " Cur Bee," from the two Manx words signifying " Give food," and that Kirby is merely an English corruption of the Manx words. The owner of the estate was formerly bound to supply the bishop with bed, and probably also with board, on his way to and from England ; and hence, as is supposed, the name

On the right-hand side of the road, opposite Kirby, is Port-e-Chee or " Haven of Peace," a broad tract of meadow land surrounded by trees, with a farmhouse at the far side, the residence of the Duke of Athol before the erection of Castle Mona.

A few hundred yards farther, and 1½ miles from Douglas, a road branches to the right, which leads past the Cemetery, Asylum, and Race Course, to Strang, Baldwin, Injebreck, and over the pass between the mountains Colden and Carraghun, to the west coast near Kirk Michael.

Here, on crossing the railway and river Dhoo, the tourist arrives at the churches of Kirk Braddan. The Old Church was erected in 1773, on the site of a much more ancient one, which is said to have been dedicated to St. Brandon, an abbot and confessor who died a recluse in the Isle of Arran, A.D. 1066. Brandinus is set down in the catalogue of Mann bishops in 1025. We have evidence that a church was standing here in the 13th century, for we read that Mark, who occupied the See of Sodor and Man from 1275 to 1298, held a synod at Kirk Braddan on the 10th of March, 1291, at which thirty-nine canons were enacted. The Old Church is a picturesque building, situated in a secluded nook, entirely surrounded by large trees—a place apparently dedicated to religious reverie. In the graveyard, now thickly covered with the memorials of the dead, have men, for many ages, found their last resting-place, away from the busy hum of the neighbouring town.

" I call the world a gay good world,
Of its smiles and bounties free
But Death, alas ! is the king of the world,
And he holds a grave for me.
The world bath gold, it is bright and red;
It bath love, and the love is sweet
And praise, like the song of a lovely lute;
But all these with Death must meet.
Death will rust the gold, and the fervid love
He will bury beneath dark mould;
And the praise he will put in an epitaph,
Written on marble cold !"

Some of the old Norm Vikings evidently were interred here after many a marauding expedition, for there are now standing a few stones, curiously sculptured, and bearing Runic inscriptions.

In the centre of the churchyard, opposite the sun-dial, is a mound that was erected in 1860, and upon it are three crosses, one of which has been irreparably injured. The two slabs in front were originally in one, and formed a monolith rectangular pillar-cross, in height 56 inches, inscribed on three sides with scaly animals and knot-work, and on the fourth side with Runes, which, read from bottom upwards, in an ancient Scandinavian dialect, run thus

" Thurlabr Neaki risti hrus thana aft Fiak sun sin bruthur sun Eabrs."

i. e.

" Thorlaf Neaki erected this cross to Fiach his son, the nephew ( brother’s son) of Jabr."

Professor Munch, of the University of Christiania, was the first to give a correct interpretation of this inscription, and it was his opinion that the cross is of the 12th or the beginning of the 13th century. It is, however, similar in character to the fragment of another cross now placed beside it, the age of which the Rev. J. G. Cumming supposes, from the inscription, to be the end of the 11th century. The latter fragment was long imbedded in the mortar and stones above the lintel of a doorway in the steeple of the church, and was removed hither in 1855, through the exertions of George Borrow, Esq., the well-known author of The Bible in Spain,’ and other works. It bears upon one of its broader sides fish-like monsters, and on the other a beautiful design of knot-work. Along one of the narrow sides is a fret-work ornament formed of a cable of two strands ; and on the other an inscription, the latter part of which is broken off ; the remainder reads thus:—

" Utr nail krus thana aft Fraka fathur sin in Thurbiaurn sunr " . . .

i. e.

" Ottar erected this cross to his father Frakka, but Thorbjbrn the son " . . .

The ‘'Chronicon Manniae(‘ Chronicles of Man ‘), written by the monks of Rushen Abbey, states that in 1098 one Ottar, a Norwegian Jarl (Earl), was slain in an insurrection. The Rev. J. G. Cumming says : " If we may conjecture that this was the Ottar named on the monument, we obtain also a date for the more perfect cross, of similar character, standing beside it."

We are, however, hardly justified in this conjecture, for we learn from Mr. Kneale, of Douglas, who is well read on this subject, that the name Frakka frequently occurs in the Scandinavian sagas.

The third cross stands upon the west end of the mound, and was formerly used as a step at the door of the church. its height is 3 feet 6 inches, and breadth 1 foot 2 inches. One face is adorned with intricate knot-work, the other being plain. A mutilated inscription runs along the edge, reading :—

" Thur . . . . raista krus thana eft Ufaig sun Klinais."

i. e.

" Thor . . . . erected this cross to Ufeig, the son of Klinais" (i. e. Ulfeig Klinaison).

" Thor " enters into the composition of a large number of Scandinavian proper names, as Thorbjdrn, Thorfinur, Thor-ketil, Thorstein, Thorvaldr, &c.

At the base of the steeple, near the south door, stands a round-headed cross, ornamented with knot-work and grotesque animals. It is 38 inches broad ; the inscription has been obliterated.

Near the stile, at the west side of the churchyard, stands a tall cross of blue flagstone, richly ornamented, but much worn, it having previously formed a stepping-stone over the stile.

Near the south door of the church is a tombstone with a peculiarly-lettered inscription reading as follows :—

" Here underlyeth the body of the Rev. Mr. Patrick Thompson, Minister of God’s Word forty years, at present Vicar of Kirk Braddan; aged sixty-seven, anno 1678. Deceased anno 1689."

The reverend gentleman seems to have had the stone prepared and erected eleven yenis before he died.

The tall obelisk, near the tower, was erected to the memory of Lord Henry Murray, fifth son of John, Duke of Athol, and Lieutenant Commandant of the Royal Manx Fencibles.

Across the road, in the rear of the churches, is a desolate-looking plantation, with large blocks of stone and mounds of earth strewn in every direction at the base of the trees. The stranger is allowed to enter the grounds and wander at his will. Some of the old people say it is the site of the ancient town of Douglas, but it is generally considered to be the ruins of an extensive Druidical temple, although some authors maintain they are the remains of earthworks erected for defensive operations.

In the 4th volume of the Manx Society’s publications we read, " It consists of large stones, mounds and irregular excavations, more or less masked and covered by quantities of debris, the accumulation of ages. It once encompassed the entire churchyard of Braddan, and the site of old Ballafletcher House, extending as far as the Chibber Niglus. Immediately within the eastern boundary of this field, and firmly irnbedded in the ground, lies a large block of stone, 4½ feet broad by 7½ feet long, and hollowed at the top like a font. The inner circle of the temple is bisected by the Kewaigue Road, which, with the plantation and churchyard, has completely obliterated the eastern half. The western vallum and ditch, however, are still distinctly to be seen, together with the stones that formed the margin of the inner inclosure. An avenue edged with stones leads from the south-west into the ditch, a peculiarity only to be found in Abury, of all the Celtic monuments in Britain. Whether a second existed it is difficult to say ; for the whole is so defaced and altered, by the growth of trees and buildings erected within its precincts, that in a few more years its distinctive features will be entirely lost."

Leaving the church by the stile at the back of the steeple, keep to the left, on the Saddle Road, a branch road being passed on the right, which leads in the direction of Mount Murray.

Kirby, the residence of the Deemster, is on the left, and at some cottages on the right, a few hundred yards distant, is seen a curiously shaped stone, which is fixed in the wall close to a stile. It is called the Saddle Stone, and gives the name to the adjacent road. It is said to have been used by the fairies in their nocturnal equestrian excursions, and Waldron, in his History of the island thus speaks of it. " Not far from Ballafletcher is the Fairy Saddle, a stone so called, I suppose from the similitude it has to a saddle. It seems to be loose on the edge of a small rock, and the wise natives ot Man tell you it is every night made use of by the fairies, but on what kind of horses I could never find any one who could inform me."

The road is pleasantly shaded by trees until the half-dozen houses at Ballaughton are reached. Here the tourist must cross the road, which leads from Douglas, by the Quarter Bridge, to Castletown, and enter a path to the right of a small refreshment-house and garden.

This path leads through the meadows to Spring Valley, past Pulrose Mill,and by the Douglas river to the Nunnery grounds. After crossing the Castletown railway, a shaded grove is entered, which one of Mona’s poets calls

"the very trysting-place of love."

On arriving at the stables and coach-houses, the antiquary will be interested in looking for the remains of the Nunnery which formerly existed here, and of which Waldron, who wrote at the beginning of the 18th century, says

" Few monasteries ever exceeded it in largeness or fine building. There are still some of the cloisters remaining, the ceilings of which discover they were the workmanship of the most masterly hands ; nothing in the whole creation but what is imitated in curious carvings on it. The pillars supporting the arches are so thick as if that edifice was erected with a design to baffle the efforts of time, nor could it in more years than have elapsed since the coming of Christ have been so greatly defaced, had it received no injury but from time ; but in some of the dreadful revolutions this island has sustained, it doubtless has suffered much from the outrage of the soldiers, as may be gathered by the niches yet standing in the chapel, which has been one of the finest in the world, and the images of saints reposited in them being torn out. Some pieces of broken columns are still to be seen, but the greatest part have been removed. the confessional chair also lies in ruins. There were likewise a number of caverns underground used as places of penance."

Having had his expectations raised by this glowing account, the visitor will be doomed to disappointment, for there are left scarcely any traces of the old edifice, and those few lead us to infer that the pile was meagre in size and poor in architecture. Chaloner bears out this supposition ; for in his Treatise of the Isle of Man, published in 1656, he gives a view of the ruins which contradicts the statement subsequently made of their magnificence by Waldron.

The only part of the old building that remains is a portion of the chapel, now used as a coach-house ; and perhaps all that is worth inspection is a Gothic window above the large doors, which can be seen by walking two or three yards from the footpath.

In the kitchen of the gardener’s house, close to the stables, is fixed the piscina, in which those who officiated at the religious ceremonies washed the sacred vessels.

Train, in his History of the Isle of Man,’ errs in stating that the bell hanging over the gateway is the old convent bell. It was brought from a Dutch vessel which was wrecked at Derby Haven.

Waldron says there were many curious monuments in the chapel of the Nunnery, " some of which, although almost worn out, yet retain enough to make the reader know that the bodies of very great persons have been reposited here. There is plainly to be read on one of them,

" ‘ Illustrissima Matilda filia Rex Merciœ.’

" I think there is great probability that this was Matilda, the daughter of Ethelbert, one of the Kings of England of the Saxon race, since both Stow and Hollinshead agree that the princess died a recluse. I am also of opinion that Cartesmunda, the fair nun of Winchester, who fled from the violence threatened by King John, took refuge in this monastery, and was here buried, because there is upon a monument,

" ‘ Cartesmunda Virgo immaculata, A.D. 1230.’

" These words remain so legible that I doubt not the whole inscription would have been so, had not some barbarous hand broke the stone, leaving only a corner of it, which is supported by a column ; and on the base the date is yet perfectly fresh."

On these monuments, none of which remain, there were also several hieroglyphical figures, which, according to the same author, had been both the " ornaments and explanations of the tombs ; " but they were then so much demolished as only to cause a regret that they had not been jealously preserved.

Tradition ascribes the foundation of the Nunnery to St. Bridget, who was born in 453, and who made a voyage to the Isle of Man to receive the veil from the hands of St. Maughold. It is said that she lived, died, and was buried in the Nunnery, and that her body was afterwards translated to Dowiìpatrick, and placed beside the remains of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The tomb was destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII. The Jesuit Church at Lisbon claimed to have possession of her head. It is also affirmed by some that her bones are at Rome ; so that it appears doubtful where to find the relics of the virgin of Kildare. In the Chronicon Manniæ (‘ Chronicles of Man ‘) there is no mention whatever made of the Douglas Nunnery, unless we may suppose that it is referred to under the date 1313, where it is said, " Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, anchored at Ramsa with a numerous fleet on the 18th day of May ; and on the Sunday following, went to the Monastery of Douglas, where he stayed the night."

The Rev. J. G. Cumming thinks it probable that there was a monastery at Douglas in former times, from the statement in the Chronicon under date 1192, that in this year the monks of Rushen Abbey removed to Douglas, where they resided for four years.

The Prioress of the Nunnery of Douglas was a Baroness of the Isle. She held courts in her own name, and possessed temporal authority equal to a baron. Her vassals were not subject to the jurisdiction of the lords’ court, as she claimed the privilege of trying them by a jury of her own tenants. Her revenues were large, her authority great, and her person was held sacred.

On the grounds, and close to the remains of the Nunnery, has been erected a large castellated mansion, more like the old ancestral homes of England than any other building on the island. Although it was built only forty-five years ago, on the site of an older building, it is now almost covered with ivy, and has a noble and antique appearance. It is the residence of the proprietor, Major John Senhouse Goldie Taubman, Speaker of the House of Keys. Goldie is the original family name. The Taubmans are an old Manx family, originally settled near Castletown. The Goldies are a very old Scotch family, and formerly had large possessions in Dumfriesshire, Kircudbrightshire, &c. About 1803, General Alexander John ( then Colonel) Goldie, second son of General Thomas Goldie, of Goldie Lea, Dumfriesshire, married the daughter and heiress of Major Taubman of the Nunnery. The eldest son, John Taubman Goldie, a Lieutenant-Colonel (Scots Fusilier Guards) assumed, by royal licence, the additional name of Taubman. lie married Ellen, daughter of Humphrey Senhouse, Esq., of Netherhall, Curnberland, and their son John Senhouse Goldie Taubman is the present proprietor.

The grounds are well timbered, and the gardens and park are very beautiful and in excellent order. They are private, but occasionally strangers, by applying to the gardener, may obtain permission to visit them. Those who are thus favoured ought not to omit seeing a grotto connecting the hot-houses with the mansion. It is well planned, and presents quite an unique and pretty appearance.

In the drive to the house, and close to the footpath, is a handsome obelisk, about 35 feet high, which was erected by public subscription, to the memory of Brigadier - General Thomas Leigh Goldie, of the Nunnery, who was Lieutenant-Colonel of H.M. 57th Regiment, and commanded a Brigade of the British Army in the Crimea, and fell in the battle of Inkerman, November 5th, 1854, in the 47th year of his age. The gun at the base of the monument was presented by the British Government. It was captured from the Russians during the Crimean War.

Near the Obelisk, on the opposite side of the path, is the Nun’s Well, which cannot be visited by strangers as it is within the iron fence. Formerly many extraordinary pro-parties were ascribed to it, but, as Waldron says, it was " of late suffered to dry up."

On leaving the Nunnery Grounds the Castletown Road is entered, conducting to the Douglas Bridge, about a quarter of a mile distant.

Another pleasant mode of returning from Kirk Braddan to Douglas, and the shortest route for those who reside near Buck’s Road or the Iron Pier, is to go from the Church to the Quarter Bridge by the high road, and then enter the road on the left, following the course of the river Glass, with the grounds and house of Port-e-Chee on the opposite side.

After leaving Quarter Bridge a slight ascent is made and then there is a grand prospect to the Asylum and upland country stretching to the central mountain chain of the island. The heights of Greeba, Slieu Reay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, and the Cairn, being well displayed, and in the opposite direction peers the summit of South Barrule.

There is a lovely view of the valley, with the stream winding pleasantly amongst wood in the direction of Tromode. Three.quarters of a mile from the Quarter Bridge two ways branch on the right, and enter Douglas at the top of Buck’s Road. The first is called the Rope Road, owing to there being an old rope-mill which was burnt about two years ago and has not been used since. The other is only a few yards distant, and is called Thorney Road, and directly opposite to it is a way on the left hand, conducting to Tromode village, situated half a mile distant.

A Walk from Douglas to Tromode, and back.

This is a pleasant stroll of 4 miles. The route, as far as Kirk Braddan churches, has been described at page 23. Here the road must be entered that branches on the right of the railway. After proceeding a quarter of a mile the Cemetery is reached, in which rest the mortal remains of John Martin, the celebrated artist.

He died when on a visit to the Isle of Man, and was buried in the vault of a relative. The tomb is on the south side of the chapel, and a marble slab bears the following inscription:— " In memory of John Martin, Historical Painter, born at Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, 19th July, 1789 ; died at Douglas, Isle of Man, 17th February, 1854." Many years hence, no doubt, when all who sleep around him are forgotten, this spot will be visited in honour of a mart of such great genius.

Some hundred yards beyond the Cemetery, enter a road on the right, at a gate and step-stile. It is a public footpath, but a private carriage way, and strangers who may be tempted to go into it with carriage will run the risk of having to return, for sometimes a gate will be found locked. It is to be regretted that this road is not taken by the Committee of Highways, and thrown open to the public, as it would prove of great convenience ; and it is hard to understand why this has not been done, since Mr. Moore, the owner of the adjoining land, has frequently made the offer, without asking for compensation.

Presently the Asylum is seen on the left, also the Grand Stand on the Race Course. There is a view of a wide extent of upland country, with the mountains of South Barrule, Slieu Whallin, Greeba, Slieu Reay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, and the Cairn.

A descent leads to Tromode, a village pleasantly situated on the Glass or Bright river, where there is a mill for making ship’s canvas, in which 200 people are employed. The mill belongs to W. F. Moore, Esq., of Cronkbourne.

When over the bridge the road runs past Cronkbourne, and by the side of the stream until opposite Port-e-Chee, where it bends to the left, and crosses the road leading to Quarter Bridge. Douglas is presently entered at the top of Buck’s Road.

Douglas to the Asylum and Race Course, and back by Sir George’s Bridge.

With carriage, or on foot, 6½ miles.

This excursion may include a visit to Kirk Braddan churches, and to the Cemetery. See pages 23 and 33.

A few yards beyond the Cemetery a beautiful view is had of the Union Mills, close below on the left, and away in the distance, South Barrule and Slieu Whallin; whilst the central mountain range of the island is well displayed from Greeba to Pen-y-Pot and Snaefell.

Close to Strang village, a mile beyond Kirk Braddan, stands the Asylum, a large noble-looking building, erected at an en-pense of 20,0001. ; and on the left the Race Course and Grand Stand.

The Race Course is situated on rising ground, commanding a beautiful view. In the direction of the Asylum are seen parts of Douglas, the hotel on the Head, and a strip of the sea ; and then the table-land runs past the Carnane Hill, Mount Murray, and Slieu Chiarn, away to South Barrule and Slieu Whallin. In the opposite direction are Greeba, Slieu Reay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Suaefell, and the Cairn; a grand mountain array, viewed with wonder from this favourable stand-point, by the numbers who yearly assemble here to enjoy the national sport.

The Race Course was opened in July, 1870, and is formed with a ring fence of 70 acres, and has been constructed at considerable expense, with two grand stands, capable of holding a thousand people each, with refreshment rooms, &c. The races take place in the month of August every year, lasting two days. About 10001. of added money is given, and the meeting is gradually becoming one of the best in the United Kingdom. During the race days the railway company run special trains to a temporary station between Kirk Braddan and Union Mills, and within a short distance of the course.

At Strang villaue, bend to right, and presently a height is attained which overlooks East Baldwin and the hollow of West Baldwin, with the mountains in the background. When the road acrain branches, keep to the right, and ~ mile from Strang the river Glass is crossed, at Sir George’s bridge, built in 1836, and so named in honour of the late Sir George Drinkwater, uncle to the present Deemster Drinkwater. In some maps it is erroneously named Saint George.

At the bridge are two corn-mills, and higher up the stream are some paper-mills. Here, if the tourist inquire the name of the river, he will be told it is Bright, lower down it is called Tromode, and higher up Injebreck river. It is also sometimes called Gray and sometimes White river, those being the English terms for Glass, the proper Mann name of the stream. Some distance above the bridge it divides into two streamlets, the main or Glass stream flowing from Injebreck through Baldwin village, and the other from East Baldwin valley. The rivulet seen to enter the Glass stream, near the corn-mills, is called Sulby ; but this must not be confused with the largest river on the island, the Sulby, which flows into the sea at Ramsey.

A few yards beyond the bridge, turn to the right, and presently a view is had down the glen to Tromode village, and the Asylum building becomes a prominent object, with South Barrule away in the distance. When directly opposite Tromode there is an extensive and beautiful view of undulating uplands, valleys, and mountains, stretching from Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa to Pen-y-Pot.

Douglas may be entered either by Buck’s Road or Broadway.


 

Back index next

 

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000