[From Ecclesiological Notes, 1848]
Douglas, July 1, 1848.-It seems strange, that, notwithstanding the Ecclesiological movement, some parts of Great Britain should be as completely unknown, with reference to their churches, as the Christians of S. Thomas, or the Nestorians of Diarbekr. Such was, till the publication of Mr. Petrie's work, Ireland; such are many parts of Scotland; such is the Island* in which I now write. I propose to explore it ecclesiologically, and to keep an account of what I see: remembering always Gray's most true saying; one note jotted down at the time, is worth a cart load of recollection.
It ought to present many features of ecclesiological interest, on account of the various Churches with which it has been connected. Converted by S. Patrick, about 450, and thus connected with Ireland,-wrested away by the Scots,-then conquered by the Welsh,-in A.D. 917, bowing to the mild yoke of King Orry and the Northmen,-in 1077, won by the Icelandic prince, a general of the Norwegian army at Stamford Bridge, Goddard Chrovan, - ceded to Scotland, 1266, on the death of his last descendant, Magnus III.,- in the year 1344, changing the hated domination of the Scotch for that of the Montacutes as vassals of England,-up to 1765 ruled by its own princes, of the Houses of Stanley and Athol, as now by its own parliament; never submitting, in ecclesiastical matters, to the Puritans, and, in the blackest century of church history, glorified by the names of Wilson and Hildesley,- this island, notwithstanding the enlargement and rebuilding of many of its churches, ought to be most interesting. We shall see.
The approach to the island is certainly grand. Kingly Snaefell towers up above his brother mountains: and the rockbound coast is snow-white for many a mile with the breaking billows. The harbour of Douglas is in its way fine, though on a very small scale: the white town clusters in among the hills, - and two churches, one a thick short tower, the other a modern spire, elevate themselves above the houses and sanctify the scene.
I cannot refrain from noticing the beauty of the view from the window of the inn in which I am now writing, the Fort Anne1, and which I should advise every ecclesiologist to adopt for his head quarters.-Snaefell in the distance, Banks How to the extreme right; the bay smiling in the twilight of a July evening; S. Mary's Island and its castle, the pier and lighthouse: and the snowy spots in the otherwise quiet waters, that mark some hidden reef. There are four churches in Douglas S. George, which stands highest, S. Barnabas, S. Matthew, and S. Thomas, not yet finished.
S. George's church2, built in 1780, is as ugly as might be expected; an oblong building, with circular apse, and clumsy western tower.
S. Barnabas3 is intended for First-Pointed, and has a spire one hundred and forty feet high; its fifteen clerestory windows are outrageous beyond common badness. The ground for this church was, I am assured, given by Government, on condition that five hundred free sittings should be reserved for the poor.
S. Matthew4 was built by the efforts of Bishop Wilson, in 1711, when the increasing population of Douglas rendered it impossible that it should longer continue a hamlet to Kirk Braddon. It is on the model of all his churches: to which we shall have occasion to refer again. He attached a small library to it, which still exists.
S. Thomas5 was begun in 1846, and is First Pointed. The tower, which is to be surmounted with a spire, stands at the east end of the north aisle, and is miserably thin; the whole church is unworthy of description.
* Mr. Petit contributed a paper on Peel Cathedral to the Ninth Number of the Archaeological Journal, which he seems to have intended as the first of a series on the Ecclesiology of Man. But he proceeded no further; and indeed, though his description of the Cathedral is most careful and valuable, he seems not to have explored the Island very thoroughly: for he says that he knows no Manx parish church, now in use, which has mediaeval work, except S. Maughold.