[From Quiggin's Guide, 1841]
PASSING Douglas Bridge, the Nunnery, and the Roman Catholic Chapel about half a mile, the road branching off on the left is called Old Castletown Road, that straight forward is the new one; keeping which, you pass through Kewague; after which on the first hill near the second mile-stone is Middle, the neat little villa of Major Tobin; at a short distance beyond the third mile-stone, on the left, is Cronkbane, the residence of T. Tattersall, Esq., of Liverpool, from which there is fine picturesque and landscape scenery; at the forth mile-stone is Mount Murray, the seat of Colonel Murray, nephew to the late Duke of Atholl; and a little further on, to the left, is the recently erected residence of Major Stewart; about two miles beyond which the old road again joins the new one.
On the old road, at the first branch off, you pass Ellenbrook, which is on the left; and in the hollow on the right, Oak Hill, the villa of Mrs. Bell, now occupied by J. H. Garvin, Esq. A.M., as a private boarding school for young gentlemen; on the top of the hill, Hampton Court, Highton, Esq.; opposite, on the left, is Ballashamrock, the property of M. H. Quayle, Esq.; further on, near the sea, is Seafield, the property of Captain Bacon; and on the right is Outland, in a field adjoining which stand erect the jaw-bones of a once gigantic whale; on the coast, to the left of a creek named Grenack, is an oblory tumulus called Cronk ny Marroo, or the Hill of the Dead; near which is the bay and beach of Port Soderick,[a nice distance from Douglas for an excursion by water, sailing to which you would pass Wallberry, where there is a beautiful natural bridge; and at the entrance of the beach, on the left hand side, is a cavern of very great extent.] Passing Kirk Santon, the main-road is joined, about one mile from
the most extensive and populous village in the Island, the scenery in its vicinity is richly diversified and picturesque; the venerable remains of Rushen Abbey are seen on the river, and form an interesting feature in the view. This retreat was founded by Olave, King of Man, in 1104, but the church, though begun at the same time, by Ewan, first Abbot of Furness, to whom Olave gave certain emoluments for that purpose, was neither finished nor consecrated till 1134. The monks were twelve in number besides the abbot of the Cistercian order. They practised great austerities, neither wearing shoes nor linen, nor eating flesh. In 1316, this place was plundered by Richard de Mandeville who carried off the treasure to Ireland. It was finally suppressed with the monasteries in England, in the reign of Henry VIII. A monument with crosia and sword of state lies in one of the gardens. A third of the tithe of the Island was, in process of time, added to the revenues of the establishment. After a lapse of years, the rigid austerity of the primitive monks melted away. Their successors became proud and luxurious. The abbot was a baron, and had power to shelter a criminal from the sentence of the Lords Court, and try him by his own vassals. On leaving the village, after passing Mrs. Fellows mansion on the left, and Ballasalla House, the property of Sir George Drinkwater, on the right, the ride is terminated by arriving at the George Hotel, Mr. Kneens.
Castletown, anciently called Rushen, being the seat of government, is considered the capital of the Island; the streets are regular and airy, and in the centre is a spacious area forming the market-place, with a convenient market-house, and a large room over it, built in 1830. Through the town runs a small river over which is a drawbridge for foot passengers, and higher up a bridge of stone for carriages. The castle, which is of great strength, and the principal fortress in the Island, is considered as bearing a striking resemblance to the Castle of Elsinore, in Denmark. It was erected in 947*, by Guttred, the second Danish prince in succession from King Orry. The Castle is quadrangular, with square towers on the sides, the largest more than 80 feet high; it is surrounded by a lofty embattled wall and fosse, and defended by a glacis of stone, said to have been added by Cardinal Wolsey, during the time that he was guardian to Edward, Earl of Derby, and was the principal residence of that family during the civil wars; but when the republican army, under Colonels Birch and Duckenfield, with ten armed vessels, invaded the Island, this fortress was surrendered at the first summons, and though Lady Derby was highly enraged, her captivity was softened by the civility and generosity of the officers. When she left the Island she carried off the archives which were deposited in the castle, and are supposed to have been lost. It was formerly the Governors residence, and contains several modern apartments. The business of the Rolls office and the law courts is transacted, and all the records kept within the walls. The keep, which is built of hard limestone, forms the only prison in the Island; it was formerly a very dreary dungeon, in which prisoners were crowded together in dark and damp chambers; but in 1815 it underwent considerable alterations, and is divided into three classes, one for debtors, and the other for male and female criminals. From the summit of the tower there is an extensive view.
Being the seat of government, a company of soldiers is always stationed in Castletown. Near the castle is a neat building in which the business of the House of Keys is transacted. The chapel, erected in 1698 by Bishop Wilson, was taken down in 1826, and the present handsome edifice, dedicated to St. Mary, has been built at an expense of £1,600, the incorporated society for building and enlarging churches and chapels having granted £300. The interior is well arranged, and contains 1,100 sittings, of which 300 are free. When the old chapel was pulled down, three Roman coins of Germanicus Agrippina were found carefully deposited in a small hollow scooped out of free-stone near the place where the ancient cross stood. The parochial church is a mile and a half from the town, and contains about 530 sittings, dedicated to St. Lupita, the sister of St. Patrick. The Wesleyan Methodists have a neat chapel in Arbory-street, capable of accommodating 500 persons; the Independents meet over the market house, but have no regular ministry; and the Primitive Methodists have a chapel near the stone bridge. To each of the Methodist chapels a Sunday school is attached. The Roman Catholics have built, near the entrance of the town, a small chapel, but in which service has never yet been performed, very few families of that persuasion residing in the neighbourhood: the cost of the building was raised in Ireland.
* This date was found cut in a beam of oak when repairing the east tower in 1815.
The Free Grammar School of Castletown is conducted by the Rev. G. S. Parsons, A.M., who generally has from 10 to 15 free scholars. A salary of about £70 is attached.
The Taubman School has about 40 scholars, 25 of whom are free; salary £20James Cain, master.
Catherine Halsalls School has about 40 scholars, 20 of whom are freesalary £10 The petty School has 16 scholars, with a salary of £8 is.
The National Schools are supported by subscription; they contain 106 boys and 90 girlsMr. Jones, master salary £30. Mistress £30.
Leaving Castletown to proceed to the College, by taking the turn on the right, instead of going by the main road, you pass a ruin called Mount Strange, once the summer-house of the Derby family, and near which Captain Christian was shot for surrendering the Island to Cromwells army. [This ruin is given in the foreground of the view of Castletown.]
was founded in 1830 by the Hon. Cornelius Smelt, Lieutenant-Governor, the Bishop of the diocese, and other trustees of property granted by Bishop Barrow in 1668 for the education of young men to supply the Manks churches, and other pious and charitable purposes, and which his late Majesty William IV. was graciously pleased to permit to bear his name. The buildings, partly in the early English, amid partly in the Elizabethan style, form a spacious cruciform structure, 210 feet in length from east to west, and 135 feet from north to south: from the intersection raises~ an embattled tower, 115 feet high, strengthened with buttresses, surmounted by an octagonal lantern turret, intended for an observatory, having in each of its faces an elegant lofty window, and crowned with a parapet. The expense of building the chapel was defrayed from funds collected in England for the erection of new churches in the Island. There is also a public lecture room, a large hall for a library, four large class rooms, and houses for the masters containing numerous apartments for the accommodation of pupils, and every requisite arrangement for the purposes of the institution. The principal and other masters must be members of the church of England and graduates of the universities. The masters are allowed to receive pupils as boarders. The college was opened in 1833. The pupils already admitted are numerous. His Excellency The Governor, the Lord Bishop, and the Attorney General have each founded prizes to be contended for at the midsummer vacation.
is a small village about a quarter of a mile from the college, and is principally known for possessing an excellent harbour. A fort was erected at its entrance by the Earls of Derby for defending it, the tower of which has fallen to ruins. A part of the old chapel still remains, from which a light is shown during the herring fishery. The Roman Catholics still use this spot in which to inter their dead. Langness, an extensive neck of low land, adjoins, on which is a land mark to warn mariners of their danger.
The neighbouring country around Castletown is level and fertile, and the parish in which it is situated, contains some of the richest soil in the Island. At the outskirts of the town you pass a wind-mill, the only one on the Island, at present rented by Mr. Cain. The first residence of note is Ballakeighin, Mrs. Quilhams, on the right; and then Balladoole, Capt. Woods, on the left. Near this estate is Poolvash, where is a fine quarry of Manks marble, much used for chimney-pieces, and from which the steps of St. Pauls, London, were taken, and presented by Bishop Wilson, to the Dean and Chapter. The limestone beds here are very extensive, and great quantities are burnt for manure. At this place is a large current of saltwater issuing from the rocks above highwater mark; it is as salt as sea water, and the current is never diminished by the driest seasons. The source from which it proceeds has never been discovered. On the rising ground between Balladoole and the sea are the ruins of an old chapel called Kiel Vael. Proceeding westward, you pass Kentraugh, the seat of Edw. M. Gawne, Esq., of the House of Keys. The gardens here are very extensive, and hothouse fruit raised to great perfection: there is a large rabbit warren opposite the house -. which commands fine sea views, and over-looks both Poolvash and Port St.. Marys bays. A little further is Mount Gawne, belonging to Mrs. Connell, Taking the shore road you soon arrive at
which is a small fishing town, The harbour has beer lunch improved by the exertion of the late Mr. E. Gawne. Considerable quantities of lime are burnt in the neighbourhood and exported to various parts of the Island. When not employed in agricultimie the inhabitants spend most of their time in fishiing for cod and lobsters, which latter are exported principally to Dublin; near to this port is the bold promontory of Spanish head, which, being rent in some places by tremendous chasms three hundred feet in height, is well worthy the attention of the traveller; the fissures are several feet wide in the solid rock, and in many parts the bottom cannot be seen.Leaving Port St. Mary, keeping to the left, you shortly reach
which derives its name from being opposite Ireland. it is a small fishing village with an excellent bay. The copper and lead mines of Bradda Head are about one mile distant, and run nearly north and south, near to the sea shore, and have been proved by Cornish miners, to be as strong as any lode ever discovered in Cornwall, with a large body of gossan upon the top of them. The company to whom they belong seldom work them, their attention being principally directed to The Foxdale mines. Boats are generally taken at; this place by those who wish to make an excursion to
the large of the rocky islets surrounding the coast it is nearly five miles in circumference, and comprises an area of more thou 600 acres; in the middle of the Calf Sound is- an Island called Kitterland, whereon-sheep are fed. On the western side, the cliffs rise, in perpendicular masses, to the height of 400 feet, and its summit, which commands an extensive view of the Welsh, Scotch, and Irish mountains, is 500 feet above the level of the sea. On the south-side of the Calf is a very large mass of rock called the Burrow or Barrow, in its form resembling- a lofty tower, and separated from the other masses by an opening of romantic ap pearance: near it is another called the Eye, perforated by a natural arch resembling the eye of a needle, from which circumstance it has its name. These precipices are tenanted by a great variety of water-fowl, sitting in tiers and adorning with their white breasts the dark and towering rocks. On the edge of an awful precipice, is the remains of a hermitage, said to have been the retreat of a person in Queen Elizabeths reign, who imposed on himself a residence in this dreary solitude as a penance for having killed a beautiful woman in a fit of jealousy. A sea-bird, called a puffin, formerly hatched its young in the rabbit burrows; being extremely fat and of a pecular flavour, they were held in great esteem by some persons as a delicacy; but these birds have disappeared, not an individual is now bred in the Island. Two handsome light-houses have been erected here for the protection of vessels navigating the Irish seas; they are distant from each other 560 feet, the lower is 305, and the upper 396 feet above the level of the sea; they are furnished with double revolving lights, which make the revolution in two minutes, like stars of the first magnitude, and at their greatest splendour may be seen at the distance of seven leaguesthe bearing of the upper light is north-east, half east from the dangerous sunken rocks called the Chickens, from which it is nearly a mile and a half distant.
The Calf Island is the property of Mrs. Drinkwater. The tenant makes the principal part of his rent by the sale of rabbits, which are numerous, there being be tween 1500 and 2000 killed in the winter season.
The distance from Port Erin is about three miles; the shore to it is bold and steep. The soil is not very fertile, but everything bears the character of the sub lime, tending to raise the bolder emotions of the mind. The tide runs with fearful rapidity through the chan nel between the main land and the Calf. In fine wea ther the visitor will be delighted with a trip to this interesting spot.
In returning, the traveller should visit Fairy Hill, a little west from Rushen Church, one of the finest barrows on the Island, situated in a low morass. The hill is a truncated cone 40 feet high, and 150 yards in circumference, surrounded by a deep and wide ditch; on the summit is a circular excavation, with a regular parapet. According to the ancient modes of warfare, it must have been almost impregnable, all access to which might have been prevented by inundating the morass. Within a mile of this hill are the Giants Quoiting Stones, two huge masses of unhewn clay slate, about ten feet high, three wide, and two thick.
Proceeding to Peel, or returning to Castletown, you take the road by Colby, and pass Ballagawne, Edw. Gawne, Esq.; Bell-abbey, M. Dawson, Esq., and the village of Colby- with its glen, a mile up from which are some interesting Drudical remains of semi-circles formed by moss-grown stones, erect and of considerable magnitude, and some tumuli; then the parish Church of Arbory, and close by the handsome villa of Parville, G. Quirk, Esq., Receiver-general of the Island, and then Crescent Cottage, T. Moore, Esq. and turn into the main road to Peel or Castletown; but the traveller is recommended to stop at Castletown for the night, and start to Peel next morning, as the preceding excursion will fully occupy one day.