[From Thwaites' Directory, 1863]
CASTLETOWN, called by the Manks, Balla Chastal, occupies a pleasant situation in the parish of Malew, on the southern extremity of the island, opposite to Langness Point, and on the western shore of the bay of its own name. It is distant from Douglas 10 miles, south-west; from Ramsey, 26 miles, south-west; and from Peel 12 miles, south-east. It was anciently called Rushen, and is supposed to be the oldest of the four towns on the island. It is the seat of government, the place where all the principal law courts are held, and where is situated the prison for the whole island, and it is therefore considered its metropolis.
The scene presented to strangers on their approach to Castletown by sea is one both varied and beautiful. Rounding Langness Point they at once find themselves in front of the beautiful bay, to the west of which stands the town, the Chapel of Saint Mary forming a prominent feature in the foreground. Behind, seated on an eminence, stands the majestic and antique Castle Rushen, whose walls have stood the storms and trials of a thousand years. At the head of the bay is Hango Hill, so remarkable in Manx history as being the place where William Christian was shot. Behind, is the noble building of King Williams College; while far away in the distance is a mountainous range, gilded with the parting smile of the evening sun gleaming athwart the deep azure of the serene waters, all contributing their united charms to form a scene at once most beautiful and lovely in the extreme.
In form, the bay of Castletown somewhat resembles the shape of a horse shoe. It is bounded on the south-east by Langness Point, and on the southwest by that conspicuous mass of basaltic rock, the Stack of Scarlet. In width it is about two miles, and in length, from its head to the entrance to the sea, about three miles. Its great drawback as a good harbour is its numerous rocks, most of which are completely covered at high water, which render them very dangerous to mariners unacquainted with this coast. Three of the rocks are dry at low water, the largest of these is called Lheeahrio. It is about 440 yards long and 170 yards wide. The anchorage of the bay is sheltered from all winds, from north-west round by north, to south south-east. There are two harbours, the one nearest the sea being formed by two piers; on the pier last erected, stands the lighthouse, containing two lights, which in clear weather are seen at a distance of eight miles. The other harbour lies under the walls of Castle Rushen. The entrance to it is by a drawbridge, placed at its southern extremity. The water in the harbour, during neap and spring tides, varies from live to fourteen feet deep. About twenty-five years ago, a large gold coin was found in the harbour here. It had been struck in the reign of one of the early Kings of England.
According to population, Castletown is the smallest town on the island. By the census returns of 1861, it contains 484 houses, and 2365 inhabitants. Of the houses, 440 were inhabited, and 44 were unoccupied. Of the population, 1054 were males, and 1311 females. In 1851, the number of houses were 429, and the total population 2531. It is rather a remark. able circumstance, that while during the last ten years the number of houses and the number of occupiers have increased, the number of inhabitants have diminished. In 1851, the number of occupied houses were 393, while in 1861, (as before stated) the number were 440; yet, although there is an increase of occupied houses to the number of 47, there is a decrease in the population of 166. This would lead us to suppose that the condition of Castletown, in a pecuniary point of view, is on the whole better than what it was ten years ago. According to the census of the latter period, the average number of persons to each occupied house was six and a-half, while in 1861, the average number was reduced to five and three-eighths. That the condition of the poorer classes is better than formerly is evident from the increased number of inhabited houses, and the decrease in the average number of persons to each tenement.
The town has a remarkably neat and clean appearance, and wears an air of comfort, respectability, and tranquility rarely to be met with. The shops are good and spacious, and are well-stocked with a profusion of goods in all the different branches of the retail trade. The inns are both comfortable and commodious, and afford every accommodation either for private families or commercial gentlemen.
The town is intersected by the River Silverburn, or Castletown, which is here crossed by two bridges: one, a neat stone erection, being for horses and carriages, and the other, a small drawbridge, for the accommodation of foot passengers. In Waldrons time, the arch of the bridge at Castletown was built so high, that boats could pass under, without danger, when their masts were up.
The Market Place, or Parade, occupies a spacious area in the centre of the town. The market is held every Saturday, and is amply supplied with all the necessaries of life, both good and cheap. In former times, Castletown was noted as being the only market town in the island. It was resorted to on the ordinary market day by the inhabitants of the parishes of Santon, Michael, Marown, Ballaugh, Glenfaba, and the whole of the sheading of Rushen. According to an ancient statute, the people were required to bring all the victuals, corn, ware, and such like merchandise as they have spare or to sell, upon pain of fine and imprisonment to the Lord, and if they cannot sell them there, then they may dispose of them elsewhere in the island. Subsequently, markets were established at Peel, Ramsey, and Douglas. All the markets were under certain regulations, one of which was, that a person appointed for that purpose should examine all the articles brought for sale, in order to ensure their being right. The old Market Cross stood in the Market place, exactly under the portico of Saint Marys Chapel. In 1826, the foundation of this cross was taken down, when, on removal, three Roman coins of Germanicus and Agrippa were discovered in a square hole scooped out of a block of freestone. From this circumstance, some writers have supposed that the Romans have at some period inhabited the Isle of Man, and that the altar in question was erected by them. According, however, to Mr. Cumming, it was brought to the island from Cumberland, where it originally formed the base of a Roman altar.
In the centre of the Market Place stands a beautifully fluted doric column. It was erected in 1836, to the memory Colonel Cornelius Smelt, a former governor of the island. He was appointed in 1805, and died on the 29th of November, 1832, in the 85th year of his age, and the 27th of his government. Being a man of a just and amiable disposition, he was highly esteemed by the inhabitants, who, out of their regard, erected this column to his memory. It is the only memorial of the kind ever erected to a public functionary on the island. On the northern side of the Market Place is a portion of the glacis of the castle, on which stands a remarkable sun dial, bearing the date 1720.
The Government Chapel of Saint Mary occupies a pleasant situation on the eastern side of the Parade. It is a spacious and elegant structure, and forms a great ornament to the town. Its elevated tower may be seen at a considerable distance, and forms a good landmark to the seamen navigating these seas. The Chapel was erected in 1826, on the site of a more ancient structure, built by the respected Bishop Wilson, in 1698. The cost of erection was £1600, towards which, the Incorporated Society for Building Churches contributed £300. The interior is neatly fitted up, and contains accommodation for 1300 worshippers. Of the seats, 300 are free, in respect of the grant made by the Incorporated Church Building Society. In this Chapel is a neat monument to the memory of John Wood, Esq. The monument bears the following inscription :" Near this place lieth His Excellency John Wood, Esq., Governor-in-Chief,Captain. General, and Chancellor of this Island sixteen years: died the 30th April, 1777, aged sixty-five: was the first regal governor of this establishment, and took possession of the regalities of Man and the isles, for His Majesty George III., the 11th day of July, 1765. He was universally respected, loved, and esteemed." The Rev. Edward Ferrier M.A., is chaplain.
The Dissenting places of worship in Castletown arethe Wesleyan Chapel, in Arbory Street,an elegant structure, containing accommodation for about 500 hearers. The Primitive Methodist Chapel, in Hope Street,a substantial stone building, erected in 1824, and rebuilt in 1850. The Roman Catholic Chapel on the Green,a small neat structure, capable of seating about 300 hearers.
The Free Grammar School is in Chapel Lane. According to its style of architecture it appears to have been built in the early part of the twelfth century. It is one of the oldest foundations in the island, and in former years belonged to the Academic Fund, founded by Bishop Barrow, for the education of young men for the Manx Church. Till the year 1823, both these educational establishments were held under one roof and superintended by one master. On the foundation of King Williams College, the Academic Fund was superseded, but the Grammar School still remained under the direction of the chaplain of St. Marys. In 1855, the chaplaincy was separated from the Grammar School, a separate person being appointed to each. At the present time, the school is under the superintendence of Mr. B. 3. S. Lupton. The School has undergone considerable improvements and alterations. Prizes have been founded, and are awarded to the scholars yearly. The endowment of the School at the present time, amounts to about £70 per annum. It appears that in former times, the amount of the salary caused considerable litigation between the master and the trustees. On the 8th February, 1667, Bishop Barrow assigned the impropriate tithes of Kirk Christ, Rushen, to trustees, conditionally that they paid yearly in place of the same, £30 to the master of the Free School at Castletown. In 1758, a Mr. Castley was appointed master, and received for some years an annual salary of £60, that being the ascertained value of the tithes at that period. Subsequently, the trustees wished to reduce the payments to the original sum, £30. This Mr. Castley objected to, and filed a bill in Chancery, praying that the defendants might he ordered to pay the sum of £60, that being the ascertained value of the tithes. On the 21st February, 1782, the Chancellor decreed that the master was entitled to the yearly sum of £60, and ordered the defendants to pay the same. Against this decision, the trustees appealed to the King in Council, and the appeal having come on to be heard on the 30th April, 1783, the decree was confirmed and the appeal dismissed.
The Taubman Endowed School was founded by John and Esther Taubman, in 1799. According to the will of the founders, £20 is to be paid to a master for teaching twenty-five boys reading, writing, spelling, and accounts; and a further sum of £5 was bequeathed for the purchase of books and other necessaries for the said school. The school, which is situated in Douglas street, is conducted by Mr. John Watterson.
Halsalls Endowed School for girls, is situated in Chapel Lane. It was founded by Mrs. Catherine Halsall, who, in 1758, bequeathed out of her estate the sum of £8 per annum, for a mistress to instruct girls to read, sew, knit, and spin, and a further sum of £2 yearly for the repairs of the said school. The school is now taught by Mrs. Harriet Finnigan.
The National School, for boys and girls forms a commodious stone building in Hope Street. It was erected in 1838, and opened on the day of the coronation of Her Majesty. The boys school is under the superintendence of Mr. George Geldard, and the girls, are taught by Mrs. Sarah Corlett. Here is also an infant school, conducted by Miss C. Fraser.
The principal educational establishment in the isle of Man is King Williams College. It occupies a healthy and delightful situation near Hango Hill, about a mile and a-half from Castletown. The foundation stone of this noble edifice was laid by Colonel Cornelius Smelt, the then Lieut.-Governor of the Island, on St. Georges day, the 23rd of April, 1830, and the building was opened for the reception of students on the 1st August, 1833. It is a handsome and spacious structure, built partly in the English and partly in the Elizabethan style. In length, from south-east by east and north-west by west, it is 210 feet. A transept at right angles to this direction, in the centre of the building, including the tower and chapel, is 135 feet long. The tower rises to a considerable height, the summit being 115 feet from the ground. The total cost of the building was £6,572 18s. Of this sum, nearly £2,700 was raised in the island by subscription, towards which the Bishop (Ward) contributed the munificent sum of £1,200. The accumulated fund in the hands of the Trustees, arising from Bishop Barrows Academic Fund, amounted to £2,071 10s. : the remaining sum of £2,000 was raised by mortgaging the funds. On the 14th January, 1844, this noble building became the prey of a destructive conflagration, which, with the exception of a small portion of the eastern~ wing, destroyed the whole of the interior of the college. Fortunately, however, it was unattended with any loss of life, although at the time there were upwards of one hundred inmates within the institution. The library of the college, comprising many scarce and ancient works, with several manuscripts relating to the ecclesiastical affairs of the island, were all completely destroyed. The restoration of the college was commenced immediately, and it was re-opened on the 1st of August following. The cost of restoration, about £4000, was partly raised by voluntary contributions. Many improvements have been effected, and new buildings added. Amongst the latter may be included a dining hall, hospital, kitchen, servants apartments and offices, with a cloister for the accommodation of the boys. The college at the present time comprehends a chapel, library, class rooms, dining hail, hospital, and the residences of the principal and bursar. Several improvements and additions are now being carried out, which will greatly add both to the beauty and comfort of the establishment. The Rev. J. G. Cumming, M.A., F.G.S., a former vice-principal of the college, formed a museum, in which he deposited a vast collection of casts of the insular runic monuments and other antiquities. In consequence, however, of the increased want of accommodation, these have had to be removed to make room for the college library, which is being considerably augmented by the numerous books which are continually being presented to it. The Rev. Dr. Dixon, the principal of the institution, seems quite aware of the loss sustained by the college by the want of a suitable place for a museum. In his annual report for 1862, speaking of the wants of the institution, he observes," First, then, we want a museum. So numerous are the gifts which I have received from old pupils, that I have no place in which I can properly exhibit them. The valuable collection of casts of the peculiar runic monuments are shut up in a dark room, and are quite inaccessible. * * The part of the museum which is visible occupies a large portion of the college library, which is much wanted for books, to which additions are occasionally made. Why should not some old pupil, whom God has prospered in life, come forward and say, Tell me wherein I can help you, and I will undertake to provide the means from my own resources and from those of other old pupils. Now I would say to such generous-minded friends, We want a museum, and, connected with it, a commodious lecture-room, wherein lectures might be given to the boys, on scientific subjects, and illustrated from the contents of the museum. The great schools in England have such truly valuable appliances, and greatly do they contribute to interest and develops youthful minds. ** I would further say to our at present unknown benefactors, in this age of ecelesiology and church building, that if disposed, they can gratify their taste by completing the exterior of our chapel, and making it less resonant and more audible in its interior." The college may be regarded as one of the most valuable additions of modern days to the means of preparation for the ministry of the Manx Church. Several clergymen now resident on the island have been ordained from this college. The course of education embraces the Greek, Latin, French, and German languages, mathematics, including mensuration, fortification, navigation, and elementary science, drawing, arithmetic and merchants accounts, writing, history, geography, English grammar, and composition. There are ten free scholarships, which confer education free; four exhibitions of £25 per annum each, the possessors of which must board in the college. The above are limited to natives of the island. There are four exhibitions open to allto Oxford, Cambridge, or Trinity College, Dublin,with residence, one of £42, and three of £40 per annum each, and tenable for four years. Of the three latter, one is called the Wilks exhibition, and was founded by Lady Buchan, widow of the late General Sir John Buchan, K.C.B., and daughter of the late General Mark Wilks, a native of the island, and Governor of St. Helena. The other two exhibitions were founded by the trustees. The Kelly exhibition was founded by Mrs. Gordon Kelly, the widow of William Gordon Kelly, Esq., Recorder of Colchester, and only son of the Rev. Dr. Kelly, the author of the Manx Grammar. During the past year, (1862,) above forty new pupils have been admitted into the college. The total number of pupils being educated here reached, during one quarter, 143.
According to Mr. Cumming, the original idea of an insular college is due to James, the great Earl of Derby. In a letter to his son Charles, written at Castle Rushen, A.D. 1643, he observes :" I had a design, and may God enable me to set up an university without much charge, which may much oblige the nations round about us. It may get friends unto the country and enrich this land. This certainly would please God and man." He was deprived of the gratification of carrying out this design, owing to the troubled times in which he lived; but his intentions were borne in mind and partly carried out by Bishop Barrow, who placed the whole profits of the bishopric during the year of vacancy,(167l,) in the hands of William Banks, of Winstanley, in Lancashire, till a convenient purchase could be met with "for the erection of a public school for academic learning." At a subsequent period, it appears his successor, Dr. Henry Bridgeman, bought the Abbey of Rushen, with the intention of building the school there, but being short of funds, the property was restored. The original fund seems to have been lost; but thanks to Bishop Barrow, who, out of the impropriate tithes and donations collected in England had founded the Academic Students Fund, with which he bought the Ballagilley and Hango Hill estates, and from the rents arising from these estates, was enabled to support an academic master, who prepared students for the Manx Church. The present rental of the Ballagilley and Hango Hill estates is calculated at about £520 per annum. Besides this, there are numerous other benefactions, amongst which may be named the estate of Orrisdale, near Castletown, left by the late Mrs. Quilliam, and now realising about £180 per annum. The Rev. Robert Dixon, D.D, is the Principal of the College and Dean of the Chapel. The Rev. John Turnbull, B.A., is vice-principal; Rev. Gilmour Harvey, third master; Rev. Hugh C. Davidson, master of the military, civil, and commercial department; Richard Marsh, Esq., B.A., mathematical master; R. Wood, Esq., B.A., assistant master; M. Victor Pliegnier, French and German master; Mr. Alfred D. Lemon, drawing master; and the Rev. Gilmour Harvey, bursar and chaplain.
In the Market Place is the Gentlemens News and Reading Room, which is well supplied with the leading daily and weekly papers, and other periodicals. The Military Library is in the Custom House Square. It is kept by Sergeant Lawrence McDonald. The Law Society was incorporated July, 1859. The present officers areDeemster Stephen, President; James Gell, Esq., Vice-President. His Hon. M. H. Quayle, Esq., J. M. Jeffcott, Esq., Thos. C. Callow, Esq., A. W. Adams, Esq., and Henry C. Gill, Esq., committee; (the latter is also Secretary) ; Frederick L. Gelling, Esq., Treasurer; and Mr. John Quayle, Rolls Office, Librarian.
The House of Keys, or the Lower House of the Insular Legislature, occupies a neat stone building in Parliament Square, near the Castle. They previously met in the Castle; but in 1706, they petitioned the Earl of Derby, to be allowed to raise money by general assessment, for the purpose of purchasing or erecting a suitable building for them to meet in. This being granted, they, in the same year, purchased the lower part of the School House; the upper room being occupied by the Academic Library, from whence it was removed to the College, where it was destroyed by fire in 1844. At a subsequent period, in 1818, the Keys purchased the remaining portion of the house, which was afterwards taken down, when the present building was erected on its site. The house is kept by Mr. Thomas Caveen.
The Barracks are situated in the Market Place. Castletown being the seat of government, a company of soldiers are always stationed here. These comprise the only military force in the island. Major E. J. Dickson is the Staff Captain and Pivot Major. The Barrack Office is situated on the Quay. Sergt. P. McKenzie is the Superintendent Barrack Sergeant in charge. The Town Hall, in Arbory Street, forms a spacious and handsome structure of stone. It was erected in 1856, the foundation stone being laid in March, that year, by J. Gell, Esq., the High Bailiff of Castletown. The cost of erection was defrayed by a company of proprietors, who formed themselves for that purpose. The upper room is approached by a flight of steps, and is used for public purposes, such as lectures, concerts, &c. It measures 68 feet in length, by 34 feet in breadth, and is capable of accommodating between 500 and 600 persons. Besides this, there are numerous smaller rooms on the ground floor, which are used for various purposes. In 1856, the Young Mens Mutual Improvement Association was established. This association is now in a very prosperous condition, and is proving of considerable benefit to the town. The Temperance Hall is a small building in Malew Street. The Station House is situated in Castle Street. There are two cells attached to the station, for the confinement of persons previous to trial. The Police Force of the town consists of four men, besides the Chief Constable, Mr. James Martin. The High Bailiffs Court, for the summary trial of petty offences, and the recovery of debts under forty shillings Manx, is held at the Castle every Saturday. The Jurisdiction of the Court includes, besides Castletown, the parishes of Malew, Arbory, Rushen, and Santon. James Cell, Esq., is the High Bailiff. The Custom House officials occupy a room over the Market House, in the Market Place. Mr. Robert Quayle Crellin is the principal coast officer, and William Archer, John Watterson, W. Bell, and R. W. Lawson, tide waiters and boatmen. the Royal National Life Boat Institution have a station on the Quay. Their Honorary Secretary for Castletown is Henry C. Gell, Esq. The Gas Works were established about nine years ago. The works are situated in Mill Street, and are under the management of William Senior. Mr. John McMeiken is the Secretary to the company. There are two Banking establishments in the town, both branches from Douglas. The Bank of Mona is situated in Douglas Street, and is under the agency of James Gill, Esq. The Douglas and Isle of Man Bank (Messrs. Dumbell, Son, and Howard,) is in Arbory Street: Mr John McMeiken is the agent. The banking hours at both these establishments are from ten in the morning till three in the afternoon. The Post Office is in Malew Street. Sergeant Lewin is the postmaster. Letters from the insular towns and neighbourhood arrive from Douglas at 6.45 p.m., and are despatched at 6.30 a.m. The despatches and arrivals of the letters from England, are regulated according to the departure and arrival of the boat at Douglas. The Castletown mail gig generally leaves about two hours and a half before and arrives about two hours and a-half after the departure or arrival of the boat at Douglas.
The principal object of attraction in Castletown is the fine old Castle of Rushen. The town is much frequented by visitors, to view this most wonderful structure of past ages. According to Manx tradition, it was founded about the middle of the tenth century, by Guthred, the son and successor of Orree, or Gorree. An oak beam, bearing the date of 947, was found in the east tower in 1815, by some workmen who were engaged in making some repairs. The style of the building, however, would lead to the inference that it had been erected at a much later period, the architecture being for the most part of the twelfth century. According to a recent writer, Arabic numericals were hardly introduced into Europe during the tenth century. Such being the case, the probability is that the figures 947 were cut in the beam at a subsequent period to that time, and that the castle itself was not built till a later period. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt as to the antiquity of the building. Castle Rushen stands on a rock in the middle of the town, between the centre of the market-place and the river. Previous to the introduction of artillery, it was thought to be an impossibility to take it. According to Challoner, the ancient building is an exact resemblance of the Castle at Elsinore, in Denmark. The ground plan of the keep is in the form of an irregular triangle. It is flanked with towers on each side; those on the east, west, and south, project out in the form of a square, and rise to the height of 70 feet. In the southern tower is the ancient chapel of the castle, now containing the machinery of the remarkable clock presented in 1597, by Elizabeth, Queen of England, during the time she held the island, until the settlement of the litigation between William the second, son of Henry the fourth Earl of Derby, and the four daughters of Ferdinand, the fifth Earl of Derby. Above the clock dial is a small turret containing a bell, which was presented by James, tenth Earl of Derby, and the last of that noble house connected with the island. It is in this part of the castle that the debtors and lunatics are confined. The northern tower, which rises from the building itself, is 80 feet high. From the summit, which is approached by a flight of 99 steps, a fine prospect of the surrounding country is obtained. It is on this tower that the flag-staff is erected. During a recent storm the flag-staff was blown down in pieces. Another has been erected in its place, to bear now and again the emblem of loyalty and power. The thickness of the walls of the keep vary from 7 feet to 12 feet.
On the outside the keep is an embattled wall, nine feet thick and twenty-five feet high, and formerly containing seven quadrangular towers, the remains of some of which are still visible. On the outside of this wall was a deep moat, on the exterior of which was a glacis, erected, it is said, by Cardinal Wolsey, in 1525, during the time he was guardian to Edward, the sixth Lord of Man:
At three several points in this glacis, formerly stood three low round towers or redoubts; the remains of one of which are still visible on the side next the harbour. A drawbridge, leading to the castle gate and the first portcullis, anciently spanned the moat. Between the first portcullis and the inner central keep is an open court, to the right of which is a flight of steps conducting to the battlements, the Court House, and the Council Chamber. These buildings were formerly occupied by the Derby family, and subsequently, till a very recent period, by the Governors and Lieutenant-Governors of the island. A short time ago, a stone was removed from these buildings, bearing the letters D.I.C., and the date 1644. The letters and date refer to James, the great Earl of Derby, and Charlotte, his Countess. He resided here from 1643 to 1651. At the entrance of the castle there formerly stood three stone sedilia, the largest of which was for the Governor, and the two smaller ones for the two Deemsters. The cannon, which was placed on the third wall of the rampart, was planted on stone crosses.
The prisoners in the castle are divided into four classes, and are confined in the different square towers. The common debtors occupy one wing; the crown prisonersthose convicted of theft, riot, or other misdemeanors the second; female crown prisoners the third; and condemned felons the fourth. It is very seldom that prisoners have made their escape from this place; though in 1843 a circumstance of this description occurred. On the 12th of September in that year, six of the criminal prisoners effected their escape, in consequence of which, a commission was appointed to ascertain by what means this escape was effected. The castle, at various times, has undergone considerable alteration and reparation. From Waldron we learn, that about the middle of the seventeenth century, while the workmen were engaged in making some additions to Lord Derbys wine vaults, they discovered several pieces of Spanish eight. Several alterations were also effected in the keep of the castle, in 1815-16. During these alterations, the beam of oak before referred to was found, and in one of the inner towers was discovered a dark cell, of which, previous to this discovery, all the inhabitants were ignorant. In 1837, considerable alterations were effected in the interior of the castle. At this time the workmen discovered several recesses which contained a great quantity of small bones. The place where these were found was behind the wall of the old Government House. Fur-