[From Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 3 pp337/9]


We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Feltham, the author of " Feltham's Tour." In this " tour " of 1797-exactly a century ago-he noted, among other things, the dimensions of the parish churches then standing, with the exception of Marown and Santon. In the last 100 years, eight of the churches which Feltham saw have been taken down, and replaced by new buildings ; while Old Marown and Old Ballaugh have had their east ends taken away and the churches shortened.

The following notes bear upon the question as to what the mediæval Manx Parish Churches were like, and "Feltham's Tour" is invaluable as evidence in this direction.

1. Of the churches which Feltham saw in 1797 and are still standing, Rushen, Arbory, Santon, Old Braddan, and Old Ballaugh are of the 18th century ; while Malew (in part) we know to be undoubtedly very ancient ; — and St. Peter’s (Peel) we know to be moderately ancient.

2. Of the churches which have disappeared, Patrick and Lonan were of the 18th century ; Onchan, Michael, Jurby, and Lezayre of uncertain age ; but Bride and Andreas, Feltham has given us good reason to believe, were very ancient.

3. Malew (in part), Old Marown, Maughold (in part), Bride, and Andreas (as described by Feltham) are then in our list ; but there is one church not mentioned by Feitham —viz. , Old Lonan, a mediæval Parish Church, abandoned in 1730—whose age is known to us, and whose features and dimensions, as a comparative standard, are of the very greatest use in forming an idea of Manx mediæval Parish Churches.

4. (a) Andreas Old Church, Feltham says, " is one of the oldest in the Island, 52 feet in length, and 18 in width. The inside too "primitive for modern comfort, and the whole too ruinous for its " liberal endowments" (b) Bride Church " is 54 feet by 16, having a few small Windows on one side only, with an unceiled roof, and a small bell rung on the outside, etc."

5. It must be noted that no windows, or one at most, on the north side, is a characteristic of very early work. As an example of the intensity of this feeling, the great ruined cathedral of Ardfert, in Ireland, which is 180 feet in length, has no north window.

6. Malew has modern chancel and transept ; the nave was the original church. It has no north window. Old Marown Church has no north window. Lonan Old Church, coeval with the foundation of our parishes and the constitution of parish churches, has only one small north window. Old Bride Church had windows on one side only, probably the south. Old Andreas " one of the oldest in the Island. " Maughold is ancient towards the chancel end, having been lengthened westwards. I have no notes of its windows, but there observe the common feature of no north windows.

7. As to dimensions : Lonan Old Church is 54 feet by 18; Malew nave about 55 feet by 18 ; Andreas was 53 by 18 ; Bride 54 by 116; Maughold 72 by 17 ; of Marown no figures given. But as Maughold was lengthened westwards, its original proportions would be about 50 by 17.

8. It is to be observed that the length is approximately three times the breadth, and all are nearly of the same size. Ramsey Chapel (viz., Ballure), Feltham gives as 61 by 19, which is not far from the same proportions, and slightly larger. This may serve as a standard to judge by.

9. Bishop Browne, of Bristol, one of our most distinguished antiquariatis. in an article on the famous Saxon Church of Monkwearmouth (A.D. 674), where the Venerable Bede received his training, says : " The original building was 68 feet long and 22 feet 8 inches wide, measured on the outside. This is a symmetrical arrangement, the length being exactly three times the width ; no better proportion could have been chosen."

10. Whether by coincidence, or for some reason unknown to us, our mediæval Manx Churches had practically these conventional dimensions and proportions. It must be remembered that we have not one of them surviving whole and entire in its original form. But for a new district church, we suggest a return to this old Manx type, of which the Bishop of Bristol has said " no better proportion could have been chosen."


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