[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
Is surrounded by Maughold on the north, Onchan on the south and west, by the sea on the east, and partly by Lezayre.
It contains two groups of cottages termed villages, Agnes at the north foot of Snaffield, and Laxey on the great road between Douglas and Ramsey.
It has two principal rivers, one of which, called Glhongawn, rises near the mountain Onus, and enters the sea at Garwich; the other, Laxey river, rises from the foot of Snaffield, and falls into the ocean at the village of Laxey.
Here are two fine springs, St. Patrick's on the west end of Lhargey-graue, and Lord Hemy's on the beach south of Laxey. The mountains are, Mallaghonyr, famous for turf, Onus, Slieulhean, and part of Snaffield.
The lead-mines are about one mile and a half from Laxey; the ore is so rich as to yield 150 ounces of silver in a ton. A bridge of four arches crosses Laxey river, at the foot of the village.
It is a remarkable parish for bleaching; hemp and flax are grown in some quantities.
The creeks are, Garwich, Laxey, and the promontory Or Clayhead. There is an oyster-bank, extending from Laxey bay to about two miles from Maughold-head, in eighteen feet water, about two miles broad, and one and a half from the shore. An engraved plan of Laxey harbour is given in the Commissioners' Report.
It appears (by a representation in 1791) " that the harbour of Laxey is the only one in the island that lies convenient, with an easterly wind, for vessels bound to the westward; and that its natural situation might be made commodious, at a small expense, for vessels of a large draught of water; that there is a red-herring house, and twenty large boats belonging to Laxey; that it might easily be made a place for shelter; and that the lead-mines worked and carried on at Laxey demand an improved state of the harbour for carrying them on with advantage. They therefore propose to build a pier, &c. and require the attention of Government to an object of such great public utility."
The bay is about two miles across, but not sufficiently sheltered from the east winds, which do great damage in winter. It produces all kinds of flat fish, and used to be famous for spawn herrings, but they have left it. It is a fine bay for trawling with the large seines; and when the tide is out, the inhabitants fish with long lines laid on the sand, baited with sand-eels; the larger sort of these are here found, with red gurnet, white and rock cod, &c.
The mountains afford excellent shooting, and abound with grouse, golden plovers, &c.
In plate 3 is represented a small circular range of stones,probably Druidical, on the road-side near Laxey; in the centre was a kis~vaen, or a stone sepulchral chest. Its site is rather elevated, and the whole is but a few yards in diameter.
Laxey is a group of about thirty cottages, in a deep glen,opening into a fine bay on one side, and surrounded by steep and lonely mountains. Snaffield is three miles from it. It has a herring-house eighty feet by twenty-eight, belonging to Mr. Wattleworth, of Ramsey, at present unemployed; also a flax-mill, a tucking-mill, and three corn-mills.
Treasure-trove was, before the act of 1765, in the Duke of Athol's family, but since that time has been claimed by the crown, as appears by an order of a Court of Exchequer of the island in 1786, whereby a treasure-trove of 237 pieces of silver coin, found in this parish, was, upon information filed by the attorney-general, adjudged by the court to belong to his Majesty. On a former occasion, subsequent also to 1765, a treasure-trove, consisting of ancient coins, was demanded from the Duke's seneschal, by the receiver general.
About a mile north of Laxey, under the rocks, is an unexplored cavern. Laxey Gill is a pleasing walk in dry weather,winding up the romantic river, whose sides are adorned by countless yards of bleaching cloth, and at intervals groups of females tread the cloth in the stream, and sit round cauldrons boiling the cloth with kelp; the cloth covers a great space, and is kept down on the surface by large pebbles; they bleach tolerably white, but for peculiar purposes they send it to Ireland to be bleached. About one mile and a half up this woody glen,you come to the new level, working in pursuit of a vein of lead. Having taken an extra coat and some candles, I proceeded into this rocky cavern; about 160 yards brought us to the work,passing a shaft formed to let in air: a miner sat down here, and in about an hour pierced a hole, with great exertion, sixteen inches deep; this was partially filled with gunpowder, and forcibly rammed down with proper wadding, to which a communication was made by a long pointed iron, into which was introduced a straw-reed full of prime; the end of the reed then had a little brown paper greased and pointed; and with this, lighted like a candle, we retired, when the noise and echo of the explosion was tremendous. On returning we found very large pieces torn by the powder. The miner having thus done his task for that turn, we once more greeted the cheerful sun. On proceeding farther, we came to the old works, where is a pleasing fall of water over the rocks.
" Down in the dingle's depth there is a brook
That makes its way between the craggy stones,
Murmuring hoarse murmurs. "
A company from Ireland are about to work these mines,which have had a temporary suspension.
An act was made in 1733, by which leave was given to build a new church, more central and larger than the one at that period, which was old, ruinous, small, and ill situated in a corner of the parish. Bishop Wilson gave 101. and Capt. Henry Skillicorn, of Bristol, gave 201. towards it, out of a respect to the place of his nativity.
In 1735, Bishop Wilson consecrated the church in the presence of a numerous congregation, to whom he preached and administered the sacrament, and ordained Mr. T. Christian,priest, and Mr. Bath. Curghey, deacon. The bishop observing that many churches of the diocese (which were uniformly seated) had been exceedingly abused and disordered, by holding the school and burying the dead therein, thenceforth forbade it .
It may be worthy of remark that there is no other form for consecrating churches, chapels, and burial-grounds, but that written by Bishop Wilson, which is so excellent a composition that on similar occasions it has been adopted by some of the English bishops.
This church is near the road-side, about a mile from Laxey; its dimensions 84 feet by 18.
For the last five years, ending in 1796, the number of marriages was 56; baptisms, 280; burials, 87. In Lonan churchyards are nine persons between 71 and 79; and two of the age of 83 and 84. The Brew and Clague families bury in the old churchyard.
The vicarage-house is near the church, the glebe is between twenty and thirty acres. The parochial school is on the roadside, about a half a mile from the church, A silver cup for the communion service, inscribed " Deo et altar) Sti. Lonani sacrum. Ex devotionibus Tho. Wilson, A. M. Thom. epis. Sod. & Mannensis filii, die consecr. hujus eccles. 1732."
Former Rectors. Rev. Mr. Cosnahan, Rev. Mr. Curphey, Rev. Mr. Radcliffe, of the old church. Of the new church, Rev. Mr. Allin, Rev. Matt. Curphey. The present vicar, Rev. Mr. Gell.
The old church is about two miles and a half from the new one. The walls remain, the chancel is entire, but in a rude state; an elder-tree flourishes within the walls, and forms a warm asylum for the feathered tenants of the air. One ancient Danish monument, on a cross, stands near the church, and a large one in the churchyard, with its end wedged into a groove of a large flat stone. The inscriptions here are few.
St. Lomanus, to whom the church is dedicated, by tradition succeeded St. Maughold. He was the son of Tygrida, one of the three holy sisters of St. Patrick, and thought to be the first bishop of Trim in Ireland. The new churchyard has a tomb for Mrs. Cath. Gell, alias Cosnahan, wife of the Rev. Samuel Gell,who died Jan. 17th, 1789, aged 68.
" When death did call I gladly did obey,
Resolv'd to turn into my native clay;
My soul is gone, my Saviour Christ to meet,
Although my eyes are clothed here in sleep.
Ah ! friends, repent, God's sacred word believe,
You see I'm gone my wages to receive."
See Prov. 2`vi. 31; Matt. v. 8.
* Dr. Knows Winter Evenings, vol. iii.
~ Zollikofre on Piety; translated by Rev. Dr. Manning, of Exeter, 8vr,. 1796.