Manx Methodist Historical Society - Newsletter 14

Visit to Ballaugh. August. 1991

What started as a rather overcast day, brightened to become one of the most enjoyable outings the Society has had.(Of course, we tend to say that about all our outings!)

Mrs. Kelly (our Chairman) and Miss Kermeen (of Ballaugh) had planned the afternoon, and Miss Kermeen spent some considerable time researching past records to help to make the afternoon very informative as well as pleasant. Mr. F. Cowin was also brought into share his tremendous knowledge of the two Parish Churches in the area.

We were welcomed by Miss Kermeen to Ballaugh Methodist Church, which we were told was in fact the second Wesleyan Methodist Church built to replace the earlier chapel when the growth in numbers warranted it. The original chapel is now the hall across the main road, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. The foundation stone of the present church was laid in 1868 and Mr. Brian Thompson read the original report of the stone-laying ceremony The building was planned to seat 250 people at a cost of £430

There were some very important people at the stonelaying - Mr. William Callister of Thornhill, laid the stone, (it is recorded that Mr. Callister had at that time 45 years connection with Methodism), present also were the Lieut.-Governor of the Island, His Excellency Henry Brougham Loch, the President of the Wesleyan conference, Rev. John Bedford, the secretary of the Conference, Rev. John Farrar, the Chairman of the district, Rev. Joseph Lawton, and the three Ministers of the Ramsey Circuit - including the minister at Ballaugh, Rev. Samuel Blakely.
A bottle was placed within the stone, which contained copies of the Mona's Herald and other Island and Church newspapers, the Circuit Plan, a programme of district meetings, and the proceedings of the ceremony. (No-one today seems to know which is the foundation stone).

The stained glass window in the chapel, in memory of John and Ann Corlett, was given by their son, Daniel, who emigrated to South Africa, and eventually became Mayor of Johannisburg.

The company then proceeded to Ballaugh New Parish Church, passing on the way the site of the Primitive Methodist Church (Ballaterson), which was closed in 1969, and where a bungalow now stands.

Mr. Frank Cowin gave a very informative talk at the Parish Church, saying that although it was called the New church, it was in fact 160 years old.
At that time, Bishop William Ward decided that the state of the buildings was desperate, and sent the Rector of Ballaugh, Rev. Hugh Stowell, to England to preach and raise money for Manx churches -one of which was Ballaugh. Although the interior of the church has been altered since it was built, the outside has not altered much.

Following the leader, our train of cars eventually arrived at the Curragh Chapel, (Wesleyan), opened in 1858. Inspector John Kneale, whose family have been associated with this chapel, since its beginning spoke with great affection of its history and those whose faith had sustained the society for many years. The first chapel had been built of sods in 1815, when the population of Ballaugh had been about 1500 people.(It is now 600). For the price of 5/-,' a plot of land part of Loughdhoo and Close ne Rhennie whereon a house is now built' was sold to Stephen Kneale and fellow trustees, 'the said house to be for a preaching house with liberty to conduct a Sunday School therein, so as not to interfere with Public worship'..

In 1916, a Mission led by Miss Kelly from Abbeylands,was well supported, and in the 1920's,open-air anniversaries were held in the field opposite, when the forms from Jurby West were brought over by local farmers, and the organ was carried outside. Mr. Kneale also recalled the time when Mr.Keig (who was present at the meeting) had walked through the flooded road to reach the chapel for worship. we were also reminded that Mr. Gale (who was also with us) had preached the last service before the chapel closed in 1971. Mr. Gale recalled that his text had been Jeremiah 2.v.13. Mr. Kneale played a tape of his uncle, Tom Callister, singing in the chapel.

It was a moving experience to be standing outside a chapel, which is now a barn and to have with us at least three people for whom this building had indeed precious memories.

From the Curragh, we proceeded to the Cronk, which is now a ruin, but in which some of those present had attended Sunday School. Just up the road is the Ballakinnag Chapel, now closed, whose field -where once Sunday School anniversaries were held - is now a beautifully landscaped garden.

As we began to come full circle, we spent a little time at Ballaugh Old Church, where Mr. Cowin talked of the historical interest of the site - which has had a church here since the 1230's.

Our final visit was to what is now the Methodist church hall, but which was the original Methodist Chapel - built in 1791. (Special celebrations are planned to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary later this year). Here a splendid tea had been prepared by the ladies of Ballaugh to conclude a very enjoyable afternoon.

Visits - 1972

Earlier Visits. In May, 1972, the society visited Peel, and began their tour at the Rechabite Hall. The original structure dates from 1777, and at the time of the Society's visit, the ground floor was used by the Salvation Army, and the upstairs(reached by outside stairs) by the rechabites. Mr.Lewis Crellin gave an interesting history of the building, and it was easy to see how the original gallery supported by pillars, had been altered to make another floor. From there the party proceeded to Lhergydhoo Chapel, and there they sang the hymn 'Crofton' accompanied on the organ by Mr. Cecil McFee.(This chapel has since closed, and is now a private house). They proceeded via Knocksharry Chapel (which had housed the Working Men's Reading Room, and is now a private dwelling) to Crosby, where Mr. Len Gelling gave an account of the activities of Canon Aitken, who divided his time between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, and had a scheme for establishing a boys' boarding school at Eyreton.(Some members of the Society may remember the Paper read by Mrs. Eve Chapman on Robert Aitken.)

In May, 1983, as part of visit to the south of the Island, the Society visited Ronague chapel and Eairy Stein Chapel, the former having been converted into a house, and the latter now a ruin.

Mr. John Quilliam talked of both these buildings. He said that Ronague was a 'twisted diversity' of Eairy Shynnagh (Shelling of Foxes), The chapel had been built in 1879,erected in the corner of a field where the water gathered into a deep pool, then after being drained was filled with slate-like rubble, the floor-joist placed some three feet above leaving a cave of air-space. He also referred to the old chapel a few yards to the south, known as 'The Old School House'.

Eairy Stein (Costain's Sheiling) was not so populated as Ronague, so the smaller building was adequate. The plaque over the doorway was inscribed in the Manx language; "Ta shoh son shickerys thie Yee" (This is for sure God's House) and the date of erection 1864. When the chapel was closed, this plaque was transferred to Patrick Chapel, and now rests in the wall of Glenmaye chapel.


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