Douglas was part of Braddan parish (though for some legal purposes was considered as part of Onchan) - the first churches were strictly chapels of ease to Kirk Braddan, though later new parishes were established.

The 1830's saw a number of new churches or chapels established in the rapidly growing Douglas; as Train (History of IoM 1842 puts it::

It may be considered one of the peculiarities of Douglas, that the natives of every country have there the advantage of attending their own church and their own minister. The native Manks have their St. Matthew's or St. Maughold's, with a native pastor. The English have their church dedicated to St. George, with an English minister. The Scots have their kirk, with a clergyman connected with the presbytery of Lancashire; and the Irish have their St. Barnabas (it should have been St. Patrick); while the old ship is a common receptacle for the outcasts of all nations. In most of the parish churches throughout the Island, divine service is performed alternately in English and Manks.

St Barnabas 1832

St Barnabas

One of Bishop Ward's new churches built 1832 to the design of Edward and John Welch.

A Vicarage in the patronage of Trustees

" The Church is of grey local slate, in Early English style, with a tower and spire. The interior is quite unecclesiastical in plan, with two tiers of galleries. There are over 500 free sittings. St. Barnabas was constituted a parish in 1869, being the first parish in Douglas."

Closed 1959, demolished 1969.

Grid Reference SC382753

A new church, dedicated to St. Barnabas, was founded by Bishop Ward, on 11th June, 1830. It is a neat building, after the early English style of architecture, having a turret crowned with pinnacles at the angles and nave. The interior is lighted by a range of fifteen clerestory windows on each side. At the west end there is a handsome tower, surmounted by a spire one hundred and forty feet high. This church, capable of containing a congregation of 1500 persons, was built by subscription raised in England, and was originally designed for the accommodation of the poor; but when it was nearly: finished, the bishop sold it to a church-building society in London, for £1300.

Train 'History of the IoM' vol II 1842 p372

Judging from an exchange of letters between Bishop Ward and the Duke of Atholl, it would appear that the Bishop would have preferred a more obvious site near the present railway station.

The early history is associated with William Carpenter - its first curate and strong evangelical.

St George's 1761

 St. George Douglas pre 1909
Pre 1909
 St. George Douglas

1761-80. By a local builder who was sent to Whitehaven to copy the church there. The interior was much restored in 1910 when the upper galleries were removed and the church extended.[JB]

Meant to replace the ageing St Mathew by Bishop Hildesley but took some 20 years to complete due to financial depression following act of revestment.

It was St James in Whitehaven that provided the initial design.

The church was lengthened by some 5m in 1909 when a new chancel was built.

See account in IoM Charities, 1831 and Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 5 #2 pp5/11

Grid Reference SC379755

See <> for a virtual tour of the church.  

Old St Matthews, 1708

Old St Matthew Douglas
Print c.1850

Built 1708/1711 by Bishop Wilson as a chapel of ease for the expanding town of Douglas to replace an earlier town chapel (shown on Daniel King's view of 1658) though in disrepair by end of 17th Century.

Described in Johnson's Guide of 1850 as 'an old and ungainly offers but slender accommodation, and stands in a very inconvenient situation, being almost in the centre of the only open space in Douglas.'

Old St Matthew Douglas
c.1900 showing market stalls

Grid Reference SC382753


Demolished in 1898 to allow rebuilding of Market Square area - approximate site under cast iron market hall which now forms part of British Legion Club.

New St Matthews, 1902

St Matthew Douglas

Rebuilding of old St Matthew's on a new site on the North Quay
Probably one of the last churches designed by John Loughborough Pearson, built 1895-1902 though his belfry and tall steeple were never built. mysterious and dark, lofty and intricate[JB] .


Grid Reference SC383753


The architect's drawing shows the proposed tower.

The East window is to a design of William Morris.

proposed tower

High Anglo-catholic in tradition - the interior will remind any Roman Catholic of pre-Vatican-II churches. This tradition has often sat uncomfortably with the general low-church tendency of the Island leading to many disputes with some Bishops. 

Hugh Selwyn Taggart The Story of S. Matthew's Church Douglas Douglas:S.K.Broadbent [1923]
Betty Taggart When Childer Plays Douglas:Mona's Herald, 1950 - gives a pen-portrait of her father Hugh Taggart and grandfather Canon Taggart.

Guide bookThe Parish Church of S.Matthew the Apostle, Douglas Isle of Man [c.1989]

St Ninians, 1914

St. Ninian Douglas

By W. D. Caroe, 1914. A sensitive local stone rendering of late-Gothic freely treated. Spacious and impressive interior. [JB]

Dedicated Easter 1913

Grid Reference SC380772


St Thomas's, 1849

St. Thomas  Douglas

a big-boned building of local stone by Ewan Christian.[JB]
Designed to seat over 1,000, half of which were set aside for the poor..
Originally it was designed to have a broach spire which, despite fundraising efforts, was never built (supposedly due to instabilities in the tower)

The organ is housed in the north tower.

Grid Reference SC382759


Interior has exceptionaly fine wall paintings by John Nicholson dating from 1896-8 (the lettering was by his brother James Bell Nicholson) as well as much fine stained glass.
Until a fire in 1912 the tower contained the only other set of bells hung for bell-ringing on the Island

St Thomas' with proposed tower
View of proposed tower

This church was the occasion of a major dispute between Bishop Powys and Rev Drury, Vicar of Braddan which saw it closed for over two years. 

Guide bookP.Kelly The Nicholson Murals in St Thomas' Church 1985

See also < > for photographs and some discussion of the wall paintings

All Saints

See 1967 Consecration Brochure for considerable detail on its history and construction.


Kniveton G.N. et al Centenary of the Borough of Douglas 1896-1996 Douglas: Manx Experience (ISBN 1-873120-21-4) 1996



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001