[From Manx Church Magazine Vol 1 pp xviii et seq 1892]

Rushen Parish Church

with extracts from old Parish Books.

The original Parish Church of Rushen was, no doubt, like the Castle and Sheading of Rushen, called after S. Russin [fpc - very unlikely], who is said to have been one of the twelve missionary fathers, who, along with S., Columba, settled in lona A.D. 563. Beyond this, little or nothing is known, apparently, about the church until the year 1776, when it was rebuilt and dedicated to the Holy Trinity.A large slab, which is let in the church on the outside, just above the west door, bears this inscription

Dedicated to the Holy Trinity
Rushen Church

The Rev. Nicholas Christian, Vicar.

Willim Qualtrough, Esq,
Edward Gawne, Esq ,
Mr William Clucas,
Mr Henry Gawne


Two silver chalices bear the date. 1708, and the inscription—

Christi de Rishin (sic) sacrum Insula Man

There are also two alms boxes with the date 1785, and the inscription—

In unum Ecciesiae Christi de Rushen lnsula Monae.

To quote the description given in the Diocesan Calender of 1881 " the church is a good, solid, substantial edifice, evidently well cared for, but without any great pretensions to architecture." Certainly, the architectural beauties of the exterior are not striking, but once the west door is entered an agreeable surprise is experienced. A degree of artistic taste and refined comfort is met with, of which the outside gives little promise. The church is furnished throughout with comfortable modern pews of pitch pine, this change from the old fashioned highbacked square pews having taken place in 1855, during the incumbency of the Rev. Frederick Tracy. The aisle and chancel are tastefully tiled, and the building is well warmed in winter by a heating apparatus placed in the church by the late Mr Gawne, of Kentraugh [later corrected], who also presented the handsome lamps by which the building is lighted. Just above the chancel steps there is a brass plate let into the tiles, on which is inscribed—

To the glory of God,
And the loved memory of her husband,
Edward Moore Gawne,
this Chancel was added .
by Emily Maria Gawne.
Sept. 1872.

It may here be stated that the very handsome sacramental vessels, which are now used in the church, were presented by Mrs Gawne in 1848. Three very fine stained glass windows fill the east end ; that on the left, the subject of which is the Nativity, was erected by the late Mrs Gawne to the memory of her mother-in-law, Mrs Catherine Gawne, who died on August 4, 1816. The centre window is a beautiful representation of the Crucifixion, and bears the following inscription :—" Erected by the parishioners of Rushen in grateful remembrance of the late Edward Moore Gawne, Esq., of Kentraugh, 1872." On the right is another handsome window representing the Resurrection of our Lord, erected by Mrs Gawne to the memory of her eldest son, Edward, who died July 29, 1869. To the left of the chancel, outside the rails, there is a beautiful window, the subject of which is the Annunciation ; this was erected by her daughters to the memory of the late Mrs Gawne, and on the opposite side is a representation of the Ascension ; also a memorial, placed there by her sorrowing sons. Besides these there is a very pretty window on the left side lower down the church, erected by the parishioners in Mrs Gawne’s memory. The subject is the raising of Dorcas by S. Peter, and underneath the picture are the words, " This woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did." On the opposite side is a memorial window to the late Mr. Milner It represents the calling of two of the disciples, and bears the inscription—

Erected by a friend in
Memory of William Milner,
A lover of Fishermen,

The following note in regard to this window occurs in one of the parish books : " The stained glass window erected on the south side of the Parish Church in memory of the late William Milner,. Esq., of Liverpool and Port Erin, was executed by Whittaker, of London, and given by a friend of. Mr Milner, whose name will transpire on decease."High up in the west end of the church there are two small. circular coloured windows representing the storm and calm on the lake of Galilee. They were made by Messrs Forrest, of Liverpool, and were given to the church in 1887, by Miss Annie Gawne, now Mrs. Wm. Roscoe. All the other windows were made by Westlake, Layers & Co., of London.

Just above the Kentraugh pew there is a very handsome tablet, by Chantry, to the memory of Edward Gawne, Esq., who died in 1887, aged 65 years. He was Captain of the Parish for 40 years. On the opposite side is a tablet to the memory of the Rev. William Corrin, who died in 1859, aged 64. He was for 34 years Vicar of the Parish. . Over the south door is a hand-some tablet to the memory of John Clucas, Esq., of Ballakilley, who died in 1853, and of whom it is recorded that "in 1836 he was mainly instrumental in procuring the release of the Crown Impropriate Tithes to the individual landowners." Close by there is a large handsome mural monument to the memory of Isabella Gawne, daughter of Edward Gawne, Esq., of Kentraugh, who died 18th May, 1852, "confiding in the merits and promises of her Redeemer ; blessed by the poor and beloved by all who knew her."

A very beautiful tablet in the form of an unrolled scroll, the work of Gaffin &. Co., London, has the following inscription ;-

In beloved memory of
Edward Moore Gawne,, of Kentraugh, Esq.
Many years Speaker of the House of Keys,
and Captain of this Parish.

This good man lived In the fear and love of God,
and so he departed in perfect peace
In the seventieth year of his age.

Erected by his nine surviving children,
Who lived to add the name of their beloved mother,
Daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Murray,
of Mount Murray.
Born 19 April, 1814,
Died 11 May, 1889
One with her husband in faith, hope, and love.
" This God is our God for ever and ever, He shall be our guide even unto death."

On the south side there are handsome tablets to the memory of—

Thomas Gawne, Esq.,
of Ballagawne and Ballachurry,
who died 11 Feb., 1870
Margaret Alice, his daughter,
who died 20 May 1871
Eliza Charlotte Brooks (Crosby), his wife,’ .
who died 11th May, 1878 ; and.
Catherine Renetta Crosby, -
who died 9 Dec., 1887.

On the opposite wall there is a large handsome tablet recording the death of

Edward Gawne, Esq.,‘
eldest son of Edward M, Gawne, Esq., of Kentraugh,
some time lieutenant of H.M. Cameron Highlanders
who died 29 July 1869.

Mary Anne Isabella Hamilton, his wife, who died in 1885 ; and
Three of their Children, viz.,
Emily Maria, who died 5 Oct., 1863 ;
Ashley Douglas, 13 April, 1866 ; and
Ethel Kate McLeod, 17 June, 1885.

The last tablet erected was placed in the church by. the parishioners and other friends to the memory of John Thomas Clucas, Esq., who was for many years captain of the parish, and a member of the Insular Legislature. He died June 14, 1887, aged 60. Fifty years ago there was no such thing thought of, probably, as the erection of memorial windows and tablets, and no doubt the old church presented a very different appearance. ‘ The pulpit occupied by Parson Corrin and many of his predecessors stood in the centre of the church, high up against the south wall; and just below was the clerk’s reading desk. The floor of the church was roughly flagged and the only attempt at warmth in winter was the strewing of rushes beneath the feet of the worshippers. Though nothing is known of the structure of the church before 1775, yet the registers date from 1718, and the list of vicars of the parish as far back as A.D. 1408. Nicholas Christian is the first whose name appears in any of the registers, though the entries in 1718 must have been made by Thomas Christian, who was succeeded by John Quaile in 1729 ; his successor was — Crebbin, whose Christian name and date of tenure appear to be lost. Then follows Nicholas Christian in 1748, the first of whose entries in the register seems to have been made with the object of handing down to posterity " A Remedy for Stagnation of the Blood," and a recipe for making " the best black ink."

These quaint recipes are written on the reverse side of a list of baptisms performed in the end of 1712 and beginning of 1718 A.D.

In January, 1788, there is the following rather curious entry :—

" Catherine, son of Philip Lowee and Jony Clucas (Lingueag) had private baptism on January 10th, was so named through the mistake of ye midwife ; and afterwards was pronounced William by the godfather at receiving him into the congregation —January 14th."

In Dec. 1751, there is the following note made in the Burial Register, doubtless by Mr Nicholas Christian :—N.B.—By Act of Parliament this year made and enacted, it is provided and appointed that for the future, the year of our Lord shall begin the first day of January, which till now begun the 25 day of March following, and the N. stile (sic) to commence Sept. 3rd.

Before proceeding with the extracts from the old register we must recur briefly to some matters of interest connected with the furniture, structure, and services of the Church.

The organ, which, well maintains its excellence, was placed in the Church in November, 1864, during the incumbency of the Rev Hugh Gill, It superseded a violincello, a flute, and a clarionet, on which instruments, as all the older parishioners could testify, the late Messrs Thos. Qualtrough, James Turnbull, and Edward Kneen were wont to discourse most excellent music, to the no small edification and content of the congregation..

It was about this period, or a year or two earlier, that Mr Gill found it expedient to discontinue the use of the black gown in preaching. There is no vestry to the Church, and so the custom had hitherto been for the officiating clergyman to robe in the Vicarage on this wise : Over his, ordinary coat-cassocks were then unknown—he put on the black gown, and over that the surplice, hood, and stole. On ascending the pulpit he took off the surplice and. hung it over the door ; and the sermon ended, he again put it on, before the offertory. All this in full sight of the congregation ! One Sunday morning, however, in a crowded church, when the Vicar attempted to take off the surplice as usual before the sermon, he found that the various vestments had got so mixed up that he could not for a few seconds disentangle his head from their folds. The scene proved too great a strain on the gravity of some young University men who were present, and a very unseemly titter was heard. From that moment the black gown, was doomed, and has never re-appeared in a Rushen pulpit. It has since fallen into general disuse in the diocese.

In 1868-9, while the Rev Hugh S. Gill was still Vicar, the interior of the Church underwent a considerable renovation The damp and discoloured walls were entirely stripped of. the whitewashed plaster, and coated with a light grey cement, made with gravel from the Foxdale Mines. The unsightly bare rafters were covered in with stained and varnished boards, and the principals, stained and supported by corbels. The old "three-decker" pulpit, with its gloomy hangings of dark, blue cloth and black velvet, was removed from its site against the middle of the south wall, and was replaced by the present neat pulpit and desk of polished pitch-pine at the north- west corner of the chancel. A hideous family pew, with a wooden canopy supported by four pillars, which stood right opposite the old pulpit, and at an almost equal elevation from the floor was taken down, a handsome covering for the Holy Table was provided and the Church was, for the first time, warmed by an efficient hot water apparatus supplied by Messrs Senard, of Bolton. The whole cost of these improvements, amounting to £242, was defrayed by two very young ladies, the Misses Isalen and Catherine Gawne, now Mrs Lyndhurst Ogden and Mrs Edward Roscoe.

N.B.—The present Vicar begs to thank the Rev Hugh S. Gill for the above very interesting information, which is given in Mr Gill’s own words.

In the February number of the Magazine it was stated by mistake that Mr Gawne gave the heating apparatus.

We find numerous entries in the old Baptismal Register, bearing upon a custom that prevailed in days gone by, of making a collection on a particular Sunday for some individual or family in special need of help. The recipients of this relief were not always parishioners, as will be seen by the following entries:

6 March, 1747—Collected in the Parish of Trinity Rushen, for the use of Hugh Killey, Redgap, near Castletown, the sum of fifteen shillings and nine pence and one halfpenny.

12 Nov., 1749—Collected for Thomas Quay, of Castletown, and John Cain, of Kk Braddan, the sum of one pound two shillings and five pence

19 July, 1752—Collected for Robert Norris, of Ballasally (sic) the sum of twelve shillings and eleven pence and one halfpenny.,

On 7 May, 1758, for John Knickel, of Malew, 17/1

On 17 Dec., 1758, for Averick Calow, of Kk Santon, 12/ , and

On 8 Nov , 1760, for Danl Connell, John Cowin, Gilbert Kewley, and Thomas Cain, tenants in Ballabeg, in Kk Braddan (who had their haggard, their houses, and goods consumed by fire on Oct., 24 last past) the sum of £1 17 0

In the Burials Register we find several sad entries such as the following —On July the 19th, 1768, Wm. Watterson, of Ballafesson, Robert Christian, tenant of Ballagawn, John Watterson, of Saureby, Paik Crellin, and Wm. Kneen, all of this Parish, and John Kneal, of Ballasalley being all one boat’s crew, went to the herring fishing along with the rest of the fleet, but the evening appearing dark and lowering, and heavy rain continuing, the most part of the fleet returned to the harbour before night, the wind being then about S.E., and pretty calm. About ten o’ the clock at night the wind clapt up suddenly to about north, and blew so tempestuously that the boats that stayed at sea till then were hard set to save their lives, but the said’ persons were never more heard of, being supposed to have perished near the Carrick or Chickens of the Calf, being seen a little before night some distance to the westward of the said Carrick or Chickens.

In 1816 we find the following :—Here ends the year of the Christian era 1816, a year remarkable in the annals of time. From the month of March to the month of November rains have been singularly frequent. For the space of eight months the number of dry or fair days has been small in comparison.[fpc - the eruption of Indonesian volcano Tambora in April 1815 severely affected weather patterns for 2 years (see New Scientist 30 Aug 1999) - Krakatoa in 1883 had a similar effect]

The earliest part of the harvest in this Island commenced in the latter end of September, and a part of the corn was not cut till the end of October when there came on a fall of snow accompanied by frost. To which succeeded in November and December a continuance of very high winds, accompanied with rain in torrents. The crops of wheat have universally failed, being damaged in the ear and cannot be made into loaf. An uncommon scarceness marks this year, which will be thus handed down to posterities.

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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