[From Ramsey Church Magazine 1896-7]

Ballure Chapel

[S. N. Harrison]

Chapels, strictly speaking, originated either for the convenience of Parishioners who lived at a distance from the Parish Church, or were built by the liberality of Churchmen for their own use and that of their near dependants.

The distinction between the Parish Church and Chapel lay in their use. This distinction was formerly more marked than at present. In the Parish Church Divine Worship was held together with the administration of the Sacrament; and they possessed the right of burial, The Chapels were used for Divine Worship only,

Some of these Chapels were known also as Oratories When St Marks Chapel in Malew was built in 1772 it was described in the consecration deed as " the Oratory or Chapel of St. Mark."

In the Synodal Ordinances of Bishop Russell 1350 it was ordained "that no church or oratory should be built in our Diocese without our consent, and that in any so built without our authority, the divine rites be not by any timerity celebrated."

Ballure Chapel stands within the Treen of Ballure, on the site of one of those earlier structures known as "Kiels" which were in existence before our present parishes were formed. In Maughold there are remains or sites of fifteen. When the lands in the Island were divided into Treens, some one or more of these Kiels seem to have been kept in repair in each division. In 1712 the occupant of the Treen of Ballure which consisted of the four Quarterlands of Ballure, Ballastole, Ballacowle, and Clenaige, together with the inhabitants of Ramsey, were assessed to keep this chapel in repair.

What the original name of this chapel was is not known, but it has been called St. Catherine's, and the name has been attributed to Bishop Parr. It is generally referred to as "Ballure " or "Ramsey " Chapel.

In 1637 " William Sumpter had his penance commuted for 20s to be paid towards Ramsey Chapel." It was at this time in a ruinous condition. This Sumpter owned," the Lough," in Ramsey, and sold it in 1648 to Hugh Black, by whom it passed to the Christians. Money commutation of penance had been frequently prohibited in the Church, yet it continued. Bishop Barrow tried to prevent it in the Island, yet in 1673 the commuted penance of one W. Brew was given with the consent of the Bishop towards building a bridge over the Lhane Moar. Bishop Wilson, in one of his canons, orders "that it shall cease" It made a distinction between rich and poor which interfered with church discipline.

The distance from the Parish. Church was so far that people found it tiresome to go twice a day, so to meet their case, "a Reader " had been appointed to Ballure. . The duty of the Reader was to read Prayers in the Chapel and sometimes a Homily. The office had came down from the third century, and has been continued in a modified form. Bishop Wilson frequently licensed a Reader, and several have been lately licensed in some of the English Dioceses.

The reader at Ballure was also master of Ramsey School. In 1661, at Castletown, Samuel Robinson, Michael Beard, and Robert Fergusson took their oath of allegiance to the King, fidelity to the Lord, and conformity to the laws of the church, and were allowed by the spiritual officers in the absence of the Bishop to teach schools. Fergusson was licensed to Ramsey. The school had been endowed with a small sum, and the money placed in the hands of J. Cholmondly, of Vale Royal, Cheshire. Much difficulty arose about getting the interest from time to time. Bishop Leveing was in London in 1688, and in a letter to Mr Cholmondly, says : "In a fortnight's time I hope to wayte upon ye ate Vale Royal, and desire ye salary for the schoolmasters at Ramsey, and ye preacher and schoolmaster ate Douglas may be ready for me to carry over to them."

In another letter of November 1690, 1, to Sir John Christian, Andreas, he says : -'I have wrote to Mr Cholmondly, also as I to'd you I would in my last about Ramsey schools, and have ye last night an answer, yet he is willing to continue a salary to your schoolmaster there, so that now he may go on good ground. I suppose he will shortly give me a line to receive it." Bishop Wilson had the same difficulty of getting the money. And from the Book of Charities it appears that as late as 1852 the 10th was still payable to the Cholmondly family.

The Chapel was restored between 1703-12, when Captain Wattleworth and W. Christian were the chapel wardens ,who collected the cess for repairs, and James Knipe was schoolmaster. He was followed by another, James Knipe,who became an imbecile. These Knipes were probably connected with John Knipe, of Flodden Hall, Westmoreland, buried in Malew, 1740. Henry Collister was licensed in Knipe's place, but as some trouble arose, from parents continuing to send their children to Knipe, Collister left and went to Andreas where he held an honourable place. In 1743 the chapel was again restored and enlarged, as the population had much increased. Thos. Wood was appointed Master of the School and Reader, and two years after Chaplain. At this time two pewter dishes and a large flagon was given to the chapel by Mrs Taubman. The inscription on this gift is "The Gift of Mrs Margaret Taubman to the Alter of God, in the New Chapel of Ramsey, 1746." The Rev T. Wood was one of the Acadimic lads from Castletown, and son of the Rev John Wood who had been appointed master of the School at Castletown by Governor Sacheverell, and afterwards was Vicar of Malew.

In the deed connected with the restoration of the Chapel, it was ordered " That no person was to keep school in the Chapel, nor bury within one yard of the walls." The seats were formed into three divisions. The front seats were the 12s, the next 5s, the other 4s. The seats at the west gable were to be raised 1ft. 6, and all to be let for the benefit of the Chaplain. The seats were to be the property of the seatholders and their heirs, but if any neglected to pay, the wardens might dispose of them with the consent of the Ordinary. The occupants were to be assessed towards procuring books, vestments, or for repairs, exclusive of the cess payable to ' the mother church.

In the license granted to the Rev T. Wood, he was to instruct the children in the English tongue and good manners, and particularly, to teach and require them to learn private prayer, "To keep holy the Lord's Day. To read such as could the Psalms after the minister." He was also reguirad '' to warn youths and children against falling into the sins of the place where they lived such as cursing, swearing, taking God's name in vain, using lewd and filthy words and sons, tipling, and drunken ess." And it was added " To encourage you you are empowered to receive such sums as you may by law demand from the children over and above the Royal Bounty of Salary." The sum to be for reading 6s, and writing 9s.

Mr R. T, Woods was appointed Vicar of Maughold, 1754, and the following are the names of the succeeding

Rev Dan. Gelling.... 1756
Rev Dan. Nelson .... 1760
Rev John Crellin .... 1761
Rev Dan. Mylrea ....1783
Rev John Bridson.... 1785
Rev Nic. Christian ..1788
Rev Henry Maddrell..1790 (Who became the first chaplain of S. Paul's.) ,
Rev Will. Sluret...... 1803
Rev R, Craine........ 1804
Rev Thos. Philips.... 1808
Rev Alex Gelling ...1809
Rev Bowyer Harrison 1816
Rev J. Kaye ........ 1817
Rev P. Corlett ...... 1818

Bishop Hildesley held a Thanksgiving Service in the Chapel March 2nd, 1760, upon the defeat of Captain Thurot by Commodore Ellliot, on July 28th, on the north west coast, The Commodore and his men, who were in Ramsey Bay, were prevented attending the services, as they had 1,200 prisoners to look after.

Ballure Chapel. We spake of of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed and who was dead. Long fellow.

In this month's Magazine we, give a few more notes connected with the chapel and its surroundings.

At the beginning of the present century, some old Yew Trees were to be soon standing near the Chapel Yard. This is interesting as the name of the Treen, " Ballure" (or as it is in the Manorial roll " Ball y ure ") means the place of the Yew. And as this tree lives to a great age, it is not impossible that these were the last of the number from which the name had been derived, long before any building had been erected on the ground, now occupied by the chapel. And Feltham in his Tour written in 1793 says "Yew Trees which are generally found in our Churchyards in England, are not to be found in those of Man." A stream of water flowed from the high lands, passing the chapel on the east. This must have added to the beauty of the site. Among the trees by the stream might be heard on the summer days, the bteatins,, of lambs, the hum of the bee, and the song of the lark, as they passed from the sweet scented brows of the shore. But soon this will be a thing of the past, stones, bricks, and cement, are fast covering the ground.

From the stream, close by, may have been taken water for the font ; as in the case of the Old Church at Marown where, after a dispute about the water flowing by the Church, it was settled " that the said waters were, to serve for the baptising or Infants."

And from the fields around may have been gathered the Bread corn which was afterwards "blessed and broken " taken and eaten " by the faithful.

Many baptisms are recorded after 1746. And several Marriages took place in the Rev T. Wood's time; and though the rings were not of gold, from Ballure, it has since then been found near here.

The small Burial ground round the Chapel corresponds to the raised platform on which some of the " Keeils" were built, but it has been slightly enlarged on the south and east sides. This would be done when the chapel was lengthened to 61 feet in 1743. Many of our churches, at this time, were from 50 to 60 feet long, and from 14 to 19 feet wide. And the average population of the parishes, where they stood, was about 800, the same as that of Ramsey when the chapel was enlarged,

After St. Paul's had been consecrated in 1833, the old chapel fell into ruin, but was again restored, when the Rev W. Kermode was chaplain.

The two preceding chaplains of St. Paul's were the Rev J. Corlett, who died 1825, and the Rev A. Holmes, who became Vicar of Kirk Patrick. The first recorded burial, within the chapel, was in 1611. Since then several other interments have taken place within its walls.

At one time burials within the church were common, not only in the chancel but in the body or the church. Pews were introduced, instead of open benches, at the beginning of the 17th century; and as late as 1737, when the pews in Braddan Church were rearranged to accommodate intack as well as quarterland holders, the quarterland holders were permitted to bury- under their seats. And a few years earlier, when a new church was built in Lonan, " The Parishioners had reserved to them their antitint right andplace of hnrying. in the old church, as well as churchyard." This custom has been wisely set aside.

The earliest dated stone to be seen now in the graveyard, is that or Margaret Martin, 1750. At one time Martins and MacCowle owned Ballure. Both these names were common in Galloway; and the Mac Goilla Martins are said to have gotten their name from the patron saint of the church at Whithorn, St. Martin, of Tours.

The name of "Peate "made familiar to many by Mr Hall Caine, is to be seen on one stone, and on another, the name of one who was the mother or 15 sons. On the west of the Chapel, is the tomb of two sisters, Martha and Elizabeth Frieker, well-known as "the sisters of the wives of three poets, Southey, Coleridge, and Lovel."

On the north side is the tomb of Sir Henry Claude Loraine. He was descended from one, Robert Loraine, who was murdered by Moss Troopers in the reign of Elizabeth, who, it is said, "cut him in pieces as small as flesh for the pot." Near this tomb is that of Sir John Macartney, who had been knighted for assisting in the inland navigation of Ireland. His son Edward. was lost from the " Hawk " on her way from Dublin to Douglas. On the right handside of the entranee, gate is the vault of the Frissel or " Fraser" family. This name so well- known in many parts of Scotland, was, at an early period, connected with the Isle of Man. In the 12th century Oliver Fraser was "Thane " of Man. Thanes were at first stewards over the Kingsland, but afterwards they became hereditary tenants of the King.

John Frissel was High-Bailiff, and the hill under Albert Tower is still known as " Lhergy Frissel."

These are some of the names to be seen in this quiet spot, where side by side, rest the dust of sailors, soldiers, pastor, teacher, master and servant-some, who are waiting till " the sea gives up its dead," and others, resting in distant lands, have been here remembered. Strangers whose sun went down at noon, and aged pilgrims, have had their name written on tablets of stone.

"To doom thy brother from the flesh released.
Christian, befit thee not. T'will best behove
The Grace which " hopeth all things," Christian love,
To hope that each may in the Saviour rest."

The old chapel of Ballure with its quiet service, peaceful surroundings, and associations of the past, is one link in the long chain, which binds successive generations


In the article on Ballure in our last number there were ono or two mistakes. Rev S. N. Harrison, who was the writer of the article, was away at the time the proofs were returned, and so had no opportunity to correct them.


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2007