[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
Kirk Bride is about five miles from Ramsey, the most northern parish in the island; it is a small parish bounded by the sea on the north and east, by Andreas on the west, and Lezayre on the south. The point of Ayre* is in this parish, being an extensive bed of sand, at the end of which the currents meeting form a large vortex.*[ Ahre, Irish, signifying thin or Hallow, as applied to water.]
Near the road is a high mount surrounded with stones, called Croncyebollen, probably a sepulchral tumulus, where
_ ___" In his narrow house
Some warrior sleeps below: his gallant deeds
Haply at many a solemn festival
The bard has harp'd; but perish'd is the song
Of praise, as o'er tllese bleak and barren downs
The wind that passes, and is heard no more."- SOUTHEY.
These, with the white stone on the hill near the shore, on the estate of Shelag, and the ruins of a chapel, are worthy of notice. The monuments of the Danes are distinguishable from the tumuli of the Romans by having a broader basis in proportion to their height; but it does not appear that the Romans were ever in this island.
There are no poor, properly speaking, in the parish; but the poor's fund, which is about 20l. principal money, was mostly called on by wandering paupers; though within these two years some regulations have been made to confine the poor to their own limits.
The parochial library is large, and a catalogue of it is delivered to every minister as they succeed in all the parishes. These, and parochial or petty schools, are established throughout the island. The libraries were introduced by Bishop Wilson and Dr. Bray, by whose advice and assistance this excellent institution was undertaken Dr. Bray died in 1729,- he continued as long as he lived to supply books. Law's "Christian Perfection" was supplied by Mrs. S. Hales, of Teddington, near Hamptoncourt, who gave 50l. worth of books for general distribution among the poor. The schools were established by Bishop Wilson; and in 1740 Lady Elizabeth Hastings left to them 90l. per annum for ever.
The creek called Port Cranstail is in this parish. " By creek is not to be understood, what is its essence in the language and sense of the Custom-house department, viz. having officers stationed to perform certain branches of business." It has two fairs, one in February, the other in May; but as most fairs depend on moveable feasts, they may not always fall in the same months precisely.
The church is fifty-four feet by sixteen, having a few small windows on one side only, with an unceiled roof, and a small bell, rung on the outside; it is badly seated. Indeed many churches on the north side are, as to seats, &c., much in want of renovation; on the south side they are in a better general state.
The present copper pans, for collections in the church, appear by the inscription to have been the rector's gift in 1786.
The school-house adjoins the churchyard, the master's salary is about 4l. British per annum. Opposite the church gate is an ancient cross.
The gallery has a handsome painted front, with Bishop Hildesley's arms on it, and inscribed, "This gallery erected A. D. 1772, by favour of the Rt. Rev. M. S. M." Over the chancel door are figures of our first parents in stone. On an upright stone in the chancel is an inscription to Dorothea Curghey, wife to Matthias Curghey, rector of this parish, buried April 20, 1749, aged 79.- M. C. rector, buried Jan. 31, 1754,aged 85.
There is no house belonging to the rectory, and only about an acre of glebe for a garden. The present rector, who is also vicar general, farms Ballakilly estate.
The Rev. John Roberts, and Parr, were succeeded by the Rev. John Curghey, Rev. Mr. Millrea, Rev. Philip Moore, and the Rev. William Clucas, the present rector, and vicar-general.
The register begins in 1693.
In 1791 the Duke of Athol gave 5l. British to the poor of this parish, in memory of the Duchess deceased. In Bride churchyard are the ages of 73, 74, 77, 79, and 84.
The cheapness and readiness of access to stone, induce the natives to honour the ashes of the dead. As my friend, John Edward Wright,, of America, sat on an uninscribed stone, he wrote extempore with his pencil the following stanzas, which, from the circumstance and spot, claim an introduction in this place:_
Lines on seeing a plain uninscribed Stone in Kirk Bride Churchyard.
Here lies, whom no superb inscriptions grace,
No splendid pile, no mausoleum near,
To speak these ashes born of noble race:
Th' unletter'd stone shows humble nature here.
Sleep on, departed manes, quiet rest_
Heav'n's gates receive alike the poor and great !
While here on earth, if virtue sway'd thy breast,
Where'er thou art, the blest rewards await.
Perhaps thou wert some faithful honest soul,
Though poverty and pain had sorely press'd_
Perhaps no sordid views could e'er control,
Or keep thy little from a friend distress'd.
If so, though here thy dust unnoticed lies,
Thy soul in heav'nly splendour sits enthroned;
The fost'ring choirs shall greet thee in the skies,
Nor ask thee once what riches thou hast own'd.
Perhaps thou wert some genius unreveal'd,
Some Newton, or some fav'rite of the muse:
Alas ! that cruel penury concealed,
And meanly conquer'd, nature's noble views.
Perhaps thou wert an unknown wanderer here,
Whom better lot had mark'd in earlier years;
But adverse fortune gave a stroke severe,
And left thee to depart in beggar's tears.
Too oft 'tis merit's fate to be distress'd !
But stil1 thou would's" not unlamented die;
The tender heart would pity as it pass'd,
The feeling muse would turn and heave a sigh !
In remote parishes like Bride, the service is generally in the Manks language; in some, English once a month; in others alternately.
Banns are seldom published in this island, the Bishop having the power to grant special licenses, which in England is confined to the see of Canterbury. A special license does not cost 40s.,and the common license is only five shillings.
By the returns of inhabitants, it will be seen that the increase here is less than in any other parish, at the several respective periods. The population of the island in general is excessive: it is no uncommon thing for fourteen to be grown up in one family. But in general, except the eldest son and daughter, the whole are obliged to quit the island to gain their bread, and seldom return. This accounts, partly, for the disproportions between the baptisms and burials.
The churches, in general, are in a remote corner of the parish. Bride being a small parish feels this inconvenience as little as any.
This church overlooks the point of Ayre, and commands a full view of the noble extensive bay of Ramsey, and of the fine bold shore from that town and harbour to the promontory of Maughold. The porpoise is often seen playing in this bay. The monster from which "now turn with loathing, was eaten with avidity by the old English epicure.* Ancient cookery exhausted all its art in mixing sauces for this delectable morceau; and there was no entertainment of any magnificence until the sixteenth century, at which the porpoise, either bodily or in junks, did not find a respectable place." [ See Warner's "Antiquitates Culinariaa; or curious tracts relating to ancient cookery," 4to. Blemaire, 1791.]