[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]


The ruins of Peel Cathedral, 1798
The ruins of Peel Cathedral, 1798

THIS parish includes many important objects, as Peel Town and the Castle, St. Johns Chapel, the ancient Mount of Tynwald, the ruins of St. German's Cathedral, &c. It is bounded by Patrick, Marown, Kirk Michael, and the sea.

Beary is a low mountain, under Greba, in this parish. Opposite Peel is a slate quarry under the hill, called the Horse. It has quarries of grit and rag stone, a flax-mill, five corn-mills, a tuck-mill, a bleaching ground, and a beating engine, for calendering, &c. erected about seven years since by Mr. Crane, of Ballahawin, and is the only one in the island. It is contiguous to St. John's. A river, after a course of nine miles, and receiving another stream about St. John's, falls into the sea at Peel.

A peculiar white marl is dug here, in which the skeletons of elks or seghs, have been occasionally discovered. * The horns measure nine feet from tip to tip; and from the other bones, conjecture is warranted to suppose the original animal must have been seventeen feet high. One of these horns was politely shown me by the Rev. Mr. Corlett. It is remarkable these bones have been found both in Ireland and here, and respectively in a bed of white marl
[* The Segh is now lost in Britain, and in Europe, but it is subsisting in the Moose of America; it v. as often hunted in the forests of Devon. Branching horns of a most enormous size have been found in Devonshire (and in other parts of England and in Ireland) the relics of this enormous race of deer._(Polwhele,Hist. Views, p. 204.)]

By an account taken a few years ago, the number of inhabited houses in the parish were 253, but they are increased since.

A Census taken in February, 1784, of the Inhabitants of this Parish, Peel-town included, by order of Governor Smith.

Married couples in Peel


Ditto in the parish


758 souls

Widowers in Peel


Ditto in the parish


Widows in Peel


Ditto in the parish


Adult single men in Peel


Ditto in the parish


Adult single women in Peel


Ditto in the parish


Males under sixteen in Peel


Males ditto in the parish


Females under sixteen in the parish


Ditto ditto in Peel


2,471 souls.

By a Census taken in 1792.

Adults in town and parish


Non-adults in town and parish




Former Vicars.

1741. The Rev. Mr. Curghey. Rev. Mr. Woods, vicar-general. Rev. Mr. Crane. Rev. Mr. Wilks. Rev. Mr. Christian. Rev. Mr. Brew. 1761. Rev. Henry Corlett, the present vicar.
Donations to the poor about l0l. per annum.

The vicarage-house is inconveniently situated two miles from the town. The register begins 1667. The present register is latest peculiarly regular and neat.

In Kirk German church-yard, are interred eight persons between 72 and 80; six between 80 and 87; and two of 97 years of age.

The church, in which the service is alternately performed in Manks and English, is dedicated to St. Peter; it is in the form of a cross, with side galleries for the public scholars, and a deep one over the west wing. Its length is 27 yards, the cross 19 yards two feet; before 1766, or thereabouts, :English service was performed only once a month. It is situated in Peel-town, and is neatly pewed, with carpeting within the communion rails. One of the ancient low arches in the church was removed for the present gallery. There are two inscriptions in the chancel ,one to Capt. Syl. Radcliffe, of Knockaloe, buried Dec. 30, 1731,aged 78; and the other to Elizabeth Parr, alias Qualtraugh, wife to Capt. Caesar Parr, buried Feb. 20, 1766, aged 29. - A small ancient font.

Inscription in the church: John Leece, of Ballaleece, died at Knockaloe in Kirk Patrick, July 5th, 1781, aged 27.

The plate belonging to the communion service is six handsome pieces. 1. A flagon, with St. Peter handsomely engraved thereon. 2. A very large chalice, plated, given by Lady Moore.3. A tall chalice inscribed, " Ecclesiae Cathedralis Sti. Germani Peele, in insula Tonne sacro usui D.D.D. Suus humilis minister Henricus Bridgeman, 1670." N.B. This belonged to the cathedral. 4. A silver cup, inscribed, "The gift of John Crane, renewed by Captain Philip Cowell." 5. Another cup, silver, probably from the old cathedral. 6. A patter, inscribed, "Fxdono Henrici Bridgeman, Fpisc. Monensis Eccles. St. Germani ;"with the bishop's arms, ten balls lion passant in chief.

The custom-house establishment at Peel consists of two riding officers, one of whom collects the duties; boatmen, sidemen, &c.

Peel has two public breweries, a fine grammar-school, a mathernatical school, an English charity-school, and one capital redherring house. It has five fairs, May 1st and 18th, July 5th, Nov. 1st and 18th; at St. John's one March 28th, and July 26th, held at Peel-cross in the town.

Peel is a pleasant small town (formerly called Holm), with a safe quay. The ruins of the castle are extensive, and are separated from the town by a narrow channel, which you cross in a boat in a few minutes; but the way across the isthmus, or causeway, round by the mill, is long and disagreeable. On the top of the Horse hill is a noble and sublime view. Its surface when I visited it (in July) just previous to the herring fishery, was for acres covered with the wide-spread nets of the fishermen, in order to prepare them for the ensuing season.

The Harbour

Is in a very neglected state; a pier, which was built before 1765, is entirely carried away, and none but very small vessels, can now come in. From its situation, if this harbour were repaired, it might be of infinite service to the island and the British trade.

Boats termed daggans, which sail swift, attend the fishing vessels to buy fish, and then go immediately to the best markets in England, Scotland, or Ireland I saw seven off Peel in July. A plan of Peel Castle, with the harbour and depth of water at spring-tides, surveyed by R. Wilson in 1791, is annexed to the Commissioners' Report. The river Neb falls into the sea here. The rocks on the shore are romantic, and from their irregular shapes, may supply the imagination with resemblances of animated nature. To the northward is a black towering rock called the Stack.

The Bay

Is spacious, abounding with fish, of which the red cod is an exquisite delicacy. At the north boundary of Peel Bay are several grotesque and romantic caverns. The southern extremity of the bay is formed by Peel Isle, an extensive and lofty rock, encircled by the sea, On which is the fine ruin of Peel Castle, and the cathedral of St. German. This spot is still fenced round with a wall, &c., besides which are scattered about the ruins of St. Patrick's church, the armoury, the lord's mansion, and the episcopal palace.

I shall proceed to speak on these from the best information I can procure.

Peel Castle

Is situated on a small island, containing about four or five acres, separated from the main land and town by a narrow channel of the sea. It was one of the lord's garrisons. It is expressly named in the original grant of Henry IV. to the Stanley family, and is frequently mentioned in the acts of Tynwald. The cathedral church of the diocese, fallen into dilapidation, stands on this island. It was dedicated to St. German. Since the revestment, more than one bishop has been installed in the choir, which was the last part of the edifice preserved from decay. The inhabitants of the town claim a right of interment, and many have been buried within the walls. The ecclesiastical prison is a subterraneous vault under the cathedral, but has not been used for many years. Since 1765, the officers of the crown have taken possession of this island, which has been held as a perquisite by the governor. It was occupied by the high-bailiff of Peel, who used it as a sheep-walk, and annually paid a lamb, or some small consideration, to the governor by way of acknowledgement.

The castle was a common prison for the island, and sundry noble persons have been here perpetually imprisoned: Elinor Cotham, Duchess of Gloucester, was perpctually banished in19 Henry VI. anno 1440. Before this, Thomas Earl of Warwick was imprisoned here by Richard II.

In the Exchequer book for 1583, the Court is mentioned to leave been held at Holene town, near Peel.

In 1648, a fort was begun to be built near the town of Peel, opposite the castle, by the advice of Sir Arth. Ashton, to stop any relief that might be brought by boats, in case the castle should either rebel or be besieged.

" Peel castle (says Grose, Anti. Eng. vol. iv.) stands on a small rocky island about 100 yards north of the town. The channel, which divides it from the main land, at high water is very deep;but when the tide is out is scarcely midleg deep, being only separated by a little rivulet which runs from Kirk German mountains. The entrance into this island is on the south-side,where a flight of stone steps, now nearly demolished, though strongly cramped with iron, come over the rocks to the water's edge; and, turning to the left, others lead through a gate-way in the side of a square tower into the castle. Adjoining to this tower is a strong vaulted guard-room.

"The walls enclose an irregular polygon, whose area contains about two acres. They are flanked with towers, and are remarkably rough, being built with a coarse grey stone, but coigned and faced in many parts with a red grit found in the neighbourhood. It is highly probable this island has been fortified in some manner ever since the churches were built; but the present works are said, by Bishop Wilson, to have been constructed by Thomas Earl of Derby, who first encompassed it with a wall, probably about the year 1500.

" Here are the remains of two churches, one dedicated to St.Patrick, the era of its erection unknown; the other called St.German's, or the cathedral, constructed about the year 1245. It is built in the form of a cross, with a coarse grey stone; but the angles, window cases, and arches, are coigned and formed with a stone found hereabouts, almost as red as brick. This mixture of colours has a pleasing effect, and gives a richness and variety to the building. The cathedral is now extremely ruinous, much of it unroofed, and the remainder so much out of repair, that it would not be safe for a congregation to assemble in it. The eastern part of it was (when Mr. Grose saw it) covered and shut up, in which were then seats and a pulpit; this was the episcopal cemetery, and the inhabitants still bury within and about the walls. [See Vignette.]

" Beneath the easternmost part of it is the ecclesiastical prison. The descent into this vault is by eighteen steps; and the roof is vaulted by thirteen ribs, forming pointed arches, and supported by as many short semi-hexagonal pilasters, only twenty-oneinches above ground. The bottom of this place is extremely rough; and in the north-west corner is a well, or spring, which must have added greatly to the natural dampness of the place, to which there is no other air or light, but what is admitted through a small window at the east end.

"About the middle of the area, a little to the north of the churches of St. Patrick and German, is a square pyramidical mount of earth terminating obtusely. :Each of its sides faces one of the cardinal points of the compass, and measures about seventy yards. Time and weather have rounded off its angles; but on a careful observation it will be found to have been originally of the figure here described. For what use this mount was intended it may not be easy to determine. Perhaps from this eminence the commanding officer harangued his garrison, and distributed his orders; or else it may have been the burial-place of some great personage ion very early times; tumuli of this kind not being uncommon in the island."

On a head-stone in the cathedral is an inscription to the memory of Capt. Anderson, of the Lark, of Whitehaven,aged 43, who was wrecked near this place with his son William, and four men, Feb. 1, 1791. Also others to Capt. Murray, Mrs.Jane Wattleworth, Charles Wattleworth, and Mrs. Maddrell.

Among the inscriptions in the cathedral, was the following singular one, on a brass plate, over the tomb of Bishop Rutter, written by himself; the plate was a few years since stolen and carried away - it is supposed by some casual visitors; such a daring and criminal act ought to meet with a very severe punishment.

" In hac domo, quam a vermiculis
Mutuo accepi confratribus meis;
Sub spe resurrectionis ad Vitam,
Jaceo Saml permissione divina
Episcopus hujus Insulae: Siste, lector,
Vide ac ride, palatium Episcopi!
Ob. 30mo. die Mensis Maii, 1663. "

The cathedral is about one hundred and ten feet long, and seventy feet the cross.


The Tynwald mount has a pretty appearance from the road, on the side of which it is situated, about three miles from Peel in the way from Douglas. It is here that all the new laws are promulgated annually in great state. It was formerly walled round, with two gates. [See page 128.] It forms a pyramid of three circles, regularly advanced three feet above each other to the top, where there is room enough for the principal officers to stand under a canopy. A wide grass walk joins it to St. John's chapel. The lowest circle is about eighty yards round; the smallest about twenty-one feet round. [See the next page.]

St. John's chapel has been lately rebuilt, it is a small neat building in the form of a cross. It has no pews, being only used occasionally, when the Rev. Mr. Corlett does the duty.

Henry Byron, a man of great prudence and severity, who was Lieut.-Governor in 1428, regulated many public abuses in the state, and convened the people at the Tynwald in 1429, when the law for ending controversies by prowess was, among other matters, abolished by universal consent. Whether he had observed discontents in the manner of electing, their representatives, or thought it for the honour and interest of his lord to have the ancient legislative power restored, we know not; but it appears that he called another assembly the next year, and ordered six men to be chosen out of every shedding, by the whole body of the people, out of whom he elected four: the six sheddings are therefore represented by twenty-four persons denominated Keys.

* A parish in Dumfries bears this lame; for an account of which see Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. i. 8vo.

The annexed drawing represents the Tynwald Mount, with a horse lanketted.+ The view of the Cathedral at the head of this chapter, and of the Fort in the title page, were drawn by Mr. Haughton, jun. of Liverpool, who was in the island when I was there: they are engraved on wood by Anderson,of London.

It was in this parish that I met with Mr. W. R. Holden, of Birmingham, who had been making a tour of the island, and with whom I afterwards spent many social moments; as also with Mr. Carruthers, of Liverpool, with whom I enjoyed some pleasant excursions, and by whom I was obliged with the several drawings from whence the engravings are taken.

During my transient visit, the vicar obligingly pointed out every object worthy of notice, and from him, as well as from the clergy in general, I received more politeness than, perhaps, as an absolute stranger, I had any right to expect.


tynwald mount


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