Parliament House (old House of Keys)

Originally the Keys met in Castle Rushen but they were forced out and built a meeting house in Castletown opposite the Castle Entrance.

This was the library built by Bishop Wilson in c. 1706 - illustrated in the 1791 woodcut

The Duke of Atholl in 1813 [AP_126(4th)/35] states " This building is in the most ruinous condition; it consists of a small inconvenient room where the Keys assemble, both in their Legislative and Judicial capacity; over which is a room, that in consideration of the sum of money paid by the Trustees of the Academic Fund was appropriated for a library - the roof, windows, and general state of the building is ruinous and irrepairable". This document was an early draft of a letter to Lord Sidmouth dated 15 Apr 1813[TNA HO 98/68] in which he refers to a plan and and estimate of £1353 15s 8d to rebuild (the plans however are not on file).

But by 1817 the building was declared to be dangerous and the Keys temporarily met at the George Inn. Lt Govr Smelt requested funding for Thomas Brine who had arrived in the Island as Clerk of Works to rebuild based on the earlier plan and costs of providing a new building on the site.

woodcut of old House of Keys

Brine's design would appear to have been reduced in size though the window arches were kept.

Parliament House Castletown
Building as in August 1997 after closure as a bank and before renovation

Brine's Original Design


Ground plan

Sold in 1877 to Dumbell's bank and continued as a bank until 1990's - after lying unused for some years it was acquired by Manx National Heritage and now restored to its supposed appearance when last used as the Keys' meeting place.


TNA HO 98/68 contains a copy of Brine's design

 [Castletown Index]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2023