Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Short Walk Around St Peters

Start from Onchan Village Hall at the top of Royal Avenue, and walk down the hill until you reach the bus shelter on the left hand side, just after Royal Apartments. Take a left up the lane, and you will soon approach St Peter's Churchyard. 

The View on the left shows St Peter's  on a crisp February Afternoon. The churchyard is the burial place of a well known Manx family - the Heywoods. The young Peter Heywood was caught up in the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty incident in 1789. That's not the only connection. Captain Bligh married Elizabeth Betham from the Hague Farm here, but in the old church.
Also buried here is Lieutenant Edward Reeves RN, one of Nelson's officers who fought with him at Trafalgar in 1805. 
Carry on  up the pathway to the front door of the church,and look above the door to see the stone Saint looking down. 

There are fine Celtic and Norse crosses inside the Church, dating back to an old keeill site. It's thought that the keeill was dedicated to the Celtic Saint Conchan, or Connaghyn in Manx Gaelic. He may have given his name to the village of Onchan.

Step over an old stile and walk past the outside of the churchyard wall. Opposite the Vicarage is The Whipping Stone.

  Legend has it that this was a whipping post, but it is actually a prehistoric stone. It may have been part of a larger stone circle at one time, or even a monument to mark the burial place of a Chieftan. 

Near the Whipping Post is a Victorian Street Lamp, which commemorated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Onchan was the first place on the Island to have electric street lighting, supplied by the generators to power the Electric Trams. The trams are still running today.

A stone axe head dating from approximately 5,000 years ago was found in the nearby Cassa Field, just a little further down the hill, and across the road. 

The axe head was found by a member of the Lewin family. 

The Village Green, seen alongside the Cassa field, leads on to Onchan Wetlands. 
You will also notice 'Welch House' across the road. Although it looks like a tiny chapel, it was actually an Infants School. 

Molly Carroin's Cottage is a little farther along on the right, a tiny white washed cottage originally thatched. It is probably the oldest building in Onchan, and dates back to the 1740s.    

The building may have been a weaving shed originally, but Molly Carroin and her sister lived here and did the village laundry from here from 1900 - 1930s. 

Now carry on up the hill, out of The Butt. It became known as the Butt because of water butts being stored here before mains water supplies.  Turn left, past 'Schoolmaster's Lane' ,so called because it lead to the home of the Village Schoolmaster. 

Across the road, under the branches of a weeping wych elm tree, is the Onchan War Memorial designed by famous artist and Art Nouveau designer, Archibald Knox.

Turn left around the corner to retrace your steps back to the Onchan Village Hall. This is also in the Art Nouveau style, designed by Baillie Scott. 
This completes a short circuit of the old heart of Onchan.