Castletown, Isle of Man

Historical Description

Castletown, a town in Kirk-Malew parish, Isle of Man, on a bay of its own name, near the southern extremity of the island, 10 miles SW of Douglas. It has a head post office. Population, 2178. The bay is separated on the NE by only the narrow isthmus of Longness Peninsula from Derby Haven, measures about 2 ½ miles by 2, and lias an occasional light, seen at the distance of 8 miles; but is unsheltered from southerly winds, beset with sunken rocks, and comparatively sliallow. The town is thought to be the oldest in the island, was the residence of its kings, and is still the seat of its government. It consists chiefly of modern houses in regular streets. A rivulet runs through it to the bay, and is crossed by two bridges for carriages and pedestrians. A marketplace, a large square, is near the centre. Castle-Rushen, once the abode of royalty, stands on a rock between the market-square and the rivulet, and overlooks the country for many miles. This was originally built about 945 by Guthred the Dane; is said to resemble Elsinore Castle, the scene of " Hamlet;" was the theatre of the events which form the plot of Sir Walter Scott's " Peveril of the Peak;" retains the formidable gloomy grandeur of the mediaeval architecture, with massive walls and square towers, one of them 80 feet high, and has been partially restored. A memorial to Governor Smelt, a Doric pillar, is on the Parade. St Mary's Church, facing the Parade, is an ornamental structure, built on the site of a previous church in 1828. Three Roman coins were discovered at the founding of the church, and a Roman altar is at the governor's house. King William's College, founded in 1830, stands at Hango Hill, and is an imposing edifice in the Pointed style, 210 feet by 135, with a tower and lantern 115 feet high. The training here is liberal, preparatory for the church, and several of the masters, as also many of the pupils, have been distinguished. There are Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels, and a literary institution. The town has a bank and a weekly market.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Maps

Online maps of Castletown are available from a number of sites: