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Peel, Isle of Man

Historical Description

Peel, a town in Kirk German parish, Isle of Man, on the W coast, at the mouth of the river Nebb, 11½ miles WNW of Douglas. It was anciently called Holme Town or Holme Pile or Peel, a fortification or castle; is now called by the Manx Piort-ny-Hinshey, signifying " the port of the island or holme;" and takes these names from a rocky islet, called St Patrick's Isle, which adjoins it and slielters its harbour. It was burnt in 1229 by Reginald, son of Godred; it is noted for an ancient castle occupying all St Patrick's Isle, and containing famous ancient buildings, both ecclesiastical and civil. The town consists principally of narrow and irregular streets, edificed with old red sandstone of the neighbourhood; but handsome dwelling-houses are now being erected, and the general appearance of the town greatly improved. A fine marine promenade has been formed at the N portion of the bay. It is a great seat of herring fishery, and carries on several large net factories and shipyards, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (S.O.) Peel is highly favoured in the matter of education. It has a grammar school, founded in 1746, with which is combined a mathematical school, founded in 1763. The Christian Endowed School, founded by Philip Christian, a native of Peel, who resided in London, and a member of the London Clothworkers Co., left that company certain property for the purpose of paying an annual sum towards the education of the poor children of his native town. These schools were erected in 1652, and additional accommodation made in 1879 for boys, with £300 annually devoted for their education and apprentice fees. The Wesleyan Methodists have also a large school for elementary education, and the Roman Catholics have opened one recently. The castle encloses an area of about 5 acres, consists of walls erected in 1593 by the fourth Earl of Derby, is supposed to have been preceded by fortifications destroyed by Robert Bruce, and may be reached by stepping-stones at low water. The walls are 4 feet thick and embattled, and have towers at irregular intervals. A ruined cathedral stands within the area, projects its E end as part of the castle walls; is cruciform, with a low central tower, but without aisles; measures 114¼ feet from E to W, and 68½ along the transepts; is partly Early English, partly Decorated, with some admixture of Norman; and continued to be used till nearly the middle of the 18th century. A barrel-vaulted crypt, 34 feet long and 16 wide, is beneath the cathedral; was used as a prison for all kinds of offenders; and was the death-place in 1453 of Eleanor, the wife of The good Duke Humphrey. During the persecution against the Quakers in the middle of the 17th century many of them were imprisoned here. A moated, rectangular, pyramidal mound is in the centre of the castle area, measures 271 feet along each side, and may have been a Scandinavian fort, erected prior to the llth century. A round tower stands to the W of the mound, on the highest point of the island; resembles the famous old round towers of Ireland and the towers of Abernethy and Brechin in Scotland; measures 44½ feet in circumference near the base, and about 50 in height; and has a door, facing the E, and beginning 6¾ feet from the ground. A ruined church, called the church of St Patrick, stands between the round tower and the cathedral, consists of irregular masonry, and has circular-headed doors and windows and a W bell-turret. Vestiges of a guardhouse, an armoury, and several other old buildings are within the castle area. These were destroyed in the most reckless manner in 1815 to furnish stone for the erection of a battery. The parish church of St Peter is a quaint little edifice built about 300 years ago. A clock-tower about 70 feet in height has been added, and contains a fine clock, presented to the town by Mr Ward, a native, settled in Montreal, and forms a conspicuous object. A commodious and handsome parish church has recently been built, and is considered one of the finest ecclesiastical edifices in the island. A new court-house has also been erected lately. A pier was built in 1798; is 1200 feet long and from 20 to 30 wide; has a jetty, constructed in 1830, and 120 feet long; and has also a lighthouse, erected in 1811, and showing a fixed red light 27 feet high, visible at the distance of 3 miles. At the extremity of the north breakwater there is another lighthouse, constructed in 1865, 37 feet high, and showing a fixed white light for a distance of 5 miles. The harbour has only 8 feet water at high water, but an anchorage outside has from 3 to 5 fathoms. A beacon tower, called Corrin's Folly, is near Contrary Head, on an eminence 675 feet in height, 1½ mile to the SSW. Population of the town,3631.

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


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

CountyIsle of Man