Parish History

St Sanctain’s Church, Santon, Isle of Man

The History of the Parish of Santon hereunder has been reproduced in this form by kind permission of the Vicar and Wardens of St. Sanctain’s Church, Santan.

The Editor is indebted to Mr. Roger Christian of Port Grenaugh for his painstaking transcription of the text from the history entitled, ” St. Sanctain’s Church”, written by the Reverend J.M. Cotter, Vicar of Santon, dated March 1977. The drawing of St. Sanctain’s on the cover of the History is by John H. Nicholson R.A.

The structure and text of the History has been retained, even where it is now out of date and the Editor of the website has added in italics where necessary, some footnotes which attempt to bring the text up to date. The spelling and format of the original has been followed rigorously throughout in order to preserve the flavour of the historical extracts .

(Persons unfamiliar with the old form of currency in the British Isles should read the prices of services and commodities in Pounds Sterling, Shillings, Pence and Halfpence. There were 240 pence to the Pound Sterling).

Reproduction of this material without the permission of the Commissioners is prohibited unless for bona fide educational purposes. Any such use should be advised to the Clerk.



The Christian faith was brought to Mann around 447 A.D. by Missionaries from the Celtic Church in Ireland, which differed in organisation and in the timing of the Christian Year from the Latin Church. The Latin Church was brought to Canterbury by St. Augustine and his forty Benedictine Monks in 597 A.D. In the same year St. Columba, the Celtic Monk, died. He was a follower of St. Bridget and St. Patrick. The bodies of all three of those Celtic Saints rest side by side in the Cathedral Church of Downpatrick in Ireland.

St. Sanctain’s Church, Santon, stands on the site of an ancient Church or Keeill built around fifteen hundred years ago, which was well before St. Augustine came from Rome to Canterbury. It is strategically placed and commands a view of a large sweep of the sea looking towards the north-west coast of England and the mountains of North Wales. It can be seen by travellers sailing on the sea and flying by air as they come over the coastline towards Ronaldsway Airport. Thus for fifteen centuries the present Church, and its predecessors, have always been a landmark by sea, land and air. The present building was erected in 1774 and is a good example of an old Manx Church with its white walls and rectangular shape.

The original building was one of over a hundred Celtic Keeills, or “treen” churches, which were scattered all over the Island.

A “treen” was made up of four farms, or quarterlands, and became a convenient fiscal unit with annual tax proportionate to its size. It was the duty of the treen chief to make provision for the spiritual welfare of those who were resident on his land. Twenty-six treens made up a Sheading or ship-district. Each treen was required by law to supply one oarsman for the twenty-six Skeid, or warship, which was provided for defence purposes.

Keeil churches, usually about 20 feet by 12 feet, were built of either rough stones, or boulder stones, and clay sod, which accounts for the com­plete disappearance of many of them. In the west gable or south wall was the doorway, and in the east or south wall, the only window. In bad weather a wooden shutter, or window-door, fitted on a swivel, closed this opening, thus excluding the elements. It formed the barest of shelters for the ‘culdee’ or priest to consecrate bread and wine, the mystery of Christ’s new and everlasting Covenant in His Body and Blood. The Eucharist is still today received by Christ’s followers weekly both morning and evening in St. Sanc­tain’s Church. Any family desecrating these hallowed places reputedly ran the risk of having no more male heirs and the consequent dying out of the family.

The name Santon is of Irish derivation and has changed in spelling through­out its long history. Like other Manx ancient parishes, the Parish takes its name from its Parish Church, which is dedicated to St. Sanctain, who was an Irish saint and Bishop, and a disciple of St. Patrick. Records show how the word ‘Sanctain’ has gone through different stages of spelling to arrive today at the more frequently used ‘Santon’. ‘Sanctain’ appears as ‘Sanctain’, ‘Santain’, ‘Santan’, and ‘Santon’. The latter two spellings are today recognised widely, but that of ‘Santon’, seems to have taken over and is the one that is more generally used.

There is a story told of when, last century, the Isle of Man railway line was built from Douglas to Port Erin, a sign writer left Douglas to paint the station signboards. He boldly wrote ‘Santon’ in this parish, and some say that was the commencement of the modern spelling of the old Saint’s name.

St. Sanctain was Bishop of Cell da les (Church of two forts) in Ireland a place of importance in its day, but which, so far, has not, in modern times, been specifically identified. One day Irish archaeologists or historians may light upon the clue that will again disclose its exact location.

A very ancient Celtic manuscript states that the ‘Hymn of Sanctain’ is one of the oldest Irish manuscripts. In the Calendar of Aengus, the phrase ‘Epscop Santain sochla’ (the famous Bishop Sanctain) is used. There were several Irish Keeills that were also dedicated to St. Sanctain.

Some time in the seventeenth century, in post-Reformation times, it would appear that St. Sanctain’s connection with Santon had been forgotten, for at that time there took place an even further corruption, which was quite erroneous, when the dedication was mistakenly attributed to St. Ann. How this occurred is lost in antiquity, but it is not difficult to appreciate the easy way in which Santan could be mistaken for St. Ann, and vice versa. Blundell perpetuated this error in his account of the island in 1648. It is interesting to note that in addition to Santon Church at least one Irish church had its name similarly altered in error, for Kell Easpuig Sanctain, near Dublin, was changed to St. Ann’s Chapel.

Thus, although the reason for the unauthorised alteration is unknown today, the name St. Ann was given circulation. The last reference to this Saint in the Church Registers is in 1822, when in a period of further uncer­tainty, another Saint. namely St. Anne, was duly recorded as the one to whom the Church was dedicated. This lasted until the year 1891, when the restoration of the dedication to its original Saint. St. Sanctain, seems to have occurred. The parish Church of St. John’s contains a stained glass window to St. Sanctain, spelt ‘St. Sanctain’.

The living of St. Sanctain’s, together with that of twelve other livings in the Isle of Man, is solely in the patronage of the Crown, in the person of Her Majesty the Queen, the Lord of Mann. Before the dissolution of the Monasteries, it was in the hands of the Abbot of Rushen Abbey. When the Queen appoints a new Vicar, the Lieutenant Governor receives presentment documents signed by Her Majesty. At the Service of Institution and Induc­tion of a new Vicar, these documents, together with the new Vicar, are presented by the Lieutenant Governor to the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann with the request that the Bishop institute the nominee of the Crown. This duty is always carried out by the Governor in person.

In the 17th century Vicars’ stipends were so small that in some cases as with one Vicar of Santon, the Vicars kept an alehouse to augment their incomes. Eventually this anomaly was rectified by raising their stipends to a more realistic amount, for that period.

The records of the Spiritual Courts show that in the early part of the 17th century an irate Vicar of Santon pulled an offending parishioner by his beard. These courts also intervened in matrimonial difficulties, the Sumner having to be the equivalent of a modern Welfare Officer. In 1644 the Archdeacon and Vicar-General ordered that “N M. of Santon shall fit and furnish his wife from Tagart – with a-suit from top to tow, according to his and her eynce and callinge and this without fayle to be done before tuesday the 12th of December and thereof — neighbours (whereof the Sumner is to be one) to see that she be well used in food and other necessaries.. ………………….. “.

In 1761, N.T. of Santon, was presented for ‘entertaining Company and Music in his house on the Lord’s Day, late at night’, and S.C. of Santon, for ‘neglecting to prepare himself for Confirmation and also for being greatly addicted to cursing, swearing and being very rude, quarrelsome and of un­becoming behaviour’. He was committed to St. German’s Prison.

In 1757, C.G. and J., his wife, both of Santon, were presented for ‘travel­ling across the Country to the north side on the fast day, held on the 11th February’. C.G. was committed to St. German’s Prison.

After the death of Bishop Mark Hildesley, in 1773, these disciplinary courts decreased and an increasing number of blank parish presentment sheets were handed in to the Registrars. In 1799, the Rev. P. Crebbin, Vicar of Santon, with a levity, which would have shocked the Vicars-General of an earlier age, wrote across his return, ‘Church wardens in abundance, but no presentments’. To this day the seventeen ancient parishes, of which Santon is one, exercise their time-honoured privilege of electing four Church wardens.

The land, upon which St. Sanctain’s Church is built, has been a sacred Christian site for fifteen centuries and various Keeills or Churches have been erected thereon. Records show that in the decade of 1720-1730, the Church was rebuilt. Around 1774 something very serious must have happened to it (possibly it was destroyed by fire), for in that year it was again rebuilt and has remained standing to the present day. These rebuildings took place in part of the period when the Church’s dedication had mistakenly been attri­buted to St. Ann, instead of St. Sanctain.

Observant visitors will notice a reference to St. Ann on the outside of the west wall of the church on a slate tablet above the west door, and also one to St. Anne on the inside of the west wall, on the blue board of benefactors to the parish. The dates thereon, in each case, are in line with the mistaken dedications of their periods.

The North and West Doors and Porch were skillfully restored by Mr. Howard Jackson of Croft House in 1976.

In 1980 a parish church hall (known as the Church Centre) was built to the west side of St Sanctain’s and is used as a meeting place for church and associated functions. It also serves by day as a nursery school and the Local Government Board of Parish Commissioners meets there every month – Ed.


In 1932, when the late Rev. William Hornby, was Vicar, a new roof was put on and the pews, which extended right up to the east wall, were removed and the present Chancel and Sanctuary pavement was given in loving memory of Mrs. Joyce Tweedale, by her parents, G.F. & F. Wormald.

The late Rev. Frederick Woodhouse Gelling, Vicar, collected funds for the installation of electric light.

The late Rev. Edward Jones had the present Vestry constructed in 1951 by demolishing two pews by the staircase to the gallery. A friend of his, who wished to remain anonymous, saved money, although he was in humble circumstances, and for love of Mr. Jones, gave to the Church, in 1952, the beautiful East Window, made by Messrs. Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster, depict­ing the Institution of our Lord’s Supper. The roof and pavement of this window are complementary to the Church roof and pavement. A key to the figures in the window is to be found on the Notice Board outside the Vestry. Mr. Jones also had mains water installed at both the Church and the Vicarage. Formerly water from wells had been used.

The double-glazing of the Church windows was carried out by Mr. Donald J. Gelling of Glengrenaugh, Santon in 1976 and 1977. In 1976 an anonymous donor gave the money for a further protection to be placed on the outside of the beautiful East Window, and the West doors and porch were repaired and restored.

Edward Moore, Vicar-General, made a Visitation on 20th July, 1748 and noted that “Seats in the Church were much out of order; a hest with a lock to it; a good bell; a pewter flagon, dish and two plates; a small silver chalice, shallow, with a long foot – very curious. Two boxes of wood for the offertory”.

At the western end of the inside of the northern wall of the Church, and opposite the Vestry, can be found three stone slabs of interest, which have received the endorsement of the Manx Museum Authorities as being of historical significance and importance. Two depict forms of the Cross. The smaller is the more intricate in design and workmanship.

The third stone is, in the Island’s history, a rarity. In fact, it is probably unique in that it is believed to be the only Roman remains of its kind ever to be found on the Island. Its origin and history are quite unknown. It was found amongst the foundations of what was once a former Church or Keeill during the excavating that took place for the building of the present Church. It was once part of a gravestone and dates back to the seventh century. Old gravestones have been used to form part of the foundations of Church build­ings in many parishes.

The Roman stone in Santon Church bears a brief Latin inscription as follows: ­

‘A VITI MONOMENTI’ (The Tomb of Avitus). Nothing is known about the Manx Avitus, but it was a fairly common Roman name in those early times and presumably had some connection with the Island, and with the parish of St. Sanctain, in particular. It is possible that he could have been a Christian priest, who had been sent to the Island by St. Augustine, and who lived and conducted worship on this site. People of those times are part of our heritage. What a privilege it is to be today a very small section of that great throng, who have kept the Christian faith alive down the centuries, especially on a site such as this, which is so steeped in history and Christian worship.

Those who stop to have a closer look at the Avitus stone, will note a peculiarity in the formation of the last letter I, in both words. Instead of it being vertical, it is horizontal, in each case, viz: ‘-‘. Furthermore, the end of the first letter acts also as the beginning of the second in the word ‘AVIT ‘ Details such as these are always helpful in tracing the history and authenticity of an object.

There are two copper collecting pans, dated 1757, given by Hugh Cosnahan, Merchant, of Douglas. These have long handles and are not often used now­adays, but in time could become of value.

On 18th November, 1934 Mrs. Roberts, presented to the Church a pair of brass candlesticks, which had been in her family over 100 years. They are in use every Sunday.

During the late Rev. E.B. Gregory’s time as Vicar he accepted gifts for the Church listed in this and the next four paragraphs. Mr. C.H.Kearley, former owner of the Arragon Farms and the former Arragon Hotel, at Seafield Manor House, gave the light oak Holy Communion Table and panelling in 1956, in memory of his mother. Mr. Gregory saw the electric heating installed, the lighting re-arranged; the blue carpet in the Chancel laid; the pew kneelers provided and the Bishop’s Chair and Stool donated, these last two by the late Mr. Harold S. Cain, in memory of his mother.

The handsome Litany desk, in light oak wood, was donated by Vicar Gregory and his wife, in memory of Mr. Gregory’s mother.

The light oak carved Hymn and Psalm boards for the use of the Congregation were presented to the Church by Miss Elsie Kelly of Newtown, in memory of her parents. The matching boxes, which contain the Hymn and Psalm number cards, were made and presented to the Church by a local craftsman, Mr. J.W. Collister, formerly of Seafield Cottage.

The purple pulpit fall was presented by Mr. & Mrs. W. Caley, of The Haven Ballavale, in memory of Mrs. Caley’s parents, Mr. & Mrs. G.A Quayle, of Arragon Beg. The green pulpit fall was given by Mrs. Phillips of Port St. Mary, in memory of her brother, Rev. F.W. Gelling, a former Vicar of Santon. The white pulpit fall was given by the City of Birmingham Friendly Society. The red pulpit fall was presented by Mr. R.D. Haynes, of Ballavar, in memory of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. AW. Haynes, formerly of Glentraugh.

The blue Altar cloth was presented by Mrs. Vera Challenor, of Port Erin, in memory of her husband, Mr. Gordon Challenor and of her parents, Mr. & Mrs. G.A Quayle, of Arragon Beg.

Early in 1973, during the interregnum when the Rev. T.B. Jenkins MBE. was in charge of the Parish, the white hand-crocheted lace that trims the white altar cloth and falls down the sides of the Table, was presented by Mrs. Zena Carus of Port Erin.

The beautiful light oak processional Cross was donated to the Church in October 1973, by Mrs. Eileen Teare and her son Mr. Peter Teare of Thorn­croft, Santon. Mr. Teare made the Cross himself, with some assistance from some of the boys of Castle Rushen High School, Castletown, who worked under his direction and supervision.

In November the same year the back of the Organ was renewed. The Hymn and Psalm boards on the organ for the use of the Choir and Organist were provided. Also seven rectangular containers to assist with floral decorations in the Church, particularly at Festival times, were obtained.

In 1974 two medium-sized glass cruets, with stoppers, for water and wine at Holy Communion, and two wafer boxes were donated anonymously to the Church.

In 1975 the oak Choir bench was given by Mr. & Mrs. J. Orme of Mount Rule Farm, and the re-wiring of the electric lighting system took place. The four lovely light oak Church wardens’ staves, made by Kelly Bros. of Kirk Michael, were anonymously donated to the Church in the middle of 1975 by a non-parishioner friend of the Parish, who wrote ‘These Staves are offered as a thanksgiving for many blessings to the Glory of God for the use of the Wardens of Saint Sanctain’s Church, Santon, Isle of Man. AD.1975″. They were dedicated by the Bishop on 18th January 1976.

The following are to be found on the Notice Board outside the Vestry. The coloured photograph taken in candlelight by Mr. Bill Peters, Photographer of Douglas, at the 1973 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday after Christmas Day, was kindly presented by him to the Church. The flower rota designed, painted and framed by Mrs. Nan Pearce of Stockland, Devon, was donated by her to the Church. The list of Vicars was written, designed framed and given to the Church by Mrs. Ruth Woolley of Santon. The Notice to Visitors was inscribed and framed by Lady AlIen of Stockland, Devon, and given by her to St. Sanctain’s Church; it reads as follows:

” As you enjoy the peace and quiet of this Church will you please pray for the peace of the world and the work of God everywhere and for His Church in this Parish of Santon.

Please remember, too, those who come here, that their lives and witness may be enriched and that the unity, which Jesus prayed for, may pervade His Church where ever it is to be found and that man-made barriers be cast away.

We are delighted you have visited this Church, in which the sacred influ­ences of the past linger on to minister peace and inspiration to the spiritual pilgrims of the present.

From this place of sacred and joyful recollection may you and all who come here go out in the spirit of Christian love and unity to consolidate and extend the Kingdom of Christ in this present age.”

Music was originally provided by minstrels in the gallery, which now houses the Organ. They were aided and/or superseded by a quaint barrel Organ, which can now be seen in the Manx Museum in Douglas. The present Organ, by Hewitt of Leicester, was installed towards the end of the last century. It has two manuals, a tracker action and a straight pedal board. During the latter part of 1975 it was extensively overhauled, restored, renovated and re-­voiced . At the same time a damp chaser was installed together with a tell­tale light indicating that it is doing its job. Through the kind offices of the Board of Education and some of our parishioners, a piano, formerly used at Jurby School, was gratuitously installed in 1976 for use at Choir practices.

The first robed Choir was formed while the late Rev. E.B. Gregory, was Vicar. It performed very worthily and faithfully for a number of years and was a great help in leading worship. The girls and ladies wore purple gowns and hats, and the boys black cassocks and white surplices. Time, and the changing circumstances of life, found the Church in the 1960s without a regular Choir once more. However, in 1973, a Choir was formed again and appeared in Church, in new red robes – alike for adults and children -, for the first time on October 14th, for Harvest Thanksgiving. Both Choirs were indebted to the ladies of the Parish for making their robes. The present Choir is affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music. It leads the singing on Sundays, normally for the 6.30 p.m. evening service.

In 1719, Bishop Wilson presented to the Church a flagon, two plates and a cloth, but these regrettably have disappeared. Vicar-General, John Wilks, visited Santon officially in 1786, and described a pre-Reformation chalice ‘with shallow cup and slender foot, very curious’. This would now be of considerable value but its present whereabouts are unknown. These losses of Church silver are most unfortunate and distressing. If anyone hears of their whereabouts please tell the Vicar or one of the Churchwardens. The oldest vessel is a chalice-beaker of silver, with curved body very unusual and probably unique. It was hand made in Douglas, by Thomas Appleby, in 1758. It is inscribed “KK St. Ann 1758 Thos Appleby Fecit Duglis”. The letters ‘TA.” appear roughly stamped three times and on each occasion in a rectangular cartouche.

In 1832, on Christmas Day, Mrs. Ann Bacon, widow of John Joseph Bacon, of Ballavilley, presented to the Church, a very handsome set of silver sacramental vessels, which are used every week and bear the letters IHS. the cross and three nails in glory. Mrs. Bacon was a daughter of the Rev. Joseph Cosnahan, Vicar of Braddan and a sister of the Rev. Julius Cosnahan, who followed his father as Vicar of Braddan. Her grandfather the Rev. John Cosnahan had also been Vicar of Braddan.

There are four Mural Tablets – one on the south wall, to the memory of F.B. Clucas M.H.K., Advocate, of Meary Voar, who gave £600, for charitable purposes to the Parish. Another on the same wall is in memory of John Shimmin, sexton for 17 years, who died while a prisoner of war in Burma. On the north wall there is a tablet in memory of John Quayle, C.P. of Crogga and another to his wife, Emily, who was a member of the Gawne family, of Kentraugh, Rushen, and sister-in-law of Mark Hildesley Quayle.

Normally, the Arms of the reigning Sovereign may not be publicly displayed, without Royal permission, but such permission is not required for churches in the British Isles. In Santon Church the Arms on the face of the Gallery purport to be those of King William IV, who came to the throne in 1830. The letters W.R., however, may have been put in consequent upon his Succession. Thus they could be older, being the Arms of his father George III, or even George II. Extracts from the accounts that follow mention Arms in 1801 and 1836. They could not be earlier than 1801 otherwise they would include the Arms of France. Incidentally in the Arms, the Lion supporter should be painted gold and not tawny.

The French Monarchs were styled ‘Most Christian’, the Spanish, ‘Catholic’ and from 1521 (Henry VIII) the English, ‘Defender of the Faith’. The title ‘FID. DEF.’ is on all British coins, except Manx coins. It would be interesting to know (a) when it was first omitted and (b) why. So far no one has been able to supply the author with the answers. Perhaps someone reading this booklet could give them.

In a gift of ecclesiastical benefices, by Edward I, AD.1291, occurs a reference to the Church. There may be as yet unrevealed references to St. Sanctain’s Church going back into earlier centuries. The earliest Vicar of whom there is traceable record was called Dofnold who died about 1291 (see Rotuli Scotiae). He was succeeded by Odo. A gap then appears in the records until 1571 apart from the name of Richard in 1408. Possibly either the details have been lost or destroyed, or the services of the Church could have been maintained by the monks of Rushen Abbey until the dissolution of that Monastery in 1540.

Then came:

Alexander Stevenson 1571 Gilmour Harvey 1865

Edward Baguley 1581 Henry C. White 1877

Robert Moore 1597 Robert Airey 1878

Robert Otter 1608 John Kirkby 1889

William Cosnahan 1614 Richard Jones 1892

Sir John Cosnahan 1618 William Homby 1931

Edward Crowe 1656 Frederick Gelling 1938

John Halstead —– Edward Jones 1950

Sir Hugh Cosnahan 1667 E. Bertie Gregory 1954

John Cosnahan 1691 David Lumgair 1970

Paul Crebbin 1731 James M. Cotter 1973

Thomas Cubbon 1765 D.C.W. Post 1978

Charles Crebbin 1769 Clifford Bradley 1979 (In plurality KkBraddan)

John Nelson 1818 Roger H Home 1985 (ln plurality KkBraddan)

Thomas Kewley 1827 Geoffrey B Clayton 1988 (In plurality Kk Arbory)

Samuel Gelling 1835 Christopher Quine 1999 (In plurality Kk Arbory)

(D.C.W. Post was Priest in Charge March-June 1978. Rev’d. Christopher Brown from September 1991 and continues as at September 9, 2004)

The Rev. Paul Crebbin translated part of the Prayer Book into Manx. The Rev. Thomas Cubbon translated the Old Testament Books of Ezra and Neremiah into Manx, while Paul’s son, The Rev. Charles Crebbin translated another Old Testament Book, Ecclesiastes into Manx.

At Christmas 1776 Mr. and Mrs. Howard Jackson made the beautiful chandeliers for use in the Chancel at Candlelight services.

In 1977 Mr. and Mrs. L. Woolley and their son Richard gave additional Communion linen and a white altar cloth trimmed with hand-crocheted white lace from a cotta of The Rev. Canon Tom Woolley of Lichfield.


No history of Santon Church would be complete without reference to the Cosnahan family, which included four Vicars of Santon and also three Vicars of Braddan, making a total of seven clergymen, of whom six and their wives are buried under what is called ‘The Great Stone’. This stone covers the Cosnahan family grave in the Churchyard, near the southwest end of the Church. The Cosnahan family were descendants of a Scottish immigrant who appears to have arrived at Peel about 1530. He had three sons. The Santon branch was derived from his son, John, whose son, William, was Vicar of Santon from 1614-1618. Little is known of this Vicar, but his son, Sir John, (Santon’s Vicar from 1618-1656), was a merry old roisterer, who kept an ale house; pulled the beard of one Nicholas Moore and erected, (or, possibly, his father did), the Great Stone, a massive piece of schist, believed to weigh 30 cwt ( See gravestone in Photos section – Ed.). His brother, William, a man of similar mould and Vicar of the Parish of German, went through the siege of Peel Castle, had a daughter Margery, to whom he entrusted his ale-house, was fined for brawling and bloodshed, and also for using foul language! His wife was sentenced to ‘wear the bridle’ in Peel Churchyard, for slander!

What happened during the Commonwealth period is difficult to unravel. Nominally, Sir John was Vicar until his death in 1656 when he was succeeded by Edward Crowe. Then followed one John Halstead, who was deposed, and Sir Hugh Cosnahan, who was renowned for his horsemanship and was given the vicarage. He was the son of Sir John.

The following extracts from records are of interest:

1656: ‘Sir John Cosnahan, late Vicar of KK St. Ann, being Minister in the said Parish, 38 years departed this life 24th of June, and was buried the next day following in ye yard under the great broad stone, for he left in his last will that he should be buried there.

1657: ‘And likewise, Sir Wm. Cosnahan, his Brother, late Vicar of KK German, departed this life the 23rd June, and was buried the day following in the Chancell in his father’s Grave & Sir Tho. Harrison preached his funeral Sermon and his text was out of the 25th of the first book of the Kings and the last verse. (There is no such chapter, he must have meant the 2nd Book of Kings, a plain Historical simple text enough, but if Sir Thomas’s text was taken from the last Chapter and last verse of the 1st Book of the Kings, he did not, I fancy, preach much to the Honour of Brother Sir William “Truly, Sir Thomas, your text would, in the preventage appear very extraordinary at the head of a Funeral Sermon”)

1690: The Rev. John Cosnahan, whilst a Deacon, married Margaret Moore, on the 2nd December 1690 in St. Patrick’s Church in Peel Town. They had six sons and seven daughters. In 1691 he followed his father, Sir Hugh Cosnahan, who died 2 1/2 months before John’s marriage, as Vicar of Santon. When Bishop Wilson came to the Island, they became close friends. On the 15th February 1693, ‘being Wednesday about 12 o’clock at night one of their sons, John, was born and was baptised on Feb. 18th’. John, senior, “died on 14th April, 1724, aged 56 and was buried on 16th April, 1724 in his father’s and grandfather’s grave under the Great Stone in the Yard” at Santon.

In June 1717 John, Junior, married Anne Corrin on St. Peter’s Day at Santon Church. He became Vicar of Braddan and Vicar-General. They had a son, Joseph, and a grandson, Julius, both Vicars of Braddan. Their granddaughter was Mrs. Ann Bacon of Seafield. They also had a son, John, who was “born ye 14th July 1720 about 8 in ye morning, and baptised on the 17th after the ancient and primitive practice of dipping, as prescribed in ye Rubrick in public baptism”.

Another son, Hugh, was ‘baptised on 31st December, 1706, confirmed at KK Malew on 25th March, 1721, and died in the Island of Jamaica, where he was buried on shore about ye latter end of January, 1728’.

Other Vicars buried in the Churchyard are, 1. The Rev. Paul Crebbin, Vicar for 34 years. His widow, Jane, died in 1799; aged 100 years. He was one of the translators of the Prayer Book into Manx. 2. His son, Charles, Vicar for 48 years 9 months translated Ecclesiastes into Manx. 3. The Rev. Thomas Kewley aged 39, Vicar for 7 years, whose gravestone was erected by Santon Parishioners. 4. The Rev. Samuel Gelling, Vicar for 30 years. 5. The Rev. Robert Airey, Vicar for 11 years. 6. The Rev. Richard Jones, Vicar for 39 years, and 7. The Rev. Edward Bertie Gregory, Vicar for 16 years and his wife Eveline Frederica Gregory both of whom were well loved in the Parish, and remembered with much affection by Santon people.

Another gravestone of great interest in the Churchyard is that of Daniel Tear. He was a tinker and vagrant of Kirk Andreas, who died in 1787, at the age of 110 years. He is buried on the north side of the Church and was the oldest Manxman who ever lived. The headstone epitaph was com­posed by Sir Wads worth Busk, Attorney General of the Island and it reads as follows:

“Here friend is Little Daniel’s tomb.

To Joseph’s age he did arrive;

Sloth killing thousands in their bloom

While, labour kept poor Dan alive.

How strange, yet true, full seventy years

Was his wife happy in her Tears.

Daniel Tear, died 9th Dec. 1787, aged 110 years”.

In 1790, Daniel Tear’s wife, Margaret, died aged 98 years.

Near the Cosnahan Great Stone, is the grave of Mrs. Jessica Cresswell widow of the Rev. John Cresswell. She was a daughter of a former Lieutenant Governor of the Island, Cornelius Smelt, who, in 1830, laid the foundation stone of King William’s College. Near the east entrance gate is the large grave of the Clucas family, whose former home was Meary Voar. A late Speaker of the House of Keys, – Sir Frederick Clucas is buried there. Members of the family had been on the staff of Repton School, and one was a founder master of the school.

Another former Member of the House of Keys, buried in Santon Churchyard

is Mr. Thomas Kinnish, Senior, of Mullinaragher.

An interesting epitaph on the grave of a man named John Brew can be seen as one enters the Churchyard by the main gate. It bears the date 1806 and reads as follows:

“All you travellers that pass by,

As you are now, so once was I;

And as I am, soon you shall be,

In time prepare for Eternity.”

Of more recent years, among others buried in the Churchyard, are Thomas Arthur Bridson, the noted Manx artist, who died in 1966 at the age of 105. Every year, up to and including his attaining the age of one hundred, he climbed to the top of Snaefell mountain on his birthday.

A former Captain of the Parish, His Honour Deemster Bruce Whyte MacPherson , C.P., whose home was at Crogga, was buried in the new Churchyard in November 1971. He served the parish of Santon and the Island loyally, faithfully and well. He loved St. Sanctain’s Church where, with his wife and family, he was a regular and faithful worshipper. His wife, Dorothy Clare Gwladys is buried with him. Both were well-loved and highly respected in the Parish and beyond its bounds.

In 1969 a wealthy English businessman, James Kenneth Wilkie, was buried here. He was the generous benefactor to a large number of orphan boys many of whom attended his funeral, and some still continue to visit his grave. All who were present at his funeral received a legacy from his estate.

A whole host of other lovable, loving and faithful people of various occu­pations, rich and poor, named and unnamed, remembered and forgotten, have over the centuries found here their final earthly resting place. A noble throng, which no man can number, some of the saints of the Church of Christ in communion with whom succeeding generations are privileged to join. A faithful line who kept the Church alive in this Parish, and handed it on, so that today we are honoured to be part of so great and distinguished a heritage, going back 1500 years. May we, like them in past times, preserve the faith of Jesus Christ and be honoured and privileged to belong to that host which no man can number, who are alive with our Lord, by ourselves handing it on with uplifted, joyful, loving and hopeful hearts to succeeding generations in a faithful, loyal and worthy manner.

The black marine plywood Notice Board on the wall on the north side of the east gate of the Churchyard was very kindly made for Santon Church by Mr. Stanley Turner of Village Hair Fashion of Ballasalla. His wife, Mary, also very kindly added her talents to her husband’s by painting on it the inscription in white and the Celtic cross in red.


Various and widely differing items are recorded in the registers, some extracts from which follow. Would that more had been written down.

‘The north side of the Church was rebuilt anno 1703; the south side 1715; the Gable and Steeple 1725; so that the walls of this Church are all new. A new Bell was set up on April ye 9th 1720. The Steeple of the Church was finished and the Church enlarged July 29th 1727. The seats were then regulated by the Wardens with the assistance of 4 Sworn men, pursuant to the Vicar-General’s order. The Steps about ye Font (were) for the poor people.’

‘The watering Place of the Glebe is St. Ann’s Well and other water in the waste ground in the road below and near said well. This Well in the street before the Vicarial house was sunk Anno 1775, being a remarkably dry summer. The depth thereof is about 16 feet, thirteen of which goes into a very hard quarry, so that the most squeamish Dame need not doubt the purity of the water.’

An estimate of 1785 reads: ‘John Cane proposals for making or fixing and compleating the Gallery of the Church in a neat and complete form – to wins­coting the front and the back of the front seat, wincot as the seats below & the remainder of the seats with a single back, with a firm and finished stairs, together with the 4 side windows & he gives in this proposal as his ex­pence for work and all complete for the sum of £17.10. – or otherwise, if the Church to have all the back seats winscoted like the seats below. He offers to do the same in that fassion or form for the sum of £20. He also offers to sea1e the same if required for £2. ‘

October 3rd 1813, ‘Mrs. B. of Mill ne Quinne complained to me that J.M. keepeth riotous house giving drink to people and fighting in time of Divine Service this day, and this the Miller’s wife also knoweth T.B., Warden.’

‘At a visitation holden at St. Anne, August 27th, 1841 by the Venerable Archdeacon Hall,’ he ordered that ‘the Chancel Door be repaired & painted wood removed from window sills & cemented. That Churchyard gate be painted & wall repaired. Roof be pointed & wall which lets in water to be cemented. Church (West) door mended & painted. That the pillars support­ing Tombstone at West Entrance of Church be removed & the stone placed in the ground. The Archdeacon regrets to be obliged to report that the 4 Church wardens were so neglectful of their duty as not to attend at his visitation. He ordered that a new surplice be provided; an English Prayer Book for Communion Service & the large English Prayer Book mended.’ It is stated in two different places that ‘one of the above 4 Church wardens on the 17th October 1841 placed a box with two locks in the Church to lock up the wine & from that day, as long as he was in office, (up to 24th May 1842,) deprived the Vicar of the whole of the Sacramental wine. He had a man in Church to see that ye Vicar took no more than he (the Churchwarden concerned) allowed the Vicar to take. But the new Wardens removed the box as soon as they came into office, and restored the wine as formerly. This he did in addition to depriving the Vicar of two-thirds of the tithe of Ballachrink and Ballakis­sage . The whole of his conduct has proved him to be diametrically the reverse of a truth telling or honourable dealing man, and yet this man professing pre-eminent holiness.’

There was a visitation ‘by the Bishop and Archdeacon on 18th April 1856 which directed that the Font be restored to the Church; the windows of the Church and School be painted; matting be laid down in the Aisle; West Door of the Church be repaired; Chancel Windows and Doors be painted; a drain on the South side be constructed to carry off the water.’ At a Vestry meeting on 24th July 1856, to consider these orders, ‘Resolved that the Font be restored to the West end of the Church-namely into the two seats at the North – west side of the Church adjoining the West Gable’. ‘Resolved that a new matting be purchased and laid down in the Aisle.’ ‘Re the pro­posed drain on the south side, the Vestry considered this order not practicable.’ Why, is not recorded.

  1. ‘Special Vestry Meeting to consider exchange of piece of land in lieu of the Clerk’s Glebe – part of Collister’s Croft. Above convened in case it should be thought advisable to build the new Vicarage on the Clerk’s Glebe. It was then decided to use part of Collister’s Croft which was bought for the purpose.’
  2. ‘Committee of Tynwald Court commended this Parish for the way the Churchyard was kept, and also for the neat and clean appearance of the Church, saying it was one of the neatest and nicest kept in the Island.’
  3. ‘The new Vicarage was taken possession of. The old Vicarage let to a respectable tenant at a nominal rent (£5) on condition that he does repairs. Out buildings of old Vicarage in very bad repair.’
  4. ‘Visitation. Church & Vicarage are to be insured, the former at the cost of the parishioners. ‘From 1704 to 1838 deaths were recorded from Smallpox. The heaviest years being in 1704, 1713 & 1772, when 16, 22 & 16 respectively died from Smallpox alone.

Other recorded causes of death include scarletina, shooting, cholera, burning by fire, drowning, shipwreck, ‘chin-cough’, fever, child-bed, kick from a horse and falling from the cliffe.’

Occupations and descriptions of people whose deaths are recorded in the parish registers include porter, pensioner, publican, member of H.M. Forces, sailor, Member of the House of Keys, sumner, mariner Captain of the Parish; Speaker of the House of Keys, Deemster, schoolmaster, hatter, servant, tinker, clergy, tailor, pauper, beggar, idiot, lunatic, the unidentified and the illegitimate.

The age range stretches from one day, to the oldest Manxman who ever lived, (Daniel Tear) and who died aged 110 years.

1728 ‘Karther (Bridson) wife of Robt. Brew, of Ballaquackin, who was shot in her Bed by a Gun that accidentally hung over her where she lay, dy’d on Wednesday at night being ye 26 and was buried Feb. 28th.

  1. December 12. ‘This day Mr. Joseph Fisher, John Rodgers and Patrick Quinn, from Drogheda, together with three other Irishmen were buried in this Churchyard who perished in a boat at Sossrick ye 9th inst. by unfortun­ately quitting their ship wh. rid out safely and was after 2 days brought to Douglas. The six men were lodged 2 nights at Balla-ny-how, had all of ’em Coffins according to order of Government and were decently interred ead dio ut supra’.
  2. ‘Wm. Christian, junr. of Meary Veg, on Friday, the 23rd November, coming home from Ballaquackin, in a dark rainy night, in company with John Quiney, junr. of Ballacrine, about 10 a clock, met Mr. Edw. Christian of Lewaige, of KK Maughold, on horseback, who had been at Castletown, & said Christian & Quiney desiring sd. Mr. Christian to give them a cart over the River of Quiney’s Miln, he first took behind him sd. Wm. Christian; But by the violence of the Current, there being great Flood in the River by the Rain, which fell that Evening, and ye Night being very dark, they were carried off Horseback, and both perished; Mr. Christian was not found till Sunday morning he being covered by a Quantity of Sea Wrack in the Burn toot of KK St. Ann; Wm. Christian was found Saturday morning, near a Rock called the Cregg-wee, at sd. Burn foot and was bury’d Sunday Evening… 25th.’

1787 ‘Dec. 11th Daniel Tear (aged 111)’ (N.B. Headstone says 110)

1790 ‘Dec. 5th Margt Tear (aged 98)’ (she was wife of Danl. Tear)

1794 ‘Wm. Oates, buried Nov. 26th’

1795 ‘Eunice Anne Gates, alias Murray, widow of the above Wm. Gates, Esq. was married to Thos. Christian, Esq. by special Licence in her own house at Ronaldsway, the second of February, in the night.’

1820 ‘Henry Quayle was returning from Quinney’s Miln with some meal for his family on the evening of the 8th Sept. had put the meal into his own house at B. Howin and went out to put bye the horse, when finding the cart probably overturned and attempting to extricate the horse without assistance was killed on the spot and found a few minutes afterwards by his own son.’

  1. ‘Elizabeth Morrison 99 years 11 months buried May 14th.’
  2. Reveals a great tragedy

‘Samuel Taggart aged 20 years buried Feb. 16th
Edward Taggart, aged 15 years, buried Feb. 17th
William Taggart, aged 23 years, buried Feb. 17th;
Catherine Taggart, aged 17 years, buried Feb. 17th;
Margaret Taggart, aged 13 years and Richard Taggart aged 20 months, buried Feb. 21st
Jane Taggart, aged 4 years, buried Feb. 24th;

The above 7 children of Samuel Taggart, clerk of this parish, all of whom died of scarletina.’

Also in 1837 ‘Emma, Eliza and Mary Stewart, children of Major Stewart of the respective ages of 6 years, 41/2 years and 1 month, buried May 5th’.

1846 ‘William Kinley Esq. aged 48 years from Peel, of Balladoo and Ballahowin, in this parish, and a member of the House of Keys, died the 13th and was interred the 17th January.

1850 ‘A student of King Wms. College, of the name of Robert Woodhouse, son of an English Clergyman, in Nottingham, (aged 16 years) in company with two other collegians, going in search of a jackdaw’s nest in a cave, called “Gullet ny Ghow”, near Port Saltrick, in this parish, fell from the top of the rock and was killed, May 22nd – Interred May 29th.’

1937 ‘Sir George Frederick Clucas, of Cronkbourne, Braddan, Speaker of the House of Keys, aged 67, buried by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, Nov.15th.’

In the years before the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was founded, there were fatalities from shipwreck along the coast of the parish. Sailors and passengers from ships in 1717; 1772; the great Storm of 1787; 1811; 1817; 1837 and 1838 were drowned and lie buried in the Churchyard.

In the Parish registers there are several instances of people being married “from ye sheet to ye ring!!”

Among many other items the following are of interest, especially in these days of almost non-stop inflationary tendencies.

1774 Funeral Charges: ‘To Ale & Brandy 9/8: To Coffin 6/-; To making ye grave 1/-; To ye Parson of Kirk Malew 9d; To Kirk Santan Minister _ Clerk 1/8; To carrying ye Bier 5d; To Making ye Will & payment for registering it 1/-: Total £1 – 6d.

1788 To cash paid to Silvester Fargher. Masson. for painting ye Church 12/6 To washing at Esther (Easter) 1/2. To a cord for ye Bell 2/2 1/2

To ye trouble for getting ye cord – 8d.

1796 To making the seats for the Body of the Church all new.

To the whole of Peter Fargher’s (Joiner) Bill £ 18/8/-;

To the whole of Mr. Forbes’ Bill for Timber etc. £7.4.10:

To Mr. Leece’s Bill £2/8/11: To Corlett’s Bill for hinges & 500 nails £1.2/2 ; To the whole of the Warden’s disbursements £7/16/8.

1801 To 3 noted fasts for the Cut of Arms 1/6: For putting up the

Cut of Arms 1/6: For one of the Gleasers Diet, 7 days 7/-;

To fire and room to work in 3/-. To Bringing Sann 1/-:

For attending at the Church 5 days 5/=: Paid for 3 Barrals of

Lime 7/-.

1802 To a Roap for the Bell 3/1 1/2

To Captain John Clucas, towards repairing the Parrish pinfold doore and erecting new pillers £1/1/­-

1803 To soldering the tanker 6d

1808 To half a quire of paper 6d; To a new Chandelier £1 – . -.

1810 To a pair of snuffers 6d.

1818 Paid Norris Clague for a new Key for the Church & Repair of lock 3/6

1834 To Henry Karran for Glazing 11 squares of Glass at 2d per square 1/10

To Glazing the old windows @ 4d. 3/8

To Painting 11 Windows @ 9d. 8/3

To Painting Doors 6d

To 11/2 days each for Thos. Clague and Son for Church 6/­

To Lathes and Nails for Church 7d

To 2-lb Putty @ 6d. 1/­

1835 To 1 Book for Baptisms £1/10/-

To roughcasting the Church, whitewashing the Church

inside and Churchyard fence & repairing the rendering £7/7/6

To cleaning the Church (for one year) 13/=

To dressing the same on Christmas 2/=

To 1 gallon of boiled oil and carriage 4/6

To 1-lb Lampblack 9d; 3-lb White paint 1/6 2/3

To a Bier 6/10

1836 To the Kings Arms & putting up & carriage £3/9/6

To 4lb candles & carriage 3/=

To whitewashing the Church £2/-/-

To a new English Bible £1/5/1­

1840 To pillars to support gallery £3/15/3

To carriage of pillars 5/=

To Mr. Creer for setting pillars 2/6

To paint and oil for ditto 1/=

To new key for Bell door 2/6

1845 For the sufferers from Quebec fires £2/10 /-

1846 For the sufferers by fire at Newfoundland £1/6/6

1847- For the distressed Irish £2/12/=

1847 The 24th March was a Fast Day for the failure of the potato crop.

1848 Bread 4/= and wine 16 bottles (@1/9 each) & Carriage 4/= £1.16.

2 ­advertisements in 2 of the Insular Newspapers for Schoolmaster 5/=

The 19th November was a Thanksgiving Day for abundant fishery.

1849 To New Register of Burials 9/=

The 15th November was a Thanksgiving Day for the removal of


1850 To Coffin (Inflation ? see 1774) 10/=

1854 The 26th April was a Fast Day on account of ye War with Russia.

1855 The 21st March was a General Fast Day because of ye War with Russia.

The 17th May – Ascension Day – 135 members marched.

A clock purchased for School £4/5/=

1856 A new bell for ye Church bought £12/16/5

Matting for Church laid down £2/18/6

1857 New Font put up in Church £3/8/-

New door for inside of Church & frame etc. & New Lid

for Font. Weight for Font lid, etc. (£1.0.5.) Repairing

school seats. Painting School House windows and doors £8/-/11/2

1868 New West door, etc. £2/8/-

5-lb. lawn grass seed for new Churchyard £1/7/6

1873 Insurance of Church for £500 (First record of payment

of an insurance premium) 11/2

1875 Lighting and attending fire for warming Church £1.-.-

1876 3rd December, Received from Mr. Bridson of Ballaquiggin for the Poor, being amount of Fine from Boys who had robbed his Orchard £1/15/­-

1877 20th October. To Indian Famine Fund £4/4/1

Robert Gelling of Douglas, for painting, gilding

and Lettering 4 scrolls for Church walls £2/16/

1889 By Miss Airey – Railway expenses from and to Castletown

and play the Organ in Church and to practice Choir for Sept 5/10

1894 A. Creer, for ringing bell (12 months) 10/­-

1934 9th July. The Church roof was taken off and a temporary roof put on

30th Dec. Very large funeral in afternoon – as usual spoilt the Congregations!

1935 6th January, Part of ceiling fell during Service

14th January. The Church ceiling was dangerous and was taken out. Church shut for one Sunday.

1936 26th January – National Mourning for King George V – Very poor Congregations.

1951 During August Church interior walls have been cleaned off and coloured. Window casements painted, also sanctuary door and metal work. Moulding to East wall. Church floor scrubbed and all woodwork washed. Much unwanted litter removed. The whole done by voluntary labour.

1951 16th December, 2.30 p.m. Dedication of the Baptistry & Vestry by the Lord Bishop.

1952 6th February, Wednesday, Announcement made. “The King died during the early hours of this morning, during sleep”.

1952 12th February, Tuesday, 11 a.m. Proclamation of Accession of Queen Elizabeth II at Court of Tynwald.

1952 1st April Tuesday. East Window Removal. Old Window frame removed and new frame fitted. New Window completed. Photograph in colour to Her Majesty the Queen.

1952 6th April, 3 p.m. Dedication Service of new East Window.

1982 28th November. Lt. Governor Sir Nigel Cecil and Lady Cecil attended Advent Sunday Service.

1992 23rd July. Lt. Governor Sir Lawrence Jones and Lady Jones visit.

1995 7th May. Bells rung for 5 minutes to celebrate 50th Anniversary of V.E. Day.


There are two Methodist Churches in the Parish, the one a little way above the Port Grenaugh turning on the old Castletown Road, and the other on the new Castletown Road at Newtown.

The former is known as the Santon Methodist Memorial Chapel and prior to Methodist Union in 1932 it was the Santon Wesleyan Memorial Chapel. In 1867 Miss Esther Jane Clucas provided the money for it to be built and endowed, in memory of her brother Frederic Brew Clucas who died in 1865. He was an Advocate who practiced in Ramsey, and who, at the time of his death, was a member of the House of Keys. During his lifetime he had spent some years in Africa, where he contracted a serious illness and, it is understood, had his life saved by some Methodist Medical Missionaries. As a mark of her gratitude to the Methodist people Miss Clucas built and endowed the Chapel.

Next door is the original Chapel, built in 1810. It was known as Balla­kelly Wesleyan Chapel. It became the Sunday School and Hall, until it was sold in 1965. The present building has known many great occasions, and services are still held there regularly. In addition, the Parish Sunday School which is an interdenominational School, meets there every Sunday, except during school holidays. This Chapel forms part of the Castletown Methodist Circuit.
(As with many places of worship in the British Isles, by 2010 both Chapels had been closed and are now private dwellings. St. Sanctain’s has its own Sunday School at the time of writing – Ed.)

The latter started when a Methodist Society was formed in Newtown in 1826. The following year a small Chapel was built and formed part of the Primitive Methodist tradition. Newtown has always been in the Douglas Circuit and, with Methodist Union in 1932, became part of the Methodist Church then formed. The 1827 Chapel was rebuilt in 1885, when a small cottage behind the Chapel was bought by the Trustees and incorporated into the new enlarged premises, which exist today. During the rebuilding the Services were held at the home of Col. John Murray of Mount Murray House, Santon. Oil lamps illuminated the Chapel until 1929 when electricity was installed. It was one of the first Chapels on the Island to have electric light and power. In 1907 the Trustees decided to have central heating installed, with a coke fired boiler and cast iron pipes throughout, by Todhunter & Elliot at a total cost of £107, which was defrayed by one effort – a Bazaar ­in the same year. For years from the early part of the 20th century a Christ­mas Night Concert was held in the Schoolroom, which on those occasions was always filled to capacity. A Douglas Concert Party used to come out to provide entertainment, and a local pony and float brought the piano from Douglas at a hire charge for the piano of 5/= (25p). The evenings started with a Christmas Night Tea at 7 p.m., the children being served first. The meal was finished and cleared away by 10 p.m., when the Concert commenced and always went on until the early hours of Boxing Day. Catering in those days was very reasonable judged on present day standards, for a party of 150 strong had their Christmas Tea and Refreshments for a total sum of £3.16.1d.

It was during the Second World War that these Christmas celebrations ceased. “Like the Memorial Chapel, Newtown has experienced many great occasions and services are held there every Sunday.

Most Chapels and Churches today suffer from smaller congregations than in previous years but at some time or other during the year should you be present, you would find both these Methodist Chapels and the Parish Church filled with people of all ages offering praise and thanksgiving to God. At such times you would be privileged to see the Manx Country people cheek by jowl with those who have made their home on this beautiful Island, together, in harmony, demonstrating their faith in our Lord. Therein lies the strength of a Parish.

There is in Santon a very warm and friendly association between the Methodist and Anglican people in which they share together their worship to Almighty God on both happy and sad occasions. This Ecumenical Spirit is growing and it is hoped will continue to develop and deepen and keep our parishioners closer together.


Santon War Memorial to the two World Wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, stood for fifty odd years, following the first of these two Great Wars, at the corner of the Ballavale side of Station Road and the New Castletown Road, which today takes most of the traffic south to Ronaldsway Airport and beyond.

However, the demands of modem traffic escalation, with its increase in speed and noise, had made it virtually impossible over a good number of years to hold a Remembrance Sunday Service around the Memorial. Further more, these demands had also caused the Isle of Man Highway Board to consider seriously the state of this main Douglas to Castletown road with the result that their future plans made it necessary for a new home to be found for the Memorial

After long and amicable negotiations, and consultations, at all levels, the Parish as a whole, at a Parish Meeting in 1975, called by the Captain of the Parish, finally decided that the Memorial should be re-sited adjacent to the new Parish Churchyard beyond St. Sanctain’s Church. There it now stands sentinel in a setting of tranquility, peacefulness and beauty, facing the morning sun and overlooking fields, cliffs and the sea, a fitting memorial to those who paid the supreme sacrifice so that we could live free from terror, sleep peacefully, and enjoy living in freedom. The long range of hills behind (to the west) can be seen stretching from Bradda Head towards Snaefell and only enhance further the beauty of the setting.

The careful and expert attention given to the preparation and construction of this new site is a lasting tribute to the loving skill and devoted work of the Staff of the Highway Board, and all involved, at all levels, in the successful completion of this complicated operation.

The Memorial was re-dedicated in its new position in the late afternoon of Friday, 17th October, 1975, by the Right Reverend Vernon S. Nicholls, the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man in the course of a short Service in which the Rev. Harold Hughes, the Chairman of the Methodist District also took part, before a congregation of over sixty, who were led to the site from St. Sanctain’s Church by sixteen members of the Choir. Three forward-look­ing and wise Headmasters and equally wise parents kindly co-operated in arranging for the children in the Choir to be there at the time, when another part of the history of Santon Parish was being created in their life time, and before their eyes.

Until recently the Roll of Honour existed only on an illuminated paper scroll within St. Sanctain’s and in 2004 the Commissioners paid ( from the rates ) for the names of the fallen to be inscribed in a fitting manner on the war memorial itself. -Ed.


Santon was designated one of the sixteen ancient Parishes of the Island in the middle of the 12th century. Its northern part became detached and formed the Parish of Marown, during the Middle Ages. From that time the ancient Parishes were said to be seventeen in number.

There is a Captain of the Parish in each of the seventeen ancient Parishes. He must always be either a native of, or resident in, the Parish to which this purely. Manx appointment relates. Formerly his duties included the super­vision of the “Watch and Ward”, which was brought to Mann by the Norweg­ians, when the Sheading became the unit of military organisation, under the command of the Moar, who was later called the Coroner.

The Captain of the Parish had to command, train and discipline a militia company of all the able-bodied men in his Parish, between the ages of six­teen and sixty, except the Moars, Customs Officers and the principal smiths and millers. Four men were constantly on Day Watch from sunrise to sunset and another four on Night Watch. Each week fifty-six men in each Parish served on rota, by passing from house to house, the Mustering Cross, which was a wooden sword in the form of a cross.

Watch points were on the sites of the ancient Christian Keeills and Nor­wegian burial grounds, from which wide views were obtained over the sea and the surrounding land. Night watches were usually kept on the shore, near to the best landing places in the Parish.

Today the Captain of the Parish has to attend the annual Tynwald Court on July 5th, but no longer escorted by his four horsemen as of old. He attends a Licensing Selection Board, for at one time he had to control the number of ale houses in his Parish, and see, when harvests were poor, that too much barley did not go into the maltings as was the common failing. He is still the Captain of the Militia, the Queller of Riots and the Keeper of the Queen’s Peace. He acts as, or appoints someone else to be, Chairman of all political meetings, and calls occasional public meetings relating to matters of social interest or controversy, on receipt of a request in writing, from at least twelve parishioners, whose names are on the Parish Electoral Roll. He pre­sides at public functions, such as the celebration of the crowning of a new Monarch, and when the Lieutenant Governor visits the Parish.

The ancient and honourable office of Parish Clerk ranked next to that of the Vicar and the Captain of the Parish. He had to be a person of good character and considerable education. Each Parish had the right to choose their Clerk, subject to the Bishop’s consent. The Clerk farmed his Glebe, and received, “one groat for every plough that plows three furrows within the year.” People who had no ploughs, but “kept smoak, paid him a levy of 1d. per annum on every fireplace.” After their just debts had been paid, he received “XXId. and the clothes of every man and XVIId. for every woman, who died in the Parish.” In the 17th century it was his duty to ring the bells in good time, to attend the Vicar, to robe him for service, to accompany him on visitations of the sick, the Burial of the Dead, the Baptism of children and other business of the Parish. He took care of the vestments and the Church vessels, cut the Bread for Holy Communion, saw that the Baptismal Font was filled with water, led the processions at funerals, carried the service books and did other useful jobs now done by a Server. He also led the Congregational responses and read the Psalms, line by line, in Manx, the Congregation then singing the line with him. In Santon, as late as 1798, there were great com­plaints of the Clerk’s failure to follow this practice. The Clerk’s wand ended in a gilt orb, crown and spearhead, with which he would waken those who fell asleep during the sermon.

The Parish Fair used to be held annually in Santon on, it is said, May 26th. St. Sanctain’s Day is believed to have been May 20th. The Fair was the time when new servants were hired for the year, previous appointments renewed and sweetmeats and gingerbread fairings sold. These revels, with their games and amusements, going back to the days of pagan ways, were often spoken about by the participants, to whom they stood out as grand occasions and landmarks in their lives. The passing of these Fairs in the mid 19th century found them replaced by the field day or walking day of the local Benevolent Society or Club.

Happenings in Parish life of bygone days, include the following:

John Moore, of Knock-y-Loughan, the Captain of the Parish of Santon, was in 1644, with the other Captains, summoned to Castletown by James, the 7th Earl of Derby, to take a fresh Oath of Obedience to the Lord of the Isle, during the troublous days of the Civil War.

In 1647, the famous Illiam Dhone, (William Christian), owner of Ronalds­way, disputed with Christopher Kennish, of Arragon Beg, the boundary by the Santon burn. Illiam attempted to walk on the Arragon side and refused to go back when challenged by Christopher. He marched down the east side of the burn, to a rock with a hole in it. There witnesses’ affidavits were taken and at the holed rock, marking the boundary of Santon and Malew, Illiam won the day.

When William Christian was arrested in September, 1662, Charles, the Earl of Derby, in order to make unanimous the decision of the Deemster and House of Keys, that, by refusing to appear in Court, William was at the mercy of the Lord of Mann for his life and goods, dismissed seven members of the House of Keys and filled their places with his own nominees of whom John Moore, of Balnehow was one. After, in two Courts, Illiam had twice, in each Court, been found not guilty, and these decisions had been refused by the Earl, the Deemsters on December 31st, pronounced sentence of death by shooting. This the Earl had hurried into effect on January 2nd, 1663, at Hango Hill, so that the King’s pardon would arrive too late, – which it did. Illiam was mourned by the Manx as a patriot, who had been executed on their behalf, and his name is still revered.

In the 17th century, the width of a track was decided by the kind of traffic permitted to use it. One in Santon “starting at Kiondroghad and going by the top of the hedge at Ballaquaggin, was one of such breadth that Quaye of Ballacregga might lawfully pass with a boll of corn on horse-back.”

In return “Quaye had to keep the way in repair and provide any necessary shutts or gates.”

One evening, in 1678, Philip Brew, of Santon, was going home, when he was overtaken by a friend, who, in greeting him with an affectionate slap on the shoulder, caused him to stumble on the uneven path, lose his footing and break his leg. When the surgeon enquired how it had occurred, Brew declared that it had taken place when he was alone. His doctor, Doctor Mor­gan, apparently doubted the truth of this story, but although dying, Brew insisted that he himself was solely responsible.

Now and then an unscrupulous witness tried to ease his fears of the supernatural consequences of perjury and disobedience of the 9th Command­ment, by pretending to tell the truth. In 1680, C. owned a farm on Santon burn. He claimed a claddagh or meadow on the Malew side, which he said was part of Santon and duly walking before the Great Enquest (Court), swore that, in tracing the boundary of the claddagh, he had been walking on Santon soil. He was granted the meadow, but after his death, 40 years later, it was revealed that he had put Santon soil in his shoes, and so, in his perambulation before the Jury, was literally standing on the earth of Santon!

Stories of Manx charms are told – one of which is revealed by the request in 1690 of a Santon farmer to the Vicar, the Rev. Sir Hugh Cosnahan, for “the libertie to tie some of his sister-in-law’s haire to the steeple of the Church, above the bell, to cure her of the falling evil, this to be done three Sundays before sunrise, – it being a charm given him by a wise woman of Ballasalla”.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the provisioning of towns created diffi­cult problems. The Manx Government directed that farmers should take their produce to a named town. Those in Santon, Rushen, Arbory, Malew Marown and Patrick were forbidden to sell their goods at any Market other than Castletown.

In the first half of the 18th century an Ensign was sent by the Captain of Douglas to the South-side to arrest a deserter. With a file of soldiers, he took the wanted man into custody and made for Douglas. As they came to Santon night fell accompanied by violent wind and rain. so they took refuge in a cottage. The Ensign approached the glowing turf fire to dry and warm himself, and the escort momentarily took their eyes off their prisoner. There was the sound of a door opening and closing, and he had vanished into the storm and blackness of the night. Eventually he escaped to Scotland.

In 1733 the Braddan and Santon boundary was in dispute. The Crogga stream was called Awin Argid – the Silverburn – and John Kneale, “a very ancient man”, who was known locally as the “Bishop of Santon”, accompan­ied his views with a story of buried treasure. The boundary followed the stream to its source on the side of the Ashole or Anjole, now called the Mount. John Moore of Ballnahowe told how, when a boy, he had taken part in a Parish walk of the boundary, but was not sure of it at the north end, for near Ashole he went with other lads to look for a lane, and so did not see the end of the walk. For this, he and his companions had been admonished by the Vicar, the Rev. John Cosnahan.


There have been schools in the Isle of Man since before the 13th century. The teachers were priests and the education was mainly for those who intended to become priests. In the 16th century Sir Thomas Fairfax noted that the clergy “are generally natives and have had the whole of their education in the island”. Petty Schools, taught by laymen, and Parochial Schools, taught by parish clergy, were in existence in the first half of the 17th century. Manx was almost certainly the language of instruction, though there was at that time no printed Manx. It was Bishop Barrow (1663-1671) who decided that English should be the medium for instruction. He regained the tithes lost to the Church at the time of the Reformation and was such a mighty fund-raiser that by the end of the 1600’s an Elementary School had been established in every parish on the Island. Education for “eldest sonnes” was made compulsory by Lord Derby in 1672, and for all children by Bishop Wilson, Tynwald and Lord Derby in 1703. However, there was a great decline in the Church’s influence on politics and many schools closed.

It is not known when a school was first opened in Santon but it is on record that, when the present school opened in 1852, the old building – which now is part of “Thorncroft” on the main Castle town to Douglas road – was sold for £101.

The present school and Schoolmaster’s House were built following a joint visit from the Bishop and a Schools Inspector. The land, part of Ballakissack, was bought for £50 on 28th February 1848. It was, of course, a “Church” School.

In 1851 Tynwald gave to local vestries the power to levy rates for the support of parochial and other schools and in July of that year the contract for building the present school was made with Charles Moore for £316.10s.0d. In the end the total costs came to approximately £430. This was met in various ways. The old School was sold to John Kissack, grants were received from the Government of £100 and from the National Society for £30. Many parishioners sent subscriptions as well as Queen Victoria, the Lieut­enant Governor, the Lord Bishops Eden and Powys, the Archdeacon, six other Clergy, and members of the Bacon and Murray families. The foun­dations were laid on the 10th July, 1851, and the work was finished on the 25th March, 1852 – 20 years before the Public Elementary Education Act introduced the era of State Education.

At that time, perhaps in a moment of pique the then Incumbent of Santon recorded the following: “I regret to have to record that whereas, in the month of March 1852, I offered on the playground, before the Wardens and several of the parishioners, to plant the copse with forest trees at my own expense, they were so blind to their own interests, and stood so much in their own light, that they would not allow it to be done.”

The word “parochial” was dropped from the name of the School on 18th January, 1924.

The School has remained open to the present day. Amongst its records is found a reference to there being accommodation at one time for 93 scholars – presumably all tightly crammed into rows of desks. The lowest recorded number on role was 19 in 1963.

During the two World Wars the school did its part successfully by numer­ous efforts in supplying comforts for the armed forces by means of cash and kind. On the 9th December, 1915, the following was written: “The Isle of Man stands, in proportion to population, the second best for recruiting in the British Isles, and this week, the last of Lord Derby’s schemes, witnesses quite a remarkable exodus from Santon to the Recruiting Office. The failure of the Visiting Industry, the unusual depopulation, the disturbance of war’s wild alarms, the twinge of winter’s icy fang, all these are no aids to those who would climb the educational ladder, particularly if chill penury repress their noble rage, and freeze the genial current of their soul.” The children gathered Sphagnum Moss, Foxglove leaves, Coltsfoot seeds, Blackberries Rose Hips, etc. They also helped with cash collections in aid of the war effort.

For many years there were four terms in the twelve months and all but one of the holidays that separated these were movable feasts. Easter Holidays seemed to vary between two school days and seven school days. Turnip Weeding Holiday – the timing of which must have depended on the weather for its dates vary considerably from year to year, – was of two weeks. Harvest Holiday – which also varied – was of four weeks duration and the Christmas Holidays – a constant source of discontent – varied from one day to a fort­night. Interspersed amongst these periods fixed by the School Board, there was a liberal smattering of one-day holidays. They have always been given for various Royal occasions, such as Weddings, Funerals, Births and visits to the Island. Other happenings brought holidays including Sunday School Picnics and the T.T. Races. Harvest Thanksgiving was also a movable feast anywhere between the 1st October and the 6th November. The last reference to holidays for Sunday School Picnics was in 1944. The first whole week’s holiday for the races occurred in 1952 and has applied ever since.

If attendances were low, or if “The Master” could justify his absence from school for any of many reasons, the School was closed.

For many years the scholars on the Register altered after the 12th Nov­ember. On that day annually the Great Hollantide Hiring Fair of the Island was held, when men were hired to work, mainly on farms, for the coming 12 months. In 1915 the Headmaster stated “At this period we usually suffer through migration, much inconvenience and disturbance of studies, as several of our best children remove, and some new children come to enter on a new Syllabus adding considerably to the Teacher’s and the individuals work.”

On the 5th October 1920, all the Teachers in the Isle of Man sent in their resignations on the advice of the National Union of Teachers because of the general refusal of the School Boards to accept the Burnham Scale of salaries. It would seem that the dispute was quickly settled, as there were no changes in staff at Santon.

Travelling to School from the outlying districts was alleviated when, on the 19th May 1927, the country villages were supplied, for the first time, with a Bus service to and from Douglas.

During the Second World War the children commenced bringing their Gas Masks to School each day from the 31 st . March 1941.

Up until the 19th October 1942, lighting had been by means of oil lamps. However, on that day Electric Light and Power were installed and put in use in the school.

Moving into the next decade we find Hot School Dinners being served from the 12th June 1950. The following year, on the 4th September, mains water supply was connected up and in September 1952, a hot water system and bathroom were installed in the Schoolhouse for the first time. Previously water had been supplied to both the School and School House by means of pumps from wells. While the well water was pure and wholesome, there were periods in some years when, owing to the dry conditions prevailing, the wells refused to yield water. On such occasions water had to be carried daily for up to six weeks or more, from neighbouring farms and houses. A Fire Extinguisher was installed for the first time on the 24th March 1955.

The entrance on the main Castletown – Douglas road at the foot of the School lane appears for over 55 years to have been a source of danger to the children from passing traffic. It is still today.

To the School building another Cloakroom was added in September 1936 giving direct access through it from the Infants’ Classroom to the outside for the first time. Since 1969 the Infants’ Class has had the use of a very good Mobile Classroom. This has left their old room available as a combined Office, Rest Room. Staff Room, etc. A new toilet block was added at the back of the School in 1973. This is a big improvement and appreciated by both Staff and Scholars

The nineteen sixties saw the School windows modernised with the instal­lation of the two big ones, facing south, on the 12th September 1966. On the same date a further step into modernity occurred when a telephone was connected up at the School. Although the cable connecting the Island with England arrived on Santon shores on the 6th June, 1929, it took over 37 years for the School to be linked up by telephone with the rest of the Island and beyond.

After the Second World War, when the Coastal Minesweeper H.M.S. Santon was sold to the Peruvian Navy, the Parish was given the opportunity of safe guarding the ship’s bell. On the 19th October 1967, it was presented to the Parish by the Royal Navy and has been housed for safe-keeping, on behalf of the Parish, at the School ever since.

(The bell is now in the care of the Vicar and Churchwardens of St. Sanctain’s Parish Church – Ed.)

In December 1973, the School became an official Rainfall Station sending daily, monthly and yearly totals to Bracknell in Berkshire.

Over the years the School has received visits from many distinguished people, all of whom have expressed a keen interest in what was being taught. Such an occasion on the 2nd July, 1956, will always be remembered by the children of that time, for through the doors came fifteen Northern Nigerian Native Officials all wearing their colourful native costume. Among them was an Emir, several Chiefs, and a number of District Heads. They all moved about freely among the children looking at their work, books and apparatus. They showed a keen interest in all the children’s activities and there were, as one would expect, several amusing incidents. The whole school gave a short display of Folk Dancing, much to the delight of the Nigerians. The Chief of Kagora thanked the children on behalf of the party and concluded with the words “God bless you all.”

The School has, from early days, found a place for music in its curriculum and when the massed Children’s Choir of up to one thousand strong used to sing each year at the Manx Music Festival, Santon School normally had its representatives in it. Today violin lessons are available and the School has a Choir whose members take part in the Island’s Music Festival during Guild Week. They are noted for being the keenest supporters of the various local Eisteddfods.

Due, not only to the efforts of the Board of Education and the Teachers, but also to the fund-raising efforts of the parents of the children, the School is one of the best equipped on the Island.

(The school was closed for the education of children on 31st. December 1986 but continues as a training centre for teachers. This action by the Department of Education was felt at the time to be a considerable loss to the community – Ed.)


Early in 1976 Mr. Ian Parker, who farms Glentraugh Farm, Santon, with perspicacity, was ploughing one of his fields deep. Suddenly a plough blade turned up a stone slab, which, upon examination, appeared to be part of a box drain for the field. Upon close investigation, however, it was found to be an ancient stone coffin. The Manx Museum Authorities were informed and they instituted an experimental dig, in the course of which eighteen other similar stone coffins were revealed, including a very small one.

After investigation by the Manx Museum staff it was established that the site, very near to St. Sanctain’s Church, is that of an ancient Christian Burial Ground. It goes back, as far as can be at present ascertained, to the 10th century A.D., and is thus 1,000 years old. The Authorities believe that it is the largest burial ground of its kind to be found on the Island, and the Manx Museum people are very interested in it.

The site has been placed on the Manx Museum list. In due course they hope to examine it fully and carefully in minute detail. This, however, could take some time before it would be effected.

The outline of the original mound can still be traced even though the land has been farm land for a great number of years. At one stage in its history quite obviously people must have forgotten, or been unaware of, the fact that on that spot their forefathers lay buried in a Christian burial ground.

The discovery of this historic site has aroused much interest among anti­quarians and archaeologists. We all look forward to receiving the official report from the Manx Museum upon their findings to date. However, it will only be when, eventually, the whole site is thoroughly investigated that a comprehensive report will be available.


No one can accurately say when Christianity first came to the Isle of Man and none of the records go back so far. However, from writings such as the “Book of Armagh” and “The Annals of Ulster”, archaeological finds, the design of the ancient crosses, the remains of primitive Keeills and of old world settlements, the date 447 A.D., is the one generally accepted. It was also suggested by the Archbishop of Dublin, James Ussher, in 1656. It is within the lifetime of St. Patrick, to whom, and to whose followers, a number of the ancient Parish Churches on the Island are dedicated, of which Santon is one, It is certain that St. Patrick established himself in Northern Ireland, whence this Island can be seen, with the naked eye, on many days each year. He endued in his followers his own keen missionary spirit, and, as they swept eastward into central Europe, in the 5th and 6th centuries, the first place to feel the effects of their mission would most likely be the land they could see so often from the Irish coast. Thus the Christian Faith was brought to Mann by missionaries from the Celtic Church in Ireland, long before it was brought to Canterbury by St. Augustine and his forty Benedictine monks in 597 A.D.

After the advent of the Irish missionaries, others came from another branch of the Celtic Church, whose leader was St. Columba of Iona. Evidence of their coming is seen in the dedications of some of the Manx Churches. However, this young and growing Celtic Church suffered disintegration through the ravages of the marauding and conquering Norwegian Viking hordes, who colonised Mann. They brought with them their pagan gods of Thor and Odin and erected lovely memorial stones, the basis of which was the Christian cross, but adorned them with exquisite carvings of their own gods and little people.

Later, the Norwegians were converted to Christianity by missionaries from mid-Europe. Under King Olaf I of Norway, this Church fanned out as a section of the Western Church throughout the Norse colonies, which became restless for home rule. Ireland, with the Isle of Man, broke away and, depending on the king of the period, were ruled from the capitals of Dublin in Southern Ireland, or Peel in the Isle of Man. Shortly after the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, the Southern Islands of Scotland (the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Arran and Bute), also known as the “Sudreys”, were joined with Ireland and Man into one kingdom by Godfred Crovan, whose heirs were Kings of Man, for nearly 200 years. During this period the head of the Church was the Archbishop of Dublin, who admitted the nominal sovereignty of Norway. However, when Ireland seceded this ceased and the Manx Church experienced a time of upheaval.

The first traceable Bishop of Man was Rolf or Roolwer, who died in 1079 and is buried in Maughold Parish Church. For a while, the succession is obscure. At times there were two Bishops, the one backed by the King of Norway on the advice of the Bishop of Nidaros (Trondheim) and the other by the King of Man.

Olaf 1 of Man permitted the Abbot of the Abbey of St. Mary in Furness to build an abbey in Malew, in 1134. Upon completion Rushen Abbey, as it was called, became the chief ecclesiastical base in Man for many years. At that time the present Diocese of Sodor and Man was from time to time under the control of Canterbury, York and Dublin, but always nominally under Nidaros. A Bull of Pope Anastasius IV in 1154 formally placed the Diocese of the Sudreys-with-Man under the Archbishop of Nidaros. He at once appointed Reginald its Bishop.

However, in 1158, Somerled of Argyll defeated the King of Man in battle and the Bishop of Argyll consecrated Christian of Argyll to be Bishop of Sodor and Man. He remained until 1161, when the Abbot of Furness per­suaded the Archbishop of York to consecrate, as Bishop, a Manxman, Michael, who was very popular and caused Christian to withdraw. Thus at one and the same time, there were three Bishops of Sodor and Man, Reginald, Chris­tian and Michael, consecrated by different Bishops for the same work. In the end Michael prevailed.

Under the influence of Henry III of England a common choice was made in 1229, when Simon of Argyll went to Trondheim to be consecrated with the blessing of York, Argyll and Nidaros. He turned out to be an excellent choice, building Bishopscourt and St. German’s Cathedral, Peel.

The Abbot of Furness was not satisfied with the consecration taking place in Norway and got the Pope to issue a papal command that in future the consecration should take place at York. The King of Norway arranged that loyalty should be sworn to him at Trondheim. This the next Bishop Lawrence (Archdeacon of Man), together with Harold 11 of Man and his Queen did, but when returning they were all drowned in a storm off the Shetlands, when their ship was wrecked.

Alexander III of Scotland drove out the Norwegians at the Battle of Largs, in 1266, and annexed Man and the Sudreys to Scotland. He appointed the Bishops, but saw that they went to Trondheim for consecration. Man was only part of the kingdom of Scotland for a short time. The year 1290 saw Man come under the English Crown with the defeat of Scotland by Edward I of England. For some years Man’s allegiance shifted from England to Scot­land, and back again, as they defeated each other. It was finally brought under the orbit of England under Edward Ill, in 1333.

The Sudreys (now known as Sodor), have remained part of the title of the See, but were actually separated from it during the schismatic period of the Roman Catholic Church. Then the Bishop of Argyll, supporting the anti-Pope, retained the Sudreys under his wing. Man, agreeing to the true Pope, became part of the Province of Canterbury, until the Reformation under Henry VIII, when it was transferred to the Province of York. During these times many of the Manx Bishops were translated to English Sees, having originated from English monasteries.

In the 18th century, the Church deteriorated as it did in England. However, in 1777 and 1781, John Wesley visited Man and non-conformity came to stay, yet, apart from Methodism, other denominations have not been a very strong force on the Island, for any length of time. During the past 150 years, the Roman Catholic Church has, however, grown in numbers and strength. There is a happy relationship between the various branches of the Church of Christ on the Island, who, in the main, work together in harmony and without acrimony.

The Sodor and Man Diocese is also, in effect, a Province of the Church of England. It holds its own Convocation each year and the Bishop has the right, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, of issuing special marriage licenses, permitting marriages to take place at any time and in any place he may decide.

No one knows what the future will bring. The Diocese of Sodor and Man in common with the other forty-two Dioceses of the Church of England cannot do other but expect to go through a time of reorganisation. The details of this will require a lot of careful and prayerful thought and consid­eration being given to the overall position. Detailed schemes will have to be worked out, approved and accepted by all parties. There must be an element of “give and take”.

Will you, therefore, who read this, please, of your loving kindness and brotherly love, join with the people of Santon in praying that the mainten­ance of the work and Word of God in Santon Parish, with the weekly sharing together of Holy Communion round our Lord’s Table at St. Sanctain’s Church Santon both on every Sunday morning and on every Sunday evening will continue, deepen and flourish always, on this very ancient and hallowed Christian site. God bless you and your loved ones now and always.

Reverend J.M. Cotter, Vicar of Santon, dated March 1977.

The above History of the Parish of Santon has been reproduced in this form by kind permission of the Vicar and Wardens of St. Sanctain’s Church, Santan.

The Editor is indebted to Mr. Roger Christian of Port Grenaugh for his painstaking transcription of the text from the history entitled, ” St. Sanctain’s Church”, written by the Reverend J.M. Cotter, Vicar of Santon, dated March 1977. The drawing of St. Sanctain’s on the cover of the History is by John H. Nicholson R.A.

The structure and text of the History has been retained, even where it is now out of date and the Editor of the website has added in italics where necessary, some footnotes which attempt to bring the text up to date (2005). The spelling and format of the original has been followed rigorously throughout in order to preserve the flavour of the historical extracts .

(Persons unfamiliar with the old form of currency in the British Isles should read the prices of services and commodities in Pounds Sterling, Shillings, Pence and Halfpence. There were 240 pence to the Pound Sterling).

Interested persons who have queries about the Parish should contact the Clerk who will be pleased to try to research any historical questions (other than pertaining to genealogy), by e-mail only please.<>

Howard Benson,

Clerk to Santon Commissioners,
Thrang End,
Fildraw Road,
IM9 3EG.

Website Editor. 2014.
Reproduction of this material without the permission of the Commissioners is prohibited unless for bona fide educational purposes. Any such use should be advised to the Clerk.

Modern day items of interest and relevance to the history of the Parish follow as they occur:


In 1994 it was decided to mark the centenary of the Board of Santon Parish Commissioners by designing a suitable symbol to use as a letterhead and in other appropriate places. The late Mrs. Maureen C. Richards R.B.V. of Port St. Mary, a noted artist in pewter and stone, kindly provided her drawings of the thousand year old Santon Cross (the cross can be seen in the Church) and of a Viking long boat, both of which evoke historical aspects of Santon. Bruce and Iain Benson manipulated these drawings using computer graphics and the present “logo” was created based upon the shape of the original Santon Cross. The symbol is also used to adorn commemorative porcelain drinking mugs (which are available for sale upon request) and for a lapel badge that is worn only by the members of the Board.

Santon Escutcheon porcelain mugs


To mark the year 2000 AD, the parish escutcheon was used to create a composition, hand carved on Pooil Vaaish slate, imitating the shape of the stone constituting the original Santon Cross. The Millennium stone can now be seen standing at the junction of Church Road and the Old Castletown Road by the Copper Beech tree and it is hoped that it will stand as long as the ancient Santon Cross itself.

The Santon Millennium Stone with Howard Benson (Clerk) and his son Bruce who worked on the design

The Commissioners are grateful to Island Aggregates Limited for the financial support needed to place a kerb around the grass island whereon the Millennium Stone and bench now stand.

Two stone benches in Pooil Vaaish slate have been installed here as a resting place for walkers. Two similar stone benches were installed overlooking the beach at Port Grenaugh but one was stolen soon afterwards. One wonders what huge effort was required?


Apart from individual dwellings in the countryside, Santon had changed little over the centuries. However, in the second half of the twentieth century some ribbon development occurred along the main road at Newtown and a Local Government Authority estate of twenty dwellings was built off the Moaney road at Newtown. In the late 1990s the Mount Murray estate of an hotel and country club and 76 dwellings was finished on the Santon side of the Crogga River and on the Braddan side many more new dwellings are established.. (Curious readers may wish to research elsewhere the interesting history of the Mount Murray estate.) A second estate of 43 dwellings named Ballanoa Meadow, off Moaney road, was finished in 2004.


In April 2010 H.E. The Lt. Governor, Vice Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks K.C.B. and Lady Haddacks opened a toddler’s playground next to Ballanoa Meadow. This was the culmination of the Commissioners’ long standing wish to surmount the logistical difficulties of establishing in Santon a safe, off-main-road play area for the very young, (photographs in Photos).

In a mainly rural community of farms and detached residential homes, commercial businesses in the parish are few:

Industrial – Cemex (Island Aggregates Ltd). Ready mix concrete.
Hotel – Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club.
Others – Port Grenaugh Kennels; various holiday cottages, livery stables at Ballavartyn.


Under the latest Town and Country planning regulations new dwellings in the countryside are not permitted except under very special circumstances usually connected with agricultural purposes. Nowadays applications for new dwellings are normally only granted as part of a new estate.

To be continued as items of interest occur and as the years advance – Ed.