curiouswombat: (notes from a small island)
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I mentioned yesterday that I had some pics for my occasional 'old churches' series - here they are.

Lonan Old Church is on an ancient Christian site - the first keeil was built here by Irish monks in the fifth century.

In 1188 the small chapel, first known as Keeill-ny-Traie (The Chapel by the Shore), was given in land to the monks of St Bees and the building was rebuilt.

When the island was sold to the English in 1399 the land was divided into parishes in the English style; Keeill-ny-Traie became known as St Adamnan, the parish church of Lonan (Kirk Lonan). It was never anywhere near the centre of the parish, or even any of the villages - but as it was already there, so it got the job!

In 1733, Bishop Wilson was petitioned by parishioners for a newer, bigger, parish church, somewhere more sensible, and the new church was finally completed a hundred years later, in 1833. At that time the old church was left to decay. Bit the vicar of Lonan at the end of the nineteenth century thought it sad that it would simply fall down, and began to see that at least some restoration and preservation work was done occasionally. The Friends of St Adamnan's was formed in 1968 'to ensure it remained as a working historical site and House of God'.

It was impossible to preserve the whole ancient chapel - I gather the roof was in such a state of disrepair that only one end was usable even before the move to the new church (which, incidentally, is not a good deal closer to the main centre of habitation of the parish anyway!!). So today what you see is this -

Lonan old church 008

Which, as you can see, is only one end of the old church in use, and the remains of the far end.

Lonan old church 009

Scenic ancient tree -

Lonan old church 012

And a couple of ancient crosses in the cross-house (almost all our churches have a cross-house - or a space for the crosses in th back of the church).

Lonan old church 013

Lonan old church 014

But the oldest one, so the useful information that lists all Manx crosses tells me, is this ring headed cross, thought to have been carved around 475-500AD - and still standing, it is thought, exactly where it was placed back then. Although it was probably straighter then...

Lonan old church 022

You can just see it in place in the churchyard at the right of this picture -

Lonan old church 015

The entrance to the church is through the original doorway in the ruined end - where you find the font -

Lonan old church 016

I really don't know if they carry out christenings in the open air using it - I think it is possible.

Then you go through a door in the new back wall and facing you, about 15 feet away, is the altar

Lonan old church 017

This is the view if you stand at the altar rail and look back to the door -

Lonan old church 019

That is it - 6 rows of pews, the back ones set against the back wall, and the front ones with your knees almost touching the altar rail!

Here is the side window -

Lonan old church 018

And the covered small table that acts as a lectern -

Lonan old church 020

It really is a tiny church, hardly bigger than the original keeil of over 1,500 years ago.

And a final picture. Like many small communities, families with members buried in the churchyard who happened to live closer to this old church than the new one, have continued to be buried here. All of the graves in this picture belong to members of the same, Clague, family -

Lonan old church 024

Mood:: 'lethargic' lethargic
There are 45 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by [identity profile] at 04:10pm on 07/08/2013
I think it's lovely that the modern members of clan Clague continue to be buried with their ancestors (even if not ancient ones), what a marvelous sense of continuity. And the church certainly looks well-loved and cared for - do they hold regular services there still?
posted by [identity profile] at 04:29pm on 07/08/2013
The members of the clan Clague in that row go back to about 1830 - but I am sure, if I had looked around, there would be older stones for them.

And very probably older burials again without stones as it is a very old surname.

Clague, like lots of the Manx surnames that begin with a C, a Q, or a K, comes from Mac Liaigh -(son of the healer) - and there are definitely MacLiags around in the 12th century written records.

They do have regular services there - once a month in the summer, I think.
ext_93291: (Ithiledhil)
posted by [identity profile] at 04:11pm on 07/08/2013
What a beautiful old place! I love the old crosses; I have seen a couple in Wales, and I find them lovely and atmospheric.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:32pm on 07/08/2013
It is a very peaceful spot. We have loads of the crosses - sometimes it looks as if half our ancestors spent their time carving them. It tends to make us a bit blasé about them - and then I stop and really think about it; that beautifully carved stone has stood there for over a millennium and a half and is still beautiful - which is amazing, really.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:58pm on 07/08/2013
What a lovely little church. I love how thick the walls are and the stonework. The carved crosses are marvelous as well. Thanks so much for sharing this gem with us.

- Erulisse (one L)
posted by [identity profile] at 05:19pm on 07/08/2013
It is a rather beautiful little place - I think it might be the oldest of the churches, although others are almost as old. As I said to Spiced Wine, we have so many thousand year old crosses that we get rather blasé about them.

Sometimes you get the feeling that our ancient ancestors spent half their time carving assorted crosses! But then I stop and really think about it, and look at something like that one, and realise just how special they are.
posted by [identity profile] at 05:31pm on 07/08/2013
Those are lovely photos, particularly the interiors. When I breathe deeply I can smell that old, old church smell, ancient stone.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:42pm on 07/08/2013
It is so tiny! Actually it smells mostty of furniture polish and flowers!
posted by [identity profile] at 05:56pm on 07/08/2013
It feels so very old --- (well yes, obviously, lol - sorry, not a very bright comment but to give it context, the oldest building here dates back to the mid 1600s)

It's quite lovely. Silly thing, but I find myself smiling as I look down pictures like this. I love the side window, and I think having a baby christened outdoors in that ancient font would be a wonderful gift to the whole family, one of those precious memories.

The crosses are beautiful, and each one seems to have its own personality. The world was different then, of course - they would have been carved with so much love and faith.

Thank you for sharing this piece of your history :)
posted by [identity profile] at 07:49pm on 07/08/2013
We are used to old things - but then sometimes I stop and realise just how very old things are! That side window is so sweet - and I agree - it would be lovely to have a baby christened there.

Sometimes it looks as if half of our ancestors spent half of their time carving crosses!

Sharing it is my pleasure.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:33pm on 07/08/2013
What I think is wonderful is that they have kept an active little church on the site of the ruined one.

I don't think I've ever seen a church that small with a proper churchyard. The crosses are such works of art! I never knew about cross houses...I'll have to keep my eyes open when I'm exploring similar places.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:59pm on 07/08/2013
It is part of the original old church - so there has been an altar of one sort or another standing in that very spot for a thousand years or more!

The cross houses may be a particularly Manx thing - we do have a lot of crosses and they are mainly gathered together at each parish church - in a small stone 'house' in the churchyard.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:57pm on 07/08/2013
Those ancient crosses are especially impressive. Thanks for posting.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:56pm on 07/08/2013
We have a lot of ancient crosses on the island - some of them have ended up as gate posts and all sorts over the years!

And I am typing this on the new, shiny, tablet - I am beginning to conquer the technology!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:58pm on 07/08/2013
It is tiny, and beautiful. Wonderful history. I'm a little surprised they didn't move the font.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:01pm on 07/08/2013
To be honest, there is no room in the half with the roof to put the font! I guess, if it is raining, they might just use a small glass bowl and a shell to do the christenings.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:51pm on 07/08/2013
The tree looks like a huorn! :)
posted by [identity profile] at 08:02pm on 07/08/2013
It does, doesn't it?
posted by [identity profile] at 08:16pm on 07/08/2013
I thought "Ent!" (Especially as First Small Person and I have just been reading about Treebeard...)

What a lovely spot, and how wonderful to be able still to be buried there alongside generations of your family.
posted by [identity profile] at 09:02pm on 07/08/2013
I can't decide whether it looks good tempered and friendly, or rather bed tempered.

It is a rather beautiful spot, really peaceful.

ETA - or even BAD tempered. The idea of a bed tempered ent is a bit worrying, somehow!
Edited Date: 2013-08-07 10:23 pm (UTC)
posted by [identity profile] at 08:43am on 08/08/2013
The idea of a bed tempered ent is a bit worrying, somehow!

Then I take it you've never read Doom's Eyebrow's A Weight of Pliant Wood ( ;-)

(Which, seriously, is one of the most imaginative pieces of slash I have ever read, and beautifully done!)
posted by [identity profile] at 10:18am on 08/08/2013
Ah - I hadn't read that one, thank you, it is rather beautifully done.

A couple of years ago, I remember, I read something similar, and also well written, except I also read a rather weird one which I have tried to expunge from my mind, but never quite achieved!

(And it shows that modern technology still amazes me, that I have an urge to also say 'Guess what? I'm writing this on my new tablet on a boat in the middle of the Irish Sea!!')
posted by [identity profile] at 11:53am on 08/08/2013
V impressed with new tablet, but feeling slightly queasy at the very thought of trying to read/write anything in the middle of the Irish Sea! (You know me, unless it's glassy calm I would be slumped with my head over the rail...)
posted by [identity profile] at 02:55pm on 08/08/2013
It was glassy calm! And now...I'm on the train!

I can read my kindle books using my new toy, too, and so have been reading an interesting book on the life of women in the medieval period. I'm guessing I might well find Azalais in there somewhere.
posted by [identity profile] at 04:05pm on 08/08/2013
If you do, let me know what it says! (Almost nothing is actually known about her, of course...)
posted by [identity profile] at 08:25pm on 07/08/2013
Very pretty!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:05pm on 07/08/2013
Thank you.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:55pm on 07/08/2013
What charming photos, and what a beautiful little chapel! I'm glad it was preserved. Loved the remains because I'm fascinated by old, and that is a most picturesque ancient tree!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:07pm on 07/08/2013
it is a really sweet little church - I can see why the people from nearby wanted to keep it in use.

We do old, and ancient, in a big way!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:32pm on 07/08/2013
What a special, beautiful place! It warms my heart that the church is so well-cared for and obviously used, even if it is tiny. Thank you for sharing this special place with us.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:24pm on 07/08/2013
It is really rather sweet - and it is lovely to see it so well looked after. Sharing is a real pleasure.
posted by [identity profile] at 11:18pm on 07/08/2013
It boggles the mind a little, or at least mine, at how old that building is. That's truly early days of Christendom represented there. I wonder how ancient the tree is!

I did have a giggle, though, at a typo: "Bit the vicar..." Er, bit him where, exactly? The old church still has some teeth, evidently!

(I blame the silly giggle on Nath and her Miss Elladan post...)

posted by [identity profile] at 06:13am on 08/08/2013
There is something comforting in knowing that people have worshipped on the same spot for so very long.

I blame the silly giggle on Nath and her Miss Elladan post...

Poor Elladan - S2C did a silly thing concerning him, too, here (
posted by [identity profile] at 01:01am on 08/08/2013
Antiquity means the 1860s here, for the most part. It's a joy to see such an ancient building and to realize that people have been living, loving, and gathering for so long.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:18am on 08/08/2013
We tend to be so used to our antiquity here that it doesn't always really strike home!

But it is rather comforting to know that people have worshipped in the same place for so long - it is a peaceful spot.
posted by [identity profile] at 01:26am on 08/08/2013
posted by [identity profile] at 06:19am on 08/08/2013
It is a rather beautiful spot, in a quiet way.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:31am on 08/08/2013
What a lovely chapel! Some of the earliest settlers in my town were Clagues. The town website says the following about them--

•Robert and Margaret Clague emigrated from the Isle of Man with one daughter in 1837.
•They raised nine children in a frame home on Clague Road just north of the Clague Museum.
•The current Clague Museum, home of the Westlake Historical Society, was built for Margaret Clague by her children in 1876.
•Walter and Sophronia Clague, two of Robert and Margaret’s surviving children, dedicated Clague Memorial Park to the citizens of Dover [the town was later renamed Westlake since the state already had a Dover] on October 12, 1929.

The park is still there. In fact, Lord B. and I saw fireworks there on July 4th.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:21am on 08/08/2013
Oh thank you - that is fascinating. How do your pronounce the name?

Here is is pronounced 'cleg' - but I have heard people from other places having problems with it!
posted by [identity profile] at 01:15pm on 08/08/2013
People in town do tend to pronounce it "cleg" which puzzled me when I first moved here! Outsiders say "clayg" based on the spelling.

Photo of the Clague House (now museum) (
posted by [identity profile] at 02:58pm on 08/08/2013
Thank you. What a nice, solid, friendly looking house.

As for pronunciation - now you know why they say cleg.
posted by (anonymous) at 03:06pm on 08/08/2013
What a beautiful old church, how well they have been able to integrate the restored with the unrestored. Oh, yes an open air baptism would be a great memory to have and what a tale to tell the child later!

The crosses are gorgeous, unfortunately headstones are going out of style in the U.S., it's all inground markers here, much easier to mow over than around, though military cemeteries do have head stones, very neatly arranged in rows!

Thanks for the photos, I do enjoy glimpses of the other side of the pond!

posted by [identity profile] at 09:54am on 09/08/2013
Occasionally in an unused churchyard they will lay all the headstones flat- but otherwise, new ones are still the norm.

And, yes, baptism in that font would be really memorable for the family
posted by [identity profile] at 09:43pm on 08/08/2013
I love this old church, it is really beautiful, inside and out, and the tree has a 'personality' all it's own too. Thanks so much for posting about it.
posted by [identity profile] at 09:55am on 09/08/2013
It's a pleasure. I was rather taken with that tree, too!


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