curiouswombat: (notes from a small island)
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

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