Methodist Chapels

[xxx] “The Established Church is by no means out of favour, but, as the many elegant and commodious Nonconformist churches erected within a few years in Douglas testify, dissent is perhaps the more popular form of religion.”
Black’s Guide to the Isle of Man. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1896.

We need little to be told that Dissent or Methodism was a driving cultural and social force in Manx life until recently. At present, I am interested in the interaction between Methodism and vernacular song culture as well as the change in the musical life of the chapel.

This has not been studied to date and the reason for this as ever is source material. There is material to hand and it lies “tucked away” in the various Anniversary Booklets put out by Methodist Chapels. I will post some extracts under to show you the material that you can dig out of them.

But of course, first we need to know just what there is to dig into and the Island’s ephemera literature (ephemera only in the sense of printed format and not value) is difficult to track down.

I will reply to this thread by starting a checklist of what I have found (and for which chapels) and then add the material on the theme of chapel and musical life.


“Manx in sentiment”

This phrase comes from the obituary notice of Miss M.L. Wood (the so-called “Mother of Manx Music”):

“Though not Manx by birth Miss Wood was essentially Manx in sentiment, and all her compositions are influenced by that sentiment.”

Anon. “Death of M.L. Wood.” Peel City Guardian 10 January 1925: [6] col. d.

As we know, the notion of just what or who for that matter is “Manx” is a constant Island theme and was seen in the conflicted view of whether TEB was Manx or not despite having in his case been actually born in the Island.

It would be interesting to gather together other views and opinions on this topic.

Downloadable Texts

Hall Caine, The Little Manx Nation (1891)

Eliza Craven Green, Sea weeds and Heath Flowers (1858)

Archibald Creggen, A Dictionary of the Manks Language (1835 [but 1837])

J.G. Cumming, The Isle of Man (1848)

J.G. Cumming, A Guide to the Isle of Man (1861)

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Agnes Herbert

Agnes Herbert was once resident in the Isle of Man, seemingly from childhood though nothing turns up in the census records. She appears to have lived either in Port Erin or nearby. Her book, The Isle of Man, appeared in 1909 and can be downloaded from here:

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Early ramblers on the Isle of Man

Thomas Denton[1] in his perambulations around the Island in the late 1680s, makes little mention of the state of the roads or tracks, perhaps they were similar to those he encountered in Cumberland, and elsewhere, and therefore unnoteworthy. David Robertson[2] who toured the Island in 1791, is likewise uncritical, however he did notice ‘the bevy of country-lasses, going at that early hour to Douglas-market’. They were seated on small horses with panniers; one side of which were filled with the produce of their little farms[3], and the other generally balanced with pebbles.’ This at least proves that even the young women from ‘little farms’ used horses to transport their goods to market. Whether the lack of a cart is due to insufficient produce, poverty, or the unsuitability of the roads is perhaps open to question.

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