Maughold is a small settlement of a few well cared for houses around a green. It is sheltered from the sea by the mass of Maughold Head with its lighthouse. The church is one of the earliest churches on the island was the site of a large Celtic monastery.
St Maughold arrived here in the C5th after being expelled from Ireland by St Patrick and lived in a small cave in the cliffs. St Maughold’s Well set on the hillside just below the north west corner of the churchyard was probably used for baptisms. St Maughold is said to have blessed the well and endowed it with healing powers. It became a site of pilgrimage.
An important monastery was established here with three keeils and their remains can still be found in the churchyard.
Many crosses were found in the local area and are now displayed in the cross house in the churchyard. It contains the largest and best display on the island. The crosses span a period from the C7th to C11th and show a progression from a simple engraved cross on a slab of stone to wheel head crosses covered with intricate designs. One has a delightful carving of a Viking ship. Some have Runic inscriptions.
The present church dates from the C12th and may have been commissioned by King Olaf 1. It has been enlarged over the years and and was restored by the Victorians. The churchyard is full of C19th and C20th graves and is one of the largest on the island.
The church is typical of all early Manx churches with a small nave and chancel with a bell cot at the west end. Some of the original C12th stonework can be seen on the north wall on either side of the war memorial and in the two small windows in the south wall.
The inside is equally as simple with beamed ceiling, whitewashed walls with panelling round the base. The gallery at the west end with the organ is reached by an external stair on the north wall.
Set into the west wall is an ancient stone font.
The chancel is reached up a couple of shallow steps. The east wall is painted and has the inscription “Come unto Me and I will give you rest’. The stained glass east window was installed in 1901 and commemorates former vicars.
At the back of the church is the Pillar Cross. Originally every parish church had a cross near the churchyard gate. This is the only one to survive and has been moved into the church to prevent further weathering. Each of the four sides is carved. There is the Virgin and Child, a kneeling knight and the Crucifixion with the Three Legs of Man below, the oldest carved symbol of this.
This is a delightful church, surrounded by the Manx countryside. It is a lovely place to drop out on a warm sunny day and is one of my favourite spots on the island. The crosses are pretty good too!
The church is open daily 8-4. The nearest post code is IM7 1BF and the grid reference is SC 493 917.
For more pictures of the “church”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/churchesandcrosses/churches/churches_two/maughold/index.html and “crosses.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/churchesandcrosses/crosses/cross_maughold/index.html