St Peter’s Church, Onchan

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Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2018

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Onchan predates Douglas as a settlement, and there has been a church here since the C12th, possibly built on the site of an earlier keeil. This was a small simple church and, with the rapid growth of population in the C19th, became too small to house the congregation. The building was also in poor condition and it was decided to build a new and larger church which would seat 500. The church was completed in 1833 and in 1897 became the first church on the island to be lit by electricity, installed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

It is a large church, surrounded by a large graveyard which now extends across the road. On a dull day, the outside can look quite dour with its dark stone and buttresses. The church has been extended at different times with a porch and small chancel which from the outside seems to have been added as an afterthought. Unfortunately there is no information an the church and little on the internet.

Entrance is through the west door into a small porch. Inside it is a big church, with a gallery across the west end.

It feels very light with plain whitewashed walls, open wood beam ceiling and large windows. The choir and organ is separated from the nave by a wooden screen, which has the pulpit on one side and the small stone font on the other.

A small chancel arch set into the wall leads into the tiny chancel with its salmon pink walls. The east window was dedicated in 1863 in memory of three vicars. In the centre is St Peter holding the keys of Heaven with St John on his left and St Paul on his right.

The rest of the windows are late C20th, with lovely scenes from around the island.

One of the reasons most people visit the church are for the crosses, dating from the from the C7th-C12th, which are displayed at the back of the church. The earliest is a stone slab with two carved crosses. Thurith’s Cross with its simple cross design has Runes carved on either side which date it to the C11th-C12th. The rest are wheel had crosses with the typical Celtic scroll work designs.

The church is open 10-4. The nearest post code is IM3 1RD and the grid reference is SC 401781.

The inside of the church is very attractive and the modern stained glass windows are delightful. Although there aren’t many crosses here, they are all in good condition unlike those at “Andreas.”: The church is worth finding.

For more pictures of the “church”: and “crosses.”:


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