A Brief History of St.Thomas' Church Douglas
Shortly after Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 the town of Douglas was already beginning to expand and as a result the accomodation available for religious services became inadequate. Even the addition of a 'floating chapel' in the inner harbour was insufficient to meet the growing need for a new church. In 1845 the 'floating chapel', a former Royal Navy vessel capable of accomodating some 200 worshippers, was closed because of its need of repair and lack of funds. The vessel was sold, raising £200, and the funds applied towards the building of a new church.
In 1846 a design for the new church was drawn up by architect Ewan Christian. The church was to be called "The Church of St. Thomas Appostle" and would accommodate 1,021 people sitting. The estimated cost of building the church and parsonage was £4,400 of which £2,200 had already been raised and an appeal for the remaining amount was launched. The foundation stone was laid on July 9th 1846 and the local newspapers reported that the ceremony was attended by "several influential families from distant parts of the island, as well as a large concourse of the most respectable inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood". The Governor, Charles Hope, read aloud the inscription which was written on parchment and later deposited in a bottle which was then placed in the cavity of the stone along with coins of the time. On the 1st of August 1849 the new church was officially opened. Again the great and the good of the Island attended the opening. In December 1867, the then bishop, withdrew his licence following a dispute with the vicar of Braddan over who had the right to appoint a new vicar for St. Thomas'. The bitter dispute was finally settled in favour of the bishop and so, after a closure of almost five years, the church was consecrated and reopened on Saturday 29th June 1872.
Some Other Key Events
1852 - A peal of bells was donated
1876 - St. Thomas' Day School opened
1878 - Henry Bloom Noble became a church warden
1886 - The organ was installed1893 - New gas lighting was installed1896 - Work on the murals began
1897 - Clock installed
1898 - The Chancel Screen and Pulpit were dedicated
1899 - St Thomas' Mothers Union formed
1910 - Murals completed. They cover some 520 square metres (622 square yards) of plastered wall space.
1912 - February - A fire broke out in the tower detroying the bells and damaging the organ
- July - A new peal of 6 bells was first rung
1913 - The organ was repaired and updated with a choir organ and a 3rd manual
1923 - The War Memorial, which was designed by Archibald Knox, was unveiled and dedicated (it was later moved to the Chapel of Remembrance)
1925 - Electric lighting installed
1926 - 2 additional bells added to complete the octave - W. H. Okell of Glen Falcon bought and donated 'Hibernia', Princes Road as a new vicarage
1927 - Vestries built on to the south east corner of the church - Memorial window dedicated on 26th June
1928 - Chancel refloored with Italian Marble
1929 - Oak reredos erected1938 - 5th Douglas (Bishop's Own) Scout group re-formed
1939 - Chapel of Remembrance created
1944 - 5th Douglas, St Thomas' Cub Scout group formed
1999 - Became a registered building No. 178 - Murals refurbished
2017 - Major repairs to exterior stonework and clock faces repainted
"The Building of St. Thomas' Church" - I.O.M. Natural History and Antiquarian Society 1971
Church Year Books 1929 - 1930 and 1932 - 1933
Centenary Souvenir Brochure 1949"Proposed Chapel of Remembrance Booklet"