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 installed

1893 - New gas lighting was installed

1896 - 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

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 erected

1938 - 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

Sources

"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"

ABOUT US

Welcome to St. Thomas' Church website. On here you will find all sorts of information about what we do and what's going on. If you would like to join us at one of our Sunday Services, a group meeting, a Summer Concert or just for a coffee, cake and a chat on a Friday morning we would be very happy to see you.

ADDRESS

St. Thomas' Church Finch Road

Douglas,

Isle of Man

IM1 2PL

e-mail

mfaragher@manx.net

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