Ancient Castletown.

J. Roscow

Towns were not part of the Celtic life style. Native Manx lived on their land holdings and were nearly self sufficient except for such items as salt. They had no real need for towns. The original site of this town was probably very sparsely populated but it was chosen for its defensive surroundings, being a spit of dry land surrounded by bogs and lakes. Describe.

Tell how the name Rushen originates. Dry peninsula of land surrounded by bogs and lying water. In the mid thirteenth century it was selected as a defensive site in the south and the Vikings moved their administration from Peel. The start of CT was as a dormitory for the families of the garrison in the area round the new stone tower which is now part of the castle keep. CT(Lancashire) like Peel (re Dublin) is a defended harbour and provided a safe entrance and exit to the island for the Vikings. (Sea castles) Scarlett treen was populated by the Lords retainers. The Lord of Man made his income from the island by charging rent & Castletown tenancies were controlled by the Lord to house his troops so that you did not own your own property and could not necessarily pass it on. The scribe of the rent rolls lived and worked in CT in thr Rolls office, and so the surviving ancient rent rolls tend to give more intimate details of the town because he passed the properties on his way to work in the Burn tower every day.

Few Manx in the town. Like a Lancashire town. Holdings consisted of an area of ground and a small cottage. Turf stack. Corn stack. Hay stack. South facing so you can work outside. Not gable to gable. Different buildings, cellars, chambers. Outside stone stairs or a ladder, which continued into the nineteenth century. Everywhere thatched. No original buildings left. Roof timbers rotted first. Nightsoil to be put between the Cross and Dial Hill, carted off to scarlett as fertilizer. Fining for unringed pigs roaming the town, John Moore. Dogs,hens, roam streets.

Map of old CT. Formation of the squares may have come later when the curtain wall and glacis was built in the 14th & 15th century. The school run by the monks of Rushen Abbey. Importance of Rushen Abbey to Castletown. Worship, school, burials of Kings. Malew Church glebe land is Abbey land,Vicar was not entitled to a share of the tythes. Malew tythes probably went to the Abbey. The exactations of the Church for burials,marriage etc. Crosses. Genefluct to shrines at the entrance to the Abbey lands, hence the fairy bridge. No development on East bank. (Church versus State). Marion ineen Creer the swyneherd. (Playing cards at the inn into Sunday) Clague the fiddler. Corrin the post. The tinker. Soldiers often had a second trade. Deemsters holding courts between the gates. In the old chapel if it was wet. Supply of public water for cows from the mill leat. The old Mill road ran by the harbour along Hope street. Flooded at high tide.

The Chapel of the Blessed Mary. The Bagnio. The Lord's garden. Red Gap meadows. Hawks and the falconer. Parliament square was the result of clearance. No quays. Two little horizontal Mills. Straw for the thatch. Mulcture, twentyfourth part. Flour didnt keep above a week. No potatoes until 1706 and animals killed and salted for the winter. Salt herrings. Bad crops 1647 & 8. famine in 1649. No market against disaster. Holybut fish packed in pots with melted butter poured on and sent to England for Easter. Manx Shearwaters & razorbills pickled. Lobsters marinated in wine. Herrings pickled and herrings soused. The present banquets in the Castle exhibition are of English origin. Courts between the gates so Inns required for visitors. Stables. Duties of Harbinger. Ale taster and carrier. Coach house behind the new Library.

The story of Queen street and Mrs Cathrine Quaile of Knock Rushen. The glacis. Daniel Kings drawings compared with modern pictures. A good idea would be to photograph complete streets for future historians with notes on the back. Remember today is tomorrows history. Bog Crofts. Everyone wore hats because you loose most of your body heat through the head. Ditto gloves. Weavers. Women taught to spin at school. Different spinning wheels

. Dominique LaMothe married Susanna Corrin, daughter of Henry, & lived on the east side of West street. In 1760 he went as surgeon on the privateer brig 'St Lawrence' . She captured several English vessels but the crews rose up and captured the brig and brought her into Douglas. He was imprisoned in Castle Rushen & later let out on parole. HMS Delight came to take off the prisoners but DL could not be found, so it sailed without him. Re-imprisoned but at the peace in 1763 his doctoring skills let him stay. (Govs wife)

A brewhouse was similar to a chamber except that it contained a fireplace and was specifically used for brewing and storing ale. This was an important regular item of diet for all families as well as providing the drink for the town's ale houses. To own a legal brewing pan meant the payment of a rent to the Lord for the tenant's 'lead'. Ancient brew pans had been made of lead, but gradually brass pans came into use so that the section of the rent roll recording these charges eventually became entitled 'brass fines', but the description at the end of the brewing pan rent list still read 'for their leads'.

The 1523 the rent roll shows a site with no named rent payer which paid 7d rent for a chamber west of the Chapel of the Blessed Mary. This chamber was later noted as the schoolhouse so a possible explanation of the blank tenant entry was that the students were responsible for paying the rent between them. This continued in the 1557 roll (see plot 31) and in the 1560s the same chamber was listed at the same rent as 'the chamber of the Blessed Mary called the school house'. From the plot sequence the school was among the buildings at the south of the market square and in 1585 the 7d rent was still number 31 in the roll sequence, but in 1586 the entry had been put much further down the rent roll. In 1587 Robert Prescot was named as paying the 7d rent on this holding and the wording altered to 'a chamber near the swynstye lately called the school house'. In 1599 Thomas Norris, fisherman, took over the chamber from Robert Prescott at the same rent 1 and I have left the rent in its original position, (see plot 31), although the school had moved to a new location, probably in Church Street, around 1586. Incidentally the chapel was occasionally used as a meeting place for the Court, presumably when bad weather prevented them meeting within the castle gates.

2 In the sixteenth century modern Queen Street was a western extension of Chapel Lane and was called 'the road to Knock Rushen', through a very short row of plots along the shore line. The track ran across the site of properties at the south end of the present Market Square and led to a well on the edge of the shore much used by the townsfolk although it belonged to Knock Rushen quarterland. This well gradually became brakish as stone removed from shore. In 1506 there were properties on the south end of the Market Square so it was shorter from south to north than the present square. Opposite the castle was a stone built dais which acted as a market cross and from that point a bell was rung to signal the start of trade on market days.

3 The square also contained a gibbet, stocks and a whipping post. To the south of the market cross and just within the boundary of the property near the road to Knock Rushen was Dial Hill which appears to have been a mound with a sundial on top near which were a small house and a workshop. (see plots 38 & 39 in 1557). Dial Hill is first mentioned in the 1511 rent roll so it may have been constructed between 1506 and 1511. In 1553 it was ordered that the population must carry away dung and dump the residue between the Market Cross and Dial Hill. 4 Presumably that point was convenient for carting away the manure via Knock Rushen track to the lands of Scarlett treen and improving the fertility of the land. 1 Liber Vast., 1599.2

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