Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for CASTLETOWN

CASTLETOWN, a town in Kirk-Malew parish, Isle of Man; on a bay of its own name, near the southern extremity of the island, 10 miles SW of Douglas. The bay is separated, on the NE, by only the narrow isthmus of Longness peninsula, from Derby haven; measures about 2½ miles by 2; and has an occasional light, seen at the distance of 8 miles; but is unsheltered from southerly winds, beset with sunken rocks, and comparatively shallow. Some vessels frequent it, in a good corn and coasting trade; but most prefer Derby haven. The town is thought to be the oldest in the island; was the residence of its kings; and is still the seat of its government; yet consists chiefly of modern houses, in regular streets. A rivulet runs through it to the bay; and is crossed by two bridges, for carriages and pedestrians. A market place, a large square, is near the centre. Castle-Rushen, once the abode of royalty, now variously courthouse, prison, and barracks, stands on a rock between the market square and the rivulet, and overlooks the country for many miles. This was originally built, about 945, by Guthred, the Dane: is said to resemble Elsinore Castle, the scene of Hamlet; was the theatre of the events which form the plot of Sir Walter Scott's "Peveril of the Peak;" retains the formidable gloomy grandeur of the mediæval architecture, with massive walls and square towers, one of them 80 feet high; and was partially restored in 1815. A memorial to Governor Smelt, a Doric pillar, is on the parade. St. Mary's church, facing the parade, is an ornamental structure, built on the site of a previous church, in 1828. Three Roman coins were got at the founding of the church; and a Roman altar is at the governor's house. King William's college, founded in 1830, stands at Hango-hill; and is an imposing edifice, in the pointed style, 210 feet by 135, with a tower and lantern 115 feet high. The training here is liberal, preparatory for the church; and several of the masters, as also many of the pupils, have been distinguished. There are also chapels for Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Roman Catholics, a free school, and a literary institution; and the town has a post office‡ under Douglas, a banking office, and a weekly market. Pop., 2,373. Houses, 442.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: the Isle of Man CrProt
Place: Castletown

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.