Isle of Man
A simple chuch, given to Port Erin by a C19th benefactor
came early to the Isle of Man with irish missionaries who arrived in
the C6th. They built small chapels, called keeills. One was built in Port
Erin, near the site of St Catherine’s Well, although this has been lost to the sea.
In the C19th people had to walk to the parish church of Kirk Christ between Port Erin and Port St Mary. Not only was this a long walk, the church wasn’t large enough to accommodate all the holiday makers in the summer months. William Milner a wealthy safe maker from Birkenhead, retired to Port Erin and after his death in 1874, he left a plot of land near St Catherine’s Well and £1000 to build a church in memory of his wife Jane. The church was to be dedicated to St Catherine.
A church was built using Manx Slate and opened in 1880. It was a simple building, based on the C13th Gothic style, with a vestry on the south wall and a portico at the west end. It was extended at the west end a few years later as more seating was needed for the summer influx of visitors and a small tower was added on the south west side. This contains two bells. The larger one was the fog bell at the Chicken Rock lighthouse until 1909.
The inside of the church is equally simple and has changed little since it was built, with whitewashed walls and open construction wood roof. A simple chancel arch separates nave and chancel.
There are simple stained wood pews. The carved oak altar rail, altar, pulpit and lectern date from 1890-1910. The organ was dedicated in 1913.
The two small roundels in the outer windows of the chancel represent Catherine wheels. The round window at the west end is the original from the church before it was extended. The two stained glass windows at the west end depict St Matthew (1894) and Jesus, the Master Carpenter (1999)
The plain granite basin of the font was discovered in the churchyard in 1896 and is thought to be the font from the original church. It was sent to be dressed by a stonemason and now stands on an octagonal limestone pedicel.
The church is on Church Road and is open daily. The nearest post code is IM9 6AE and the grid reference is SC197691
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