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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of the Scilly Isles

by Jo Lewis & Peter Kessler, 24 April 2020

Scilly Isles Part 2: Churches of St Mary's & St Martin's

Garrison Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, St Mary's Isle, Isles of Scilly

Garrison Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is on the southern side of Garrison Road in Hugh Town, St Mary's. John Wesley first visited in 1742 and a society was formed in 1788. This chapel was built in 1790, but underwent rebuilding between 1825-1828 to provide the present building. In 1832 the Bible Christians broke away to move to their Church Street chapel (see links). Later mergers saw Garrison Lane close and it is now used as a council chamber by the Isles Council.

St Mary's Old Town Church, St Mary's Isle, Isles of Scilly

St Mary's Old Town Church can be found to the south of Old Town Road, overlooking Old Town Bay and to the south-west of Old Town itself. The present building is a restored fragment of the original Norman nave. That original church was erected between around 1130-1140, when it was effectively the parish church for the lay populace of Ennor. Rebuilt in 1666, it had become ruinous by the 1820s before being rebuilt in the 1830s, and then being restored in 1890.

St Mary's Old Town Church, St Mary's Isle, Isles of Scilly

That final work resulted in the present church, much smaller than the original after it had been replaced as the parish church in 1838 by St Mary's Hugh Town thanks to a shift of the main population centre. A survey of 1822 stated 18.3 metres for the length of the old church. Richard de Wika's Chapel, now lost, was seemingly closed around 1176 for holding services without permission from Exeter. It may (or may not) have been incorporated into the Old Town church.

Old Town Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, St Mary's Isle, Isles of Scilly

Old Town Wesleyan Methodist Chapel stands on the eastern side of the main northbound lane towards the airport, around forty metres north of the Ennor Close turning at its northernmost tip. Methodism on the Scilly Isles really got started in 1788 following a 1742 visit by John Wesley. The Old Town chapel was opened in 1819 but was rebuilt, perhaps in the middle of the century. The Methodist union of 1932 may have caused its closure. It is now a guest house.

Holy Vale Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, St Mary's Isle, Isles of Scilly

Holy Vale Wesleyan Methodist Chapel sits on the north-eastern outside corner of the lane which connects Holy Vale Farmhouse with the A3110 road, towards the isle's north-western coastline. Following the establishment of the first Wesleyan chapel in Hugh Town in 1790, the cause had expanded sufficiently for this chapel to be opened in 1815. Later unions and falling congregations resulted in the closure of all Wesleyan chapels on the island bar the Hugh Town meeting.

St Martin's Old Chapel, St Martin's Isle, Isles of Scilly

St Martin's Old Chapel could once be found on the isle of St Martin's to the immediate north of St Mary's. It stood on Church Brow, immediately south of the Day Mark (the red and white-striped tower), and its ruins, a rectangle of stone foundations in the grass, should not be confused with the partially-standing lookout station. It existed by 1500 and survived past 1698. A second old chapel may also have existed about here, although there is nothing remaining of it.

Photos on this page kindly contributed by Ann Swindale / British Methodist Buildings, James Stringer, Mr Joel's Photography, and Douglas Law, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Additional information from Isles of Scilly Historic Environment, Research Framework, Updated Resource Assessment and Research Agenda 2019, Cornwall Archaeological Unit.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.