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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 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 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.
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 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 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 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