Start at Point
1, in the Market Square outside the George Hotel.
Opposite the hotel is Castle
Rushen, dating from the 12th Century and one of the
best preserved castles in the country, largely through its use as
the seat of government until the middle of the last century and
later as a gaol; it was restored by the architect Armitage Rigby
at the turn of the century. If you look up at the castle, you will
see the clock, which it is claimed was presented by Queen Elizabeth
I. It is a rare survival of an early type of one-handed clock.
The castle still contains a Law Court and a Registry Office, and
the Island's Governors are still sworn in there, a remarkable continuity
as the seat of government for some eight hundred years.
Castle Rushen is now owned by the Manx Museum and National Trust
and is open to visitors during the summer season. Allow at least
an hour, and possibly more, for a visit.
The George Hotel has always been the principal hotel of
the town. The building is in fact late Georgian although now masked
by a Victorian facade.
you stand with your back to the hotel once more, you will see in
front of you a column, the Smelt Monument, erected by public
subscription in memory of Colonel Cornelius Smelt, a popular Lieutenant
Governor who died in 1832. The story is told that there was a plan
to put a statue on top but that the money ran out. It has recently
The Smelt Monument divides the Market Square on your left, where
markets are still held in the summer, from the Parade on your right.
The Parade is so called because the castle garrison used to parade
former St Mary's Church at the far end was built in 1822 to the
designs of the prominent local architect Thomas Brine. To the great
regret of many people in the town it was in 1977 declared by the
church authorities to be unsafe and its box pews and marble monuments
destroyed to make way for an office conversion. The tower was originally
topped by an octagonal lantern giving it a more ecclesiastical appearance.
Throughout the 19th century the Island's Bishops were
enthroned here as the cathedral on St Patrick's Isle was in ruins.
round the Parade and look at the fine Georgian houses as you pass.
The tallest house on the right hand side is Balcony House,
once the residence of Captain Quilliam, who served on H. M. S. Victory
at Trafalgar. This side of it, note also the red sandstone steps
and gutters of 7 The Parade (next to the Co-op) and the fine doorcase
and fanlight of the house at the far end, 5 The Parade.
Return back past the George, heading towards the attractive semi-circular
building, also believed to be by Thomas Brine, which separates the
two main shopping streets, Arbory Street and Malew Street. Before
you come to this, note the large building on your left, now called
Mannanan House, originally built as barracks for the soldiers garrisoning
the castle, and for a time used as a town hall before being altered
and converted into offices.
it is the Union Hotel where the writer George Borrow stayed
in 1855. Note the canopy above the main door and also the white-painted
building behind which may well be of mediaeval origin.
Proceed along Arbory Street, so called because it leads to the
church of the neighbouring parish of that name. Notice, as throughout
Castletown, the many fine shopfronts.