Bishopscourt

The Bishop's Glen

Traditionally owned by the bishop living in nearby Bishopscourt, the pretty little glen is full of history.


The Bishop's Glen is opposite the entrance to Bishopscourt, which was once home to the Bishop of Sodor and Man, between Ballaugh and Kirk Michael. Access is by bus or car, with parking on the roadside.

This narrow glen consists of about 14 acres and stretches for about half a mile towards the hills. It has many interesting features such as two small lakes, an artificial mound called "Mount Aeolus" with an interesting history, a cave and a carved stone seat.

Bishop Wilson described the glen in 1698 as being in a ruinous state and devoid of trees. He can be credited with being of Mann's first conservationists, planting many thousands of trees against the judgements of locals - who insisted the Island was far too windy and exposed for them.

The Forestry Board purchased the Bishop's Glen in 1963 from the Hon. Dame Monica Margaret Salmond for £400.

Mount Aeolus

On the 28th February 1760, just off the coast of Ballaugh, the English Fleet was involved in a victory over the French, who were under Admiral Thurot. Thurot had been a smuggler and had intimate knowledge of the Western coast of Britain. He was commissioned by the French to attack English shipping in the Irish Sea and had command of three naval vessels.

One of the French warships, "Le Marechal Belleisle" was captured and destroyed by Captain John Elliot and his Royal Navy Ship "The Aeolus". Thurot's body was washed up at Kirkmaiden on the coast of Galloway and he was buried there, but parts of the "Belleisle" were washed ashore almost at the feet of Bishop Hildesley who placed them on the mound which is on the right of the entrance to the glen. He then artificially terraced the spot and named it "Mount Aeolus" after Elliot's Ship.

The remains of the Belleisle have long since rotted away and the two small cannons which had also been placed on the mound have disappeared. A stone now marks the site. Some of the Belleisle's timbers were also used in the construction of a cottage at Bride known as "Thurot's Cottage".

The Cave

The shaping of the cave and the erection of the gothic well are rightly or wrongly accredited to the wife of Bishop Murray. Local tradition has it that Bishop Murray took refuge in a rock crevice in the glen at the time of the potato (tithe) riots.

Near the cave is a stone with the inscription "Creg-yn-Ushag" (meaning rock of the bird), "lead me to the rock that is higher than I". This inscription is presumed to date from around 1880.

Guide books from the 1800's point out that the mossy seat in the cave will seat two people.

Tourists

According to the old tourist books, the Bishop's Glen was decorated with "neatly painted boards on which are specimens of the wit of former bishops".

Around the late 1800s it was said that an old Manx hermit lived there with only a Bible for comfort, and indeed when the visitors came along to view the glen he was always in situ - only to disappear when they had left. Some hermit!  Maybe he was the same one who appeared in Glen Maye whenever there were visitors about.

Mill Pond

The ornamental mill dam once fed the old mill on the side of Bishopscourt Farm, and has been home to many ducks ("with their yalla legs") and even swans. The remains of the old "double" water wheel still lie against the mill wall.

Epitaphs

The following are epitaphs which were placed on boards by Bishop Hill; erected in various parts of the glen to commemorate pets who had sadly died.

"Beneath this spot of earth, in cairn repose,
Rests what was mortal of my poor dog Rose;
To tell her faithfulness my pen would fail,
So like a true Manx dog she lies without a tale."

"After years of good service, to nature a debtor,
Poor Mona exchanged this sad world for a better:
And here we remark, without wishing to flatter,
She hadn't her equal as sheep.dog or ratter;
That to keep her in mind, her disconsolate owner
Thus tries in the future himself to be-moan-her."

"Two cygnets from Hertford, a son and a daughter,
Were sent by the Bishop to furnish the water;
Alas! one cold winter the suddenly perished,
Although with episcopal care they were cherished.
The case of their death, as the inquest asserts,
Was perplexing; it ma have been.-coming from
Hertz."

Article: Suzanne Cubbon, Manx Glens - A stroll through history