Founded in 1577, Walney Island’s first ‘chapel-of-ease’ was located near the Promenade at a time when the island was part of the parish of Dalton-in-Furness. An Elizabethan chapel was rebuilt around the end of the 17th century, achieving ‘parish’ status in the 19th Century, but its deterioration forced it to be demolished and replaced c1852. The present church is at least the third to be built within the same ground boundaries, the foundation stone of which was laid down in 1907, the building was not completed until 1930.

“Biggar and North Scale are the only hamlets on the island, and intermediate between the two is the church of St. Mary. The date of its erection is uncertain, but it was in existence as early as 1577, and was probably built before the downfall of Furness Abbey. In the inquisition of 1650 it is styled Wana Chapel, and the whole chapelry, embracing the island of Wana contained only sixty families.   The inhabitants do not appear at that time to have been in a very flourishing condition, or else they were supinely indifferent to the creature comforts of their minister, for the whole sum contributed towards his maintenance was 6s. 6d. per year. They also prayed to be made parochial, but their request was not granted, and the living remains a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the vicar of Dalton.   The incumbency, worth £180, is now held by the Rev. H. M. Burgess, B.A., Dublin. The area of the ecclesiastical district is 12,800 acres.

The present church is a small but neat structure, erected upon the site of the old chapel. In the burial ground lie the remains of Mr. Close, an antiquarian of repute, who edited the last edition (1802) of West's 1774 Antiquities of Furness. Near the church is the school, erected by Mrs. Michaelson, of Barrow Island, to the memory of her husband. It is now under the management of the School Board.”

(Directory of Furness & Cartmel, 1882 - Mannex's )








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