Bishopscourt, Kirk Michael, IM6 2EZ

Property Description

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The most historic house the Island has to offer, boasting continual residency since built and trees planted within the grounds by Royal appointment.

Historical Note
The Isle of Man has a long and colourful history; this is largely due to its strategic position in the Irish Sea. For over 1,000 years the Isle of Man has had its own parliament, Tynwald. Traditionally one of the most powerful figures on the Island has been the Bishop of Sodor and Man and consequently the Bishops Palace at Bishopscourt has been in the forefront of the Islands history for more than 700 years.

Until 1974 the Bishops home has been at Bishopscourt, the original builder of which is believed to have been Simon of Argyll (Bishop from 1226-1247) although the exact date of the first building on the site is uncertain, it is believed to have been a wooden structure which was later replaced by King Orry's Tower. This tower still survives today and it is believed to have been built by John Duncan (Bishop between 1374 and 1392) as a fortified retreat. In the evolution of Bishopscourt security was paramount and as a result some of the walls range between 4 and 10 feet thick.

The years that followed justified the need for a stronghold, in the English civil war in which Bishop Par died, the Earl of Derby refused to appoint a new bishop and instead appropriated Bishopscourt turning it into one of the most important strongholds on the Island. Following the surrender of Isle of Man to Cromwell's forces, Bishopscourt was seized by a band of men from Kirk Michael. This episode was shortly followed by a period of occupation by the parliamentary commissionaires. One of these commissionaires, James Chaloner, was a judge at the trial of King Charles I and is believed to have signed his death warrant. Eventually Bishop Samuel Rutter was appointed in 1661 after the restoration.

There then followed a period in Bishopscourt's history when there was neglect. However the most famous bishop, Thomas Wilson (1698-1755) decided to restore and greatly extend the house. he is responsible for much of the development of the house, but following his death again the palace was neglected. In addition to this, various bishops were keen to adapt and extend the house to their own requirements and as a result the house evolved and has a number of architectural styles over the centuries which can still be seen today. The house has been the most significant house on the Island for many centuries and as a result has received many important visits including that of King Edward VII and also some less welcome visits such as that in 1825, 5000 men who marched on Bishop Murray to persuade him to abandon his tithes on potato, turnip and green crops.

The history of Bishopscourt is too extensive to describe in these details. However further information is available from the selling agents on request.

For Sale - Freehold
Bishopscourt is the most historic and some would say the finest house on the Island. This is hardly surprising as the Bishop played a key role in the history of the Island for many centuries and therefore built and occupied a house that reflected his important position. The stature of the house is hard to quantify, but it is certainly exceptional for the Island in that it combines both a rich history, impressive architecture and a very comfortable family home. The present owners have spent over a decade restoring the house following its purchase from the government. The house has been extensively renovated and modernised and the careful work undertaken by both the current and previous owners has transformed it from an austere Bishops palace into a warm family home that incorporates an impressive set of reception rooms and well balanced bedroom accommodation. In addition to the main house there is useful ancillary accommodation including a staff flat, office suite and chauffeurs flat. The house stands at the centre of 7 acres of beautiful lawned and wooded grounds that are easily maintained and provide a peaceful setting for the house.

Ground Floor
Heavy arched oak panelled double doors and stone steps lead into:

Entrance Porch
Quarry tiled floor and seat to either side. Wall mounted plaque dated 1702 records the period of the re-building of Bishopscourt by Bishop Wilson. Door into:

Reception Hall
Named the Straton Hall after Bishop Norman Straton who carried out the remodelling of the central part of Bishopscourt following a fire in 1893. Oak panelling to half height with an impressive wide oak staircase leading to the cantilevered landing above. Within the hall there is a magnificent stained glass window with glass believed to have come from the medieval chapel demolished by Bishop Murray. York stone flagged floor. Door into:

Named after Bishop Wilson who is reputed when gazing through a window in the library, to have had a vision of angels dancing in the avenue of limes planted by him decades earlier. Fitted Brazilian mahogany bookcases and panelling. Arched doorway believed to have been the original entrance into the Peele Tower. Off the library is an unusual opening (originally the medieval garde-robe) providing access to the antechapel, opposite which is the former stone staircase leading to the living quarters on the first floor.

Leading through to the Chapel of St. Nicholas (see later). This antechapel was formally used for convocations.

Drawing Room
A wonderfully light room with 3 large windows providing impressive views over the garden and a magnificent 18th century fireplace with stone flag hearth and stone moulding above. Heavy ornate cornicing and dado rail, with two ceiling roses.

Dining Room
Original oak panelling with an exquisite carved oak fireplace displaying Bishop Straton's episcopal coat of arms. Cornicing with ceiling rose.

Morning Room
Door leading through to the dining room and further double doors leading back to the reception hall. This room, ideal for everyday use, has a carved fire surround with flagstone hearth. Alcove lading through to small storage area.

Inner Hall
Limed oak panelling to half height. Patterned quarry tiled floor. Door into:

Wash hand basin, quarry tiled floor and door to separate W.C.

From the inner hall a door leads to the garden and further access to the cellars together with a secondary staircase to the first floor.

Family Kitchen
Fitted with a full range of base and wall units. Tiled work surfaces incorporate a single bowl sink and drainer with mixer tap and cupboards below. Large Belfast sink, two electric ovens and grill. Oil fired Aga. Four ring hob and grill with extractor fan above. Chopping block with wine rack below. Breakfast and sitting area. Access through to:

Breakfast Room
Pine cornicing and a brick built fireplace.

Great Kitchen
This is a reconstruction of the main kitchen in the late 18th century. It lies at the end of a long passage leading to the former Bishop Wilson theological college and the servants quarters. Within this room there is a large chiollagh fireplace and a magnificent flagstone floor. Fitted cupboards are believed to date back to the 19th century.

Medieval Pooil Vaaish marble shelves and original pine shelving. Stone flagged floor. Steps down to:

Utility Room
Extensive shelved space and storage cupboards. Plumbing for laundry equipment.



Providing storage room for oil tanks.

Domestic Quarters
Range of further rooms such as a utility, gun room, larder, boot room and an integral single garage.

Returning to the main hall, stairs rise to the first floor.

First Floor

Divides into two separate landings with one side being the 14th century tower wing.

Guest Bedroom Suite

Bedroom 1
Named the Wingfield Bedroom with a fireplace and carved surround. Door into:

Cast iron roll top bath, two pedestal wash hand basins and W.C. Fireplace. Two alcove recesses highlighting where the former stone staircase led from the ground floor.

Secondary Bedroom Suite

Bedroom 2
Fireplace with ceramic tile inset. Door into:

Panelled bath with wash hand basin set into a vanity unit and W.C.

Staircase rising to the King Orry Suite on the second floor.

Returning to the main landing the following rooms are arranged:

Bedroom 3
Fireplace with tiled inset. Shelving.

Bathroom 3
Original cast iron roll top bath, pedestal wash hand basin and ornately patterned W.C. Built-in linen cupboard with slatted shelved space. Door to the landing.

Upstairs Night Kitchen

Second Floor

Full height windows providing views over the grounds at Bishopscourt.

Bedroom 4

Bedroom 5
Fireplace with tiled hearth.

The landing continues through to:

Long Gallery
Fireplace and mouldings to walls and dado rail. Three rectangular windows overlook the grounds. Arched doorway opens into the secondary landing off which the following are approached.

Bedroom 6
Fireplace and wash hand basin with mirrored back and shelved space. Door into:

Panelled bath, W.C. and wash hand basin set into a vanity unit.

King Orry Suite

Bedroom 7
Coved ceiling and arched windows to three walls. Door to:

Panelled bath with hand shower attachment, pedestal wash hand basin, bidet and W.C. Fireplace with carved surround. Stairs continue to two storage rooms located above the King Orry suite.

West Wing
This can also be approached from the first floor landing of the main house or via the secondary staircase from beside the kitchen. The west wing comprises:

Nursery Suite

Inner Hall
Fitted cupboards and doors to:

Sitting Room
Fireplace and built-in cupboards.

Floor mounted units incorporating a single stainless steel sink.

Bedroom 1
Fireplace and fitted cupboards.

Panelled bath, pedestal wash hand basin and W.C.

South Wing
This is approached through an entrance in the west wing at the first floor level or alternatively through the west wing. There is also a separate exterior entrance and this wing can therefore be isolated from the main accommodation.

Staff Apartment

Sitting Room

Dining Room
Fire surround and access through to:

Floor mounted units incorporating a single sink and cupboards below.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2
Fireplace with tiled inset and hearth. Cupboard providing shelved space.

Bedroom 3
Fireplace and fitted wardrobe cupboard providing shelved space.

Inner Hall
Steps down to:

Panelled bath, wash hand basin and W.C.

Office Suite
Adjacent to the main house and situated in the south wing is an office suite comprising:

Office 1
Fireplace. Built-in cupboards.

Twin bowl sink unit and cupboards below.

Office 2
Imposing oak fireplace flanked by shelves to either side.

Panelled bath with W.C. and wash hand basin. Door leads to the outside and parking areas.

Located to the south west side of the main house is the Garage Block which provides parking space. Adjacent to the garage is a Store Room.

Located above the garage block is a self contained Chauffeurs Apartment in need of renovation comprising of a hall, cloakroom, living room, kitchen, double bedroom and bathroom.

The Coach House
Constructed in 2002 to an outstanding specification, a semi-circular range of stone built garages, accessed via both the front and rear drives including a central carriage house and 8 interlinked garages.

Bishops Herring House
Now restored, this charming building stands in a wooded setting directly off the rear courtyard. The Herring House is built of slate and stone under a hexagonal shaped slate roof and inside there are slate slabs mounted on brick piers. Bishopscourt is the only house on the Island to have such a building. In addition to the Herring House is a further storeroom.

Chapel of St. Nicholas
Approached via Bishop Wilson's library and through the antechapel (see above) on the north western side of the house is the Chapel of St. Nicholas.

There is a separate exterior entrance through an arched wooden door on the western side and the chapel has a splendid working organ with impressive stained glass windows and pews in oak. Believed to have been constructed in 1857 by Horatio Powys, the chapel replaced an earlier Gothic structure. Around it walls can be seen memorials to many of the Bishops that have lived in the house and this forms a very fine addition to Bishopscourt. The chapel is still consecrated although there is no obligation to open it to the public. The owners will enjoy being able to hold their own services at Easter and Christmas and possible the weddings of their children.

Lying to the north west of the main house is the Ice House believed to have origins from 1651 situated in Civil War fortifications built by the Earl of Derby remain. Formerly used for food storage and currently used as additional storage space.

Gardens & Grounds
These extend to about 7 acres and are made up of a number of lawned areas interspersed with many semi mature and mature specimen trees. To the north, and beyond a small river, is a paddock enclosed by a high stone wall.

The garden features an array of wonderful mixed mature deciduous trees. There are also some exotic varieties including palm and monkey puzzle paying witness to the Island's temperature climate which is due to the Gulf Stream. A plaque commemorates three trees planted by King George V in 1920. An ancient Civil War earthworks on three sides encloses the extensive lawns.

There is a right of way across the first section of the Northern driveway providing access to the neighbouring cottages along with a public foot path which is clearly fenced.

Mains water and electricity are connected to the property. Drainage is by a private system. Oil fired central heating.

Flat 1 = £463.30 (incl. water rates) 2019.
Flat 2 = £641.30 (incl. water rates) 2019.
Flat 3 = £223.00 (incl. water rates) 2019.

Travelling from Ronaldsway Airport, turn right and take the A8 north to Ballasalla. Once in Ballasalla turn left onto the A5 and after about 1 mile, turn right onto the A4. Proceed along the A4 through Foxdale to Kirk Michael. After passing through Kirk Michael, Bishopscourt can be found on the left hand side after 3/4 of a mile.

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