From a Keeill to a Primitive Methodist Chapel, Agneash is a thin place

Agneash Primitive Methodist Chapel is the only holy space on the Isle of Man. recorded with the Small Pilgrims Places Network.

09 April 2024

Agneash Primitive Methodist Chapel (1857) is a quiet building with a rich history linked to Primitive Methodism, mining and Celtic culture.  The chapel has its own Keeill, a Celtic booth built around the 7th century for a holy person to reside in. While Keeills are quite common and a source of pride on the Isle of Man, their origins remain mysterious.

Located near the Lady Isabella waterwheel (Great Laxey Wheel), Agneash is wealthy in both history and spirituality. “Keeills became a focal point for people to come in to ask for Christian prayer or for a blessing. These became the sites of the first Christian communities and chapels on the island,” explains Revd Steve Ingrouille, Minister, with his wife Rebecca, in Agneash, Baldrine, Cooil, Laxey, Onchan and Union Mills in the Isle of Man Methodist District.

During their 2019 sabbatical, Stephen wanted to explore the idea of “thin places” – locations where the veil between this world and the spiritual world is thin. “I found through pilgrimages around the Holy Land, the UK and here on the Isle of Man, that there are places where you just enter and feel a particular closeness with God through being there,” adds Steve.

Steve visited some of the oldest places of Christian worship in the United Kingdom. Some places had been curated to almost become museums and had lost their emotional connection. Others brought a sense of peace and the presence of God. In one of those, Steve found information about the Small Pilgrim Places Network, a network that brings together places for peace and stillness, places where people can enter into the presence of God. Agneash Primitive Methodist Chapel had this feeling.


“When people come into this space, they've already been prayed for. It is a special place where people can encounter God, in new and in different ways.”

Revd Steve Ingrouille

“The chapel is built on a keeill that goes back to 690 AD and there's been Christian worship in this vicinity since then,” explains Steve. “More importantly, the congregation was enthusiastic about the idea of listing the chapel. They created a visitor and prayer guide, and they make sure the chapel opens every day.”

People can stop here midway through a walk and have a nice hot drink, free of charge. There are always cakes and biscuits available too. Through the prayer guide, people are invited to look around the space and explore it or just sit where they are and appreciate the peace.

The prayer book encourages people to look out of the window and see the ruins of the keeill, reflect on its history and heritage, and give thanks for past generations who have been in this place.

Being the only place on the island registered with the Small Pilgrim Places Network means that it has become part of the congregation’s identity. Keeping the doors open and providing people new ways to reflect, contemplate and recognize the presence of God has become its mission.

There has not been a day when a cup of tea has not been made and biscuits nibbled on. First timers or regulars, they all experienced the Godly quiet of the thin place.