In the 800s, where the church now stands, there were just a few cottages around a little church or oratory or ‘dearteach’, the humblest possible little edifice, near the principal ford. Dearteach means ‘tear-house’ or ‘house of penitence’, but we do not now know the name of the penitent saint, or preacher of repentance. This simple oratory of an unremembered saint, erected in a hitherto unnamed spot, was probably known to a very narrow circle, but visited by a few simple folk, who come to say their prayers here. (Scott, 1913)
In 1172 Walter de Ridelsford built a castle adjacent to the site of the church, of which no trace remains, indicating that the masonry was most likely incorporated into the later built environment, possibly the church. The purpose of the castle was to protect the strategic ford at the River Dargle. (Davies, 1994)
In 1609 the church was built or rebuilt, and the current tower dates from this period. Records show that by 1615 a lot of people of English descent lived in the area. However, services were conducted using a prayer book printed in Irish, indicating that the Gaelic tongue was in general use at the time in these parts, irrespective of religion or origin. (www.irelandbyways.com)
In 1660 a stone bridge was built across the Dargle ford.
In 1700 a military barracks was built immediately west of the church. This resulted in:
• a stimulus to trade
• a stimulus to social life
• a guarantee of protection in times of unrest
In 1863 the church ceased to be the parish church, and in 1869 was given the name St Paul’s. Shortly after that, it was rebuilt east of the tower and extended eastwards, most likely with masonry from the barracks and the original castle.
In 1911 the church was restored.
In 1977 the church was closed as a place of worship, but continued to comtribute to the praise of God. It was used by Kenneth Jones & Co. to manufacture pipe organs, such as the one just up the street in Holy Redeemer parish, and many other organs right around the world.
In 2010, after extensive renovation and re-furnishing, the church was again opened as a place of worship, now called The Well.
Our congregation moved out of The Well on 30 September 2014. God had been speaking to us through many prophetic words about moving on, so that is what we have done. We feel like Abraham who ‘… went out, not knowing where he was going’ [Hebrews 11: 8]. We will be meeting as community in different ways until the new year when we trust God will again open the door to a more permanent home.
The graveyard surrounding the church contains about 400 graves, the earlies of which dates back to 9 July 1668. Comprehensive details, including plans of the graveyard, an alphabetical surname index and notes on individual graves can be accessed by clicking here.