parville4Extracts from the Building Registration Proposal Document

(With thanks to Miss Jade West, Conservation Section, Department of Local Government & the Environment, Douglas.)


Parville is a large house set in extensive gardens. The property is situated in the village of Ballabeg, in the parish of Arbory, within the sheading of Rushen.

The property is a landmark building which is visible for miles around. This is due to it being located on an excellent site, in an elevated position adjacent to the parish church. The estate of Parville includes the main house, a lodge, extensive walled gardens with outbuildings and two adjoining fields. The stables lie on the church side of Ballagawne Road which divides Parville from the parish church, but they have been converted into a house and are now under separate ownership known as ‘The Coach House’.

The earliest record of the name ‘Parville’ is in the Manorial Roll, Tenants of the Bishop’s Barony (1580-1587). At that time the property was owned by the Parr family who gave the property its name from combining their surname with the Latin word ‘villa’, rather than the Manx ‘balla’ which was usually used, the close proximity of the Friary may have had an influence on the choice of name.


The estate of Parville dates back to the sixteenth century when it was referred to in the Manorial Roll, Book of Bishops (Liber Episcopii) which dates from 1580-7. Parville was the only property mentioned in the parish of Arbory in a list of the ‘Tenants of the Bishop’s Barony’ and it was referred to as ‘Cottage and Croft, John Parr, 1587’.

Nearby Historical Sites

The area in which Parville is located includes some important and ancient religious sites which include the parish church of Arbory and a former Franciscan Friary.

The adjacent parish church of Arbory dates back to 1759 but there was previously a much older church on the site, which was built in 1328 and stood south of and parallel to the present church (Gelling, 1998). The record of vicars for Arbory goes back to 1291, which is further than the records of any other parish of the Island.

The ruins of Bemaken Friary are located nearby and this was founded between 1367 and 1373 by Irish Franciscans (Grey Friars). Two Celtic inscribed stones dating from the fifth century were found at the Friary which indicates that there was a much earlier Christian use of the site (Kniveton G.N. (ed), 1997). Following the Dissolution of the Friary which occurred around 1540, the chapel has been used as a farm building and it is due to this use that the chapel still stands to this day.

The Parr Family

The Parr family originated from Lancashire and they were one of several families who moved from Lancashire to the Island following the success of the Stanley’s who became Lord’s of Mann in the fifteenth century; other families who followed include the Radcliffe’s and the Skillicorn’s. The Parr’s from Parville are believed to have been related to Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal Castle (b.1483, d.1517) who was the Marquis of Northampton and father to Queen Catherine Parr (b.1512, d.1548), Henry VIII’s sixth wife (Moore A.W., 1889, Old Manx Families).

Many members of the Parr family held important roles in the political and ecclesiastical sectors of the Island and the first member of the family to hold an official rank was William Parr who was Comptroller. In 1561 Edward, Earl of Derby appointed Gilbert Parr a Commissioner with the responsibility of making regulations concerning Peel Castle and Castle Rushen and from 1635 to 1643 Richard Parr was the Bishop of Sodor and Man.

The Parr Family of Parville

The first member of the Parr family known to have a connection with the parish of Arbory was John Parr who owned a cottage and croft (Parville) which was recorded in the Book of Bishop’s in 1587. In the seventeenth century, Robert Parr (d.1645) was the parish clerk of Arbory (he was recorded to have held this position in the Lord’s Book in 1610 and 1630) and he is also the first member of the Parr family who is known to have lived at Parville. Two of Robert Parr’s sons held religious posts; Robert who was Vicar of Malew from 1633 to 1640, Rector of Ballaugh from 1640 to 1673 and Vicar General in 1646; and Thomas who was the Vicar of Malew from 1641 until his death in 1695 and who was famed for his personal record of events which he wrote in the church registers.

Robert Parr who was the Vicar-General also had sons who held religious posts in Arbory and other parts of the Island. His eldest son Charles (b.1644, d.1684) was the Rector of Ballaugh from 1673 to 1684 and became Vicar-General shortly before his death in 1684. Another son, Robert (b.1648, d.1712) was the Vicar of Lezayre from 1686 until his death in 1712.

John (b.1651, d.1713) was perhaps the most well-known member of the Parr family. He was a MHK in 1679, Chaplain of Ballure in 1688, in 1690 ‘Parr’s Abstract’ was published which was John Parr’s account of the laws of the Island at that time, he was then Vicar of Rushen from 1691 to 1700, a Deemster in 1693 and the Rector of Ballaugh from 1700 until his death in 1713. John Parr lived at Parville during his later years and following his death in 1713 he was buried with his ancestors in the chancel of the adjacent Arbory parish church (Kniveton G.N. (ed), 1997). It is to the time of John Parr that the core of the present property is believed to date (Kewley J.D.R., 2006).

The ecclesiastical profession continued into the next generation of Parr’s, which included Robert (d.1729) who was the Vicar of Arbory from 1713 to 1723, and Rector of Bride from 1723 until his death in 1729.

The estate of Parville remained with the Parr family up until 1764 when it was sold by John Parr who lived in Chatham. However, after leaving Parville none of the Parr family had any sons who survived and by the end of the eighteenth century, the name was extinct in the Island. However, despite the Parr’s leaving Parville in 1764 and the property changing hands several times throughout the centuries, the original name has been retained.

Other Residents of Parville

In 1764 the property was sold by John Parr of Chatham to John Quillian, the Attorney-General of the Isle of Man. According to J.D.R. Kewley, John Quillian was purchasing many properties at the time and died only four years after he bought Parville in 1768. The property remained in the Quillian family and during the early nineteenth century the property was owned by Dr. Quillian, a scholarly philologist before passing to the descendants of the Quillian family, the Quirks. According to Directories and Guides, from at least 1823 (Pigot’s Directory 1823) to at least 1850 (Johnson’s Guide, 1850) the owner of Parville was a Mr George Quirk who was Water-Bailiff and Receiver-General for the Island. Following this, the property remained in the Quirk family, up to at least 1867 (Wood’s Atlas) but J.D.R. Kewley states that the Quirks “…divided their time between Parville and Harold Tower in Douglas. Parville may well have slept during this time.”

Wood’s Atlas of 1867 records the proprietor of Parville (no. 27 on plan) as being the Rev. James Quirk, although the Vicar of Arbory at the time was John Qualtrough. The table shows more of the information supplied with Wood’s Atlas; no. 28 on the plan is the adjacent parish church and vicarage.

In 1875 the Quirk family sold Parville to the Castletown Waterworks Company, who had been granted permission to use the stream which runs through Parville in September 1854. Also in 1875 the Castletown Waterworks Company sold the property to John Thomas Clucas from Ballakilley, Rushen (J.D.R. Kewley), although this is likely to have been an investment as he and his wife already owned a number of properties on the Island. In 1885 Thomas and Margaret Clucas gave some of their land to the north of the parish church for a new burial ground (Gelling C.J., 1998).

In October 1894 the property was sold to William Kelly and between 1894 and 1901 he purchased the two fields above the house, which have remained part of the estate to this day. William Kelly was the first owner-occupier in Parville for many years and it is therefore likely that he was responsible for the Victorian alterations and additions to the property such as the tower.

William Kelly died in 1909 and in 1920 his son sold Parville to the tenant who was a member of the Cooil’s, a renowned Arbory family. At that time, some of the Cooil family had moved to the Manchester area in order to be near to their well-known drapery firm, Marshall and Aston, but despite this they still maintained a keen interest in the affairs of the Island and Robert Cooil of Parville, who died in Hale, Cheshire in 1920 was an ex-president of the Manchester Manx Society.

Throughout the twentieth century the property changed hands several times and in 1996 the estate was bought by Mr S.L.I. Pettit who died in 2001, leaving Parville for the benefit of the nation, in the hands of the Caroline Pettit Trust (named after his daughter). This is a registered charity which intends to restore the property.


Parville is a landmark building, situated on a slope which is elevated from the main road and the plains lying to the south of Ballabeg. The south-facing elevation and tower can be seen for miles around and the open gardens contribute to the character of Ballabeg. The white colour of the property makes it more prominent and due to the fact that it is situated adjacent to the parish church of Arbory, which is also a landmark building, Parville is an important historical aspect of the local landscape.

The core of the present house is believed to date back to the time of Deemster John Parr (b.1651, d.1713), (Kewley J.D.R., Notes for Registration Purposes, 2006). There have been many alterations which have taken place in the intervening years, many of which were Victorian, however there have also been some modern alterations which have regrettably taken away some of the original features of the house such as the sliding sash windows.

It is difficult to establish when each part of the house was built but according to the 1869 Ordnance Survey map, the main body of the property was already built by that time. Since then the alterations have included the tower and the modern entrance, the conservatory, the two-storey extension to the rear (which has the same castellated wall top as the modern entrance) and the single storey kitchen and utility extension on the north side of the property. With the sole exception of the conservatory, all of the modern extensions have a flat roof.

The oldest part of Parville appears to be the central section which faces west towards the church. This part of the house is distinguished mainly by the presence of chimneystacks at either gable end, and although this section is likely to have been the full extent of Parville at one point, it is rather tall and narrow when compared with traditional Manx houses. The proportions of this section and the size of the window on the first floor of the western (front) elevation suggest that there would have only been the space for two windows across the first floor of the front elevation, as the property is not long enough for the traditional Manx style which incorporated three windows. The front door is most likely to have been located in this western elevation where it is to this day, the Ordnance Survey map of 1869 shows that the entrance to the property was the opening from the road that the church is on, which leads to the west elevation of Parville, further suggesting that this was the front elevation. The entrance from the Main Road had not been created at the time of the 1869 Ordnance Survey Map.

In the old section there are thick external walls, large chimney stacks at the gable ends and an eighteenth century staircase located in the centre, although the balustrade is modern. The eighteenth century staircase is at a right-angle to the front door rather than facing it, which could suggest that this staircase may have been added later, perhaps at the same time as the southern wing was built (pre-1869 Ordnance Survey map). The staircase only rises to the first floor, with the second floor being accessed through a staircase in the tower, which was a later Victorian addition, suggesting that the original property would have only had two-storeys. This is further implied by all of the second floor windows being a modern dormer style.

Inside the property there is an internal window below the staircase between the old part of the house and the kitchen extension, this window is low in height and is likely therefore to have been one of the original window openings. A further window on the first floor of the western elevation could also be in its original opening; however, due to the extensive alterations to this property, it is difficult to ascertain whether any of the remainder of the windows are in their original openings.

The most significant Victorian feature of Parville is the tower joined to the west elevation, which gives Parville its familiar profile in the landscape. Further Victorian features are likely to include the front boundary wall and railings, plus the mouldings above all of the windows on the south and west elevations which are aesthetically pleasing as they fill in the wide space on the elevations between the first floor windows and the bottom of the roof.

Unfortunately, many of the original features of Parville were removed during the twentieth century and replaced with modern substitutes. These features included the chimneypieces, doors, windows, architraves and cornices and today there are very few original features remaining in the interior of the property.

The Lodge House

The lodge is located on the main road in Ballabeg and is a small late-Victorian building of unknown date. There is a property on this site in the 1869 Ordnance Survey Map but it is a slightly different size and shape to the current building, however, it could be the same property, only extended. The entrance adjacent to the lodge was not created until after the 1869 Ordnance Survey map and the lodge house appears in the census returns for 1901, although it was uninhabited at that time.

The Caroline Pettit Trustees have recently had the lodge house extended to the designs of Anna Begbie, in order to provide adequate living accommodation (PA 03/01424/B).

The Garden

The extensive gardens slope upwards from the Main Roads towards Parville and are some of the finest to be found in the Island. The main house is set back in the grounds and therefore the open-space of the gardens contributes to the character of Ballabeg.

An important feature of the gardens is the lake, which has a long narrow shape and is fed by a nearby stream which runs through the eastern boundary of the garden. The lake was also included on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1869 so it has been a feature of the garden for a significant length of time and has now become home to a small number of ducks.

Garden walls

The house and garden are enclosed with a boundary wall constructed of slates and round stones which appears to be of a considerable age and which matches the wall enclosing the parish church on the opposite side of Ballagawne Road. However, at the front of the property where the boundary meets the Main Road, the wall has been lowered to half the height, rendered and cast iron railings have been placed along the wall top. ‘The Elements of Style’ (1991) states that during the British Victorian period “Wrought or cast-iron palisading was used to enclose the front gardens of villas.” (p.269). This ironwork matches the pattern of the double gates which are located at the entrance adjacent to the lodge house. This entrance is not included on the 1869 Ordnance Survey map, so from this evidence we can deduce that the ironwork is possibly a late Victorian addition.

The 1869 Ordnance Survey Map suggests that at that time the garden was separated from the house by a wall which ran from east to west. A section of this wall still remains and is located to the south east of the main house, behind the greenhouse. It is likely that the remainder of the wall was demolished when the lodge house was constructed in order to provide access from this entrance to the main house.

The Outbuildings

There are some small outbuildings located north of the house which are now largely used for garden purposes. They are constructed of timber and stone and although they are attractive examples of their kind, they are of no great architectural significance.