WOODS-CHAPEL, or CHAPEL-IN-THE-WOODS, a district parish, in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 2 ½ miles (E.) from Magherafelt, on the road from Belfast to Londonderry, by Toome bridge; containing 7471 inhabitants. Prior to the Reformation this district was a parish, called in ecclesiastical records the parish of Ross-Aglish, with a church, glebe, and glebe-house, as appears by the return made to Henry VIII. in 1540. It was granted by Queen Elizabeth, together with Ardtrea and Kiltinny, now called Upper Aglish, to the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, when the three were united into a single parish under the name of Ardtrea, and so continued until 1823, when this district was severed from it, and constituted a perpetual curacy, according to the ecclesiastical, and a distinct parish according to the civil, arrangements.

The district, which consists of 15 townlands taken from the parish of Ardtrea, extends from near Moneymore, along the shore of Lough Neagh, by Ballyronan, Castledawson, and Toome, to the neighbourhood of Bellaghy, on the shore of Lough Beg; comprising an extent of 10,440 ½ statute acres. The soil in general is light, with an occasional intermixture of rich land; that in the neighbourhood of Ballyronan is very fertile and highly cultivated, well fenced and planted.

The crops most usually raised are wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and flax; mangel-wurzel, clover, and vetches sometimes form part of the rotation. In the neighbourhood of Toome, between the lakes and towards Bellaghy, it consists altogether of low marshy meadow, mostly covered with water during winter, but in summer yielding excellent and abundant pasturage. The Lough Neagh Improvement Company proposes to draw off the surplus waters of that lake through this tract, and thus not only to effect the thorough drainage of this extensive tract of rich land, but, by reducing the waters of Lough Neagh to their summer level, to reclaim many thousand acres now under water, and consequently unprofitable during a great portion of the year.

The soil rests mostly on a substratum of basalt, which shews itself frequently above the surface in knolls of rock, much broken and decomposed; some veins of the coal formation from Castledawson appear near Warwick Lodge, and a few scattered fragments of the limestone formation from Springhill: but in neither case does the appearance of the seams hold out encouragement for an expenditure of capital to work them.

The proposed line of railway from Armagh to Coleraine is intended to pass through the parish, but no progress has yet been made towards its accomplishment beyond the marking out of the line. Close to the shore of Lough Neagh is the village of Ballyronan, which see.

The houses of the farmers, though generally small, are well built, comfortably furnished, and for the most part surrounded with small orchards and gardens. The plantations about Lakeview, the seat of D. Gaussen, Esq., being arranged partly in hedgerows and partly in clumps or groves, give the neighbourhood a lively and prosperous appearance. Warwick Lodge is the residence of W. Bell, Esq.; Lisnamorrow, of T. Dawson, Esq.; and Ballyneil House, of the Rev. L. Dowdall, a lineal descendant of the celebrated George Dowdall, Archbishop of Armagh, whose opposition to the orders of Henry VIII. respecting the changes of the liturgy gave rise to the long-continued controversy between the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, as to the right of each to the primacy of the Church of Ireland.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Rector of Ardtrea: the income of the perpetual curate amounts to £89. 4. 7 ½., of which £69. 4. 7 ½. is payable by the rector of Ardtrea, and £20 from the augmentation fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: the glebes appear to have been comprised in the grant by James I. to the London Society, or they have since merged into the estate of the Salters' Company, which has an extensive and valuable property there. The church, at Lisnamorrow, ten miles distant from the mother church, and between two and three east of Magherafelt, was built in 1730, and enlarged in 1825, at an expense of £415 British, by a loan from the late Board of First Fruits: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £183 for its repair. The ruins of the old church still remain; and its yard is used as a burial-ground.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Moneymore, and has a chapel, a small plain edifice, at Derrygarve. At Ballymaguigan, or Gracefield, there is a small Moravian settlement, with a chapel, burial-ground, and school attached to it. The male and female parochial schools, at Lisnamorrow, close to the churchyard, are chiefly supported by the rector; one at Ballyronan is supported by the Marquess of Londonderry, Sir R. Bateson, Bart., and D. Gaussen, Esq.; and there are others at Aughrim, Anahorish, Ballymuldey, Ballymuldeymore, Creagh Moyola, and Derrygarve, in connection with different societies: these schools afford instruction to 320 boys and 250 girls, and there are also five Sunday schools.

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