The Church of St. Paul is situated in Articlave, which is about one mile to the east of Castlerock. Within the parish and within walking distance from Castlerock are the beautiful grounds and walks around Downhill Castle and the Mussenden Temple. Downhill Castle is famous, for the Earl of Bristol who was then bishop of Derry built it.
St Paul’s Church was built to replace the ruin at Downhill. It is generally believed that Articlave village was the first settlement on the Clothworker Company Estate in 1611 and that the site was in all probability selected on account of the nearby river. When the ecclesiastical authorities had to consider the necessity of providing a new church for the parish it was natural that they should select the most advantageous position. A certain Captain Jackson gave a grant of one acre of land, and on this land the church was built. Bishop Hopkins gave the consent for the building of this church and Bishop King consecrated it on June 2nd, 1691.
Another notable day in the history of St. Paul’s is June 24th, 1848. On that day within these walls five young men stood before the Bishop to be admitted to the Order of the Priesthood. One of the five was destined to occupy in later years, the highest position in the Church of Ireland. Here William Alexander received his sacred commission as Priest. William Alexander was then a curate attached to Derry Cathedral. In 1867 he was consecrated Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and in 1896 became Primate of all Ireland. In 1850 he married the talented Miss Cecil Frances Humphreys in the old Parish Church of Strabane. Mrs Alexander was a hymn writer of world wide reputation and her hymn (one of many) “There is a green hill far away” is amongst the best known hymns in the Christian world today.
St. Paul’s Church was built in very troubled times and consequently the structure is of a plain and very simple type. The square tower at the West end is imposing and well proportioned and on the South wall near the door the attention of visitors is attracted by a sundial of blue slate. It bears the date 1823, with this suggestive inscription: ‘Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours, and ask them what report they bore to heav’n.’
As we linger at St. Paul’s Church, we remember that here for over 300 years God has been worshipped and the glad tidings of the Gospel have been preached. The members of the Church of Ireland today in the district of Articlave love their Church with all its hallowed associations. In 1991 the Church was refurbished at considerable cost to commemorate its tercentenary. May it long continue to be a source of Spiritual blessing.