This is one of our resurrected ‘Jenny Watts Treasure Hunts’ only made simpler and more ‘tourist-friendly’ with circle routes and easier questions and answers. On the off-chance we ever find some tourists here. The ‘Bangor Town Centre Treasure Hunt’ therefore follows a circular route from the lower car parks of Castle Park at North Down Museum (Google Map Here) but it is also possible to just jump in at any question along the route.
So the route includes Bangor’s Town Centre Tourist Attractions including Bangor Castle, Castle Park, and Bangor Abbey, and follows Bangor Main Street before crossing to Ward Park and back up again to the old Victorian Walled Garden. And it shares lots of historical and cultural tidbits along the way.
Castle Park Car Park
So it is possible to start anywhere on the loop, and you could probably follow it in reverse, but we recommend starting at the Castle Park parking beneath North Down Museum where there is free parking in Bangor Town Centre and it is also one of the quietest car parks. So it is probably the best place to start when arriving by car. But is also just a short walk from the main Bangor Bus Station and Train Station where it is found up the hill opposite to Bangor Castle where the first clue is on the left. It is also a stone’s throw or so from Bangor Premier Inn.
Clue 1: Schomberg’s Tree
At Castle Park car park beneath all the shade, Schomberg pitched his headquarters at this ancient tree.
Where did Schomberg just arrive from?
The Siege of Carrickfergus: A year before the notorious Battle of Boyne in 1690, King Billy sent his General to take charge of a siege of the Jacobite garrison of Carrickfergus. After 1-week the Jacobites surrendered and history follows. Anyway, on arriving in Ireland, the well-known General with his Williamite troops landed in Groomsport and this famous Marshal is claimed to have tied his horse to this tree.
Clue 2: Bangor Castle
Now up to Bangor Castle and old Bangor Town Hall, in the centre of the courtyard, you’ll find a sundial.
Where was the sundial before Bangor Castle?
Bangor Town Hall: Designed by the Scottish architect William Burn for Robert E Ward (1852). This ‘house’ now known as Bangor Castle is the current Town Hall. The estate originally covered 6000 acres, half of Bangor at the time, and was left to Robert’s wife Lady Clanmorris (1941) before inherited by his only daughter (heiress) Matilda Catherine Maude who was married to the 5th Baron Clanmorris.
Clue 3: Castle Park Benches
At the side of the castle, you’ll find three scenic chairs, two for past councillors, and one something else.
On which seat did Aslan rest?
C.S Lewis Connection: In front of the Town Hall benches commemorate councillors who had passed during their time in service. Otherwise, one bench stands out. Known as Narnia Bench or C.S Lewis Chair the seat was included as part of the CS Lewis Centenary Celebration to celebrate the views that C.S. Lewis talked about from Bangor Castle Park over Belfast Lough. Check here for CS Lewis’ local connections here.
Clue 4: The Bangor Bells
Now leave from the front and take a sharp left, to follow the bells past Luxueil and Bregenz.
What is inscribed on the next plinth bell?
Clue 5: Bangor Abbey
Continue ahead and towards the church spire, to reach Bangor Abbey you can dander around. By the front gate are memorial stones.
How ‘big’ is the closest plinth?
Bangor Abbey: The early history of Bangor centres around Bangor Abbey (558) which is recognised as a centre of learning for students from all over Europe. Two famous students, Columbanus and Gall, travelled throughout Europe where they set up monasteries in Luxeuil, Bobbio and Bregenz. The original Abbey made of wood was burnt down by the Vikings in the 9th Century. Follow the travels of Columbanus here.
Clue 6: Bangor Post Office
Now turn back around towards centre of town, along you’ll find tidbits carved in the ground. Follow the road until the 2nd roundabout.
How many Edward VIII post boxes are said to exist?
Bangor Post Office: Bangor has a rather special post office as it is said to be only one of few letterboxes opened during the short-lived reign of King Edward VIII. The British King who abdicated his throne on the same year as he was crowned. So there are only a handful of post offices now known as ‘Edward VIII letter-box’.
Clue 7: Market Place House
Continue down Main Street to the main junction cross, then over the road to the Market Place House.
What nearby building has this emblem?
Bangor Main Street: Formerly known as Fore Street, Market Street, and Front Street. Bangor Main Street has always been an important trading port with the harbour and seafront once lined with several large steam-powered cotton mills. Central to this was the construction of a large stone market house found in the centre of Main Street.
Clue 8: Good Templar Hall
Turn back to the left onto Hamilton Road. Ahead is the old parish church across from Good Templar Hall.
What date was the Good Templar Hall established?
The Good Templar Hall: The International Organisation of Good Templars (aka Movendi International) is a ‘temperance’ frat organization that claims to be the largest worldwide community promoting abstinence from alcohol and other drugs (booooo!). The premises are now the home of Bangor Drama Club but its previous owners would not be happy with some of its activities.
Clue 9: The Royal British Legion
Continue ahead past the Methodist church, to reach the British Legion and memorial walls.
Who laid the foundation stone of the Earl Haig Memorial Hall?
The Royal British Legion (RBL): A British charity established near 100 years ago (1921) to support members of the British Armed Forces and their families. The Bangor Branch is on Hamilton Road where meetings take place every 2nd Monday at 19:30PM in the Earl Haig Memorial Hall. Membership is open to everyone having served in the armed forces or not. The person who laid the stone was also married to the answer of Clue 2.
Clue 10: Carnegie Library
Cross over the road and past the front of Ward Park, to Carnegie Library on the Hamilton Road.
What dons the top of the original library building?
Bangor Carnegie Library: In the 1890s industrialist, philanthropist, and Scotsman Andrew Carnegie built up a steel empire in America and a fair bit of wealth. He then went on to give away most of his fortune including $60million dollars to build a total of 2,509 public libraries across the globe. Bangor Library is one of approximately 800 still open and operating today.
Clue 11: Ward Park Gun
Now into Ward Park, you can explore if you want. Then find close to the memorial a really big gun.
What honour did Bingham receive?
Ward Park Gun: The gun at Ward Park was taken from a German U-19 submarine after the end of World War I. Later it was then presented to Bangor in recognition of Edward Bingham a commander of a destroyer division when he led the HMS Nestor in the Battle of Jutland.
Clue 12: Bangor Omniplex
Now on past the birds to the opposite side, then cross over the junction to follow Castle Park Road. With a stop at Bangor’s Cinema and Oasis Bingo hall.
What type of fruit hang over the door?
Clue 13: The Walled Garden
Now follow to Aurora along Valentine‘s Road, to reach the walled garden although sometimes it’s closed. At the front of the entrance is a plaque on the wall.
When was this garden first opened to the public?
Bangor Walled Garden: Bangor’s victorian garden was originally designed by the Ward family (1840s) with four sections for different horticultural personality before it was taken over by Bangor’s local council who restored it and opened it to the general public. More recently it has been voted no.1 in Northern Ireland and no.2 in the United Kingdom by Garden News Readers in the Top 100 Best Gardens. Here for more on Bangor’s Walled Garden.
Clue 14: Castle Park Grave?
We’re back to Castle Park take the paths to the left, through woodlands past squirrels, keep an eye for this grave.
What was the title of the gentleman buried here?
Bangor Castle Park: This man and his wife lived in Bangor Castle (now North Down Museum and Town Hall) where they brought up ten children. One of their sons (3rd) Edward was a naval officer who won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. He is celebrated in other landmarks found throughout this treasure hunt. Here for more on Bangor Castle Park.
Clue 15: North Down Museum
Take a right between maples and towards the Town Hall. You’ll soon reach the car park and where we started it all. With a stop at the museum, there’s a point on a trail.
Who is this trail named after?
North Down Museum: North Down Museum is a free to visit tourist attraction sharing the heritage and history of Bangor and its surrounding townlands. Inside you’ll find all sorts of exhibits and tidbits from Bangor’s Early Beginnings and Christian Heritage, to the more recent years including Bangor’s booming tourist industry. For added incentive, there’s a cafe at the museum’s central courtyard. Check here for more on North Down Museum.