UK Genealogy Archives logo

Bangor, Carnarvonshire

Historical Description

Bangor, a city, a municipal borough, and a parish in Carnarvonshire, and a diocese in Carnarvonshire, Anglesey, Merionethshire, and Montgomeryshire. The city stands adjacent to the Chester and Holyhead section of the L. & N.W.R., near the river Cegid, which empties itself into the sea at Port Penrhyn, in a narrow fertile vale, near the Menai Strait at its opening to the Lavan sands, 8½ miles NNE of Carnarvon, 18 SW of Llandudno, and 60 W of Chester. Bangor is 239 miles from London, and is a junction for three lines of railway, the main line between London and Holyhead, a branch to Carnarvon, and a branch to Bethesda. Rocks and heights overlook it, and command magnificent views over coast and mountain, away to Great Orme's Head and Snowdon. The environs include Beaumaris Bay, the Menai and Britannia Bridges, Penrhyn Castle, and the slate quarries at Bethesda. The name is a corruption of Ban Chor, signifying the " high choir " (some derive the name from Lat. bonus chorus, " good choir "), and, in contradistinction to Bangor-Iscoed or Bangor-Monachorum, was formerly written Bangor-Fawr, signifying Bangor the Great. A grit stone, 16 inches long, bearing an inscription in honour of Antoninus Pius, was found in 1806 at Ty Coch, about 2 miles distant, and has suggested the probability that the Romans had some settlement in the neighbourhood. The scattered remains of a British camp exist on the top of a hill on the N side of the city, and slight traces of a strong castle, erected in the reign of William Rufus by Hugh, Earl of Chester, occur on the summit of a steep rock, opposite Friar's School. A college was founded in 525 on the site of the cathedral by St Deiniol or Daniel, and this most probably gave rise to the city. The place seems never to have acquired more than the bulk of a village before the early years of the 19th century, and then it had only ninety-three houses; but in consequence of its situation on the main road to Holyhead, the construction of the bridges over the Straits, the opening of the railway, the proximity of the great slate quarries, and the rush of strangers to enjoy the scenery of Wales, it has become a considerable and very thriving town, with crowded influx of tourists and temporary residents.

The old town consists chiefly of one narrow street, between the station and the harbour, nearly a mile long, in a waving line, between two ridges of rock. On the hill to the north-west of the old or lower town is situated the modern suburb of Upper Bangor, with many good villas. Garth and Hirael are two suburbs lying near the harbour, inhabited chiefly by fishermen. Between Upper Bangor and Garth are the Siliwen Baths.

The cathedral is small, and wants effect from the low-ness of its site, yet contains some good architectural details. No traces remain of the original foundation of St Deiniol, the first bishop, to whom the present cathedral is dedicated. It was destroyed in 1071 by the English; dilapidated, about 1247, in the wars between Henry III. and the Welsh; burnt down in 1402, during the troubles which followed the revolt of Owen Glendower; and remained for more than ninety years in a state of ruin. The present pile, which was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott between 1866 and 1875, is cruciform, with a central and a western tower. The choir is Perpendicular English, and was built in 1496. The nave and the western tower were built from 1509 to 1532. The nave is 114 feet long, and has six Perpendicular arches. All the windows are of the Decorated style. The restoration of the nave was completed in 1882. Gryffydd-ap-Cynau, Prince of North Wales, and his celebrated successor, Owen Gwynedd, were buried in this cathedral. Two 14th century tombs, one of which is probably that of Bishop Anian, occupy either side of the choir. The episcopal palace stands on a low secluded spot, a little N of the cathedral, and is an edifice of the early part of the 16th century, much altered, plain, and commodious. The deanery is adjacent.

There are three churches, St James', in Upper Bangor, Sfc Mary's, in the lower town, and St David's, in the west end, and chapels for Roman Catholics, Baptists, Wesleyans, Calvinistic Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, The grammar school was founded in 1557 by Dr Jeffrey Glynn, brother of Bishop Glynn, on the site of a Dominican priory. .The University College of North Wales, situated near Port Penrhyn, was opened in 1884; the Normal College, in Upper Bangor, was built in 1862 for the education of teachers for the schools of the British and Foreign Society. In 1893 the North Wales Church Training College, for 60 students, was built; the building is a handsome edifice of the Late Tudor Gothic of the collegiate type, and stands on the summit of the rising ground overlooking the city, near the railway station. There are also theological colleges of the Congregationalists and Baptists. There is a museum in the High Street containing curiosities collected by Capt. Jones, and presented by him to the city; a library and news-room is attached. Other public buildings are the market hall, the Penrhyn Hall, the masonic hall, the county police station, the workhouse, the infirmary, and almshouses. The recreation grounds, presented to the city by Lord Penrhyn, occupy the steep gorse-covered hill south of the High Street; they are pleasantly laid out, and command a good view of Penrhyn Castle and the Menai Straits. An industrial training ship lies in the Straits between Bangor and Anglesey. The city has a head post office, three banks, and publishes several weekly newspapers. Its chief trade consists in the export of slates, raised in Lord Penrhyn's quarries at Bethesda, and brought; on a railway to Port Penrhyn, at the mouth of the Cegid. Port Penrhyn has a quay upwards of 300 yards long, and is accessible at certain states of the tide by vessels of from 200 to 300 tons. A manufacture of slates is carried on. Steam vessels ply to Liverpool, calling at Beaumaris and Llandudno. From Garth Point there is a ferry across the Straits. Markets are held on Fridays. The Mayor and the Town Council are the local authority: the town is well drained, and well supplied with water. The municipal borough was incorporated in 1883; it is co-extensive with the city, and is divided into four wards. It is a seat of petty sessions and the county court. It forms one of the Carnarvon group of parliamentary boroughs. Population of municipal borough, 9892; of parliamentary borough, 9939.

The parish includes also the village of Tynlon. Acreage, 6504 of land with 309 of water; population of the civil parish, 12,261; o( the ecclesiastical, 8435. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bangor, held jointly by two vicars; net value, £225. Patron, the Bishop of Bangor. Pentir, with Glasinfryn and St David's, are two separate ecclesiastical districts; net value, about £450 with one residence. A new cemetery is about a mile from the town.The diocese comprehends all Anglesey, most of Carnarvonshire, and Merionethshire, and part of Montgomeryshire. Population, 215,956. The see was founded in 550. The first bishop was St Deiniol, the founder of the college. The bishop, in the time of Edward I., was Anian, who baptized the young Prince Edward, and wrote a folio volume, which is preserved in the cathedral library. A bishop in the time of George I. was Hoadley, who preached a sermon which gave rise to a long and famous dispute, known as the Bangorian controversy. Two other distinguished bishops were Sherlock and Herring. The cathedral establishment consists of bishop, dean, chancellor, two archdeacons, four canons residentiary, two prebendaries, three canons, and two minor canons. The income of the bishop is £4:200; of the dean, £700; of each of the canons residentiary, £350. The other members receive no pay. The archdeaconries are Bangor and Merioneth.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Registration districtBangor1837 - 1974

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carnarvonshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Bangor are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online:

Postal districtLL57
Post TownBangor