Friars School, Bangor

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Ysgol Friars
Lôn y Bryn

, ,
LL57 2LN

Coordinates53°13′04″N 4°09′07″W / 53.21775°N 4.1519°W / 53.21775; -4.1519Coordinates: 53°13′04″N 4°09′07″W / 53.21775°N 4.1519°W / 53.21775; -4.1519
MottoFoedere Fraterno or 'On with the brotherhood'
FounderGeoffrey Glyn
HeadteacherNeil Foden
Age11 to 18
HousesDeiniol, Enlli, Cybi and Seiriol
Colour(s)Black and Yellow
Standards Group (1-5)2

Ysgol Friars is a comprehensive school in Bangor, Gwynedd, and one of the oldest schools in Wales.


1557 Establishment[edit]

Detail from John Speed map of 1610, the only surviving image of the original school building

The school was founded by Geoffrey Glyn, Doctor of Laws, who had been brought up in Anglesey and had followed a career in law in London.[1] A friary had been established in Bangor by the Dominican Order, or Black Friars, in the 13th century.[2] At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the friary was wound up in 1538.[3] Geoffrey Glyn bought the site with a view to establishing a Grammar School. In his will dated 8 July 1557, he left the property and endowments towards establishing the school.

The will had left the property to his brother William Glyn, Bishop of Bangor and Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester to execute his wishes. Unfortunately both of these were to die in the following year,[4] but they further transferred the will to Sir William Petre, a former Secretary of State, Sir William Garrard, a former Lord Mayor of London and Simon Lowe, a London merchant tailor, who were able to execute Geoffrey Glyn's intentions.[5]

Although a school had been meeting in the city before this date,[5][6] the new school was only formally established when it received letters patent from Elizabeth I in 1561. The school was to be known as The free grammar school of Geoffrey Glyn, Doctor of Laws, but because of the connection with the Black Friars, later became known as "Friars School". The letters patent established the Dean and Chapter of Bangor Cathedral as the corporation to govern the school. In 1568, statutes were adopted to regulate the schools, based closely on the statutes of Bury St. Edmunds School in Suffolk, founded a few years earlier.[5][7]

The school has been established to provide a free grammar school education for the boys of the poor. This comprised a classical education, in Latin and Greek only.[8] The children who benefited were not the most poor, but the middle class preparing for a career in the ministry or the law like Geoffrey Glyn himself.

The school was maintained from income on the endowments left by Geoffrey Glyn and later benefactors, mainly rents on land in Southwark and a rent charge on land in Oswestry purchased using money left by Glyn.[9]

The school continued in the old friary, close to the banks of the River Adda for over two centuries (at 53°13′52″N 4°07′26″W / 53.231°N 4.124°W / 53.231; -4.124 (Friars School 1557 site)).

The second building, 1789[edit]

Friars School building of 1789 to 1900

Under the patronage of John Warren, Bishop of Bangor – a colourful and controversial character – the school was transferred to a better site, a little further from the river. This was financed partly by closing the school in 1786, an accumulating the money saved from the endowment for a building fund. The new school was built for £2,076 12s 5½d, and opened in 1789 on a site (at 53°13′48″N 4°07′19″W / 53.230°N 4.122°W / 53.230; -4.122 (Friars School 1789 site)), all closer to the High Street and the present Glynne Road.[10]

The curriculum slowly developed to include mathematics, writing and other subject more familiar to today's school students.

The school's fortunes were varied. The move boosted the school. But by the middle of the 19th century, under the headship of Totton, the schools’ reputation suffered, and ultimately lost so many pupils that it was forced to close in 1861.[11] It re-opened in 1866 and a new headmaster, Lewis Lloyd appointed in 1872, when a new secular governing body was introduced in place of the Dean and Chapter.[12]

In 1881, an epidemic of typhoid in Bangor caused the school to move to Penmaenmawr to avoid the disease.[13] The bottom of the valley, especially close to the river, was unhygienic, and this episode engendered consideration of moving away to a fresh site.

At this time, too, the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889 introduced a state system of secondary education in Wales. Some charity and private schools were exempted from its provisions and there had been advocates for Friars, too, to be exempted, but ultimately this brought Friars School into the state system, under Caernarfonshire County council.[14]

The third building, 1900[edit]

Friars School Ffriddoedd building, site of the school 1900–1999

With contributions from Caernarfonshire County Council, the proceeds of selling the old site, together with a public appeal for funds, a new school was built on Ffriddoedd Road for a cost of £11,600. The architect was John Douglas of Douglas & Minishull, and builders Messrs. James Hamilton & son of Altrincham. A foundation stone was laid by Watkin Herbert Williams, Bishop of Bangor on 12 April 1899, and the building was opened in December 1900 (at 53°13′24″N 4°08′37″W / 53.2234°N 4.1437°W / 53.2234; -4.1437 (Friars School 1900 site)).[14]

In moving to the Ffriddoedd site, the intention had been to move out to the countryside. After the typhoid outbreak, and with the unsanitary condition of the lower Adda valley, Ffriddoedd was seen as a healthy rural alternative. However, the development of the city was to catch up. To preserve a little of that rural idyll as the area developed, Dr. R. L. Archer, a former Chairman of the Governors, in 1955 bequeathed to the school a small plot of land. Known as "Dr. Archer's plot", this was to be planted with flowers and kept for ever green.[15]

In 1957, several events commemorated the fourth centenary of the school. A new stained glass window was installed in the building to mark the event.[16]

1971 Reorganisation[edit]

Up to 1971, Friars had been a grammar school for boys. As a grammar school, education was selective, boys having to pass the eleven plus exam to gain admission.

A significant reorganisation in 1971 combined three schools – Friars School, the Bangor County School for Girls (also a grammar school), and Deiniol School, a co-educational Secondary modern school. The three schools brought together formed a new comprehensive school, under the Friars name, but on three sites. The former girls’ school became the Tryfan site, a Welsh language medium for the lower years, while the Ffriddoedd building was the location of the English language medium lower years. The senior years came together at a new building, built for £300,000[17] on a new site at Eithinog.

A further reorganisation in 1978 split the school in two: Ysgol Tryfan was formed as an 11–18 Welsh medium school on the Tryfan site. Friars School became a mainly English-medium school on Ffriddoedd and Eithinog sites.

Shoddy building practices of the 1960s meant that the Eithinog building had to be almost completely rebuilt over the following few decades. These were gradually replaced and expanded, until the whole school was able to relocate to Eithinog in 1999. The final contract for completing the school was valued at £5.4 million.[18]

In that year, the former Friars building at Ffriddoedd was sold to further education college Coleg Menai and continues in educational use.[16]

Celebrating 450 years[edit]

A Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving was held in Bangor Cathedral in April 2007 to mark 450 years of Friars School.[19]

The modern school[edit]

Since 1999, the present school has been united on the Eithinog site.

It is a comprehensive school for the 11–18 age group, and draws pupils from a wide area around Bangor. The current headteacher is Neil Foden. On average, around 34% of pupils from primary schools situated in Bangor transfer to Ysgol Tryfan.

The school is also a competitor in the F1 in Schools competition since 2007. The 1st team reached the national final after winning the regional in Bangor University.

Welsh language[edit]

According to the latest Estyn inspection report, approximately 4% of learners came from Welsh-speaking homes in 2011.[20] As of 2015, 10.7% of pupils aged 11–15 could speak Welsh fluently, with a further 68% being able to speak Welsh but not to a fluent standard. Approximately 20% of pupils aged 11–15 at the school could not speak any Welsh at all.[21] The school is currently categorised by Welsh Government as a predominantly English-medium secondary school with significant use of Welsh.[22] The categorisation means that both languages are used in teaching, with 20 - 49% of subjects [available to be taught] through the medium of Welsh.[23] Ysgol Friars is the only secondary school in Gwynedd that teaches pupils mainly through the medium of English.[24] In 2016, Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council's Cabinet Member for Education, accepted the Service Scrutiny Committee's recommendation that Ysgol Friars should, with council support, identify opportunities to make further progress in the use of the Welsh language across the curriculum and life of the school.[25]

Remains and artefacts[edit]

Traces of the older sites are seen in names of streets: Friars Avenue, Glynne Road, and building: Friars Terrace, Glyn House. A plaque on houses in Glynne Road records the site of the 1789 buildings.

The Ffriddoedd building has lasted well and is now a Grade II Listed building.[26] It is well used by Coleg Menai.


The school colours are black and yellow, the black deriving from the dress of the Black Friars.

The coat of arms is a double-headed black eagle on a yellow shield. This was taken from the arms of the Glyn family of Glynllifon, in the mistaken impression that these were the arms of Geoffrey Glyn. Despite this error (Geoffrey Glyn's arms having been three saddles), the double-headed eagle survived.[27]

The Latin motto, Foedere Fraterno – “On with the brotherhood" – again recall the Black Friars.

These symbols, which once graced the caps and blazers of grammar school boys, are today seen on polo shirts and sweatshirts of the modern school.

Friars logo AV.jpg This is the current logo.[citation needed]

The school's Air Training Corps squadron was granted the number '1557' in recognition of the school's year of foundation. The Air Cadets squadron, which is still located within the school ground is officially known as '1557 (Friars) Squadron'.[28]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Welsh Cup[edit]

Friars School also competed in the Welsh Cup competition during the 1870's.

Season Competition Round Opposition Score
1878-79 Welsh Cup[63] First Round Rhyl 1-0
Second Round Wrexham 1-3[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barber & Lewis (1901), p.19
  2. ^ Barber & Lewis (1901), p.2
  3. ^ Barber & Lewis (1901), p.17
  4. ^ Barber & Lewis (1901), p.20
  5. ^ a b c W. Ogwen Williams in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.30
  6. ^ Griffith (1988), p.139
  7. ^ Clarke (1955)
  8. ^ W. Ogwen Williams in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), pp.34–36
  9. ^ W. Ogwen Williams in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.29
  10. ^ Aled Eames in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.58
  11. ^ Eames in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), pp.66–68
  12. ^ Eames in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.70
  13. ^ Eames in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.73
  14. ^ a b Eames in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.74
  15. ^ ’Recitation of Benefactors, Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving’ (1957), Friars School
  16. ^ a b Bangor Civic Society. "Listed Building Index: Friars Lower School". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  17. ^ a b The Dominican, Summer Term 1971, Friars School
  18. ^ CLAW (2001). "CLAW Annual Report, 2001" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
  19. ^ BBC (20 April 2007). "BBC News article". Retrieved 22 April 2007.
  20. ^ . Retrieved 2016-09-17. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "Ystadegau am iaith disgyblion, Ionawr 2014 a 2015 - a Freedom of Information request to Welsh Government". WhatDoTheyKnow. 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  22. ^ "Ysgol Friars". My Local School. Welsh Government. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Defining schools according to Welsh medium provision" (PDF). Welsh Assembly Government. October 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  24. ^ Trewyn, Hywel (2014-02-17). "Gwynedd Council chiefs want to make sure every child in the county can speak Welsh". northwales. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  25. ^ "Scrutiny Committees Annual Reports 2015-2016" (PDF). Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  26. ^ Bangor Civic Society (2012). "Listed building index". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  27. ^ Barber & Lewis (1901), p.127
  28. ^ "Official 1557 (Friars School) Squadron – Air Cadets Website". Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  29. ^ Adam Narkiewicz (2006). "Blog entry". Archived from the original on 24 September 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  30. ^ Richard Griffith Owen. "Welsh Biography Online". Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  31. ^ Lord Atkin by Geoffrey Lewis (1999), p.24
  32. ^ Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.87
  33. ^ BBC (2007). "BBC article". Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  34. ^ a b Bangor Rugby Club (2007). "Bangor Rugby Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  35. ^ ‘BUTLER, Rt Rev. Arthur Hamilton’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 21 Dec 2012
  36. ^ ‘DAVIES, Ednyfed Hudson’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 21 Dec 2012
  37. ^ Jones, Robert Tudur. "Daniel, John Edward (1902–1962), college lecturer and inspector of schools". Welsh Biography Online. National Library of Wales. Retrieved 9 June 2008.
  38. ^ Robert David Griffith, M.A. "Welsh Biography Online". Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  39. ^ BBC (2007). "Presenters of Cardiff Singer of the World". Archived from the original on 15 March 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  40. ^ ‘EVANS OF CLAUGHTON’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 3 Jan 2013
  41. ^ Daily Telegraph (December 2006). "Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  42. ^ Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002: Biographical Index (PDF). I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  43. ^ John Gummer (4 December 2002). "Obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  44. ^ a b History of Bangor City Football Club website. "Welsh International Caps". Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  45. ^ Mary Gwendoline Ellis, M.A. "Welsh Biography Online". Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  46. ^ Dr. Harold King The Times 24 February 1956
  47. ^ 'LLEWELLYN-JONES, Frederick’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Oct 2012 accessed 21 Dec 2012
  48. ^ BBC (2003). "BBC North West Wales". BBC News. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  49. ^ Edward Morgan Humphreys, O.B.E., M.A. "Welsh Biography Online". Retrieved 8 April 2009.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  50. ^ Syr John Morris-Jones, in Bedwyr Lewis Jones (ed.) Gwŷr Môn (1979) Cyngor Gwlad Gwynedd. ISBN 0-903935-07-4
  51. ^ Goronwy Owen, R. H. Prichard-Jones in Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), pp.51–56
  52. ^ Goronwy Owen, in Bedwyr Lewis Jones (ed.) Gwŷr Môn (1979) Cyngor Gwlad Gwynedd. ISBN 0-903935-07-4
  53. ^ Bangor University. "University Management & Governance". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  54. ^ De Santis (2004). "Biography". Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  55. ^ 'ROBERTS, Rt Rev. Eric Matthias’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 3 Jan 2013
  56. ^ IFFHS. "Welsh Cup 1895/96". Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  57. ^ Bangor Rugby Club. "Bangor Rugby Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
  58. ^ ‘WHELDON, Sir Huw (Pyrs)’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 3 Jan 2013
  59. ^ Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society (1950) Vol 7, No. 19
  60. ^ ‘WILLIAMS, Very Rev. John Frederick’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 21 Dec 2012
  61. ^ ‘WILLIAMS, Sir Ifor’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 3 Jan 2013
  62. ^ New Dean of St. David's The Times 25 November 1949
  63. ^ "1878-79 Welsh Cup".
  64. ^ "Welsh Newspapers Online . WELSH ASSOCIATION CHALLENGE CUP.|1878-12-06|The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard - Welsh Newspapers Online". Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  • Barber, H. & Lewis, H. (1901) The History of Friars School, Jarvis & Foster
  • Clarke, M. L. (1955) The Elizabethan Statutes of Friars School, Bangor, Transactions of Caernarfonshire Historical Society, Volume 16, pp. 25–28
  • Davies, Gareth Alban (2007), Maurice Griffin (?-1558), Esgob Rochester, Transactions of Caernarfonshire Historical Society, 68, pp. 13–50
  • Griffith, W. P. (1988), Some Passing Thoughts on the Early History of Friars School, Bangor, Transactions of Caernarfonshire Historical Society, 49, pp. 117–150
  • Jones, Clifford M. (ed.) (2007), Friars School, Bangor 1557–2007: The Effect of the Reformation on Education in North Wales Mostly reprinting earlier articles referred to here, but with some new material.
  • Jones, E. W. & Haworth, J. (eds.) (1957) The Dominican, No.66, Friars School
  • Price, D. R. A History of Friars School in White, S.I. (ed.) Bangor: from a Cell to a City (1994)

External links[edit]