Between the 6th century and 16th Century this area was part of Bangor monastery lands. After the 17th century Plantation of Ulster, two families dominated here: the Crawfords and the Dufferins of Clandeboye.
The Crawfords were a sept (or family) of the Clan Lindsay whose Chiefs were the Earls of Crawford. George Crawford was one of the fifty Scottish “undertakers” of the plantation and granted 1000acres in Co Tyrone. Although he sold this property within 10years many of the kinsmen he brought over from Scotland remained. In 1625 Andrew Crawford was in possession, as tenant of Lord Clandeboye, of a mill and lands in Co Down. These were subsequently purchased in 1670 by William Crawford from Lord Clanbrassil and became known as the Crawfordsburn estate. William had two sons, one of whom, John, had a daughter Mable who married a William Sharman (hence the name Sharman – Crawford).
The estate continued in family ownership for nearly 300years, the original Crawfordsburn House being built in the 17th century, modified in the18th & 19th Century but replaced by a new building in1905. This was sold in 1948 by the family to the Northern Ireland Tuberculosis Authority. The N.I. Hospitals Authority assumed responsibility in 1959 and it became a geriatric hospital until the early 1980’s when it passed into private ownership. It has since been developed and extended into luxury apartments. Crawfordsburn’s heyday – in common with other Irish stately homes – was the 18th and 19th centuries. It was then that much of the estate was planted, including the coastal headlands (with Scots Pine, Beech, Beach, Sycamore and Elm) and the Glen (many exotic trees Monterey Cypress, Red Cedar, Californian Redwood as well as Rhodendrons, Beach and Laurel.
This period also coincided with the life and work of Crawfordsburn’s most famous son, William Sharman - Crawford (1781-1861). As a Radical MP (Dundalk1835-37 and Rochdale 1841-52) he held advanced social and political views and in 1847 founded the Tenants Rights Associations in Ulster. This sought to protect the tenant farmer and compensate him for any improvements to the land. In 1850 this was extended to become the Irish Tenant League and although its aims were to reduce the power of the landlords (and WS Crawford was himself a substantial landlord, receiving at this time some £8,000per annum in rents, a very considerable sum) he strongly advocated giving legal force to the custom in the interest of all Irish tenant farmers. Committed to this course he gave up his Rochdale seat in favour of fighting the County Down one in the 1852 General Elections but he and his fellow Ulster candidates were heavily defeated, in the general election of 1852. He retired to Crawfordsburn at this time, and it was not until the Irish Land Acts of 1870,1881,1920 and 1909 that the power of the Landlords were reduced, eventfully being required to sell their lands to tenants who received government support over a 68½ year period to pay off the purchase. However William Sharman-Crawford did play a highly significant part in what was a land-holding evolution, which was only accomplished in many other countries by violence.
Scooters 1: Easy
Manual wheelchairs and walkers: ½ fairly easy.
There are few slopes to cause any difficulty, the only ones worthy of note being around Quarry Port and on the western side of Helen’s Bay Beach. The others is the public road, all but walkers must take care because there are steps on the Helens Bay beach to Grey Point Fort path. Great care must be taken on this public road the pavement is too narrow – and has a treacherous corner.
Great care must be taken along all the main roads of the Park – they are always busy and many drivers may not be expecting to encounter a pavement scooter! Take care!
On the Southern shore of Belfast Lough, about 12 miles from Belfast City Centre (via A2) entrance is by way of road (B20) from the village of Crawfordsburn. It is clearly sign posted from all directions.
10.00am - Sunset