Botanic Gardens


Jul 8, 2022

The park’s origin can be traced by to 1828 when the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society was founded and Botanic Gardens opened by private subscription.

This was part of a wider public movement amongst educated Georgians and early Victorians to open gardens, green houses and parks for the study of natural science, horticulture and botany.

In the early days, admittance was through private subscription but it was opened to the public on Sundays.

In the 1840s, this public opening on Sundays attracted the wrath of Belfast firebrand Presbyterian preacher Dr Henry Cook. He believed that opening the park on the Sunday was a desecration of the Sabbath and he called the part the ‘Sunday Trap’. Despite Dr Cooke’s admonishment that it was against God’s will to open the park, it was reported in the papers that 590 people had visited the park.

The park hosted many public events. In August 1843 it was reported that Mr. Green, ‘the celebrated aeronaut’ was to make an ascent in his balloon from Botanic Gardens. Admission was 2 shillings and sixpence or one shilling and sixpence to subscribers. In the following months, it was reported that Mr. Green’s balloon ‘Albion’ had ascended to the sky and drifted northwards passing over Cavehill and coming to rest near Ballyclare.

In May 1869, the park was the scene for the ‘great Protestant demonstration’ to protest against Gladstone’s Irish Church Bill that sought to disestablish the Anglican Church of Ireland. It was reported that 20-25,000 people turned out. According to the Belfast newspapers, it was essentially an Orange demonstration in honour of Mr. Johnston, M.P.

It was also the scene of crimes. In September 1884, Samuel Woods was charged with wanton and malicious mischief in Botanic Gardens. He and others broke into the gardens and destroyed a number of Chinese lamps. He was gaoled for one month.

In 1895, the park was purchased by the Belfast Corporation from the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society and it became one of the many public parks in the city.

Today, Botanic gardens cover an area of 28 acres or 110k m2. A number of famous Belfast sites are located within the bounds of the gardens including the Palm House (above), the statue of Lord Kelvin and the Ulster Museum.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on guided walking tours around Belfast visit this .