Mussenden Temple was built by Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry in honour of Mrs Frideswide Mussenden, the married sister of his cousin Hervey Bruce. The Bishop himself was also married and scandal was rife that an affair was going on. However, it is thought that they had nothing more than a platonic relationship. Sadly, Mrs Mussenden died at the age of 22, before the temple was completed. Bishop Hervey established a library in the temple and beneath the building a room for Catholic priests to say Mass – an example of his liberal attitude towards the Catholic Church.
This is another extraordinary spot in Northern Ireland with amazing views (never in short supply in NI). This is a very expansive setting with walking paths leading to and from features. We were again met with very few people; only a couple of occasions we waited out people traffic to take a photo. The tower structure in the gallery below was both and ice house (on the bottom) and a dovecote (on the top). There was plentiful indications of bird activity here. The temple itself looks quite grand at the top of the sea cliffs. It was closed for restoration work so we didn’t have an opportunity to go inside.
Downhill House was a mansion built in the 18th century for Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol at Downhill, Northern Ireland. The house was started in 1775 and was a wonderful building in its hey day with “as many windows as there are days in the year”. Inside was a huge library, walls painted with frescoes and a large collection of paintings hung in the corridors, including works by Vandyke, Raphael and Tintoretto. In one corridor there was also a great organ. However, there was a disastrous fire in 1851 and the library and many of the statues were destroyed, though most of the paintings were rescued. Downhill was restored between 1870 and 1874 by John Lanyon and was lived in by the Bruce family until 1922. During WWII it was used as billets for RAF men and women. It was sold in 1944, after which it fell into disrepair.
The Bishop’s House
The Bishops House at Downhill Demesne (also known as Downhill House or Downhill Castle) is an immense as well as impressive structure. I can only image what it must have looked like in its day. This photo helps some and the photos in the gallery below will give you more insight.
The Mausoleum was built a distance away from the house to the South. Even at half its original height, it is still enormous. The video below will tell you more about this grand structure; it’ll only take a wee bit of time (2:09) to watch.
More on the Mausoleum…
Lion’s Gate was one of the access points to the property. Bishops Gate is the other access point. We elected to not visit the Black Glen Pond and Belvedere areas of the property as time was ticking away and we had to be on our way…to the next area of exploration in the Republic of Ireland. We very much enjoyed Northern Ireland. If I could redo the trip, I would have stayed in Northern Ireland an entire week and spent another week in the Republic of Ireland.
A few extra photos; pano’s from my iPhone
See more of Northern Ireland