Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 2/4

Mussenden Temple

Just the night before, we were standing on Downhill Strand which is the stretch of beach below this gorgeous structure.

This morning we decided to visit the Mussenden Temple up close and personal.

Named in honor of his cousin Mrs. Frideswide Mussenden, whose beauty he greatly admired, this was the Bishop’s library. Its walls were once lined with bookcases. A fire was kept burning constantly in the basement. This and its enclosed flue meant that, even in this very exposed location, the books never got damp.

“I intend to build a Grecian temple in Frideswide’s honor…I intend to build it on the edge of a cliff. It will give employment to the poor, to the district and employment.” The Earl Bishop was clearly heart broken when Frideswide died.

Over the years the erosion of the cliff face at Downhill has brought Mussenden Temple ever closer to the edge, and in 1997 The National Trust carried out cliff stabilization work to prevent the loss of the building.

The inscription around the building reads:

Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis
e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.

“Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore
The troubled sailor, and hear the tempests roar.”

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