Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 4/4

The Mausoleum was built a distance away from the Downhill Castle to the South. Constructed in 1783 in honor of his lordship’s elder brother George, 2nd Earl of Bristol, who died in 1775.  In 1839, a hurricane damaged the structure which has laid in ruin ever since. The mausoleum stands between the Lion’s Gate and the Bishop’s Gate.

The Lion’s Gate was one of the access points to the property; Bishops Gate is the other access point.

We were not able to visit all areas of the property since time was ticking 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 and will be back someday.

 

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 3/4

Downhill Demesne

The Bishops House at Downhill Demesne (also known as Downhill House or Downhill Castle) is an immense and impressive structure. This image of the structure will provide you with insight in how large the ruined structure is and will help provide scale to the images in the gallery below.

The Downhill Castle was built in the late 18th century for Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry (popularly known as ‘the Earl-Bishop’), at Downhill, County Londonderry. Much of the building was destroyed by fire in 1851 before being rebuilt in the 1870s. It fell into disrepair after the Second World War.

During World War Two, the house was used to billet Royal Air Force servicemen and women. The Bruce family continued to own the house until 1946. By 1950, it had been dismantled and the surrounding land sold. The house was acquired by the National Trust in 1980 whereas the Mussenden temple had become a Trust property in the 1940s.

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.”

Downhill Demesne and the Mussenden Temple, Part 1/4

Downhill Castle was built by the eccentric Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry. The building of this massive structure began in 1772 which continued with the rear courtyards until the early 1790s.

Downhill Demesne, the Mussenden Temple, the grounds encompassing the temple, and its manor house (Downhill Castle) is now a National Trust property and is open to the public all year, from dawn to dusk. I would highly recommend a stop if ever in the area; the grounds and what it holds are beyond beautiful.

In the feudal system, a demesne was all the land which was retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and occupation or support, under his own management, as distinguished from land enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants.

The Demesne also includes a dovecote, walled gardens, a belvedere, or summer house, built for the Earl-Bishop’s daughter and a mausoleum dedicated to his brother George, 3rd Earl of Bristol, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Travel along with us as we get closer to the remarkable structures that the property contains.