Mussenden Temple and gardens are just part of the Downhill Demesne situated just outside Castlerock. The temple building dates back to 1785 and forms part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol. This is the fourth post in the 48 hour challenge.
I managed to bump into a relative of someone who worked in the main house during the early 19th century and was given a guided tour of the history.
It is a remarkable site with bizarre forestry, architecture and gardens. More often than not it is photographed from Downhill beach about half a mile further round the coast. (see this photo on flickr).
The Bishop had bought and planned to move a temple to the estate but was thwarted by the Italian Government. As a result the summer library was built from scratch inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli.
The building is dedicated to the memory of Hervey’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden.
Like the previous posts this is one of the most photographed scenes in Ireland. As you can see from the photograph below.
Downhill Demesne was build in 1770 it survived the ‘great wind’ of 1839, but was badly damaged by fire in 1851. John Lanyon managed the restoration which was completed in 1874.
During World War Two the house was used by the RAF. In 1950 most of the house was dismantled and the surrounding land was sold.
The Temple was owned by the National Trust since the 1940s and the house was acquired by the National Trust in 1980.
It was a particularly wet and dull day so it was only possible to take a water sealed camera along for the trip (Canon 5D). The photos are either 50mm or 17-40mm.
If you visit Ireland the area is will worth a visit. A few additional photos are the Temple and gardens are available on flickr.
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