Downhill Palace and the Mussenden Temple

Map Reference: C759358 (2759, 4358)

The Bishop’s Palace, Downhill was built about 1780 for Frederick Augustus Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. It is a large ruin of two storeys. There are extensive vaulted cellars which are now closed. The building has a three-bay front flanked by two three-sided bows. Two long wings run back towards the sea.

The doorway is reached by a fine divided stairway. Some of the gardens and farm buildings associated with the house still remain.

They include a domed dovecote which forms the upper storey of an ice-house. The entrance to the dovecote is reached by a small bridge.

A short distance from the main house, at the edge of the cliff, is the domed rotunda known as the Mussenden Temple. This was inspired by the temples of Vesta of Tivoli in Rome.

It was built as a library and named after the bishop’s cousin, Mrs Frideswide Mussenden. This has a very fine vaulted basement which contains a collection of carved stones.

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