Commissioned by Earl Bishop Frederick Hervey in 1783, the Mussenden Temple remains one of the most iconic structures in Northern Ireland. The ‘Temple’ was built as a library for the Bishop and named in honour of his cousin Mrs Freidswide (Bruce) Mussenden who was a close friend. Mrs Mussenden died very young in 1785 the same year the building of the temple was completed and in effect became her memorial. The structure itself is based on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli which the Bishop had tried to buy and relocate to Ireland. Naturally Roman authorities objected to the proposed plunder so the Bishop decided to build his own version.
Today the Mussenden Temple is in the hands of the National Trust along with the remains of the Bishop’s Downhill Demense. The building is empty on the inside and is used for some cultural events including a series of mid-summer concerts and can be rented for weddings. It can hold a surprising number of people, I have been at concerts with 100 seated comfortably.
I know some of you have marvelous photos of the Mussenden Temple from your times in Downhill, if you have any favourites you would like included in our gallery here please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org