Mussenden Temple and Downhill Estate

Situated on a stretch of rugged Atlantic coastline, Mussenden Temple is one of Ireland’s most revered historical landmarks. This circular stone structure is located near Castlerock, in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland…

Originally designed as a library, this unique building was inspired by Italy’s Temple Vesta. Mussenden Temple is part of the Downhill Estate, which includes a large manor house (Downhill Manor).

Built in 1785, the temple (and its nearby mansion) were built for the 4th Earl of Bristol.

Today, visitors are amazed to see the way this pretty building perches, almost precariously, atop a 125 foot cliff. In fact, the unusual placement of the Mussenden Temple has put the building itself in danger through the years.

As crumbling rock and encroaching seas threatened the temple, the cliff wall had to be specially reinforced to keep the old library from falling into the Atlantic Ocean!

Today, The National Trust carefully preserves the site, so that tourists and Irish citizens can continue to (safely) enjoy its charm, individuality, and historical significance. In 1997, a full restoration of the cliff was undertaken to protect the site.

Today, the Manor itself (also known as Downhill Castle) is merely a shell of what it once was. The building itself is an historical ruins – it offers visitors a chance to walk through its expanse and imagine what once was…however, the Mussenden Temple is in far better condition.

This estate area is a place to feel the ocean breezes, wander among the grasses and gaze out at the majestic coastlines of Derry and Antrim. It is a place to reflect, to marvel at natural and man-made beauty, and to enjoy a sense of grandeur that belongs to another time…

The stunning 18th century ruins are not the only thing you can enjoy when you arrive at the Downhill Demesne region. Gorgeous garden paths with colorful blooms abound – you can even plan your own wedding at the temple itself!

The National Trust organizes the scheduling of civil ceremonies at this unforgettable location. For a ceremony filled with the spirit of Irish romance, what could be better than this seaside aerie?

Below the temple, beautiful, cream-colored sands and blue-gray waters offer an incredible backdrop to visitors…all around, the lauded, emerald-green grasses of Ireland stretch out into the distance, offering unprecedented beauty and a sense of true serenity…

Frederick Augustus Hervey, the fourth Earl of Bristol, was an eccentric man who enjoyed bringing his unique tastes and visions to life on his own estate. Today, the spirit of Tivoli, Rome lives on through the Mussenden Temple! If you’re planning a trip to Northern Ireland, be sure to take time to visit.

Irish Wedding Jewelry Can Also Inspire…

Not everyone can be wed at the historic summer library that is Mussenden Temple…however, there are other ways to honor Celtic heritage during your own wedding ceremony and reception…

This beautiful ladies Celtic wedding band is handcrafted in Ireland itself, by artisans who reference thousands of years of Irish and Celtic history.

The intricate knot work on this ring is also known as Celtic interlace, and it has appeared on Celtic art treasures (such as the Irish Book of Kells) since the sixth century.

For more authentic Irish and Celtic jewelry designs, please visit our online Irish jewelry store