5 Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach

Borough of Coleraine, County Derry-Londonderry | Northern Ireland

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About Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach

Mussenden Temple is located in the beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock in County Derry~Londonderry. Built in 1785 by the extraordinary Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol, the temple is set on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland. Its spectacular views look westwards over Downhill Strand and County Donegal and to the east towards Portstewart, and beyond to the Scottish islands of Jura and Islay.

The temple was built as a summer library and its design is inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Legend has it that on a visit to Rome, Hervey, a man of astonishing wealth, tried to buy the original from the Pope, who declined to sell. Hervey’s architect was simply instructed to make a copy and install this lovely building on the cliff top on his master’s Irish estate. A quote from Lucretius is carved into the building and states: “Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore/ The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar."

However, over the years the tempest roared rather too loudly and the Temple itself was in danger of being lost to the sea due to the erosion of the cliff below. The Temple moved ever closer to the edge. In 1997 the National Trust undertook to stabilise the cliff to prevent the loss of this extraordinary piece of architectural history.

Deborah Warner, March 2012

Mussenden Temple

Because of limited space inside Mussenden Temple, you cannot book for this installation but will be able to visit at any time between 9.30pm and 5.30am, and queue. In order to make sure that you enjoy the experience safely, we may need to ask you to wait when you arrive.

Peace Camp at Downhill Beach and Mussenden Temple

Relive the magic at the Peace Camp sites by watching this short film of the installation at White Park Bay and Downhill Beach. You might even spot yourself!