The Mussenden Temple was built in 1785 and forms part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey ‘the Earl Bishop’, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol. It is perched dramatically on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland, offering spectacular views westwards over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal and to the east Castlerock beach towards Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head. It was built as a summer library and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. It is dedicated to the memory of Hervey’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden. The temple is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic and photographed buildings and the surrounding views are among the most photographed scenes in Ireland. A sign near the temple states that ‘it was once possible to drive a horse and carriage around the temple’ but severe sea erosion has brought it so precariously close to the edge that The National Trust had to carry out cliff stabilisation work in 1997 to prevent the loss of this lovely building.
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