Mussenden Temple Weird Thing




N 55° 10' 03.6"   W 006° 48' 39.18"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

C 75763 36243

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 30 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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A view of the Temple on the cliffs from the strand below. This is how it appears several times in the HBO TV series "Games of Throne".

This is one of those places that we had always seen on postcards or books and tourist guides, but we had never gone to.
It was about time that we payed this unusual building a visit.

It is part of the Downhill Demesne, a project begun in 1722 by Earl Bishop Fredrick Hervey who chose this prominent spot in North County Derry to build his majestic mansion and this small circular building that was his private library.
Hervey did many travels to Italy a he was probably enchanted by the architecture of the Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome. On one of his travels to Rome Hervey was accompanied by Michael Shanahan, an Irish architect, who then built this structure for the Bishop. The library was dedicated to Hervey's cousin, Mrs. Frideswide Mussenden, a woman of great beauty.
The building has 16 columns and a dome surmonted by an urn. Right under the dome, all around the building, is a Latin inscription that read "Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem", the first two lines from the Book II of "De Rerum Natura", by the Roman philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus. These words are translated as "Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's tribulation".
When it was used as a library, a fire was kept constantly burning in the basement and even in the worst weather condition the book were never damp. The entrance to the temple is via a 13 steps stair and a doorway on the south (180°) side. There are three windows to roughly the east, north and west.
The inner diameter is about 11 metres.
On the north side the cliffs is dangerously near. When the temple was built it is said that a horse-drwan carriage could be easily driven around the temple. During the last two centuries the forces of the nature eroded the cliffs, reducing the gap between the temple and the ravine.

In the same demesne there are Downhill House, the Bishop's mansion, now in total ruin, a Mausoleum dedicated to the Bishop's brother George, Belvedere, a summer house intended tor the Bishop's daughter Mary, a Walled Garden with Dovecot and Icehouse.

Mussenden Temple was one of the locations for the HBO TV series "Game of Thrones", as part of Stannis Baratheon's castle.

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