Things to do at Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne
Explore Downhill Demesne and discover a clifftop landscape steeped in history and nature. See the famous Mussenden Temple and soak up dramatic views across the North Atlantic Coast. Discover the ruins of the old bishop’s house, stroll through the clifftop garden and wander through the arboretum with its rare and non-native species.
Highlights at Downhill Demesne
Perched right on the cliff edge with panoramic views of the North Atlantic Coast, Mussenden Temple is one of Ireland’s most photographed places.
Stop for a photo at this iconic temple, which was originally built to house the bishop’s library and was based on the Temple of Vesta in Italy.
Mussenden Temple due to conservation requirements is open for public during events.
This is one of only a few buildings of its kind surviving today, and the construction is similar to Mussenden Temple.
Though it's now in ruins, the striking 18th-century mansion of the eccentric Earl Bishop is still worth a look. You might even get a chance to watch archaeologists at work.
The Walled Garden
Take a stroll through the Walled Garden, which once provided fruit, vegetables, and even flowers for the main house.
Now the garden is home to sheep and apple trees. Step through the garden to reach the dovecote. The sheltered lawns here are perfect for a picnic.
The Bog Garden
Stop by the Bog Garden which was created by Lady Bruce in 1910. See a variety of blooms including some stunning irises which pop up during the warmer months.
Dovecote and ice house
Stumble upon the old ice house, a round building which stored meat for the Earl Bishop's table and ice for keeping food fresh. The ice was cut from a nearby pond in the winter.
Step inside one of Northern Ireland’s oldest buildings and learn about the reality of 17th-century rural life, told through the people who once lived here.
Hezlett House due to conservation requirements is open on event days .
The Black Glen
This small arboretum, home to many rare and non-native trees, makes a lovely place to walk away from the winds on the clifftop. See whether you can spot the fishpond and the statue of the Earl Bishop's brother – especially his head, as no one has ever found that.
Lady Erne's Seat
Is this a mill of some sort, or perhaps the summerhouse of the bishop's daughter Mary? Either way, it's a lovely quiet spot from which to soak up views of the sea, a fitting reward for the climb up from the Black Glen.
Really a cenotaph, this empty tomb was built as a memorial for the Earl Bishop's brother, George Hervey. See if you can find the statue of George that was blown off the roof in the Big Wind and now lies in the grounds.
This is one of two entrances to the property and it's topped by stone snow leopards or ounces. They've recently been restored and now roar in their former glory.
The Bishop's Gate
This is the closest entrance to the garden and Black Glen. Step inside the Gothic gate lodge to discover the ‘book nook’ and browse hundreds of second-hand books. And have a look at the symbolic carvings, including a bishop's mitre and several cow skulls.
Head out for a walk
Pull on your walking boots and stride out on a bracing coastal walk to soak up panoramic views and explore this historic landscape. The dramatic clifftop walk skirts the edge of the property. Climb up from the Black Glen past the Belvedere, follow the boundary wall past Mussenden Temple. See if you can spot the ice pond on the way to the dovecote.
Follow the tree trail
Discover exotic and ornamental trees on a short trail through the garden. Suitable for all ages, the trail is 0.75 miles long and loops through the garden to take in the entrance lawns, Bog Garden and arboretum.
Tick off some ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’
Head outdoors and get your little ones closer to nature this winter. Are you ready to try out 50 of the wildest, most fun-packed and exciting things to do in the great outdoors? Do your favourite activities over and over again, or try all 50 – the choice is yours.
Downhill Demesne is a one pawprint rated place. Discover Downhill Demesne with your dog. Explore the clifftop garden and wander through the historic coastal landscape to see the famous Mussenden Temple.
Delve into the history of Downhill House and the famous Mussenden Temple and find out about the eccentric Earl Bishop who once lived here.