PHOTO: Mussenden Temple at Downhill Palace in Northern Ireland

Mussenden Temple at Downhill Palace, on the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland

Mussenden Temple at Downhill Palace in Northern Ireland was built by Fredrick Hervey, who was both the 4th Earl of Bristol and the Bishop of Derry. Hervey was extremely close to his young niece, Frideswide Bruce, leading people to suspect that the relationship was inappropriate. When these rumors reached the young woman’s father, he quickly married her off to Daniel Mussenden, an elderly London banker. Hervey constructed the temple as a wedding present for his niece, intending that it be used as a library and a place for her to stay when she visited.

Frideswide died just two years after its completion in 1783, some say of shame over rumors that continued to plague her. After Frideswide’s death, Hervey converted the temple to a memorial in her name. Today Downhill Palace lies in ruins, but the Mussenden Temple has survived, despite its location on the edge of a high cliff that overlooks the wild Atlantic Ocean. In recent years it has become a popular venue for weddings.

Author’s note: Just one of many stunning sights seen during my luxury day tour of Northern Ireland’s Coastal Causeway with Glenara Elite Travel and specialist guide Mark Rodgers of Dalriada Kingdom Tours

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