So I felt this stunning circular Stone Temple more than justified a post of it’s own. It is not only a stunning circular design but for me the key is its location High above the beach – the location holds such drama. Perched on the cliffs overlooking Downhill Strand, it was once possible to drive a carriage around the temple: however, coastal erosion has brought it closer to the edge. The temple was built in 1785 and forms part of the Downhill Demesne. The demesne was formerly part of the estate of Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol, who served as the Church of Ireland Lord Bishop of Derry from 1768 until 1803. It was Lord Bristol – popularly known as “the Earl-Bishop” – who had the “temple” built. Constructed as a library and modelled from the Temple of Vesta in the Forum Romanum in Rome, it is dedicated to the memory of Bishop Lord Bristol’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden.
The inscription around the building reads:
“Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis
e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.”
“Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore
The troubled sailor, and hear the tempests roar.”
The quotation is from Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 2.1–2.