Downhill House: Ruined Manor by the Ocean

Located in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Downhill House is an 18th-century manor by the ocean, which is currently in ruins. The house’s story begins with the 4th Earl of Bristol, Frederick who had the idea for the house first. There is also a museum near the house which is called the Mussenden Temple. Both structures cost nearly 100,000 pounds which was quite the sum for the 18th century. The Earl was a worldly man who traveled and read a lot. He specifically had a lot of interest in Greek and Roman history and architecture. Therefore, what he read and what he saw about these civilizations certainly inspired him while building his house.

Downhill House

Downhill House was home to Frederick and his family. When he died, the estate was passed on to his cousin whose sister gave the temple near its name.

Mussenden Temple

Various accounts show that during the time of its construction, the manor was quite the sight. It had gardens, libraries, paintings, sculptures, and statues. In other words, it fully represented the vision of its owner who was a fan of the neo-classical. However, most of the house was destroyed during a fire in 1851. The fire quickly spread to nearly every part of the house, completely engulfing it in flames.

downhill house from above

Most of the art collection, sculptures, and the garden Frederick valued greatly were lost in minutes. Two decades later, an architect began to renovate what remained of Downhill House. While the work somewhat improved the house’s exterior and interior, it would soon meet another tragedy.

the temple and the sea

When World War 2 began, the then-owner of the house gave it to the Royal Air Force soldiers as a billet, where soldiers could get some rest and sleep. After the war, the house fell in ruins again. Due to the damage it received over centuries, its owner could not make it whole again and gave it to the National Trust.

downhill house temple close up

Although it is in ruins, Downhill House is still one of the most popular locations in Northern Ireland.

downhill house walls
downhill house exterior
downhill house sculpture