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Historic Building Details


HB Ref No:
HB03/12/015 A


Extent of Listing:
House, Upper Yard & Lower Yards and walling


Date of Construction:
1760 - 1779


Address :
Downhill Palace Mussenden Road Downhill Castlerock Co. Londonderry BT51 4RP


Townland:
Downhill






Survey 2:
B1

Date of Listing:
22/06/1977 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Country House

Former Use
Country House

Conservation Area:
No

Industrial Archaeology:
No

Vernacular:
No

Thatched:
No

Monument:
Yes

Derelict:
Partially




OS Map No:
12-5

IG Ref:
C7585 3590





Owner Category




Exterior Description And Setting


Detached symmetrical multi-bay two-storey over raised basement stone former Bishop’s Palace (Earl Bishop Frederick Augustus Hervey) with pair of rear wings, built between 1775 and 1785, to the designs of Michael Shanahan, gutted by fire c.1851 and rebuilt c.1876, to the designs of John Lanyon. U-shaped on plan, facing south with an enclosed yard to the rear and further pair of bow-ended yards to the north. Sold in 1918 and subsequently partially dismantled with external elevations remaining and consolidated by the National Trust c.1960. Currently forming part of the Downhill Demesne run as a public park by the National Trust (HB03/12/015A-J). Located in the east side of Mussenden Road on an elevated site to the south of the north coast and Mussenden Temple (HB03/12/015B) and accessed by Lion Gate to the southwest (HB03/12/015D). Roof and partial dismantling of east and west rear wings between 1920 and 1980, with principal south front elevation largely intact. Symmetrical front elevation is nine windows wide with a pair of full-height three-sided canted bays to either end and central doorcase accessed via double perron. Rusticated sandstone ashlar walling to basement and coursed smooth sandstone ashlar walling to ground and first floors. Each window is flanked by fluted Giant Corinthian pilasters rising from a continuous ground floor sill course and supporting fluted cornice with wave moulded frieze. Square-headed window openings formed in voussoired sandstone, cut sandstone sills and windows removed. Segmental-headed window openings to basement level, now rendered over. Central square-headed entrance bay, also flanked by Corinthian pilasters having an architrave surround on plinth blocks, fluted frieze and cornice over supported by scrolled console brackets with bell-flower pendants. Door removed and opening onto paved platform and two flights of swept steps with replacement iron railing. Perron constructed in vermiculated sandstone blocks, only partially extant with cement render to remainder. Multi-bay two-storey over basement west side elevation formerly with two full-height bows extending northwards as a rear multi-bay wing, now largely dismantled. West side elevation to principal block is nine windows wide and extended northwards by a further five windows. Detailed as per front elevation, except for first floor windows to bow having segmental-headed window openings. The northernmost bow retains a round-headed door opening flanked by Ionic columns and responding pilasters, now rendered over. The west elevation to the upper yard projects beyond the west wing by a single bay having a shallow arcaded elevation built in rubblestone with some segmental-headed window openings. The northwest bow-ended yard is enclosed by a tall rubblestone wall with crenellated parapet having a single round-headed blind carriage arch opening, now infilled. A short crenellated rubblestone screen wall projects westwards terminated by a tall square pier. North elevation to lower yards comprises two crenellated bowed walls with a central round-headed carriage arch opening formed in rock-faced basalt ashlar having crenellated parapet wall and wrought-iron gates. East elevation, as per west elevation except to the upper yard having multi-bay two-storey rubblestone wall with segmental-headed window openings formed in voussoired stone with stone sills, largely rendered over to the ground floor. The principal south block has cement rendered walls to the inner elevations and set out in lawns and gravel footpaths. The former rear elevation has largely disappeared with the exception of a two-storey central bow (formerly containing the stair) and retaining its coursed smooth sandstone ashlar walls surmounted by wave moulded frieze and voussoired window heads. The west wing has a bowed end to the upper yard with a central square-headed door opening, detailed as per principal front entrance. The east wing has partially intact sandstone ashlar walling with a Venetian window opening, now rendered over and a bowed end facing the upper yard. The north carriage arch opens into a central passageway enclosed by crenellated rubblestone walls to the northeast and northwest yards having a single round-headed carriage arch opening to each built in voussoired squared basalt with impost blocks and replacement iron gates. The passageway is aligned to provide views of Mussenden Temple (HB03/12/015B) from the rear of the house. Both yards currently being excavated and partially reconstructed. To the south end of the passageway is a pair of round-headed arches with oculi over each, opening into the upper yard. The south elevation to the upper yard is cement rendered with a central pedimented breakfront housing the carriage arch built in block-and-start vermiculated sandstone and stepped vermiculated keystone. The lateral walls are arcaded joined by sandstone impost stones and having lunette openings to ground and first floors. Setting Located on an elevated site to the south of the north Derry coastline and to the east of Mussenden Road. Set in expansive meadows and now forming part of the Downhill Demesne public park. Rubblestone ha-ha to the front of the south elevation with a Mausoleum to the south (HB03/12/015E), Mussenden Temple to the north (HB03/12/015B), orchard and dovecote/ice-house to the west (HB03/12/015C) and the principal entrance to the southwest (HB03/12/015D). Roof None RWG None Walling Coursed smooth sandstone ashlar Windows None

Architects


Lanyon & Lynn Shanahan, M

Historical Information


Downhill was built by the flamboyant and eccentric Bishop of Derry, Frederick Hervey, work starting c1772 and continuing on the rear courtyards into the early 1790s. (Rankin, PRONI) The house is thought to have been built largely to the Bishop’s own specifications, although several architects were consulted during the course of its construction. The supervising architect on site was Michael Shanahan of Cork and decorative carving was carried out by James McBlain. (Rankin) Downhill was occasionally referred to by the Bishop as the ‘Castle’ but never as the ‘Palace’, and the building is known locally as ‘Downhill Castle’ (Eccles), although it appears in nineteenth century valuation records and newspaper reports, both before and after a fire of 1851, as ‘Downhill House’. The site that Frederick Hervey chose for his new mansion was thought by some to be extremely exposed but the asthmatic Hervey had a horror of damp houses and avoided Ickworth, his birthplace, for this reason. Hervey spoke of Downhill’s ‘exhilarating and invigorating air, or rather ether’ and it remained his principle residence on his returns from travel on the continent. (Purcell) It is possible that the bishop was aware of contemporary ideas of the ‘sublime’ and ‘picturesque’ in choosing the site for Downhill, certainly, the house shows evidence in its design of conscious massing and the handling of light and shade in order to integrate the building to the headland. (Rankin) Downhill was built by Hervey following his appointment to the bishopric of Derry in 1768. Through clever management of the See lands the Bishop was able to maximize his income and this, coupled with a legacy of £10,000 from his elder brother and the Earldom of Bristol, to which the Bishop acceded in 1779, made him an extremely wealthy man who delighted in travel in order to expand his significant art collection. The Earl Bishop engaged in at least three major building projects, Downhill, Ballyscullion and Ickworth of which Downhill is the earliest and most closely associated with Hervey as the only one of his residences that was fully completed in his lifetime. OS Memoirs suggest that building began in 1772 and certainly, by the time of Arthur’s Young’s tour of Ireland in 1776, the house was well underway. Young reported a ‘large and convenient edifice, the shell not finished; it stands on a bold shore, but in a country where a tree is a rarity’. (Young) Much of the Earl Bishop’s correspondence and other documentation survives in PRONI (Hervey/ Bruce papers D1514) enabling the progress of building to be roughly reconstructed. The first part of the house to be built c1775 was the south front, with rear wings added by c1783. (Eccles) According to the OS Memoirs, the house was designed by James Wyatt of London and built under the supervision of Michael Shanahan, architect and agent to the Bishop. Wyatt’s name appears in correspondence and some details, such as pilasters, echo Wyatt’s work elsewhere. It is thought to be the opening of Wyatt’s pantheon in London which may have brought him to the Earl Bishop’s attention. However, Rankin suggests that Shanahan may have been working to a ‘Wyatt or Wyattesque copy-book’, rather than to original designs. In 1778 the Bishop invited a young John Soane to make a drawing for a summer dining room for Downhill. Soane travelled to Downhill in 1780 but his designs remained unrealized and after some weeks at Downhill he returned to London. The young Edinburgh architect John Henderson, who the Bishop had also met in Rome, was also requested to provide a design, likewise unrealized. (Rankin) Michael Shanahan, who appears to have largely overseen the design and execution of work at Downhill, was from Cork where the Bishop had presumably met him during a brief incumbency as Bishop of Cloyne in 1767. (Rankin) Shanahan travelled with the Bishop on the continent where he furthered his architectural education but he is thought to have been an ‘executant rather than an initiator’ of the Earl Bishop’s architectural ideas. (www.dia.ie) The Earl Bishop was a major client of Shanahan’s marble and stonecutting business in Cork which furnished chimneypieces for Downhill as well as stone ‘ounces’ for the Lion Gate, a coat of arms for Mussenden Temple and flagstones and a staircase for Ballyscullion. Shanahan also worked on St Patrick’s Bridge and the County Gaol in Cork in the 1780s and 90s and built up a considerable fortune, although his professional integrity was impugned by the Inspector General of Prisons of Ireland who called him a fraudster. (www.dia.ie) The Earl Bishop and his family lived in the official residence, the palace in Bishop Street, until they were able to move into Downhill in 1779. However, work continued for some years and between 1783 and 1785 the Milanese architect Placido Columbani was supervising plumbing and the installation of water closets and may also have advised on mouldings and panelling. The first patented flush toilet dates from 1775 and was still a considerable innovation at the time of the installation at Downhill. In 1783, Richard Louch, architect and builder of Armagh was at work in the gallery fitting a ceiling painting in place. He was asked to draw up plans for the gallery but his contributions were not appreciated by Michael Shanahan and it is unclear whether any of his designs were executed. (Rankin) The gallery was constructed in the westernmost of the two rear wings and extended through two storeys. The intention was to provide a home for the Earl Bishop’s growing collection of paintings and statuary, however the large number of windows afforded little wall space. An early- nineteenth century list of pictures enumerates works by Raphael, Titian and Rembrandt. (Rankin) The library, to the north of the gallery, also contained paintings such as works by Poussin, Titian and Guido Reni. A doorcase originally led from the library out through the west front but this appears to have been removed in rebuilding which took place in the 1870s. (Eccles) The reception rooms were arranged in the south front of the house, while the easternmost wing contained the so-called curates’ corridor, ‘barracks for children’, smaller rooms and family and servants’ bedrooms. (Rankin) The house, which had originally been built of local basalt, was faced with freestone from Ballycastle and Dungiven in 1785 by James McBlain, architect and mason who had also worked for the Earl of Hillsborough. The two curved walls towards the rear of the building are thought to have been constructed about 1785 but with castellation and buttresses executed after the Bishop’s death in 1803. (Rankin) However, the date of the walls is uncertain and the Bishop was certainly very apprehensive of the danger of a French invasion of Ireland from 1778 (Fothergill) which supports the hypothesis that the castellated walls and buttresses were built by him with the express intention of producing the illusion of a well-defended stronghold visible from the sea. A courtyard gateway was begun by the McBlains in 1778 but this had to be taken down and a new arch was started in 1783. It is unclear whether it was Shanahan’s design for the archway, which frames the view of the Temple from the courtyard, that was realised. (Rankin) Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth earl of Bristol and bishop of Derry (1730-1803) was born at Ickworth in Suffolk, married his love match Elizabeth Davers in 1752 (from whom he later separated) and took holy orders, after abandoning a career in law, being ordained priest in 1755. Hervey obtained a royal chaplaincy in 1763 but this was poorly paid and his financial difficulties became pressing. In 1766 Hervey’s eldest brother, the second earl of Bristol briefly became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and was in a position to obtain for Frederick the bishopric of Cloyne, and shortly afterwards, on the death of the previous incumbent, the bishopric of Derry, the most lucrative in the country. As Bishop of Derry, Hervey took a sympathetic attitude towards Roman Catholics and expended some energy, including meeting with the Pope, in an attempt to formulate an oath of allegiance that would be acceptable to Catholics and Protestants alike and would allow relief from some of the terms of the penal laws. His attempts ultimately failed and he largely turned his back on Irish politics for a time in the 1770s. Hervey travelled widely in Europe adding to his collection of art and indulging his passion for architecture. He collected Roman antiquities and early Italian Renaissance paintings but also commissioned works from prominent painters of the day, especially portraits of himself and his family. He had a reputation for eccentricity, dressing extravagantly to the point of ridicule and his religious beliefs were unorthodox, allowing him to cultivate a friendship with the sceptic Voltaire. Hervey inherited the title of earl of Bristol in 1779 which, in addition to his ecclesiastical title, rendered him an Earl Bishop, a most unusual combination of titles that had not been known since the time of William the Conqueror. (Fothergill) In Londonderry he became involved with the Volunteer movement, and as colonel of the Londonderry corps made a triumphal procession to Dublin in November 1783. However, his desire for parliamentary reform including the enfranchisement of Catholics was subordinated to sectional concerns and Hervey was sidelined. He left for Europe again in 1785 and his return trips to Ireland became increasingly rare, so much so that the many hotels on the continent bearing the name Bristol are said to have been capitalising on a supposed endorsement by the well-known traveller and collector. (Dictionary of Irish Biography; Fothergill) In 1803 after the Earl Bishop’s death, the Downhill estate passed to his cousin Henry Hervey Bruce, brother of Frideswide Mussenden, to whom Mussenden Temple is dedicated. The Earl Bishop had settled an income of £400 on Henry as a young man, enabling him to marry his love-match, Letitia Barnard. The two men became close friends, the Earl Bishop appointing Henry steward to the estates at Downhill, effectively leaving Bruce in charge during his long absences on the continent. Henry Hervey Bruce was also rector of Tamlaghfinlagan parish at this time but the Earl Bishop, having separated from his wife and fallen out with his son, informed Bruce in 1791 that he would inherit Downhill. After the Earl Bishop’s death in 1803 Bruce preferred to live at Downhill rather than the Earl Bishop’s other residence at Ballyscullion which was partly dismantled in 1813 in order to evade window tax. (Girvan; Eccles) Bruce was created first Baronet Downhill in 1804 and the Downhill estate and the title subsequently passed down through the Bruce family. While living at Downhill, Bruce continued in his incumbency at Tamlaghfinlagan and would drive to the church every Sunday in considerable style in a coach with four postillions. (Eccles) ‘Downhill’ is shown, captioned, on the first edition OS map of 1831 occupying much the same plan form as the derelict building of today. ‘Downhill House’ is valued at £150 in the Townland Valuation (1828-40) and was at that time the property of Sir James Bruce, the second baronet Downhill. Sir James Robertson Bruce succeeded to the title and became second Baronet Downhill in 1822, continuing with the scheme of tree-planting that had been initiated by the Earl Bishop by planting 50,000 trees. Sir James also built a school for tenants and subscribed money to the medical dispensary in Coleraine. (Eccles) In 1836 the house, estates and title passed to Sir Henry Hervey Bruce, the third baronet, a former officer in the Life Guards and staunch Conservative and the longest resident in Downhill’s history, occupying the house for over 70 years. (Eccles) Hervey stood for parliament on several occasions and was MP for Coleraine from 1862-74 and from 1880-85. His contempt for other political parties was such that he was given to climb on the benches during parliamentary sessions and crow like a cockerel if a Liberal MP attempted to speak. Sir Henry also served as magistrate, as Lord-Lieutenant of the County and as the chairman of Londonderry’s first County Council. (Eccles) During the third baronet’s time Downhill Castle was severely damaged by a fire which broke out on 16th May 1851. The fire originated on an upper storey of the ‘round room’ at the end of the westernmost wing, the same wing that housed the library and picture gallery. (Belfast Newsletter) The fire was devastating to the building, partly because of the impossibility of obtaining water to extinguish the flames and partly because of a misguided attempt to protect the contents from plunderers. A chimney sweep, Anthony Gallagher, fell through one of the floors and was badly burned, later dying of his injuries. The valuable library built up by the Earl Bishop of Derry was completely destroyed together with some of the statuary but the majority of the paintings survived. Although the servants’ apartments were untouched nothing remained of the castle itself but the blackened walls. (Belfast Newsletter) Sir Henry Hervey Bruce attempted to obtain a grand jury presentment for the sum of £12,000 to redress his losses on the basis that the fire was started maliciously but the justices found no evidence that it was deliberate despite threatening notices that had been sent to Sir Hervey Bruce by land agitators in the months and years preceding the blaze. (Belfast Newsletter) Eccles has noted that the fire changed the building at a stroke from ‘splendidly appointed Episcopal palace to late Victorian country house and shooting lodge’. (Eccles) Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) lists the house, gate lodges and offices of Sir Henry Hervey Bruce Bt at a valuation of £30, the valuer noting that a portion of the building had been temporarily fitted up for a residence but was not at all fit ‘for the residence of a gentleman in his position’. In 1871 Sir Henry Hervey Bruce bought out the Clothworkers’ property in the area and became the largest landlord, with Castlerock now part of his estates. Sir Henry took a keen interest in the quality of building in Castlerock and built Downhill National School and the Twelve Apostles as estate worker’s housing. (Eccles) In the early 1870s Sir Henry Hervey Bruce undertook restoration work at the house which was supervised by John Lanyon. The renovations were announced as complete in the Irish Builder of January 1876. The principle change introduced by Lanyon was the fitting of a new doorway on the western façade of the building, which then became the main entrance and led into vaulted chambers underneath the former gallery, now turned into glass-roofed winter gardens. A glass panel was inserted between the boudoir and the winter garden that could be shuttered at will. The former library in the west wing was now the billiard room and the former morning room in the centre of the south front was now the library. All the south front rooms were enlarged by the removal of a corridor to the rear. Bedroom accommodation for visitors was found on the upper floor of the south front and boasted ‘all the latest improvements in bath-rooms &c’. A luggage lift rose from the basement to the service stairs and bachelors’ apartments were served by a private staircase. Care was taken to restore the old chimney-pieces and marble and oak columns as far as possible and to restore the external stonework and internal plasterwork but the two domes which had surmounted the end of each wing were removed. The contractor was James Henry of Belfast. (Irish Builder) It was also at around this time that the building was fitted for gas lighting, the gas being stored in a gasometer in the west yard (still present). (Eccles) Sir Henry Hervey Bruce was 80 at the time of the 1901 census and was present in the house together with a resident staff of nine, an English butler and footman, a coachman, cook, laundrymaid, kitchenmaid, scullerymaid and two housemaids. Fifty three outbuildings are listed including seven stables and five cow houses. Annual revisions valued the restored house in 1876 at £200 and the valuation remained unaltered in the period up to 1930. Sir Hervey Jukes Lloyd Bruce, fourth baronet Downhill, inherited the property and the title in 1907 but was not present at the time of the 1911 census, the house being looked after by two female domestics. The fourth Baronet was educated at Eton and became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Coldstream Guards. His eccentric style of dress, once leading him to be mistaken for a tramp, has been noted by Eccles, as well as his fondness for extravagant buttonholes ‘the nearer in size to a prima donna’s last night bouquet the better’. He had a great love of animals and kept monkeys, parrots and a tame blackbird and grouse. His wife, Ellen Maud Ricardo was awarded the OBE for her work during the Second World War. She was interested in painting and photography and had a dark room installed in the house. Sir Hervey died in Tangiers in 1919 while visiting a diplomat son and the title passed to Sir Hervey Ronald Bruce, the fifth Baronet. Ronald served in the Irish Guards and 14th Irish Rifles reaching the rank of major. Around the time of partition he took his family away from Downhill due to the political uncertainties of the time and met an accidental death in 1924 during a thunderstorm at Eastbourne. (Eccles) The title and lands then passed to Sir Hervey John Bruce, sixth Baronet, who was only five years old when his father died, but the Bruce family does not appear to have returned to Downhill after the 1920s and although the title Baronet Downhill is still extant and has since passed to an eighth Baronet, the family no longer appear to have a local connection. (http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.co.uk) The First General Revaluation of 1933/4 records accommodation at the house as 15 bedrooms, three bathrooms, twelve servants’ bedrooms, dining room, drawing room, library , boudoir, billiard room, gallery, study, smoke room, crypt hall entrance, servants’ hall, pantries, kitchens and laundry. The house had electric light from its own plant and central heating. Water was supplied from water tanks on the roof and there was stabling for about 16 horses. By the 1930s the house was empty and had been stripped of furniture. Between 1941 and 1945 the house was requisitioned and occupied by the Royal Air Force at a rent of £325 per annum. After the war, in 1946 the house and a portion of the Bruce estate was sold to Frederick W Smyth who applied to the Central Planning Authority and the Local Authority for permission to demolish the building in order to avoid a large rates bill. Consent was refused because ‘the castle is of general local interest’ and the valuation office was asked to reduce the valuation as the house was deemed unlettable. Before the reduction could be implemented, a tenant was in fact found, Mrs F M Belgrave, who was the last to live in the house in 1948. Her tenancy was short-lived, however, and by October 1949 the entire property had been gutted and the windows and roof removed, at which point the building was dropped from valuation lists. (Valuation records) The building was listed in 1977 and acquired by the National Trust in 1980 who have been engaged in continual efforts to preserve the remaining fabric. In the 1980s loose stones on the site were removed, freestanding walls in bad condition were taken down and a wartime blockhouse in the centre of the courtyard was demolished. A stonemason was employed and work was done to secure the structure and make it safe. Repairs to the stonework continued in the 1990s and are ongoing. (HB file) Further recent developments have included a project to virtually reconstruct the exterior and interior of the house (www.youtube.com – Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple) Four seasons of excavations in the yards to the rear of the house have investigated the gas works complex and have revealed information about the working domestic areas. In 2009 a stone head dating from the late 2nd century AD was found, thought to represent the Roman Emporer Marcus Aurelius. Fragments of 4,000 year old prehistoric pottery have also been found, presumably both remnants of the Earl Bishop’s extensive collections. (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk) References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/2/1 First Edition OS Map 1831 2. PRONI OS/6/5/2/2 Second Edition OS map 1848 3. PRONI OS/6/5/2/3 Third Edition OS Map 1904 4. PRONI OS/6/5/2/4 Fourth Edition OS Map 1923 5. PRONI VAL/1/B/55A Townland Valuation (1828-40) 6. PRONI VAL/2/B/3/55B Griffiths Valuation (1861) 7. PRONI VAL/12/B/30/10AF Annual Revisions (1864-1929) 1. PRONI VAL/3/C/6/2 First General Revaluation 1933-57 2. PRONI VAL/3/D/6/3/H/4 First General Revaluation 1933-57 3. PRONI D1514 - Hervey/ Bruce papers 8. 1901 census online 9. 1911 census online 10. HB file – 03/12/015 11. Belfast Newsletter 19th May 1851 12. Belfast Newsletter 14th May 1851 13. Belfast Newsletter 15th December 1851 14. Belfast Newsletter 22nd November 1852 15. Belfast Newsletter 28th October 1853 16. Irish Builder 15th January 1876, p.27 Secondary Sources 1. Day, A., P. McWilliams, eds. “OS Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of County Londonderry III, 1831-5, Vol. 11.” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1991. 2. Eccles, J “Downhill, A Scrapbook of People and Place” London: Bath Press, 1996 3. Fothergill, B “The Mitred Earl: An Eighteenth Century Eccentric” London: Faber and Faber, 1974 4. McGuire, J and Quinn, J, eds “Dictionary of Irish Biography” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and Royal Irish Academy, 2009 5. Purcell, M “The Big House Library in Ireland – Books in Ulster Country Houses” National Trust, 2011 6. Rankin, P “Irish Building Ventures of the Earl Bishop of Derry” Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1972 7. http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.co.uk 8. www.dia.ie 9. www.nationaltrust.org.uk 10. www.youtube.com – Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple 11. Young, Arthur “A Tour In Ireland” London: Cadell 1780

Criteria for Listing


Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

Z. Rarity W. Northern Ireland/International Interest



Evaluation


Detached symmetrical multi-bay two-storey over basement former Bishop’s Palace (Earl Bishop Frederick Augustus Hervey) with pair of rear wings, built between 1775 and 1785, to the designs of Michael Shanahan, gutted by fire c.1851 and rebuilt c.1876, to the designs of John Lanyon. The twentieth-century decline of this country house has resulted in the loss of all but the front elevation, partial remains of the rear wings and the retention of the outer walls to the bowed yards to the north. Despite the loss of so much historic fabric and detailing Downhill is still an important and impressive edifice. The National Trust have stabilised the ruins which manage to convey the quality and ambition of its former patron and now constitutes one of the major attractions of the northwest of Ulster. It has a unspoiled setting overlooking Castlerock and Downhill beach and has group value with the other listed structures at this location - Mussenden Temple; Bishops Gate; Walled Garden and Dovecote; Mausoleum and Outbuildings;

General Comments


Listing Criteria R - Age; S - Authenticity and T - Historic Importance and U - Historic Associations also apply.

Date of Survey


11 July 2012