Then & Now - Downhill House

Then & Now 1874 - 2016. Downhill House, sat dormant on the remote shores of County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. "Built where only a romantic would expect to find one and only a lunatic would build one.” Constructed at huge expense, it was once normal when commissioning a mansion to site it where it might enjoy a view, but also some shelter from the elements. Downhill is all view and no shelter. On its exposed headland, the house is battered mercilessly by wind and rain. However, it was not the weather that reduced Downhill to the ruin we see today, rather the more mundane forces of declining family finances that levelled so many great houses in Ireland and Britain. Frederick Hervey began building Downhill in the 1770s; if its location seems remote now, it must have felt like the ends of the earth in those days. The top photo was the first known image to be taken following the restoration of the house following a huge fire in the 1850s. It's last known use was as a billet for RAF servicemen during World War Two. Since the great depression and the extraction of the military from the area following the war, the weather has reduced Downhill mansion to an empty shell, as if dusted and cleaned off by the winds that still greet its walls each day.

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