Bruce Family, Earls of Bristol

Biography/History

Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, entered the Church and, through the influence of his eldest brother, the 2nd Earl, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, obtained first the Bishopric of Cloyne and subsequently (in 1768 when he was only 38 years old) that of Derry. He built Downhill (commenced 1775) and Ballyscullion (commenced 1787, dismantled 1813, the portico surviving as the facade of St George's Church, High St, Belfast), the prototype for Ickworth House in Suffolk, his family seat. His passion for travelling and for collecting works of art led to more and more prolonged absences from Ireland, and he soon became a well-known figure bowling along the roads of Germany and Italy in his great coach, causing Hotels Bristol to be called after him in towns all over the Continent. Downhill was bequeathed after his death to his cousin, the Rev Henry Hervey Aston Bruce, and was lived in by the family until 1922. It was sold in 1946 and unroofed in 1950. Downhill was acquired by the National Trust in 1980; it is a ruin. However, the Mussenden Temple remains intact, built in 1783-5 by Shanahan on the model of the circular Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in honour of Frideswide Bruce, sister of the Rev Henry and wife of Daniel Mussenden. At the start of the 21st century the 8th Marquess of Bristol lives in Monaco.