Members of the North Coast Association of the National Trust visited the Downhill Estate on Thursday, September 15 to see the recent renovations to the Lodge and Gardens at the Bishop’s Gate.
On arrival members were treated to a short talk from Ronan Gormley, the Property Manager. He outlined the renovation work and thanked the Association for contributing to the project. The party was then taken on a tour of the Gardens by Barry Crawford, the Area Ranger.
Members were aware of the historic significance of the Bishop’s Gate, which was constructed for the Earl Bishop in 1780 by the McBain brothers from Coleraine; it was once called the Coleraine Volunteers Arch. Barry revealed another interesting perspective and mentioned that Lady Bruce had created the bog garden at the entrance to the Demesne in 1920 and this had been restored by the late Jan Eccles. He introduced members to the garden, which had been attractively laid out in recent months and drew attention to the recent planting around the bog garden. He then took the party along the Forest Trail, which contains many interesting shrubs and specimen trees from all corners of the world. Thanks to the endeavours of Ronan, Barry and their team there has been increasing interest in Downhill in recent years; some 40,000 visitors passed through the Bishop’s Gate last year.