A new series of short films about Temple Newsam House are now available on YouTube. The first of these gives an overview of this great treasure house, focusing on its origins, how it was enlarged, inherited and sold over the years and how it came to belong to Leeds City Council.
The four and a half minute video gives a flavour of nearly a thousand years of history from Newsam’s first appearance in the Domesday Book. James Lomax, Curator Emeritus, explains that the house was first built nearly 500 years ago and quickly became a hotbed of political intrigue with the first owner beheaded on the orders of Henry VIII and later another thrown into the Tower of London. Temple Newsam is notable as the birthplace of the notorious Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
Using old drawings and diagrams of Temple Newsam, James Lomax describes the alteration and enlargement of the house under Sir Arthur Ingram in the early 17th century, bringing it to the familiar three-sided courtyard form which we see today.
Fans of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice will recognise the next significant problem which befell Temple Newsam about three hundred years later. Just like in that famous novel from the same period, there were five daughters in the family and no male heir to the title, which died out. Fortunately for Temple Newsam the ownership of the house did continue through the female line, and in recent centuries it is the women of the estate who have made notable alterations, decorations and acquired some of the most fabulous objects which belong in the house.
The Second World War left particular marks on the estate when coal mining overwhelmed the grounds. Until the 1980s the Capability Brown landscape was scoured with open-cast mines. Now under the ownership of Leeds City Council, Temple Newsam house, its restored land and many recovered treasures are part of ongoing work to keep this historic estate accessible to visitors.
By Janet Tankard, Volunteer Blogger with Leeds Museums and Art Galleries