I feel sorry for this house because it seems so unvisited and unloved. While it’s on a scale to rival Hampton Court (indeed some call it ‘The Hampton Court of the North’) and it is a short drive from Leeds City Centre and charges less than £5 entrance (plus there’s a café, shop and Capability Brown landscaped grounds that anyone can enter upon paying the £3.60 car park fee or upon paying nothing if they park on the street and walk in), there is an eerie silence.
Reason to visit: to visit the site of where some hot political Tudors lived but also to see a unique feature in the form of a vertical message of welcome to all visitors perched high on the parapets.
We were in the house for over an hour and saw only 3 house guides (in dozens of rooms) and about half a dozen other visitors. And it was Saturday afternoon!
One reason alone to visit is that the Chippendale Society houses some of its collection here and there are some very interesting Georgian interiors – original rooms have been remodelled rather than new wings from each era added/knocked down – an organic development with keeps the 17th century form in tact. I wish more owners took this approach to their homes.
The house has good furniture, plenty of pictures and enough to see so that I left feeling like I need to go back another 15 times (entry is in fact free with an Art Fund card so I can keep going back).
I’m not sure why there were so few people there. If this place were an Historic Royal Palaces property or run by the National Trust I’m sure it would be a riot. By contrast Temple Newsam is run by Leeds City Council and people seem to snub council-run places as lacking a certain air of ‘middle class “nice day out”‘.
Essentially a U-shaped Tudor-Jacobean monstrosity of mammoth proportions, 2 sides are open to the public. D went all history buff when we learned that an original owner of this site was Mary Queen of Scotts’ husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (he was born at Temple Newsam), who was later murdered. He was also the father of James I of England and VI of Scotland.
Before the house came into Lord Darnley’s family, the site and the house that then stood upon it was owned by Lord Darcy. He was executed, resulting in the property falling into the ownership of Henry VIII, who in turn gave the property to his niece, Margaret Tudor, Countess of Lennox and mother of Lord Darnley. See more here about the Tudors in West Yorkshire.
A visit to this house reminded me that, no matter how many books I read or programmes I watch about history, a visit to a real place associated with the people who became the history concretises in my mind the timeline, the names of the players and the politics involved.
The Lennoxs’ house was later bought (in 1622) and rebuilt/refashioned by Sir Arthur Ingram, a tax collector, prolific landowner and financier. He possibly removed the fourth wall of the enclosed courtyard house (to give the three-sided open courtyard we see today – but there is some debate about what the original Tudor house looked like) but definitely added the wording around the internal parapets which reads:
“All Glory and Praise be given to God the Father the Son and Holy Ghost on High, Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men, Honour and true Allegiance to our gracious King, Loving Affection amongst his Subjects, Health and Plenty be within this House’.
Inside I remember a Victorian great hall (where a wedding was due to take place that afternoon), Georgian library with Chippendale desk, series of state rooms, a warren of Victorian staircases and bedrooms, long gallery with a state bedroom at one end and library at the other and bullion room with a honey pot and coffee pot that I decided have my name on them (if I were an art thief, which I’m not). This is a house fit for 10 families it’s so vast.
I did have the free audio guide but in each room the story went on and on and on and on. Perhaps the makers could keep each room to 1-2 minutes?
A former owner of Temple Newsam, Lady Hertford, was a mistress of the then Prince of Wales (later George IV) for a time and he gave her the Chinese wallpaper that she installed in the house.
The house stewards didn’t help – they knew nothing – each question I asked was met with a response of “sorry, I don’t know”.
It started raining as we came out and so we “forgot” to go into the formal knot garden.
Drat, I’ll just have to go back again sometime in the near future.
When visited: July 2012
House * out of 5: ****
Garden * out of 5: **
Theme tune: The Blackadder Theme tune (because I can imagine Rowan Atkinson and Queen Elizabeth rambling around in here)