Historic Houses West Yorkshire: Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House is a 500 year old Tudor-Jacobean stately home in West Yorkshire situated just four miles east of the centre of Leeds. It is rich in history including being the birthplace in 1546 of Lord Darnley, husband to Mary Queen of Scots and father of James I.

Temple Newsam House
Temple Newsam House

The last time I visited Temple Newsam House was about 65 years ago. I remember being impressed by a large, imposing building, but can remember little else, other than that I travelled from Leeds Station to the gates of the estate on an ancient tram.

Somehow I’d never managed to visit again – until now, that is, on a wet, overcast November afternoon. I arrived by car this time and parked free of charge at a small car park just within the grounds.

On approaching the house, it is worth glancing up towards the roof where large letters spell out: All glory and praise be given to God, the father, the son and the 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. This curious feature was added in 1628 by Sir Arthur Ingram who owned the house from 1622 to 1642 and was responsible for major rebuilding work. The original stone letters were replaced by iron ones in 1788.

Temple Newsam: Landscaped Grounds
Landscaped Grounds

The 1500 acre grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown and include a walled garden, lakes and woodland areas.

The house and grounds are owned by Leeds City Council. There is free entry to the parkland and gardens but charges are made for touring the house, although members of Historic Houses get free entry. Parking near the house costs £4-50 a day.

As it was raining when I arrived, I decided to visit the house first. It proved fortuitous, as the rain had passed over by the time I had spent about an hour within the house. There was even a hint of sunshine as I explored the gardens and parkland, trying to avoid muddy patches amid a carpet of fallen leaves.

Temple Newsam House Tour

Temple Newsam: Great Hall
Great Hall

Touring the house is by free flow, although with directions as to the best route to follow. Entry is via the Great Hall, where visitors are given little torches which can be used to view objects in rooms that are dark to preserve items on display.

A large number of rooms are open to the public. I found it very useful that each has an information board giving more details about the room and about furnishings, paintings and other items on display.

Following the general flow of visitors, I moved from the Great Hall into Mr Wood’s Library and the Chinese Drawing Room, both of which featured in the BBC series Gentleman Jack.

Temple Newsam: Decorative Wooden Staircase
Staircase with Elizabeth I Portrait

Then along to the Terrace Room, decorated with two large tapestries, and the wood-panelled Dining Room which, surprisingly for such a large house, was set for just four people.

I then headed up two flights of stairs to the second floor and passed through the Prince’s Room to three bedrooms, the South Bedroom the State Bedroom and Darnley’s Room. The South and State bedrooms both have elaborate dressing rooms.

Along the way is Lady William Gordon’s Room and the Grey Room with exquisite wallpaper.

I then moved down stairs to the first floor. Again there are many fascinating rooms to visit, including the bleak servant’s Dark Room, contrasting with the Boudoir with its gold silk damask wall covering.

The Long Gallery
Long Gallery

Other first floor rooms include the Indian Dressing Room, the Gothick Room, the Blue-Striped Bedroom and the Crimson Bedroom, with an exotic Queen Anne state bed.

Most impressive on this floor is the massive Long Gallery and the adjacent Georgian Library.

Finally I returned to the ground floor passing through the Still Room with a large collection of refined creamery pottery dating back to 1770-1800.

There was so much to see that I found it a bit overwhelming and, maybe because I was visiting at a weekend, some rooms were quite crowded with visitors including many children. I will return again soon on a weekday and spend more time perusing the many fascinating rooms and historical treasures on display.

Gardens and Parkland

Temple Newsam: Formal South Garden
Formal South Garden

Before touring the grounds, I called in to the Tea Room in the Stable Courtyard next to the house. In addition to drinks, there is a selection of food, partly sourced from the Walled Garden.

There is a small area of formal gardens to the south of the house comprising well-tended beech and box hedges, laburnum arches and a hornbeam walk.

From there I headed down a shallow slope to the river and lakes, passing woodland with bright Autumn colours.

The Walled Garden is situated on the far side of the river and features herbaceous borders and herb beds. I was most impressed with the extensive glasshouses which had colourful flower displays plus a wide range of houseplants.

Heading up a steady slope through woodland and past the children’s adventure playground, took me back to my car, having walked almost three miles in total.

Entry to Temple Newsam House is £8-00 for adults and £3-50 for children. However, if you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry, plus free entry to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.

We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and see also Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?

Additional Photographs of Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam: Mr Wood's Library
Mr Wood’s Library
South Dressing Room
Dressing Room for the South Bedroom
Temple Newsam: Boudoir
Crimson Bedroom
Crimson Bedroom
Tea Room in the Stable Courtyard
Tea Room in the Stable Courtyard
Walled Garden
Walled Garden
Glasshouse Flowers
Glasshouse Flower Displays

POSTED November 25th 2022 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.