Justifiably called the 'Hampton Court Palace of the North', Temple Newsam is one of the great English historic country houses.
This fine Tudor-Jacobean mansion, sited on the outskirts of Leeds, lies in 1,500 acres of parkland landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. Its name refers to the Knights Templar, who once owned the lands.
Temple Newsam is famous as the birthplace of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and was owned by the Ingram family for three centuries. It was acquired by the City of Leeds in 1922 and developed as a country house museum. The house has been extensively restored and holds some of the most comprehensive collections of paintings, furniture, silver, ceramics, textiles and wallpapers outside London. In an interview for Radio 4's Front Row in 2004, ex-Culture Minister Mark Fisher placed Temple Newsam House in the top three non-national museums in the country.
The home farm has Europe's largest collection of rare breeds, with over 400 animals. There are six national plant collections and a fine Georgian walled garden. Throughout the year, the grounds provide an ideal setting for open air concerts and fairs.
In 1997 the collections were judged by the Museums and Galleries Commission to be of pre-eminent national importance. Many items collected by the Ingram family that had been sold in the 1920s have been bought back and re-installed. There is a fine assortment of landscapes, portraits, still lifes and genre scenes including work by Reynolds, Pellegrini and Henry Morland. With acquisitions of recent years, the number of paintings hanging in the house is now about 350 – similar to the number listed in the inventory of 1808.
Efforts to regain furniture made for Temple Newsam by James Pascall in 1745 have been largely successful. In addition, the house has been refurnished with high-quality objects originally made for other country houses, including an entire early-Tudor room. Chippendale is well represented, with a library writing table made for Harewood House and items loaned by the Chippendale Society.
The 19th-century passion for exotic oriental decoration is well represented in the Chinese room, and the classical revival of the late 18th century can be seen in gold and silverwork, in ormolu and marble, in sculpture and particularly in furniture.
The house is famous for its collection of historic wallpapers, which spans the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. A notable example is the hand-painted Chinese paper, a gift from the Prince of Wales, donated during a visit in 1806.