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An Extraordinary Order: The Little Temple at Temple Newsam

Article Index

  1. An Extraordinary Order: The Little Temple at Temple Newsam
  2. Background
  3. Description
  4. Commentary: Context
  5. Commentary: Precedents from Architectural History
  6. Commentary: Purity of Style
  7. Commentary: Non-Architectural Models
  8. Designer: Possible Designers
  9. Designer: Other Hypotheses
  10. Designer: The Model Used
  11. Condition
  12. Conclusions
  13. Appendix 1
  14. Appendix 2
  15. References
  16. Illustrations
  17. All Pages


The Little Temple is a Grade II listed building, included in the English Heritage statutory lists in 1976 for Group Value (see Appendix 1). Its fabric is in very poor condition and it is deemed “at risk” by Leeds City Council and by Leeds Civic Trust. 

Charles Ingram (from 1763 the 9th Viscount Irwin) and his spirited bride Frances (Gibson/Shepheard – the illegitimate but affluent daughter of an East India Company director and Tory MP) lived in the main house at Temple Newsam from their marriage in 1758, and engaged the fashionable landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown from 1762 to 1770 to “improve” (ie radically reform) the estate parkland. A plan by Brown from 1762 shows a Rotunda set above an open slope commanding a prospect to and from the house as a garden eye-catcher in the location where the Little Temple now stands. [1] Other features indicated on that plan are “an Intended Piece of Water” (a lake), sham bridges, a thatched cottage, rustic dairy, and a menagerie – the whole was intended to be a realisation in Yorkshire of the Arcadian serenity of a Claude Lorraine or Gaspard Poussin idealized landscape.

Records seen have not established the precise year the Little Temple was built, nor exactly who designed it, nor suggested why it has such a wilfully strange architectural Order.