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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


While at first glance a conventional classical embellishment in an “improved” 18th century aristocratic country park, the Little Temple has a most unusual Order, by now quite possibly unique in Britain. Almost certainly designed by Capability Brown, it incorporates a copy of Batty Langley’s Fourth Gothic Order, as that provided a readymade and accurately detailed means of mixing patriotic British and garden themes within an overall classical form. Its modest and economical realisation suggests that it was considered  more an erudite if playful decoration rather than a serious architectural or nationalist manifesto. Using Langley’s Gothic Order under a classical pediment rather than in a wholly gothic structure it is also a very rare built survival of a Langley design. This suggests consideration should be given to upgrading its listing to Grade II*, and also justifies urgent conservation action for its preservation.

In the Keystone Actions (12.1) of the Temple Newsam Estate Cultural Landscape Management Plan (2000) under “Heritage Conservation” was “Prioritise Conservation of the 18C Little Temple structure”, and including “emergency roof covering and restore setting”.  The TNE CLMP also notes that 20th century tree planting to the west and north of the Little Temple has now further obscured Brown’s intended setting, and recommended some restorative clearances there (3.13)(14.3(1,2)).  

Michael Devenish

DipArch (Kingston) MPhil (Cantab) RIBA IHBC

June 2015

With many thanks for their help and advice to Maria Akers, James Lomax, Anthony Wells-Cole, Stephen Worrilow, Richard Voss and Jane Houlton. The opinions in this paper, and any errors that remain, are the author’s.