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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

Commentary: Purity of Style

Other created landscapes of this era did incorporate Gothick Ruins as well as Classical Temples and even more exotic architectures, but almost never combined them in the same building. For example, Vanbrugh, Kent, Gibbs and others from 1721 to 1749 had provided the astonishing collection for Lord Cobham’s much admired park at Stowe, “The Elysian Fields”, including a Rotondo and Pyramid, the Fane of Pastoral Poetry, Congreve’s Monument and the Temple of British Worthies (16 famous patriots), the Temple of Ancient Virtue (a Greek lawgiver, a general, a poet, and a philosopher), statues of Saxon Deities and a Gothic Temple. Sir William Chambers and others furnished a very full set for the (then) private Royal Gardens at Kew in 1757-63, but they are all in distinct and identifiable styles, as - the Temples of Pan, Arethusa, Aeolus, Solitude, the Sun, Bellona, Victory and Peace, a Roman Theatre, Ruined Arch and Palladian Bridge (all Classical), together with a House of Confucius, a Chinese Pavilion and the Great Pagoda (Chinese), an Alhambra and a Mosque (Moorish), and a Cathedral (Gothic). Direct and accurate copies of other exotic styles, such as Egyptian or Indian, hardly occur in British architecture until the 1790s or 1800s, and there are few examples even then.

Generally, however, grand garden ornamental buildings for display looked to Roman or Greek precedents, were built properly in stone, and detailed most correctly. Fine examples are Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Temple of the Four Winds at Castle Howard in 1725-28 (Ionic, four porticos, dome and urns) [26], Thomas Robinson’s Ionic Temple at Rievaulx Terraces (Duncombe Park) in 1758 [27], and James Stuart’s Doric Temple at Hagley Hall in 1758. These were all larger and more splendid than Brown’s little eyecatcher here, but even the Temple of Lead Lads by James Paine for Lord Bingley at Bramham Park in the 1760s, as modest in scale as the Little Temple, is built all in stone and with a correct Tuscan Order. [28]

Such extreme wilfulness with the classic Orders as at the Little Temple is not found elsewhere in Brown’s work. Typical of his inventions are such as the little Summerhouse at Croome Court, Worcestershire (1750s, in conventional and correct Corinthian), or the Bridge Pavilion at Scampston, Yorkshire (1773, playful but reasonably proper Ionic). Brown had built Croome Church in 1758-63 in a simple Gothic Revival style but without any incongruous Classical elements.

Another near exemplar for the Little Temple order is from a folly and dates from 1760, the Bath House at Arnos Castle near Bristol. [29] William Reeve was a wealthy copper smelter who built himself a beautiful Gothick house at Brislington in the 1740s (architect unrecorded). The columns of the arcade screen of the later Bath House each comprise slender shafts of four colonnettes with foliated, almost feathered, capitals, but on more robust bases than the Little Temple, and all are part of a small building wholly Gothic or Tudor in spirit. Could Brown have seen and remembered this?