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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: Non-Architectural Models

Alternatively, could the Little Temple be proposing an Order related to the history or achievements of the Ingram family, perhaps responding to the sentiments in the poem of 1767 about the “Present Taste in Planting Parks”, quoted in Dorothy Stroud’s book on Capability Brown (as the extract in Appendix 2)?  Is it an attempt to combine the Wild (Gothic) and the Beautiful (Classical), but in a more explicitly botanical form, with the shafts as bundled branches? Pope in 1746 had proposed to create the image of a Gothic cathedral among the trees of his garden, and such an arboreal theory was later to be explicitly proposed as the origin of Gothic architecture, by the geologist Sir James Hall in 1797/1813. [30] But, on further examination, this seemed unlikely.

Stained glass window roundels in the Great Hall at Temple Newsam display the estate owners’ heraldry, as do some painted hatchments from the 17th and 18th century – including one with two black slaves as supporters, recording one source of the family wealth at that time. The Ingram family coat of arms and crest incorporates a cockerel (“a cock, proper”) and black arrowheads, and lead rainwater pipes on the main house are decorated with a viscount’s coronet, scallop shells and fleur-de-lys, but none of these images are used on the Little Temple. Similarly, there is no obvious reference here back to the Knights Templar, who had been the owners of this estate in the 12th and 13th centuries.

It is true that, from the Renaissance onwards, playful experimentation with less than correct classical styles was often quicker and freer in the minor arts than in architecture – which is so expensive, slow and permanent. Two such possible sources for the Little Temple columns were suggested to the author.

First, from furniture, via Thomas Chippendale’s great trade catalogue “The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director” of 1754, which offered three styles – Gothic, Chinese, and Modern (ie Renaissance Classical) – and showed Bed Pillars with eight clustered and banded Gothic shafts under rather miserable single leaf capitals (plate XXXIVc). [31] But these are not a close match, and I can see no compelling logic for their translation to this prominent if diminutive garden building.

Secondly, from three pieces typical of 18th century silverware now in the Temple Newsam collection, although only acquired by the Museum in the 20th century. There are two candlesticks by John Barbe, which intriguingly date from 1765, perhaps the year the Little Temple was built. [32] They have five (not eight) lobed cluster stems (shafts), under single leaf acanthus sconces (capitals), and could plausibly be connected to the Little Temple columns’ design. But which would have come first and which followed – the idea for the Temple’s columns, or the silver candlesticks? Two other contemporary sets of  candlesticks now at Temple Newsam are also interesting – those to a design by Robert Adam from 1767 with much acanthus, but in overall form and idea no real match to the Little Temple [33], and those by Edward Wakelin from 1771 as very correctly proportioned and detailed miniature Corinthian columns, possibly following Robert Wood’s “Ruins of Palmyra” of 1753. [34]  Design ideas thus flow from architecture to furniture to silverware to jewellery and back, in scale from the monumental to the miniature.