An Extraordinary Order: The Little Temple at Temple Newsam


TN 2 Distant view of LTThis paper examines the Little Temple at Temple Newsam near Leeds, built between 1763 and 1770 as part of the estate parkland re-landscaping works by Lancelot “Capability” Brown for Frances Ingram and Charles Ingram (the 9th Viscount Irwin). While at first glance a conventional 18th century classical garden building, the Little Temple has a most unusual architectural order, but its fabric is now very dilapidated and “at risk”.

Possible precedents for the design of the strange order are considered, and the most likely source is determined as taken from Batty Langley’s book “Ancient Architecture Restored…etc” of 1742 as reissued in 1747 as “Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions…etc”, and specifically his “Fourth Gothic Order” with “the Second Gothic Entablature” only very slightly modified. The political, cultural and architectural context is considered and also why this peculiar combination in one small building of Gothic detail within a classical pedimented temple form may have been chosen by the designer and his well-educated clients.

The paper argues that consideration should be given to upgrading the Little Temple’s current statutory listing from Grade II to II*, in recognition of its rarity, and also for urgent grant-aided action to conserve and repair it.

Michael Devenish is a retired conservation architect, formerly in private practice in London and then Leeds from 1975 to 2013, and who took a Masters degree in History & Theory of Architecture at Cambridge University in 1984-5. He is a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).


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.


The Little Temple forms a small (just 5.6m x 4.2m) open fronted shelter and outlook point facing west over the new lake and towards Temple Newsam House some half a mile (750m) away, and it would have been a pleasant and sunny spot for an afternoon picnic in the summer. Now only partly visible, being enveloped by fully mature woodland, in the 1760s-90s it would have been much more prominent seen from the main house amongst the young planting. [2]

A prostyle tetrastyle portico (four columns standing at the front of the building) faces west with four sandstone columns supporting a wooden entablature and pediment, and with another attached stone column on both the north and south returns. [3]  The rear and side walls are blind, in plain rendered brick, and all rest on stone and brick footings. The red brick appears to be the typical local Leeds clay, possibly dug and fired on the estate, and the stone was probably also locally sourced. Any stone flags remaining on the floor have been screeded over in 20th century concrete. [4, 5]

The roof covering is stone slates with clay ridge tiles, the latter probably 20th century. The very plain entablature around all four sides and the two pediments are formed in timber, and would originally have been painted to resemble stone. A few flakes of buff/brown paint remain on the rear pediment mouldings, and some 18th century paint might survive under 19th and 20th century recoatings. Two rectangular slots in the front timber tympanum, and one in the rear, appear to be 20th century actions to assist through ventilation rather than original design features. [6, 7]

At first glance, then, a quite conventional small ornamental classical temple in the parkland of an 18th century English country house.

However, the tall and widely spaced carved stone columns are not in the form of any of the familiar eight Orders (ie Greek or Roman Doric, Ionic or Corinthian, or Roman Tuscan or Composite), but rather are a most curious combination of disparate details. [8]

The shafts are each comprised of four stones, carved in the form of eight clustered colonnettes, with eight convex fat lobes rather than the (usually 24) delicate concave flutings of shafts in the Classical orders, and they have no entasis (the slightly tapered swelling giving an optical correction to prevent the appearance of spindliness). They have only thin and meanly elaborated bases on the plain stone plinth, a plain collar roll beneath the capital, and appear much more typically mediaeval Gothic than Classical. [9]

The capitals are only a distant relation of typical Corinthian forms, with eight upsprouting acanthus leaves continuing the lines of the eight shaftlets below, and these are single long acanthus leaves, rather than the triple curled set usual in a Corinthian capital. [10] Indeed, in this form they almost resemble Romaine (Cos) lettuces more than true acanthus, or even perhaps that precursor of Greek Corinthian, the Egyptian “palmiform” capital. [11]  Under the entablature as an abacus in stone there is a rather coarse projecting egg-and-dart moulding with a leaf detail at each corner.

Acanthus leaf patterns are found in Ancient Greek ornament from c 420 BC on, and were widely used in Greek and Roman Corinthian capitals thereafter. The earlier examples relate perhaps more to Acanthus Spinosa, later ones more to the fleshier Acanthus Mollis.  The Austrian art historian Alois Riegl claimed in “Stilfragen” (“Problems of Style: Foundations for a History of Ornament”, 1893) that acanthus ornament originated in sculptural versions of palmette (as found in some Greek acroteria, and before that in Egyptian columns), and only later came to resemble Acanthus Spinosa. Simplified or stylized versions of acanthus and other foliage continue after the collapse of Rome in the 5th century in Byzantine and Mediaeval Gothic ornament, with the Classical models being more precisely followed once again during and since the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century.

The columns of the Little Temple are extremely slender and widely spaced, their proportions at first glance closer to the elegant and decorative Corinthian with the “slenderness of a maiden” than to the “manly strength and beauty” of the Doric or even the “womanly proportions of the Ionic” (Vitruvius IV.I.7/8).

However, the shafts here are even narrower than normal Corinthian (the thinnest of the classical types), and the entablature is very low. Comparative ratios are:

Little Temple: Ratio of shaft height to diameter is c 10:1, vs typical Corinthian of c 8.3:1

Little Temple: Entablature height is only 1.2 diameter, vs typical Corinthian of c 2.5 diameters.

The intercolumniation - the setting out and spacing of the columns – is also extreme. [12] They are set Araeostyle, “farther apart than they ought to be…..In araeostyles we cannot employ stone or marble for the architraves, but must have a series of wooden beams laid upon the columns. And moreover, in appearance these temples are clumsy-roofed, low, broad…” (Vitruvius III.III.5.)  Comparative ratios are:

Little Temple intercolumniation is:  D  3.6d  D  4.5d  D  3.6d  D,  in diameters (D)

Typical Corinthian would be:  D  3.3d  D  3.3d  D  3.3d  D.

The central spacing here is wider than the two side spacings, following some Renaissance (rather than Antique) examples.

The timber entablature and pediment are very modest (even mean), in detail and projection, for the type and proportions of the stone columns below. There are also none of the enrichments of detail that usually accompany the Corinthian Order (modillions, dentils etc.) The frieze has a slender cornice but lacks an architrave, and the tympanum is simply boarded. [13, cf 7, 8 and 10]

While no original drawing or photograph of the Little Temple before 1900 has been seen, there is no evidence that it has been altered significantly since its construction in the 1760s.

Commentary: Context

While it may have been executed on a tight budget and would have been seen mostly from a distance, the detail of the Little Temple mixes elements evoking radically different architectural precedents, and much of the work has been executed with considerable skill. Compared to other classical garden temples it is very odd indeed but, assuming it to be deliberate, what could be the architectural intention? What was the context in which the Ingrams and Brown made this incongruous combination of Gothic and Classical elements and forms, and why might they have chosen them? Given its date in the mid-18th century and its nature and location in an aristocratic English country park, there were many possibilities to be considered.

Ideas that developed through the 18th century in Britain on the design and uses of gardens, including moving away from the tight formality and symmetries of 17th century layouts, and the revival of interest in Gothic forms, are both relevant here. Alongside the “professional” architects and garden designers, many of the wealthy amateurs now brought a new spirit to the game, new sentiments, new emotions – poetical, literary and nostalgic.

Less formal and more natural gardens were advocated by such as Joseph Addison and Stephen Switzer (in the 1710s), Alexander Pope and Batty Langley (in the 1710s and 20s), and William Gilpin (in the 1740s). Nearby at Studley Royal, John Aislabie was adapting the landscape with cascades and Classical temples in the 1720s and 30s, and his son would incorporate the spectacular Gothic ruins of Fountains Abbey into that parkland in 1768.

Robert Morris proposed, in his “Lectures on Architecture” (1734), that “little Fabricks (be) erected in the Gardens of some Noble Patron of Arts (which would promote) a chain of Thought (and thus) open to the Mind a vast Field to entertain the Tongue or Pen of a Philosopher, to plunge into the deep Recesses of Nature.” He suggested “a Summer-house a little remote from some noble Villa (where) it is Here in the cooler Hours of Reflection, a Man might retire, to contemplate the important Themes of Human Life (as), in the Silent recesses of Life, are more noble and felicitous ideas”. Pope captured this more poetically, in placing an inscription from Horace over the entrance to the Grotto in his Twickenham Villa’s garden: “Secretum iter, et fallentis semita vitae” (or, roughly, “A hid Recess, where Life’s revolving Day, In sweet Delusion gently steals away”.)

It can be argued that the Gothic Revival began in the early 18th century, a result of growing interest in romantic ruins, antiquities and irrationalism, as opposed to the Apollonian clarity of the Enlightenment. Even by the 1760s it already had also an element of nostalgia for an imagined pre-industrial England, one before the effects of the Enclosure Acts (1750 to 1780s) and before the success of the Yorkshire woollen cloth trade had transformed nearby Leeds from a country market town into a congested city. Batty Langley in his “New Principles of Gardening” of 1728 and “Ancient Architecture Restored & Improved” of 1742 had played a little stiffly with Gothic elements. Fashionable “Gothick” began with Sanderson Miller’s works in 1743-59, and the amateur and writer Horace Walpole – for whom taste was more important than accuracy - had famously been Gothicizing his house at Strawberry Hill for 20 years from 1749, although this owed less to period precedent and was more Rococo than Gothic in spirit. Gothic would come to be associated with the Picturesque, and one of the early key texts was Batty Langley’s “Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions… ” as reissued in 1747 which was a pattern book of “Gothick”, including arranging a selection of  Gothic columns as an equivalent of the five Classical Orders. Although the book owed little to real Gothic, it fed a fashion for “Georgian Gothick” that looked anything but truly mediaeval. Gothick was frivolous, and was essentially pretty (as Rococo or Chinoiserie) and was used then mostly still for interior decoration, for garden follies and sham ruins.

Thomas Wright published “Six Original Designs for Arbours” in 1755 and “Six (more) for Grottos” in 1758, which were to be built deliberately roughly from “rustic” materials. William and John Halfpenny’s “Rural Design in the Gothic Taste” of 1752 was also popular, but the designs they proferred were even less convincing than Langley’s, as were those in William Wright’s “Grotesque Architecture or Rural Amusement” of 1767, a folly pattern book of whimsical designs such as the Augustine Hermitage. [14]  

The possible sources of models for the Little Temple’s strange Order may be grouped under two broad headings: firstly, precedents from architectural history known at that time and, secondly, exemplars from contemporary garden design or from the minor arts.

Commentary: Precedents from Architectural History

Very few British designers in the 16th and 17th centuries would have seen at first hand the works of Italian Renaissance architects, or the surviving antique Roman ruins then visible. Before 1760 the books on architecture available in England comprised mainly those listed below. Some of the earlier texts were illustrated with simple woodcuts, but later ones had increasingly accurate and detailed engravings.

(a) translations of Vitruvius, in editions with commentaries by various architects and scholars, from 1486 in Latin, Italian, French, German, Dutch and English.

(b) Italian treatises, including

Leon Alberti “De Re Architectura” Latin 1485, in an English edition by Giacomo Leoni in 1729/1755

Giacomo Vignola “La Regola delli Cinque Ordini dell’Architettura” Italian 1562

Sebastiano Serlio “Tutte l’Opere d’Architettura et Prospettiva” Italian (1537-57 parts, collected) 1584, in an English edition (from a Dutch translation) by Robert Peake in 1611.

Andrea Palladio “I Quattro Libri dell’ Architettura” Italian 1570, in English editions by G Leoni in 1715, and by Isaac Ware in 1738

Andrea Pozzo “Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum” 1700

(c) French treatises, including

Philibert de l’Orme “Le Premier Tome de l’Architecture” French 1568, + 1648etc

Claude Perrault, edition of Vitruvius 1673, and “Ordonnance des Cinq Especes de Colonnes” 1683, tr English 1708

Nicolas-Francois Blondel “Cours d’Architecture” 1675 + 1683

Antoine Desgodetz  “Les edifices antiques de Rome dessinés et mesurés très exactement” 1682

Marc-Antoine Laugier “Essai sur l’Architecture” 1753

Pierre Patte “Discours sur l’Architecture” 1754

Julien David Le Roy “Les Ruines des plus beaux Monuments de la Grèce”  1758

(d) Original works in English, including

John Shute “First and Chief Groundes of Architecture” 1563

Henry Wotton “Elements of Architecture” 1624

Colen Campbell’s “Vitruvius Britannicus” of 1715/1717/1725

James Gibbs’ “A Book of Architecture” of 1728

In England, before reliable drawings from Antique models began to become available in the early 17th century, there were imaginative versions and combinations of late mediaeval and classical motifs such as in the Elizabethan prodigy houses of Robert Smythson and others and in some 16th century chantry chapels and tombs. Temple Newsam’s own entrance tower from the courtyard, three stories of white Magnesian Limestone, is a not untypical and entertaining architectural mix from the 1620s and 1670s (and some remodelling in the 1790s), with paired Ionic columns and strapwork on the bottom stage, beneath a coat of arms and a broken pediment and then a 12 part window worthy of Hardwick Hall. The earliest architecturally correct buildings were by Inigo Jones after his sojourns in Italy and Paris, such as the Banqueting House 1620 and Queen’s Chapel 1624 in Whitehall, the Queen’s House at Greenwich 1620s, and St Paul’s Covent Garden 1632, and a few works by John Webb and Roger Pratt. Jones’ design for a vast new Whitehall Palace was never realised, but would have included versions of giant caryatids in place of Composite Order shafts on the courtyard elevations of the King’s Apartments. [15]  After the long interruption of the Civil War and the Puritan Commonwealth, the Restoration of King Charles II and his court in 1660 saw the commissioning of many more scholarly classical buildings, from Christopher Wren and his rivals, and the later English Baroque triumphs by John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor.

From 1715 Colen Campbell and Richard Boyle, and then Roger Morris and Robert Taylor led the drive for stricter Palladian and Republican Roman purity in British architecture for the Whig supremacy, with James Gibbs and William Kent providing some erudite variations. But by the 1750s there developed among some leaders of Neo-Classical thought consciousness both of a historic view of Antiquity – as separate from Mediaeval (Gothic) and Renaissance (Classical) - and of Eclecticism, being the power to choose or even to combine styles to make an architecture appropriate for the present.

The interpretation board next to the Little Temple calls it a “hybrid of classical and gothic architecture”, and the English Heritage listing text suggests it may be an attempt at creating a British (ie National) Order.

98% of classical architecture across Western Europe in 1500-1900 used varieties and combinations of the Orders from Antiquity: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian – in Greek and Roman variants of each - and Tuscan and Composite – Roman only. These were first categorised and illustrated in print by Serlio, Vignola and de l’Orme. Antique Roman examples sometimes varied the detail of the Composite order, as illustrated by Serlio, showing a “monstrous” Winged Horse (or Pegasus) in place of the Ionic Scroll in a Composite Order capital from the “Basilica del Foro transitorio” (the Forum of Nerva) (IV/9/Fol.60), and by Palladio in the 1738 Isaac Ware edition of his 1570 treatise showing a similar Pegasus in the interior columns of the Temple of Mars the Avenger in Rome (IV/VII/plate X).  There were a few experiments inventing new orders in the 16th century and 17th century, for example the “tree column” with a proto-Corinthian capital in Bramante’s Basilica of San Ambrogio in Milan in 1492, or the “tree column” drawn in Philibert de l’Orme’s “de l’Architecture” of 1568, where his text also compares the grouped columns of a portico to a small forest. [16]

In the later 17th and 18th century there were attempts, in France and England particularly, at creating a new “national order”. The French, for example, substituted a cock and fleur-de-lys in the capital detail of a Corinthian Order, and Robert Adam and James Adam proposed a “Britannic Order” for the gateway to Carlton House with the Lion and Unicorn, Roses, Thistles and Crowns similarly inserted. [17] George Dance proposed an Ammonite order, using the spiral fossils in place of Ionic volutes, for the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall in 1788, and the Ammonite order also crops up occasionally in Kent and Sussex and London around 1790-1820s. [18]  In 1845 at Holkham in Norfolk the monument to Thomas William Coke, Earl of Leicester, would use a massive “Agricultural Order” with bulls heads, sheafs of corn, mangelwurzels and turnip leaves, symbolizing Coke’s achievements in that field. [19]  In the 1850s Cuthbert Brodrick would insert rams heads into the colossal Composite Order capitals of the main hall in Leeds Town Hall, in recognition of the importance of wool to that city’s wealth. However, none of these variations were widely adopted or ever replaced any of the familiar eight Greek and Roman patterns.

But, while the shafts and bases of the Little Temple’s columns would not look out of place in a mediaeval Gothic British church, the acanthus is a Mediterranean plant, not a British one, and egg-and-dart is a conventional classic Roman moulding pattern.

The number of clustered shaftlets on the Little Temple columns – eight – could have been chosen for its convenient double symmetry as two overlaid squares, but it was at least possible that the clients and their architect may have developed it from an octagon and its associated symbolism, that being an intermediate form between the square (representing terrestrial order) and the circle (representing eternal order), so standing for regeneration and the balance of spiritual and natural forces in their Claudian garden. The designer might have been playing a game based on Vitruvius’ ideas of the Origin of the Dwelling House in fire and timber (II.I.1-4), and his discussion of the breezes (I.VI.9-13) - “Those who know names for very many winds will perhaps be surprised at our setting forth that there are only eight”. Might the rectangular form of this Little Temple, with its solid rear walls providing some shelter from chilly northeast winds, have been a practical adaptation for this well ventilated north British setting in place of the open but draughty Rotunda originally planned by Brown in 1762?

One plausible exemplar in 1762 from Ancient architecture for this small temple form with its unusual capitals was the Tower of the Winds in Athens.

Of authentic Antique precedents only Roman ones by the early 18th century had been excavated with carefully measured drawings, [20] as most surviving Greek temples remained within the Ottoman Turkish Empire to which access was extremely difficult. JG Soufflot had drawn the early Greek Doric temples at Paestum in southern Italy in 1750, and Robert Wood and James Dawkins had published their books on Roman remains in Syria - “Ruins of Palmyra” in 1753 [21] and “Ruins of Baalbec” in 1757. JD Le Roy had published in Paris in 1758 “Les Ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce”, with relatively accurate drawings of some buildings on the Acropolis – which stung the Italian Giambattista Piranesi into responding in 1761 with “Della magnificenza ed architettura de’ Romani”. So now both Greece and Rome had their passionate champions as the true  origin of the finest and most authoritative architecture.

In 1751 James Stuart and Nicholas Revett had secured a firman (permission) from the Ottoman Sultan to survey in Athens, returning to England in 1755. Preparation of their book was slow but the first volume of “The Antiquities of Athens” appeared in 1762, and included exact details of a curious little building, the Tower of the Winds. This is mentioned in Vitruvius (I.VI.4) and had been illustrated in fanciful “reconstruction” in 16th century editions of Vitruvius by Cesare de Cesariano and Giovanni Rusconi. The Tower by the 1750s had become a “Turkish Chapel” where “Dervishes performed their circular Mahommedan religious dances”. Stuart and Revett had to excavate 18 centuries – or 15 feet - of accumulated debris and earth from inside and around it, reassemble decorated carved stone fragments found buried, and then take exact measurements of the whole.

It is a late Hellenistic period work (circa 100-50 BC), thought to have been erected by Andronikos Cyrrhestes as a device for measuring time by means of a clepsydra (water clock) internally and sundials externally, and was capped by a weather vane in the form of a bronze triton. It is octagonal, built in Pentellic marble, and orientated to the points of the compass with boldly sculpted figures representing the eight principal wind deities. The northeast and northwest faces have distyle porticos (two columns and a pediment), with fluted shafts but no bases. [22] The capitals also vary from a normal Corinthian design, having plain square abacuses, and no volutes but a single row of water (palm) leaves over a single row of acanthus leaves. [23]

Although they had published in England the first accurate surveys of Greek Antique remains, Stuart and Revett lacked their rival Robert Adam’s ruthless flair for self-promotion, and were subsequently employed mostly only as designers of garden buildings rather than of major houses or public buildings. From the hand of James “Athenian” Stuart these naturally had archaeologically correct details with no hint of Gothic combination, as in the severe Greek Doric temples at the Grove, Herts in 1756, at Hagley in 1759/61, and at Shugborough Hall, Staffs in 1764/65. Stuart’s Temple of the Winds, also at Shugborough, is similar to the original in form and scale and with two porticos, but built economically in rendered and painted brickwork. Their 1762 book was a sensation, within the educated world of architects and the Society of Dilettanti at least, and both Brown and Charles and Frances Ingram would have seen it, if they did not purchase copies. So the Little Temple might well have been a variation on a currently fashionable exemplar – small temple with an unusual order, on a theme of eight winds – but the capitals are not exact copies of those on the Athenian Tower, the entablature and pediment are much reduced, and those Gothic shafts still need some explaining!

Alternatively, could the Little Temple be a deliberate attempt at a Garden Order, referencing Claudian dreams of Antiquity or the Garden of Eden, or Alexander Pope’s “amiable Simplicity of Unadorned Nature”?  Might it even be a light-hearted visual pun, using long-leaved “Roman Lettuce” (lattuga romana, Cos or Romaine today), to link Antiquity with the Garden? This is not so far fetched, as Capability Brown’s expansive schemes for country estates frequently included detailed provision for orchards and vegetable plots to supply the tables of the great houses (as here at Temple Newsam), and in 1772 William Chambers would make disparaging (and pointedly competitive) reference to Brown, complaining that “this Island is abandoned to kitchen gardeners well skilled in the culture of salads”.

Might it have been intended as a reflection on the Origin of Architecture itself, inspired perhaps by such as the frontispiece illustration of the Primitive Hut in the 1757 edition of Marc-Antoine Laugier’s “Essai sur l’Architecture”? [24]   Widely discussed at the time, this work on architectural theory by a French priest (not a designer) considered the possible fusion of Gothic and Classical ideals. Laugier reiterated that the parts of an architectural Order are the parts of the building itself, that they not only adorn but actually constitute the building. He argued that columns (not pilasters) were natural and correct according to Greek precedent, as well as rational (being slimmer), and Gothic churches were clearly models of rational stone structures (in form, if not in decoration). Laugier also did not consider the Vitruvian (and Serlian) set of Orders as final – they were open to improvements and even invention of composed orders.

Laugier’s theories made quite an impact on the Continent and JF Dauthe (for example) may have been applying Laugier’s ideas in his later (1784) extensive redecorations, classicizing the 12th century Romanesque and 16th century Gothic Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. [25] This combines tall single leaf palmette/acanthus leaf capitals (not unlike those on the Little Temple) above conventionally fluted classical shafts, but supporting extravagantly foliated embellishments to the old Gothic rib vault springings above.

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?

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.


The small classical temple was, of course, a favourite element in such a recomposed 18th century aristocratic landscape, whether by William Kent or Capability Brown or one of their rivals. But this Little Temple, while appearing conventional at a distance, is highly unusual in its detail. It seems both erudite and naughty, a mannerist intrusion into the correct Palladian world of mid-18th century northern elite society, and several decades after the demise of Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor’s “English Baroque Unruliness”. Yet its capitals are quite restrained and, while naturalistic, are by no means wholeheartedly Rococo in the contemporary French or south German manner.

So who designed it?

An exact build date, more precise than between 1763 and 1774, would help to narrow the field but, from what is known so far, the following at least were possible.

Possible Designers

(a) It was designed and drawn in detail by Capability Brown (1716-83) himself. [35] Originally from Northumberland, with its spacious moorland scenery, he had learnt as a young man the practical essentials of his trade: gardening, siting, earth and water management, surveying and drawing. By 1766 he was 50 and at the height of his powers and fame as a landscape gardener and architect, working across England, and having been appointed Master Gardener to King George III in 1764. Although largely self-educated, ambitious and forthright, he was also sufficiently urbane to win genuine respect from such as Horace Walpole, who commended him as “a very able master” with “great integrity in his dealings”, from his clients such as Lord Chatham (Pitt the Elder) and Lord Coventry, and from Humphrey Repton, Brown’s successor as landscape designer to the fashionable and educated rich. Brown’s landscape designs were generally deemed Beautiful – with smooth curving paths and serpentine lakes, following Hogarth’s Line of Beauty – rather than Sublime, as there are few heart-stopping “surprises” and little “terror” in his gardens. Only a few years earlier, in 1757, the young Edmund Burke had established his literary reputation with “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful”, which neatly classified the characteristics of Sublimity and Beauty, so defining those words that by the 1760s were in familiar use discussing natural scenery and architecture (and as used in the 1767 poem on Brown’s work for Viscount Irwin at Temple Newsam – see Appendix 2).

Being so busy, did Brown make and sketch the design choices, but have an assistant do the necessary detail drawings for construction? The work at Temple Newsam for Charles and Frances Ingram was clearly a major commission for Brown, and he was heavily involved here from 1762 until after 1770, with a full-time foreman. This was not just a “survey and plans”, providing a design for the owners to execute by themselves. Brown as Head Gardener and Clerk of Works at Stowe for ten years had worked with and learned his  architecture from William Kent and then from James Gibbs, both well-travelled and intellectual designers, and both with a taste for the Baroque and the Gothic as well as for conventional Palladianism. Elsewhere, at Corsham and Blenheim etc, Brown designed stables and other subsidiary buildings in a Gothic style reminiscent of Kent, and he would have seen Batty Langley’s books on the Gothick. But nothing quite like this incongruous combination of styles has been traced in Brown’s other works, or elsewhere.

Brown may not have been a “bookish” person, rather perhaps one who absorbed theories more from discussions with his mentors and most educated clients, but who responded to particular images and illustrations and recalled them for later use. He had not travelled to Italy or France, but did make use of pattern books for architectural detail, such as the Chinese Bridge at Croome in 1755, taken from an illustration in William Halfpenny’s “Improvements in Architecture and Carpentry” of the year before. In 1768 Brown provided the Sphinx Gates for Temple Newsam (which combine Roman forms with Egyptian motifs), but that design is clearly copied closely from Lord Burlington’s drawing for Chiswick House, published in 1735 by Isaac Ware. Any plagiarism need not have troubled Brown, as Burlington had died in 1753, Halfpenny in 1754, and copyright law was still in its infancy.

(b) One of Brown’s assistants drew it out from his sketch - either John Spyers (Spires), surveyor of Temple Newsam for Brown, or Thomas Beard, assistant to Brown from 1764, or William Stones, Brown’s foreman on these works, or Thomas White or Nathaniel Richmond or Samuel Lapidge. If so, then the assistant drew it up and supervised the construction, but to Brown’s (or another’s) idea, as the stylistic clash would surely have been seen as too radical or “wrong” otherwise.

(c) The young Henry Holland (1745-1806) designed it. Holland was 21 in 1766, the son of a master builder. By 1771 he would become the business partner of Brown and in 1773 marry Brown’s daughter Bridget, so this could be a “daring design proposed by a bright young protégé coming on fast”. Holland studied French architecture, but through books rather than by visits. Holland soon became a most successful architect in London, with John Soane as his pupil from 1772 to 78 (and Soane would become the most extreme and erudite impacter of contrasting styles, in his “Monk’s Parlour” at Lincolns Inn Fields and elsewhere in the 1790s-1820s).

(d) Charles and Frances Irwin themselves [36] - the client, educated amateurs (dilettanti), playing an erudite and naughty game, slipping Gothic shafts and eccentric acanthus capitals into an etiolated temple form for this toy building? Were they combining mediaeval Gothic elements in a Classical form, as a reversed mirror in miniature of Temple Newsam House itself, the Little Temple as a gazebo for a fine Tudor house that had been heavily classicised? If so, did they have one of their architects do the necessary detailed drawing as an elaborate jest? From all accounts, Frances was the equal or main driving force for the improvements to the Park, besides providing much of the necessary funds, and she “had a taste for the Gothic”. This is instanced in the Gothic Room redecorated for her in 1758-60, and in the florid Gothick script chosen for her monogram “FI” on the fine set of Chippendale hall chairs. In 1765 she had had to overcome Charles’ reluctance expressed in his letter to her: “I have met Brown and am absolutely determined to do nothing at the Temple (Newsam)”.

Charles and Frances had purchased in 1765 their own Claude Lorraine painting “Pastoral Landscape” (Temple Newsam Guide p84), which does include a ruined temple but one with correct Ionic columns. For Frances, as in her letter to her close friend Lady Susan Stewart in December 1766, this painting was “my beauteous Claude where the scene always enchants me, the trees are green, the water placid and serene and the air has a warmth very comfortable. Altogether it is just as one’s mind should be, no boundless passions or turbulent ambition to perturb one’s breast but the stream of life to flow peacefully and unruffled, sometimes through flowery meads and sometimes through the thorny brake till at length it reaches the ocean of eternity.”

Other Hypotheses

Other designers were considered but may be discounted –

(e) John Carr of York, (1723-1807) 43 in 1766, the fashionable architect who was working contemporaneously on the main house for Viscount Irwin in 1762-68 while Brown reformed the Park, and who produced a drawing for a Keeper’s Lodge (possibly the East Lodges, demolished in the 1940s). A sketch for the Little Temple might conceivably have also been offered as a “taster”, but Carr’s work is normally the most conservative and accurate Classical and he does not play games; and he would also have been trespassing on another’s commission unless specifically invited by Lord Irwin. No mention of the Little Temple has been traced so far in his papers.

(f) Robert Adam (1728-1792), the charming and even more fashionable architect, 44 in 1772, when he drew proposals for alteration and rebuilding of the South wing at Temple Newsam for Viscount Irwin and his wife Frances. Adam had published his book and spectacular drawings of the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s ruined palace at Spalatro in 1764 but, while he was not averse to supplanting another architect, he may have considered it beneath his dignity to do a small and apparently architecturally illiterate garden folly, even if as a “taster” for a wealthy potential client.

(g) James Wyatt (1746-1813), the most wayward by some distance of the extensive Wyatt dynasty of architects/surveyors/builders, who in 1777 was paid to build a new staircase in the main house at Temple Newsam. That itself was replaced in 1894, although the wrought iron balustrade designed by Wyatt survives in the house, re-used on the “Stone Staircase”, but the botanical motifs there bear little or no resemblance to the Little Temple’s columns. James Wyatt was a vivid character, trained in Italy and back in England from 1768, who made his reputation in 1772 with The Pantheon in London (a painting of which by William Hodges and James Pars was later acquired and hangs now at Temple Newsam.) His polished manners won him many commissions, but then his dilatory and negligent administration frequently resulted in trouble. He was an accomplished draughtsman, but “had no principles in his art”. Although well versed in Classical architecture, he had also acquired better knowledge of authentic mediaeval prototypes than most of his rivals, and as early as 1771/72 executed partly Gothic remodelling at Beaudesert (Staffs) for the Earl of Uxbridge. Much later he would be the architect for William Beckford’s vast folly mansion of Fonthill (built 1796-1812, partial collapse 1825) – ecclesiastical Gothic applied to secular Picturesque purposes. But, in seeking to “improve” Gothic by removing those accidental excrescences so characteristic of ancient buildings, he became vilified as “Wyatt the Destroyer” for his cavalier alterations to many fine old cathedrals and churches. The Little Temple and its order is architecturally wilful enough to be by James Wyatt, but not likely if it was put up before 1776.

(h) James Paine (1716-1789), 50 in 1766, a Palladian but one who would stretch into other styles. He started his architectural career in the North of England, at Nostell Priory in the 1740s, at Doncaster and Wakefield in 1745, Stockeld Park and Kedleston in 1758/60, Bramham Park in 1760, and provided a (Vitruvian) Egyptian interior for Worksop Manor in 1763. But from 1746 Paine was increasingly successful, working across England and resident in London, and no evidence has been found of a connection to Temple Newsam. Paine was also disparaging about Robert Wood’s works on Palmyra and Baalbec as “curious rather than useful”, and on Stuart and Revett’s on Athens as “despicable ruins”.

(j) William Johnson (? -1795), an architect in Leeds and designer of the Third White Cloth Hall in 1776. After schemes for alterations to the main house by R Adam, J Carr, LC Brown (and others?) had been drawn and considered and rejected, Johnson eventually carried out in 1792-96 a re-casing of the south wing of Temple Newsam House for Frances, after 1778 a widow. Johnson was local of course, and therefore probably cheaper and would do what he was told….

Four others had eliminated themselves –

(k) William Etty of York, who worked with Hawksmoor at Castle Howard and had done both alterations to the main house and earlier garden enhancements at Temple Newsam in 1710-15; he had been the architect in Leeds for the Moot Hall 1710 and Holy Trinity Church 1722-27, but had died in 1734.

(l) William Kent himself, a pioneer of picturesque gardening in the 1730s at Chiswick for Lord Burlington and at Rousham for General Dormer, and quite fanciful enough to play such stylistic games, but who had died in 1748. Kent had on occasion selected Gothic features which appealed to him as characteristic and decorative and then arranged them conformably to his classically trained taste, but in John Harris’ words “associational Gothic, not revivalistic”. In 1735 Kent had built Merlin’s Cave in Richmond Old Park, Surrey, for the learned and sophisticated Queen Caroline – a combination of a Palladian symmetrical form with a thatched roof, a Gothic ogee doorway, and “tree trunk” columns internally. Such knowing architectural transgression stirred criticism, abuse, satire, lampoons, and (even) praise. Brown had been Kent’s assistant in some of the magnificent garden works for Lord Cobham at Stowe in the 1740s. But in 1770, Brown, re-landscaping the Old Park at Richmond, would demolish Merlin’s Cave, to further satirical blame from the Reverend William Mason in his “Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers, Knight”:  

To Richmond come; for see, untutor'd Brown
Destroys those wonders which were once their own;
Lo! From his melon-ground the peasant slave
Has rudely rush'd, and levelled Merlin's Cave;
Knocked down the waxen wizard, seized his wand,
Transform'd to lawn what late was fairy-land,
And marr'd, with impious hand each sweet design
Of Stephen Duck and good Queen Caroline.

So maybe Brown by then was less respectful of his mentor’s ideas and creations, and indeed most of his park layouts do simplify Kent, losing much of the older man’s subtle variation and layering as well as his erudite embellishments taken from the antique.

(m) James Gibbs, draughtsman and clerk-of-works for Lord Burlington in the 1730s, assistant to Nicholas Hawksmoor at Castle Howard in 1737, and who had met the young Brown at Wallington. As an architect Garrett had done fine work at Temple Newsam in 1738-45, but he had died in 1753.

(n) James Gibbs, who had designed many ornamental and erudite garden buildings for Lord Cobham at Stowe, including the Gothic Temple of 1741-4 dedicated “To the Liberty of our Ancestors”; as Clerk of Works Brown would have been involved in their construction, and he was impressed by Gibbs’ professionalism. But Gibbs was an outsider, as a Catholic Jacobite Scot who had trained in Italy with Carlo Fontana (singled out with Bernini for derision as “affected and licentious” by Colen Campbell in “Vitruvius Britannicus” in 1715). The Jacobite Earl of Mar, an early client and sponsor of Gibbs, had been permanently exiled for his leading part in the 1715 rebellion. Gibbs was excluded from Burlington’s coterie of artists and designers aiming to create a new British architecture based mostly on their simplified understanding of Palladio’s buildings and writings from two centuries earlier. Undaunted, Gibbs published his very successful “Book of Architecture” in 1728, a pattern book for architects and clients which he introduced as “such a work as would be of use to such Gentlemen as might be concerned in Building, especially in the remote parts of the Country, where little or no assistance for designs can be procured”.  Architecturally, Gibbs took forward many of Wren’s ideas, and by his manifest talent made a successful career, building for the Church, the Universities, and country houses for wealthy Tories. Although Brown may have learnt much from Gibbs at Stowe and there are parallels in the siting and detail between the Gothic Temple there and the Little Temple, the older man had died in 1754 and is not known to have worked at Temple Newsam.

One can surely also discount “unconsciously naïve or ignorant” combinations by a local  mason/builder, or frugal re-use of architectural fragments salvaged from elsewhere, as Charles Ingram and Capability Brown would have been insulted by that, and it would only have invited ridicule from their circles of learned friends and from respectable visitors viewing the park. While not intellectual creatives with the talent and sophistication of a Hawksmoor or Kent, Charles and Frances were clearly educated and well travelled and able to appreciate the subtleties of design and precedent. Charles Ingram’s uncle Henry, the 7th Viscount and Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding, who died in 1761, was a subscriber to James Gibbs 1728 “Book of Architecture”, owned other books on the art by Pozzo and Perrault (and probably editions of Vitruvius, Isaac Ware and Andrea Palladio), and had been an initial subscriber to Lord Burlington’s Assembly Rooms in York in 1732. In 1746 he had Daniel Garrett magnificently remodel the interior of the Picture Gallery at Temple Newsam. Henry’s scheme “was to record his ancestors’ political loyalty to the English Crown, and to create a forest of mythology, inhabited by gods of the pagan world, in which his family (represented by the portraits of the living and the dead) were also to be found.” One of the overmantel paintings there, by Antonio Joli and known as “The Pool of Bathsheba”, is an architectural fantasy with a rather Venetian combination of classic Ionic corbels side by side with gothic trefoil and quatrefoil windows. The Georgian Library of 1740-43, also by Daniel Garrett for Henry Ingram and using an elegant and most correct Corinthian Order, is an exquisite retreat for an educated gentleman or woman, and the Little Temple was later positioned in the prospect from its great bay window. [2]

Politically, the Ingrams’ forbears in the 1640/50s Civil War between Parliament and King had been in both camps, and it is thought that in 1664 Charles II created Henry Ingram the 1st Viscount at the age of just 23 as reward for his support at a critical time. In 1688 the Glorious Revolution (a Protestant coup d’état) had evicted King James II in favour of William and Mary, and in 1714 on the death of Queen Anne the Whig aristocracy and parliament had invited the Elector of Hanover Georg Ludwig (only 52nd in line to the throne, but safely Protestant) to become King of Great Britain and Ireland. Many still remained loyal to the Stuarts as well as to the Old Religion, though the Old Pretender’s invasion failed in 1715. Throughout these most uncertain times to have known Jacobite sympathies could incur loss of employment, of office, of estates, or even exile or execution.

But by the 1760s the Jacobite threat was fading in England after the comprehensive defeat of the 1745 rebellion, and  there is no indication that the Ingrams now were other than loyal to the Hanoverian Crown. Charles Ingram was MP for Horsham and from 1757 a Groom of the Bedchamber to the young Prince of Wales (who succeeded his grandfather as George III in 1760). Charles was thus one of the inner circle of trusted courtiers for those years, but never a member of the administrations of Pitt the Elder or Lord Bute. Indeed, his sympathies sound more Tory than Whig. Britain and France were rival powers, and John Dixon Hunt quotes Stephen Switzer in his “Ichnographia Rustica” (1718, republished in 1742): “It is therefore England’s duty to surpass ‘France our great Competitor’ in garden arts as in arms”. France, the Catholic Jacobites and some Tories looked back to the glories of Imperial Rome, but England, the Protestant Hanoverians and most Whigs looked back to Republican Rome and the origins of democracy in Greece. One sought authority for an absolutist monarchy, the other for a limited monarchy balanced by a parliament. While there was British interest in the archaeological discoveries of Greek and Roman antiquities, the relationship with France was more conflicted. French may have been the shared language of the educated classes across Europe but, following the demise of Louis XIV in 1715, the manifest achievements of Grand Siècle France politically, culturally and aesthetically were being challenged during the reign of the indolent and frivolous Louis XV. The Seven Years War (1756-63) had resulted in sweeping gains for the British Empire at the expense of the French, both in India and in North America, and it is possible to see this as a time of great confidence in British culture, with the fine country houses and parks such as Temple Newsam but one local expression.

Charles (from 1763 the 9th Viscount) and Frances were clearly passionate collectors of real discrimination, and their art collection included paintings by Titian, Claude, Poussin, Watteau, Rubens and Rembrandt (sadly, since dispersed). Their home was one of the great houses in the north of England and, as Dorothy Stroud says, “in its heyday (ie the later 18th century) Temple Newsam was considered to be one of the great English landscapes”. Frances, as a widow, may have been more cautious in spending large sums on building projects, and even perhaps less scrupulous stylistically than Charles in her “Brownifications” – a metaphor she used both for creating gardens for the good life à la Claude, and also for the muddy mess Brown’s landscaping team made for three or more years. But the Little Temple appears to have been built well before the 9th Viscount’s death in 1778, and so it should be considered a joint enterprise.

What was built and paid for must have been considered and deliberate.

 The Model Used

By far the closest design match found is Batty Langley’s Fourth Order of the Gothic Architecture with (the capital from) the Second Entablature, as shown in Plates X and XII of his “Ancient Architecture Restored…” [37  and 38, compare with 8, 9 and 10]. Indeed  the Little Temple’s Order appears to be a direct copy from those designs published in 1742/47, but with Langley by now safely dead. Brown (or Charles and Frances Ingram) has only varied it by simplifying the entablature, substituting a squared egg-and-dart abacus, and with a meaner base and no collars to the shafts.  The main form of the eight vertical acanthus leaved capital over an eight colonnette shaft is exactly as in Langley’s engraved design.

Batty Langley (1696-1751) had followed his father’s profession as a gardener and nurseryman, then moved into landscape design with his “arti-natural” style. [39]  He published many popular pattern books, which reflected his tastes for irregularity and mazes in gardens and for Gothic architecture. Despite his enthusiasm (he named four of his sons Vitruvius, Archimedes, Euclid, and Hiram – this last the architect of Solomon’s Temple, prominent in Masonic tradition), he had little success as a practising architect, so made a living chiefly by his architectural and gardening publications. Two most popular were “New Principles of Gardening” 1728, and “Ancient Architecture Restored and Improved by a Great Variety of Grand & Ufefull Designs, Entirely New in the Gothick Mode for the Ornamenting of Buildings and Gardens, Exceeding every Thing that’s Extant” 1742, which was republished in 1747 as “Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions in many Grand Designs…Temples and Pavilions etc”.   This tried to make Gothic Architecture (or native Saxon, as Langley preferred to call it) intelligible and respectable to an age brought up on the classical orders, and thereby improve both the status of British craftsmen and the country’s architecture. On Plate I of the 1742 volume Batty Langley announces “We shall first exhibit five new Orders of Columns, Plain and Enriched, and then shew their use in the Forming of Designs…in the Gothick manner”.

The historian John Summerson’s assessment was that “Batty Langley’s designs do not plagiarise Kent, and although the spirit of them is Kentian (especially as regards the reduction of Gothic columns to equivalents of the five orders) their detail shows first hand acquaintance with authentic examples including Westminster Abbey. Technically, the designs are quite able, in the sense that the distribution of enrichments and the moulded profiles show a mind not insensible to the grammar of classical design. The Gothic of Kent and Langley was, fundamentally, a free variation of classical forms constituting not an imitation but an equivalent of Gothic. The Gothic enjoyed a freedom in the middle 18th century somewhat akin to the Rococo which, from across the Channel, sent occasional eddies of influence across Palladian England.” But Summerson ultimately deems that “Langley’s claim to have recovered the lost rules of Gothic (was) fatuous”.

Batty Langley was also an active Freemason, and there do seem to be strongly patriotic British aspects to his promotion of these Gothic Orders – in effect attempting a form of National Order. The literature of Freemasonry has much to say on the esoteric significance of the classical orders but little on Gothic, unless one takes a diversion amongst those websites that argue it was a secret or suppressed. But, whilst patriotic, neither Charles Ingram nor Brown were known to be active Freemasons. Batty Langley had also published in 1728 “A Sure Method of improving Estates, by plantations of Oak, Elm, Ash etc”, with his warning to combat the threatened timber shortage that “our nation will be entirely exhausted of building timber before sixty years are ended”. So planting trees would be profitable for the estate owners and enhance their parks, as well as being a patriotic act (future supplies of oak for the Royal Navy) and expressing confidence in the future.

Brown’s unabashed and unamended copying of resolved architectural designs by others, both here for the Little Temple’s Order and also for the Sphinx Gates, suggests that by the 1760s he was more interested in the grander scale art of composition of ground, contours, trees, water and views, and much less in the architectural programme or detail of buildings such as temples within the whole than his mentors William Kent and James Gibbs would have been in the 1730s and 40s. Brown’s schemes demonstrate broad and gentle effects with some Associationism, but show less concern with complex historical references and their erudite meanings. Indeed, his Temple Newsam parkland design is remarkable for its lack of iconographic statuary, by comparison with antique Roman, or Italian, French, Dutch and English grand gardens up to the 1740s. The presiding Roman deities have now gone: no Jupiter, Hercules, Pan, Vulcan, Venus or Diana. Very possibly one reason for Brown’s success was that his garden designs were seen as cheaper to construct and to maintain, and perhaps also the classical resonances no longer mattered so much to educated society with the advance of Enlightenment Science. Yet, if the Little Temple was still intended to be an element of Man’s Art as a counterpoint to the (albeit created) Natural Landscape, it has been executed very modestly, almost half-heartedly. An essential difference between Kent and Brown is that the former used architectural, sculptural and garden precedents to ignite even better design ideas, while the latter seemed more often content just to make an accurate copy of a suitable borrowed detail. Imaginatively, if Kent was Air and Fire, Brown was Earth and Water. Little written evidence seems to have survived to explain the theoretical, aesthetic or philosophical underpinnings of Brown’s designs in detail; but it is doubtful that in using the Gothic Order here that Brown really shared Langley’s apparent ambition to rebalance the esteem and authority of mediaeval architecture and culture that had been deemed inferior by the Renaissance to the grandeur and sophistication of recovered Greek and Roman texts and artefacts. Indeed, in contrast to the more artistic and learned Kent, Brown’s priority seems to have been to maximise his profit from all his undoubtedly arduous long distance travels, and to be an efficient man of business – with some success as his net annual income in the 1760s was about £15,000, and in 1767 he was able to buy the Manor of Fen Stanton from Lord Northampton for £13,000, a huge sum for that time. One also wonders whether Batty Langley, himself a great plagiarist of others’ ideas and designs, would have felt aggrieved, or pleased that his design was being realised in stone?

Brown’s career over 50 years shows him adapting flexibly to his clients’ different stylistic wishes and financial resources, proposing but not imposing ideas. His work in the 1760s at Temple Newsam for Frances Ingram could be as that described by a later client Elizabeth Montagu of Sandleford in 1781, “Mr Brown has not neglected any of (its) capabilities. He is forming it into a lovely pastoral – a sweet Arcadian scene. In not attempting more, he adapts his scheme to the character of the place and my purse. We shall not erect temples to the gods, build proud bridges over humble rivulets, or do any of the marvellous things suggested by the caprice, and indulged by the wantonness of wealth.”

Considering all the above, my belief is that Capability Brown did design the curious Little Temple (see (a), Possible Designers), not uninfluenced by Kent’s or Gibb’s flights of fancy, and directly incorporating Batty Langley’s Fourth Gothic Order and Second Entablature capital within the classical pedimented form of a modest tetrastyle temple. The classical temple form would declare England’s recreation of the finest antique traditions, while Gothic detail would remind visitors of native English values, and his knowledgeable clients must have been party to this game, however seriously it was now being played.

Clearly, the owners and designers of the great houses and estates from the 16th century onwards often felt they had greater licence in the architecture and ornament of such smaller garden embellishments than that for the main Villa or Mansion. As a corrective to seeking overly recondite origins for this unusual design, one should perhaps bear in mind Barbara Jones’ warning, in discussing the emergence of the Romantic movement in poetry and painting and then in architecture - “Most follies were built during the 18th and early 19th centuries and were, with their landscapes, the subject of much theorizing by those interested in the Picturesque.  Influence is a sufficiently difficult word to use of professionals, who, one can be reasonably certain, do see another’s work. But with follies, everything is so unsure; Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor and Kent built some of the very earliest follies, and then the amateurs (including here not only Pope and Walpole, but also perhaps the Ingrams themselves) largely took over, and who knows what they saw and worked for, with whose aid and how; it is easy to oversimplify, and follies are by no means simple but the result of many fuddled “influences”. … such uncharitable things as “a nice change” must be responsible for a lot of follies. A gothic nonsense in the park is a change from a large Palladian house; everyone is logical, everyone is sentimental, there is no need to tie a folly to a poem – it is much better to enjoy them both as they are.”


The Little Temple has been fenced off from public access for many years “for safety reasons and to deter vandalism” (Leeds CC).

It is clearly in urgent need of conservation and repair. At first sight, the following issues are apparent. [40, 41, 42]

Sandstone – some damage – large flake from south column, some corners of abacuses are missing, erosion and impact damage, with moss/lichen at bases.

Stone Plinth – cracking, with moss and lichen.

Brick/render – cracked, spalled, recent graffiti

Timber entablature/pediments/roof – lost paint, water ingress, broken and rotting timbers.

Footings may be affected by nearby tree roots, including the mature Beech only 3m from the northeast corner, and possibly also by 1940s opencast mining “to within 20m”.

A paint sample scrape and recording of the oldest layers and tints would be advisable before all is irretrievably lost.

A fabric inspection report by ADS for Leeds CC in 2004 seen appears to be thorough, and the works then recommended generally appropriate. The Little Temple was due to be reinspected in 2014 and, after another 10 years of weathering and decay, prompt action will be even more imperative.


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.

Appendix 1: The National Heritage List for England entry

Little Temple EH Listing

Appendix 2: Extract from Dorothy Stroud: “Capability Brown” (1975)

The year 1767 was also to see the appearance of a long and anonymous* poem entitled The Rise and Progress of the Present Taste in Planting Parks, Pleasure Grounds, Gardens, etc, from Henry the Eighth to King George III, dedicated to Charles 9th Viscount Irwin. Although the work at Temple Newsam was by this time well advanced, it is nevertheless puzzling that Lord Irwin, who was not an outstanding public figure, should have been the object of this tribute. The poem itself is not without merit, but its particular interest in the present context lies in its references both to the changes at Temple Newsam and to three of Brown’s other recent works. Of Temple Newsam it says:, my Lord, at Temple Newsam find,
The charms of Nature gracefully combin'd,
Sweet waving hills, with wood and verdure crown'd,
And winding vales, where murmuring streams resound:
Slopes fring'd with Oaks which gradually die away,
And all around romantic scenes display.
Delighted still along the Park we rove,
Vary'd with Hill and Dale, with Wood and Grove:
O'er velvet Lawns what noble prospect rise,
Fair as the scenes, that Ruben's hand supplies.
But when the Lake shall these sweet Groves adorn
And light expanding like the eye of Morn
Reflect whate'er above its surface rise,
The Hills, the Rocks, the Woods, and varying Skies.
Then will the wild and beautiful combine
And Taste and Beauty grace your whole Design.

Of Brown’s work in general he was equally effusive, likening him to a painter of living scenes, comparable to the great masters:

At Blenheim, Croome and Caversham we trace
Salvator's wildness, Claude's enlivening grace,
Cascades and Lakes as fine as Risdale drew
While Nature's vary'd in each charming view.
To paint his works wou'd Poussin's Powers require,
Milton's sublimity and Dryden's fire.
Born to Grace Nature, and her works complete
With all that's beautiful, sublime and great!
For him each Muse enwreathes the Laurel Crown,
And consecrates to Fame immortal Brown.

[* now thought, by Jane Brown, to be by Sidney Swinney FRS]


Jane Brown, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, The Omnipotent Magician, 1716-1783, 2011

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757

William Chambers, A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, 1772

Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director, 1754

Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 2008, 4th ed

James Stevens Curl, Encyclopaedia of Architectural Terms, 1992

Banister Fletcher,  A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method, 1961, 17th ed

Terry Friedman, LAC 76  1975  The Georgian Library at Temple Newsam

Christopher Gilbert, LAC 53  1964  Park and Gardens at Temple Newsam

Jon Gregory, Sarah Spooner, Tom Williamson, Lancelot “Capability” Brown: A Research Impact Review, prepared for English Heritage by the Landscape Group at University of East Anglia, 2013

Wm & John Halfpenny, “Rural Designs in the Gothic Taste”, 1752

John Harris, A Passion for Building: The Amateur Architect in England 1650-1850, 2007

Gill Hedley, Capability Brown and the Northern Landscape, Exhibition Catalogue, Tyne & Wear CC Museum and The Landscape Institute, 1983

Wolfgang Herrmann, Laugier & 18C French Theory, 1962

David Hill, LAC 89, 1981, Archives & Archaeology at TN House

David Hill, LAC 93, 1983, Pictorial Anthology of Temple Newsam

John Dixon Hunt & Peter Willis, The Genius of the Place,1975/1988

John Dixon Hunt, Garden & Grove: The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination 1600-1750, 1986/1996

John Dixon Hunt, William Kent: Landscape garden designer, 1987

Barbara Jones, Follies & Grottoes, 1974

Batty Langley,  New Principles in Gardening, 1728

Batty Langley, A Sure Method of improving Estates, by plantations of Oak, Elm, Ash, etc, 1728

Batty Langley, Ancient Architecture Restored and Improved by a Great Variety of Grand & Ufefull Designs, Entirely New in the Gothick Mode for the Ornamenting of Buildings and Gardens, Exceeding every Thing that’s Extant, 1742

Batty Langley, Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions in many Grand Designs…Temples and Pavilions etc, 1747

Marc-Antoine Laugier, Essai sur l’Architecture, 1757

James Lomax, Temple Newsam Guide Book, 2000

 James Lomax, Pictures at Temple Newsam, 2000

James Lomax, Temple Newsam: Articles, a select bibliography (unpub), Nov 2004

James Lomax,  British Silver at Temple Newsam and Lotherton Hall, 1999

James Lomax, Correspondence of Frances Ingram and Lady Susan Stewart (a selection, unpub), 2014

Robert Morris, Lectures in Architecture,1734

Timothy Mowl, William Kent, architect, designer, opportunist, 2006

Charles Normand, Parallel of the Orders, ed RA Cordingley, 1818/1829/1928/1959

Andrea Palladio, I Quattro Libri dell’ Architettura, 1570, English ed, I Ware,1738, as Four Books of Architecture

Nikolaus Pevsner, Outline of European Architecture, 1943/1960, 6th ed

Nikolaus Pevsner, Buildings of England: Yorkshire West Riding (Leeds, Bradford and the north), 1953, Rev ed by Peter Leach, 2009

Joseph Rykwert, The Dancing Column, 1996

Joseph Rykwert, On Adams House in Paradise, 1972

Sebastiano Serlio, Five Books of Architecture,  English ed by Robert Peake, 1611

Arthur Stratton, The Orders of Architecture, 1931

Dorothy Stroud, Capability Brown, 1975

James Stuart & Nicholas Revett, “The Antiquities of Athens measured and delineated by JS FRS & FSA and NR, Painters and Architects”, Vol 1, 1762

John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, 1983 ed

Stephen Switzer,  Ichnographia Rustica, 1718/1742

Dr C Treen et al, TN Estate: Cultural Landscape Management Plan, c 2000, LAG/LMU

John Vardy, Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent, 1744

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, De Architectura  tr MH Morgan, Dover, 1914/1960 (there were numerous and famous editions of Vitruvius “The Ten Books of Architecture”, from the 1480s to the early 20th century)

Horace Walpole, History of the Modern Taste in Gardening, 1771

Robert Wood & James Dawkins, The Ruins of Palmyra, 1753

Robert Wood & James Dawkins, The Ruins of Baalbec, 1757

Thomas Wright, Six Original Designs for Arbours, 1755

Thomas Wright, Six Original Designs for Grottos, 1758

William Wright, Grotosque (sic) Architecture, or Rural Amusement consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections for Huts, Retreats, Summer and Winter Hermitages, Terminaries, Chinese, Gothic, and Natural Grottos, Cascades, Baths, Mosques, Moresque Pavilions, Grotesque and Rustic Seats, Green Houses etc…..with the method of executing them, 1767

List of illustrations

All of the illustrations are included as numerals boxed [ ] in text. Where website use of a copyright image has been refused, the reference location has been retained below, for information. To see a full gallery of illustrations to accompany this article, click here.

1. Capability Brown’s Plan for the works at Temple Newsam, 1762. See in Temple Newsam Guide p.83

2. Distant view of the Little Temple in the woods, looking east from the house. See in Temple Newsam Guide p.3

3. The Little Temple, from the north, with cage and adjacent Beech tree, July 2013. Michael L Devenish (MLD) Photo

4. The Little Temple, south side, July 2013. MLD Photo

5. The Little Temple, north side, plinths and bases, July 2013. MLD Photo

6. The Little Temple, rear (east side), timber pediment, July 2013. MLD Photo

7. The Little Temple, vent slots in pediment front, July 2013. MLD Photo

8. The Little Temple, west front, columns and pediment, July 2013. MLD Photo

9. The Little Temple, west front, column bases and plinths, July 2013. MLD Photo

10. The Little Temple, column capital, shaft top and timber entablature corner, July 2013. MLD Photo

11. Egyptian Palmiform capital. See in  J Rykwert OAHIP p167

12. The Little Temple, west front, “Araeostyle”, July 2013. MLD Photo

13. Typical Corinthian Order capital and entablature, from Palladio’s “I Quattro Libri…”  as in I Ware 1738 English edition, plate XXIV

14. “Augustine Hermitage” folly, from William Wright’s “Grotesque Architecture or Rural Amusement” 1767,  Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

15. Part of Courtyard elevation of the King’s Apartments for the projected Whitehall Palace in 1620s. Inigo Jones, as drawn by William Kent, and published by John Vardy in 1744. The illustration shows just three bays at first floor and parapet, to be above a larger ground floor with similar embellishments. This would have been a small part of a 32-bay circular courtyard, itself only about a tenth of the palace by the Thames. Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

16. “Tree Columns”, by Philibert de l’Orme LHS, and by Donato Bramante, the loggia of Basilica of St Ambrogio, Milan RHS.  See in J Rykwert OAHIP p 98

17. “Britannic Order”, by Robert Adam, in JS Curl EAT p 59

18. “Ammonite Order”, Old Kent Road, London, 1820s  from JS Curl EAT p 13

19. “Agricultural Order”, by WJ Donthorn for Thomas Coke Memorial Column at Holkham, Norfolk. JS Curl EAT p 8

20. “measuring the (correct!) Corinthian Order” in Rome.  Drawing by H Parke, c 1818. Postcard, Trustees of the Sir John Soane Museum

21. Robert Wood & James Dawkins “Ruins of Palmyra” 1753, Corinthian Order: pilaster, capital, entablature with acorn frieze. Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

22. Tower of the Winds, Athens. Bannister Fletcher AHoAotCM, 17th ed 1961 p 141

23. Tower of the Winds, Athens, detail of Order. A Stratton TOoA 1931, plate XII

24.  The Primitive Hut, frontispiece from M-A Laugier “Essai sur l’architecture” 1757,         From Wolfgang Hermann L&ECFT 1962, plate 4

25. St Nikolaikirche, Leipzig, interior column, classicized 1784 on Gothic from 12/16th century, Wikipedia Commons image

26. Temple of the Four Winds, Castle Howard, by John Vanbrugh. Postcard, W Scott

27. Ionic Temple, Rievaulx Terraces, by Thomas Robinson. 1758  photo for EH by D Garbutt, Images Of England website

28. Temple of Lead Lads, Bramham Park 1750s, by J Paine. Photo for EH by D Carr, Images Of England website

29. Bath House, Arnos Castle, Bristol by (unknown).  From Barbara Jones F&G p 64 (possibly a variation of B Langley’s Second Gothic Order?)

30. Sir James Hall: “Origins of Gothic Architecture”, See in J Rykwert OAHIP p 83

31. Thomas Chippendale, “Bed Pillars”, type c on Plate XXXIV from “The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director” 1762  (possibly also following B Langley?)

32. Silver Candlesticks, by John Barbe, 1765, item 174 in J Lomax BSATNALH 1999 p 157  (possibly following B Langley?)

33. Silver Candlesticks, by Robert Adam, 1767, item 175  in J Lomax BSATNALH 1999 p 158

34. Silver Candlesticks, by Edward Wakelin, 1771, item 176 in J Lomax BSATNALH 1999 p 160

35. Lancelot “Capability” Brown, portrait by Nathaniel Dance c 1769.  National Portrait Gallery, and Wikipedia Commons image.

36. Charles Ingram, 9th Viscount Irwin, and Frances Ingram, his wife, portraits by Benjamin Wilson. See in Temple Newsam Guide p 54

37. Batty Langley “Ancient Architecture Restored…etc” 1742/47  Plate X “The Fourth Order of the Gothick Architecture”  Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

38. Batty Langley “Ancient Architecture Restored…etc” 1742/47  Plate XII “A Second Gothick Entablature for Order IV”  Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

39. Batty Langley, portrait engraving, by J Carwitham. 1741. Google magnoliabox.

40. The Little Temple, 2013, south corner and base, damage and erosion. MLD Photo

41. The Little Temple, 2013, west plinth, erosion and nearby tree. MLD Photo

42. The Little Temple, 2013, south wall, damaged column and render. MLD Photo

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