Little Temple


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Temple Newsam Park, Leeds, LS15 9AJ


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Statutory Address:
Temple Newsam Park, Leeds, LS15 9AJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Garden eye-catcher and viewpoint in the form of a small prostyle temple, 1760s, most probably designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Sandstone and rendered brick, stone-slate roof with clay ridge tiles. A hybrid design mixing Gothic and classical detailing.

Reasons for Designation

Little Temple is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Designer: it is believed to have been designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown as part of his improvements to Temple Newsam carried out in the 1760s, and is an important example of his architectural work;

* Landscape setting: it is an excellent example of an eyecatcher in temple form designed as part of Brown's and the Ingrams' Arcadian vision for Temple Newsam, and influenced by Claude Lorrain's C17 paintings of ideal landscapes;

* Architectural interest: it has a unique design mixing Gothic and classical detailing believed to have derived from Batty Langley's Fourth Order of the Gothic Architecture and it is a rare surviving example of a built structure based on a Langley design.


Temple Newsam's history can be traced back to the C11 when it was owned by Ilbert de Lacy and is recorded as Neuhusam in the Domesday Book. From the C12-C14 the site was owned by the Knights Templar who built Temple Newsam Preceptory, but after the order was suppressed in 1308 it was seized by the Crown and later given to the Darcy family.

The Darcy family built Temple Newsam House in 1518, but thereafter followed a turbulent history of the estate being seized by the Crown several times during the C16. In 1622 the estate was sold to Sir Arthur Ingram, a London merchant, and the Ingram family, who were later created Viscounts Irwin. The Ingrams rebuilt the house over the following 20 years, incorporating part of the original Tudor building into the W wing. In 1636 a fire destroyed the E wing and it was subsequently demolished. The house was remodelled further between 1736-46.

In the 1760s Charles, 9th Viscount employed Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to re-design the landscape at Temple Newsam, although Brown's design was never fully implemented. Little Temple was built during these 1760s landscaping works as a garden eye-catcher and viewpoint. The temple is in the location of a rotunda shown on Brown's plan of 1762, which can be seen against a backdrop of woodland in views from the house. The temple is believed to have most probably been designed by Brown and was constructed as a changed design of the rotunda. Its design uses an unusual hybrid classical order possibly derived from the English garden designer Batty Langley's book 'Ancient Architecture Restored' published in 1742 and reissued in 1747 as 'Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions'.


Garden eye-catcher and viewpoint in the form of a small prostyle temple, 1760s, most probably designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Sandstone and rendered brick, stone-slate roof with clay ridge tiles. A hybrid design mixing Gothic and classical detailing.

LOCATION: the temple, which is effectively an open-fronted shelter, is located in the E section of the Temple Newsam parkland in a small clearing on a hill c700m E of the main house and above the southernmost Menagerie Pond. Originally the clearing was larger and the temple was clearly visible from the main house and E terrace, but vegetation has grown up since the late C20 and now largely obscures views from and to the temple.

DETAILS: the front elevation faces W towards the house and consists of a tetrastyle portico incorporating four tall slender sandstone columns with Gothic-style clustered shafts, unusual tall acanthus leaf capitals of no known Order, and an abacus at the top of each capital incorporating egg and dart moulding. The columns support a plain timber entablature and timber pediment with a boarded tympanum (paint remnants suggest that these were originally painted to imitate stone); the cornice and plain frieze of the entablature continue around to, and across, the side elevations. Unusually the four columns are unevenly spaced with the central space (accessed via two stone steps) being wider than the two side spaces. An attached column exists to each left (N) and right (S) side returns, with the rear half of each side return being a solid wall of rendered brick. The building is enclosed on the E side forming a rendered 'internal' rear to the shelter, and the floor is covered by C20 concrete screed. The building's external rear (E) wall is plain and rendered with a pediment in the same style as that to the front; the frieze on this side of the building is damaged and partly lost. The rear and side walls are set upon a brick and sandstone plinth. The roof structure, which is formed of kingpost trusses, is hidden from view by a ceiling and access is via a small square opening.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Leach, P, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, (2009), 543-548
Lynch, K, Eyres (Editor), P, 'Yorkshire Capabilities. The Yorkshire landscapes of Capability Brown' in New Arcadian Journal, , Vol. No.75/76, (2016), 64-69
'An Extraordinary Order. The LIttle Temple at Temple Newsam'. Report by M Devenish, 2014
Lancelot Brown, Plan of Improvements etc, 1762. Reproduction of the map available at Temple Newsam
Little Temple Condition Survey Report. By Architectural Design Services. February 2004. Available at Temple Newsam
Temple Newsam Estate Cultural Management Plan. 2000. Available at Temple Newsam


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 11 Sep 2000
Reference: IOE01/02956/16
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Steve Novak. Source Historic England Archive
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