By Eddie Blackwell
First A bit of the history of Temple Newsam House.

There are records of a Dwelling on this site dating back to the Doomsday Book (1086) approximately 100 years later the site was given to The Christian military organisation The Knights Templar until about 1200, it then passed on to the Darcy family who in the year 1500 built a new Manor House. The original recording in the doomsday book was Anglo-Saxon and spelt Neuthusam, and the name “Temple Newsam” derives from the Anglo-Saxon combine with Temple from The Knights Templar. It was in Royal hands for many years and was passed onto Henry the 8th’s niece and her son Henry (Lord Darnley) was born there in 1545, eventually he married Mary Queen of Scots and the house was sold into private hands. Sir Arthur Ingram bought it and it became his families main residence for almost 300 years, now it’s maintained and owned by The Leeds Corporation with covenants of sale to ensure its preservation for future generations.
Reputed to be the most haunted House in Yorkshire, apparitions seen are, the Blue Lady, a Monk in Brown Habit, a small boy who comes out of a cupboard, a young servant girl who was murdered on the premises, and on occasions howling screams come from the South Wing.
There are now Security Guards, on a round the clock watch to secure the premises which contains priceless treasures. It would be interesting to hear any stories they have to tell from the wee small hours, on these dark pitch black nights.

Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expeditions.
(when the clock chimes twelve)
Who remembers the No. 20 and 22 Trams, they both went up Selby Road the No. 20 terminus was at the Irwin Arms, (now Lidl) and if memory serves me correct it usually came back as a No. 15 Whingate. The No. 22 went on to its terminus at Temple Newsam and usually came back as the Corn Exchange. There’s now a running track you pass when you take the route the No. 22 Tram went to Temple Newsam, and just above the track a large car park. There used to be a tram stop outside where the car park is today, and in those bygone days, there were two large man made fresh water ponds, probably about 20 ft wide and 40 ft long they were not very deep ponds about 2 ft at the most. It’s said in the 1760’s Capability Brown England’s Greatest Gardener was employed by Viscount Irvine to remodel the grounds and gardens, they were probably ornamental ponds at one time, which had become overgrown and reclaimed by nature. They contained broken bricks and broken bottles all manner of debris as you would expect. Many kinds of wild life, sticklebacks, redbellies (males), frogs, tadpoles and newts, seaweed like plants. All types of insects, flies, blue bottles, bees, wasps, dragonflies, mosquitoes, earwigs, slugs, worms and snails lived in the surrounding habitat, and I recall going there with my older sister on the No. 22 Tram. We’d have a bottle of water or diluted orange, some jam/treacle sandwiches, and two large empty jam jars, string tied around the top, with two fishing nets on bamboo canes. We used to catch the tram opposite the old Library in York Road, a penny half as I recall. It was a great afternoon out on a sunny day, and there were always a lot more children of the same age. Anything we caught was always returned to nature before boarding the tram for home.

The Fairy Glen
It was there that I remember first hearing about the ghosts in and around Temple Newsam House, my sister used to try and cover my ears when they were telling the stories, she knew I’d be nervous, and probably scared, (well there was a war going on you know, a blackout and sirens going off in the night, then ghosts on top, the last straw that broke the camel’s back) but excited at the same time. They were all talking about a Blue Lady, and a figure in a Monk’s Habit, I didn’t want to be around there after dark thank you, sounded spooky to me at seven years old. Life went on as usual and I’d forgotten all about the ghosts of Temple Newsam within a few days.
School had restarted after the holidays, and there was talk that the war was reaching its conclusion, “V” day was on its way, and all those scary thoughts evaporated from the conscience mind with the prospect of your Dad being demobbed. When Dad Came home from the war in 1947, he took us all to Scarborough with his demob money. The first holiday we’d ever had, it was like a dream come true the world was full of ice cream and candy floss, the future was secure. Eventually the euphoria wore off and life was restored to a normal pace.
We moved houses in 1950 and went to live with my Grandad, in Osmondthorpe. At the weekends if conditions were reasonable, Dad and I would go walking late at night from the house where we lived, across Halton More and up into Temple Newsam via the bridle path, through the golf course, and around the grounds of the Mansion. We never experienced any sightings of the ghosts or the Blue Lady, although on one occasion looking in through the ground floor windows on the north side, we both felt a cold presence is the only way to describe it, nothing visual but we thought we were being observed. At that time there were no Night Guards or Security, and we peered through the windows into the blackness hoping to see a ghostly figure, but nothing ever transpired. Then we’d proceed on our way down Selby Road, onto our estate and back home to bed.
Some years later my Sister got married, and they bought a newly built house in the Dunhill Estate, at the bottom of Selby Road. A similar distance from Temple Newsam as from our house in Osmondthorpe. They had their family in that house, three daughters and a son. At the festive season it was our tradition on Christmas Eve to gather at their house exchange gifts for the children and have a few drinks in celebration of the forthcoming event. All the children were of course excited, and my Brother in law Roy, and I would take them out for a walk to let off steam, trying to tire them a little in the hopes that they would go to sleep when we got back, then we could have a quiet celebration. As you can imagine the destination was always Temple Newsam, we’d all have a race around the running track, then up to the House have a wander around looking through the windows then back home. On one occasion someone said they saw a light in one of the rooms, but I think it was his imagination at work we were all looking into the same room, and he was the only one to see anything.
This became an annual tradition for many years and eventually we were joined by the children’s friends in the local area. The Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expedition it became nicknamed and we’d always talk about seeing ghosts through the ground floor windows to add excitement to the walk, which was taking on the proportions of an adventure as the years passed, and the children became teenagers. Our races around the Running track continued, but became more and more competitive, as you would expect young legs were getting stronger and on one occasion I recall coming into the home straight and hearing footsteps pounding up behind me, and I was overtaken by the young boyfriend of one of my nieces. (they eventually got married and now have children of their own) Then it was up to the House to carry out our annual Ghost Busting visit. I remember one year by the South Wing we did hear some loud screams and we stood firm as a group, but it only takes one to break and we were off running like the wind, nobody beat me on that occasion, I stopped by the old Tram terminus and the group gathered all around, checking that everyone was there, but we had one missing, I instructed everyone to remain where they were with Roy, and made my way back to find the missing one, he’d fallen and hurt his knee, I helped him up and he was OK, but I’m sure I could hear a faint sound of cackling laughter coming from the South Wing. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and we hurried along to join the others at the terminus. Then we all made our way back to the estate as a group ensuring everyone got home safely.
Regrettably that was the last occasion for the Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expedition, all the children were growing older, and we weren’t getting any younger. My brother in law Roy who was always a co-partner on these adventures, passed away 26th July this year he was 84 years old. Whenever we met we would always reminisce about our midnight walks to Temple Newsam House with the children, we were never rich in monetary terms, but then you can’t buy the riches we shared.
Just to finish off I’ve written a short poem about Christmas, hope you like it.
Ed’s Ramblings.
Christmas Eve.
The night before Christmas all children in bed,
Pitch black outside and the pets have been fed,
Not even a whisper or a sigh from the trees,
And no flags are fluttering there isn’t a breeze,
A faint swish can be heard just now and then,
But it isn’t a sound that’s being made by men,
Santa is coming and he’s well on his way,
And has lots to do before the start of the day,
Rudolf is leading his nose is quite red,
But he’s not been drinking it must be said,
His nose is aglow with a feeling of cheer,
Excitement that Christmas day is so near,
Onward and onward we’ve got to keep going,
And it shines the way when his nose is glowing,
All over the World before the Sun shines it’s light,
Now it’s starting to snow it’s a wonderful sight,
Snowflakes are falling without making a sound,
There covering the landscape and all around,
The branches of trees are covered in snow,
The Moons peeping out there’s a silvery glow,
What a beautiful sight for the World to behold,
Keep warm everyone it’s getting terribly cold,
But hark there’s awakening as Santa draws near,
The cattle start lowing but there’s nothing to fear,
And your presents are left as he speeds on his away,
Then Old Jack Frost starts to spread Christmas day…

Thank you everyone Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to you all…

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. peterwwood Says:

    Great tale Eddie; how often do I thank my lucky stars that we have the stela Temple Newsam on our doorstep. You can walk around its broad acres for free and its a friend in good times and bad. We used to walk from Cross Green to Temp with a bottle of water as kids and now we can walk the dogs there as often as we like. I go at least once a week. When my daughter and her family comes up to Leeds from Bristol Temp is the first place they want to visit. Well done to ‘The Friends Of Temple Newsam’ who keep this lovely facility pristine.

  2. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Thanks for your kind comment Pete, we are indeed fortunate to have such a treasure on our doorstep, I remember as a small boy being carried on my Dads shoulders, and from the bridle path watching them play golf, and thinking what’s all the fuss about hitting a ball into a hole with a stick, only to realise in later years it wasn’t as easy as it looked….lol..

  3. Doug Farnill Says:

    A fabulous story Eddie, and Christmas poem too -your rhymes are perfect. I have a memory of being there at Temple Newsam just before the war. My brother Ron a few years older than I, had been given a sailing yacht with red sails. Just by the tram terminus there was a boating pond – my memory is vague but I seem to remember it was rectangular and concrete lined. Ron attempted to sail the yacht from one side to the other, but it got stuck – perhaps in weeds – and it was quite a task to recover it. I also have a vague memory of suits of armour inside the Mansion, and a tea room? I was there only in daylight and saw or heard no ghosts.

  4. peterwwood Says:

    Vera Belshaw wishes us all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year

  5. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Thank’s for your kind comment Doug, I vaguely remember a boating pond near the Tram Terminus, over towards the house behind where the car park is today, but the area has been re-landscaped since those days. It’s many years since I’ve been inside the Mansion, but I do recall the suits of Armour and Swords & Pikes along with other instruments of persuasion. The Tapestries, Paintings and Furnishings must be priceless now, and I was always intrigued by the signs that said not open to the Public, what treasures were hidden behind those doors…???.

  6. Edward Blackwell Says:

    A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you Vera, thanks for your Christmas greetings…x.

  7. Eric Says:

    An interesting bit of local history Eddie, adding some flesh to the bones of the house history. The pond I recollect was one stop down from the tram terminus, just above where the running track was later built (1950’s ?) & was a favourite spot for fishing ( & falling in). The other one I remember was way down past the front of the house , over the ornamental lake & into the wooded area running up to Bullerthorpe Lane. It was hidden from the footpath but the fish in there were so prolific, they seemed to volunteer to jump into your fishnet. I believe there was also a couple of ornamental fountains close to & behind the house . Do you recollect how the trams used to screech when turning round the tight circular track at the terminus?.
    I’d heard of the Blue Lady apparition & wasn’t there a “Blue Room” in the house after which she’d been named?. As with all such sightings, I suspect they were the result of an overactive imagination possibly fuelled by the demon alcohol , embellished as it was passed on through the generations. Yet it does lend mystery & intrigue to the history.

    I don’t recognise or recollect the Fairy Glen , where was that ?.Was it close to the stepped waterfall at the outlet from the lake ?.

    When our children were quite young , a regular summer Sunday early morning outing was to sit in the Rose Garden with bacon sandwiches & a flask of hot coffee – delightful.
    So, as others have said, we are indeed fortunate to have such a splendid facility on our doorstep

  8. peterwwood Says:

    Come on Audrey, compete our little group with your message. If you’re still having trouble with wordpress send it to me and I’ll put it on for you. Love to you from all of us.

  9. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Thanks for your kind comment Eric, yes the pond one stop down from the terminus was the same one that we used to fish in, and I remember the screeching of the trams as they turned the circle, and the pond out towards Bullerthorpe Lane although we always thought it was a bit spooky down there and my sister didn’t like going, I remember the ornamental fountains near the Mansion, but it had all been changed last time I was round there, and there was a Blue Room, probably still is. As for the Fairy Glen it doesn’t pertain to Temple Newsam at all, don’t know how it got in there It refers to a different tale about North Wales, sorry if it caused any confusion. I still like to walk down by the Rose Gardens, and sit on the forms by the Rhododendrons when there in bloom,. Thanks again Eric and a Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  10. peterwwood Says:

    Great, I’ve got a message from Audrey to post on:
    Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas to everyone. Eddie I am able to reveal what was behind that sign Not open to public at the house. My Aunt Eva had a friend who’s husband was a guide at the house. Eve asked mum if we kids would like to go on a tour of the house when it was closed to the public and Jim would show us round . Me, my brother aged about four and two cousins aged nine and fourteen wore our best clothes for the excursion. Jim didn’t like kids and was a sadistic B….. .I can’t remember much about the house but I vividly remember going through a door signed ‘Not open to the Public’ No electric lights , only Jim had a flash light going down broken stone steps to the dungeons under the house. Even Aunt Eva was not impressed when the sadist threatened to lock us all in the dungeon . It was horrible and damp smell was horrible too. All the walls were wet and some had moss on them too. The only thing you missed out on Eddie were the nightmares for weeks after we had visited the house,

    Good old Audrey, lovely to hear from you

  11. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Thanks Audrey, you’ve explained the secrets hidden behind those signs, Not open to the Public, it sounds really spooky down those steps, and you don’t need enemies with a friend like Jim. What a terrible thing to do, threatening to lock you all in the dungeons, I bet your Aunty Eva had a quiet word with him. Really pleased to hear from you, we’ve missed your stories these last few months, hope your feeling better soon….Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: