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Friday 30 November 2007

Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam House, birthplace of Lord Darnley, is a Tudor-Jacobean mansion set in the most glorious grounds. Long before the present house was built, the land - as the name suggests - was the property of the Knights Templar. Local street names: Knight's Hill, Baronsway etc. still bear witness to this. Being a law unto themselves, before they were banished from England, the properties they owned were marked with a Templar Cross and the inhabitants of houses with this mark were exempt from taxes, since they owed allegiance only to the pope not the king. It's interesting that several 18th century houses in the area of Temple Newsam still bear that cross and I wonder if - despite the banishment of the Templars - that right still holds (unbeknown to the residents) today.

"Beckford House" in "The Fields Laid Waste" and subsequent novels in the trilogy, is loosely based upon Temple Newsam House. The gardens, the rare breeds farm and the beautiful lakes and landscapes provide such a perfect background. The woods, even now, have a mystical feel about them...does this come, I wonder, from the ancient rites of the Templars...

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