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Friday, 31 October 2008

The Ghosts of Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam House, a short walk from where I live, is renowned for its ghosts and it seems appropriate to speak of them at Halloween. Thousands of years ago, when I was a child, the famous 'Blue Lady' was the stuff of nightmares. Many times, since, I have been through the house half hoping to see her - alas to no avail! Children, today, though still speak of her and the various legends about how she was attacked and robbed while returning home and died soon afterwards. Legend has it, she returns in search of her stolen jewels. Then there is the story of the maid strangled in the cellars while resisting the advances of a footman...
I have never seen any ghosts at Temple Newsam but I have walked thousands of times in the woods there and I believe there is something so mystical and ancient about them. It would not surprise me to see fauns and satyrs skipping around those gnarled trees. The Templar legends resonate in that place and there is something so unique about the atmosphere of Temple Newsam that I have never experienced anywhere else. I would love to hear more of other people's stories of the ghosts they have encountered there, for I know there are many!

1 comment:

Alex said...

I too am very familiar with Temple Newsam, having lived in Leeds for many years. Unlike many people I have always felt the house to be warm and friendly, far from evil. I was interested to see that the famous Blue Lady, Mary Ingram, was buried in Westminster Abbey, and that her parents lived in Isleworth. Some genealogy sites have her as dying in London. James Lomax, who was for many years custodian of Temple Newsam, says in his recently published book "Victorian Chatelaine", which is about Emily Meynell-Ingram, that he has heard that the ghost stories were invented by the guides in the early days to give them something to entertain the visitors, as when the Leeds Council first bought the house in the 1920s the interior was virtually empty. Certainly as a child I can remember it having the atmosphere of a municipal museum rather than a house, with glass cabinets full of bits of dusty pottery of little interest to a child. However I always loved the house and I have been pleased to see that in recent years great efforts have been made to improve the visitor experience, opening up some of the servants areas for example and making it look more as if one actually could have lived there.
If you can get on one, the below stairs tour is well worth doing, it includes the tunnel under the internal courtyard and the servants rooms in the north wing ground floor as well as the wine cellars. We were told the story of Phoebe gray, the servant who was apparently murdered in 1704 and her body thrown into a well in the basement.