Temple Newsam Preceptory

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are no visible remains

NameTemple Newsam Preceptory
Alternative NamesTemple Newsham; Temple Thorpe Farm
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityLeeds
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishLeeds

A preceptory of the Knights Templars was founded at Temple Newsam before 1181, and dissolved 1308-12. It has been suggested that its site was not where the present building stands, but traditionally about a mile away to the N.E., or alternatively nearer the River Aire. Temple Newsam, however, probably occupies the site of the original buildings, and it is possible that some of the C12 foundations are incorporated in the north wing. No part of the present house is earlier than 1544, but it is probable that substantial buildings existed prior to that date. It was added to in 1620. Now maintained by Leeds Corporation as a museum. (Knowles and Hadock, 1971; Kitson and Pawson, 1927: Bogg, 1902). (PastScape)

The Manor of Newsam ('new houses') is first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. In 1155 it became a property of the Knights Templar, the military - religious order who guarded the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem. Their farmstead, excavated in 1991, was about half a mile to the south of the present house, close to the river Aire. After the order's suppression the property eventually passed to the Darcy family and the first person to build the new house on this site in c. 1500 was Thomas Lord Darcy, a courtier, mercenary and crony of Cardinal Wolsey. This was a spectacular four-sided courtyard house of which only the west wing survives as the central block of the building we see today. (Leeds City Council, 2004)

Site of Knights Templar Preceptory. Excavated between Autumn 1989 and Dec- 1990 after the initial evaluation. A cruciform aisled barn, pit containing wooden barrels, other structures and the surrounding moat ditch were excavated. Minor additional work in 1991 found that the area immediately north of the chapel was disturbed by recent animal burials. Three stone-lined pits were discovered

(NMR Excavation Index)

The preceptory, founded I 128-54, had fallen into ruin by 1347, and the course of Colton Beck had been altered to flow through the remains of the second building. The stream could have been diverted to power a mill or to feed a moat: a farm with a mill nearby is attested in the area in 1554, and a moated farmhouse and mill in the 17th century. (Med. Arch. 1990)

Gatehouse Comments

The preceptory may have been moated and may have had other defensive features.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE353309
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Page, Wm (ed), 1974, VCH Yorkshire Vol. 3 online transcription
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman) p. 238, 295
  • Kitson, S.D. and Pawson, E.D., 1927, Temple Newsam
  • Bogg, E., 1904, Kingdom of Elmet p. 113 online copy
  • Wheater, W., 1889, Temple Newsam: Its History and Antiquities online copy


  • 1991, CBA Forum the annual newsletter of CBA Group 4 p. 17
  • 1990, CBA Forum the annual newsletter of CBA Group 4 p. 38-9
  • 1990, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1989' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 34 p. 223-4 online copy
  • 1989, CBA Forum the annual newsletter of CBA Group 4 p. 22
  • Braithwaite, W., 1909, Publications of the Thoresby Society Vol. 15 p. 174-6


  • Report No A06 Archaeological Services WYAS reports