Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Ghosts of Temple Newsam

 Dubbed, 'The Hampton Court of the North', Temple Newsam House is a magnificent and intriguing Tudor-Jacobean mansion situated on the outskirts of Leeds. Set in 1500 acres of glorious parkland, the house has seen many tumultuous events in its 500 year history. To cite just one, Lord Darnley - ill fated husband of Mary, Queen of Scots - was born here. For 300 years, the house was owned by the Ingram family and eventually sold to Leeds City Council in 1922 by its then owner, Lord Halifax.

Over the years, it has known fires, many changes, renovations - and acquired an impressive collection of ghosts. I used to visit the house regularly when I lived in Leeds and, on descending the main staircase, never failed to feel a chill that raised goosebumps on my arms and the hairs on the back of my neck. A feeling of dread - of something evil - would penetrate me, quicken my step and disappear as soon as I reached the ground floor. Who or what was responsible? I have no idea, but the feeling was all too real.

Here are the stories of two of Temple Newsam's most popular ghosts:

Lady Mary Ingram
The Blue Lady of Temple Newsam

Tragic Mary Ingram, granddaughter of Sir Arthur, was just fourteen years old when, on returning by carriage from a party, she fell victim to an ambush by a gang of highwaymen, who tore her pearl necklace from her throat. In addition to being valuable, the necklace held great sentimental value as it had been a christening present from her grandfather.

Mary was taken home, sobbing and in a state of collapse. The next morning she had no recollection of the robbery and seemed convinced she had somehow lost them. She looked everywhere, saying, 'Where are my pearls? Where are my pearls?' She unpicked cushions and even tried to lift floorboards in search of them. She also refused to eat and sank into a terminal decline. Two weeks later, she died. Her unhappy spirit still searches the house for the missing necklace. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing carpets ripple, hearing unexplained creaking noises and feeling sudden blasts of cold air.
Photo - Wayne Ellis
The Ghost of Phoebe Gray

A great feast, celebrating Britain's victory at the Battle of Blenheim, was celebrated one hot, humid night in 1704. There was much merriment with roasting hogs, bonfires, music and dancing. Beer flowed freely. A little too freely in the case of servant William Collinson. He was a coarse fellow indeed. Foul mannered, foul mouthed, this ugly brutish man was a stranger to soap and water, even by the low personal hygiene standards of the day. He was, however, not averse to trying his luck with a pretty sixteen year old nursemaid called Phoebe Gray.

Phoebe had rather more discernment and rejected his advances, but William would not be dissuaded so easily. The night wore on. At midnight, fireworks exploded over the grounds and William, by now steaming drunk, remembered that it was Phoebe's routine to take Nanny Backhouse her hot drink last thing at night.

Phoebe found the upstairs corridors spooky at night. Her candle cast flickering shadows on the walls and made her nervous. Tonight she had good reason to be, for, in one of the darkest corners, William lurked and, as she passed, he pounced. Scared witless, she screamed and struggled. William fought to contain her and, in his stupor, he forgot his own strength. Her body suddenly went limp. Phoebe screamed no more and slipped to the floor. Dead.

William panicked, dragged her body down the back stairs to the damp cellars below. He opened the cover of the well down there and threw her in. Then he ran away. 

At first, people assumed he and Phoebe had eloped, but then, her body was discovered, and two servants went off in search of William. They found him, dead drunk again, in a nearby inn.

He was charged with her murder and sentenced to be hanged. 

Poor Phoebe is said to haunt the back stairs and passages where her muffled screams have been heard. People have also reported hearing a succession of bumps - as of someone's body being dragged down the stairs.
Temple Newsam in mid 18th century - Bridgeman Art Library

Find out more about Temple Newsam House HERE


  1. Fascinating Cat. In every way. Loved the stories of Phoebe and Mary

    1. we went for a family day at temple Newsam today and we went into a room and my sister took a picture off her wearing a wig and in the picture was a knife blade with a bit off blood at the top off the knife pointing to her throat

    2. Spooky, Duncan. It certainly has more than its fair share of ghosts and uncanny atmosphere

    3. she was so shaken she wont go agian and she was hoping it didnt come home with her

    4. I can understand her fears. I would guess whatever it was is probably trapped there at Temple Newsam though.

  2. I saw a very unexplainable floating orange glow lastnight as i turnd the corner facing the house it was completly silent an 1.39am so was very dark . As i lookd a it a split second afterward it spead up rappidly and flew through the trees towards the house . Was about head hight the size of a humans wingspan and as it passd thru the trees at no point cud i see the main sorce of light ie buld as u would .
    It was just a strange orange glow . As it spead off me on my push bike and my dog running along side me decided to give chase .after only 300metres it disapeard into thin air. I realy cudnt begin to wxplain what that was but id never seen anything like it before in my life .

  3. Very strange, Andrew. Not something I've ever encountered, but I imagine it was unnerving, to say the least.

  4. In case you're perusing this, you're probably a fanatic of Anne of Green Gables. Lucy Maud Montgomery, a Canadian writer, made the character of Anne Shirley - spelt with an E - when she composed this book for young ladies and ladies alike in 1908. Situated in Canada's littlest region and Ms. Montgomery's home, this novel is composed in excellent Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Avenging spirits of myth

  5. fascinating stories! I love Temple Newsam, it`s a great place to visit and it has it`s fair share of dark history..(i actually took the blue lady photograph used in this article - the blue lady in question is my other half!)

    1. It's a stunning photograph, Wayne. Thank you for commenting. :) I can now attribute the photo correctly and have added your name to it.

  6. Visit Temple Newsam regularly but have never actually been inside the house. Would love to see some investigations here, I'm not sure many people get the chance? Great post!

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