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