1930s: Temple Newsam

Happy Birthday to Leeds Archives! To celebrate our 80th birthday, we are taking a trip down memory lane and looking at our history through each decade, first up the 1930s where is all began.

In 1938 we received our first collection; the Temple Newsam family and estate collection, which would end up being the first of many. We now have family and estate collections that include; Fountains Abbey and Vyner of Studley Royal (WYL150), Gascoigne of Parlington (WYL115), Newby Hall (WYL5013) and Ripley Castle (WYL230). The Temple Newsam archive was sold to Leeds Libraries (which we were a part of at the time) by the Viscount of Halifax for £300 and it comprised over 150 boxes. To sort through and catalogue such a huge collection we hired our first Leeds Archivist; Miss A. G. Foster.

Temple Newsam is a country house located on the outskirts of Leeds, near Garforth. It is perhaps most famous for being the birth place of Lord Darnley in 1545. He was the husband of Mary Queen of Scots and subsequently the father of King James I of England. In 1622 the house was sold to the Ingram family and the house remained in their family for generations, a large section of the Temple Newsam archive comprises their personal papers, including correspondence, receipts, management of the estate and inventories.


There are too many fascinating documents from this collection to pick a favourite, but a particularly interesting one I found quite recently, when researching for an exhibit on Temple Newsam (which you can read here), was the recipe for the bite of a mad dog, which today is known as rabies. Some more in-depth research led me to find out that it was a widespread fear in the 17th and 18th century in England. Numerous recipes were created to treat the bite, but none of them would have made a difference to the person afflicted as there wasn’t a cure for rabies until Louis Pasteur created the vaccine for it in 1885. The recipes all varied, while the ‘Art of Cookery’ by Hannah Glasses advised the sufferer to be bled, drink a mix of powdered black pepper, liverwort and half a pint of milk, our recipe from the Temple Newsam collection advised mixing dragons blood, Spanish brown and box leaves and taking one spoonful of the mixture 3 mornings in a row. Could the difference in recipe perhaps be regional? Hannah Glasse was based in London, while our recipe would likely have been written by a Yorkshire servant at Temple Newsam.

Bite of a mad dog

The Temple Newsam collection is under the reference number WYL100, if you are interested in viewing this collection please contact the Leeds office, our contact details can be found here. Here is a link to our online catalogue.

Keep reading… 1940s: Guardians of the Poor

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