Leeds nostalgia: Temple Newsam sewing box offers window onto world of wealth

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A window onto a bygone era of elegance, Lady Muncaster’s workbox is as beautiful a piece of craftsmanship.

Made of ebony, silver and mother of pearl, the embossed and monogrammed box was created in 1828 for the marriage of Frances Catherine Ramsden, granddaughter of the last Viscount and Viscountess Irwin of Temple Newsam, to Lowther Augustus John, who was 3rd Baron Muncaster.

The box is filled with all the things a refined lady of the time would have needed for her needlework, including ornate scissors, thread and thimbles as a well as a pin cushion, tape measure and even a set of silver mounted scent bottles. At the time, needlework was a very highly regarded and esteemed pastime for ladies. Temple Newsam was dominated by a dynasty of women throughout the 1800s, with notable ladies like Lady Muncaster, Lady Hertford and Lady William Gordon living at the house or visiting frequently.

Lady Muncaster’s workbox was brought back to the house in 2012.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “This stunning piece for craftsmanship really helps paint a picture of what life at Temple Newsam was like for some of the many interesting characters who lived there. It gives us a glimpse of a different age where luxury and finery played such an important role.”

Temple Newsam House will move return to regular opening hours on February 12, which will see it open Tues-Sun, 10.30am-5pm, with last admission at 4.15pm.

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