Temple Newsam’s 500-year-old checklist goes on display for the first time
A 500-year-old checklist detailing the complete contents of Temple Newsam House when it was first built has gone on display to the public for the first time.
Compiled for Thomas, Lord Darcy, thought to be the house’s first official resident and one of King Henry VIII’s most prominent opponents, the inventory was a comprehensive stock-take of his palatial new home back in the early 16th Century.
The document is one of the key exhibits in the Below the Salt exhibition by artist Catherine Bertola, examining the theme of social status as the Leeds City Council-owned site marks its 500th anniversary this year.
On loan from the National Archives, the inventory includes exhaustive detail about the house’s rooms, such as a brew house and bakery, as well as its collection of religious paraphernalia.
Ms Bertola said: “Temple Newsam is an enthralling place filled with thousands of different stories which can be found in every room and object.
“Working with the team at the house and volunteers, Below the Salt looks to uncover some of those stories by reinterpreting the building’s unique architecture and collections, and the parts played by the many generations of residents.”
The centuries-old list also sets out Temple Newsam’s once-impressive stockpile of arms and armour, which would have been used by men at arms called upon by the King when needed for war or to maintain order in the local area.
In later life Thomas, Lord Darcy was branded a treasonous subversive for his part in a northern rebellion against the Henry VIII’s move to break Catholic ties and establish the Church of England.
Lord Darcy was beheaded in London in 1537, with his property, including Temple Newsam, seized by the crown.
His inventory survived amid the archives, and a modern English transcription has been recorded by Catherine Bertola for the exhibition, read by members of the current staff.
A series of art works, including sculpture, photography and film, have also been located around the house, exploring the contrast between the lives of aristocrats and those who worked behind-the-scenes to keep the house moving.
Ms Bertola added: “Thanks to this incredible if not rather humble inventory, we have a direct insight into Temple Newsam House and the people who occupied it back when it was first built centuries ago, which provided the starting point for this exhibition.”
Earlier this year, Below the Salt also saw Catherine create a series of stunning salt patterns in the house’s Great Hall which took inspiration from the beautiful design of an early piece of woven table linen. Salt was considered a status symbol in the days when Temple Newsam was home to some of the country’s most prominent of aristocratic dynasties.
The completed artworks were then photographed before the resulting images were developed using a traditional salt and silver technique that can be seen in the exhibition.
Coun Elizabeth Nash, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums said: “Our wonderful museums and galleries are a cornerstone of our city’s cultural offering and we know how much people in Leeds have missed being able to visit them.
“We’re thrilled that all our sites are now ready to welcome back the public and that visitors can safely enjoy our museums and galleries both in person and online.”
More details of arrangements at individual sites, advice for visitors and details about how to book can be found at: https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/reopening-information/