In the Domesday Book the property is known as Neuhusam and was owned by Ilbert de Lacy. Before that it had been owned by Dunstan and Glunier, Anglo-Saxon thanes. Around 1155 it was given to the Knights Templar. In 1307 the Templars were suppressed and in 1377 by royal decree the estate reverted to Sir Philip Darcy. Between 1500 and 1520 a Tudor country house, Temple Newsam House, was built on the site. It has been described by some as "the Hampton Court of the North". It has also been spelled "Newsham" in the past.
In 1537 Darcy was executed for the part he played in the Pilgrimage of Grace and the property was seized by the Crown. In 1544 Henry VIII gave it to his niece Margaret, Countess of Lennox and her husband Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox.Their son Henry, Lord Darnley was born in the house in 1545. Darnley married Mary Queen of Scots and Temple Newsam was again seized by the Crown in 1565. In 1603 James I granted it to his relative Ludovic, Duke of Lennox. In 1622 the estate was bought by Sir Arthur Ingram for £12,000. During the next 20 years the mansion was rebuilt, incorporating some of the previous house in the west wing.
In 1661 Sir Arthur's grandson Henry Ingram was created Viscount of Irvine and he married Lady Essex Montagu, the daughter of the Earl of Manchester. Between 1736 and 1746 Henry, 7th Viscount of Irvine, remodeled the west and north wings of the house, creating new bedrooms and dressing rooms and the picture gallery. In the 1760s Charles, 9th Viscount, employed Capability Brown to re-landscape the park. His eldest daughter Isabella was for a time mistress of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and in 1806 he visited Temple Newsam and presented her with Chinese wallpaper and the Moses tapestries. In 1841 the estate was inherited by Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram. Following his death in 1871 his wife inherited the estate and considerably developed it until her own death in 1904 when it was left to her nephew Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax.
In 1909 610 acres (2.5 km≤) of the estate were compulsorily purchased by Leeds Corporation at Knostrop to build a sewage plant and coal mining commenced at the edge of the park. In 1922 Edward Wood sold the park and house to Leeds Corporation for a nominal sum, placing covenants over them to ensure their preservation for the future.
House and Estate today
Temple Newsam HouseThe house and estate are owned by Leeds City Council and open to the public. The estate is made up of much woodland, many areas of which join on to the surrounding estates of Leeds. There are facilities for sports including football, golf, running, cycling, horse-riding and orienteering.
The house has recently undergone substantial restoration and holds major collections of fine and decorative arts, especially furniture by Thomas Chippendale. It is reported to be the most haunted house in Yorkshire
The Home Farm, open to the public, has a barn built in 1694 and is the largest working rare breeds farm in Europe, and only one of 16 nationally approved by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Breeds include Gloucester, Kerry, Irish Moiled, Red Poll, White Park, British White, Beef Shorthorn and Belted Galloway cattle; Kerry Hill, Whitefaced Woodland and Portland sheep, and Golden Guernsey goats
There are extensive gardens, with a celebrated rhododendron walk and six national plant collections: Aster novi-belgii (Michaelmas daisies), Phlox paniculata, Delphinium elatum (Cultivars), Solenostemon scutellarioides (sys. Coleus blumei), Primula auricula and Chrysanthemum (Charm and Cascade cultivars).
The house is a Grade I listed building, defined as a "building of outstanding or national architectural or historic interest". The stables are Grade II* listed ("particularly significant buildings of more than local interest"), and ten separate features of the estate are Grade II listed ("buildings of special architectural or historic interest"), including the Sphinx Gates and the Barn.