Chance to solve historic murder mystery this half term

Leeds, Leeds Star

Four hundred years ago, one of Temple Newsam House’s most famous residents was killed in a grisly murder that remains a mystery to this day.

Now, on the anniversary of Lord Darnley’s gruesome demise, budding super sleuths can wander the same atmospheric halls he once called home as they try to solve their own historic whodunit.

Inspired by the story of Lord Darnley’s strange death, staff at Temple Newsam will be setting up a fictional murder mystery over the February half term, giving families the chance to follow a series of clues as they explore the stunning Tudor mansion.

The event, entitled Clueless, takes place on Feb 11, 12, 18 and 19, with the house also hosting a magic carpet story time on Wednesday, Feb 15, all about love and friendship, as well as a programme of craft activities throughout the holidays on the theme of love and secret liaisons.

Lord Darnley, who was once married to Mary Queen of Scots, was born at Temple Newsam House in 1545.

After an eventful life, which saw him become notorious for his vanity and arrogance, his body was discovered in a field in Scotland on February 9, 1567 alongside a cloak, a dagger, a chair and a coat.

Although there had been an explosion in the room where he had been staying, medics at the time determined he had been strangled along with his valet.

Suspicion fell on several suspects, including Mary herself, but the full circumstances surrounding his death were never determined.

Bobbie Robertson, keeper at Temple Newsam House, said: “Lord Darnley was certainly an interesting figure, and one who played an important role not just in the history of Temple Newsam, but in one of the most controversial chapters in the story of the British monarchy.

“The history of Temple Newsam House is full of enigmatic characters and mysterious stories which we often use as inspiration for the exciting events and activities we host here. We’re looking forward to giving visitors a chance to explore the house this half term and channel a bit of their inner Sherlock Holmes.”

Elsewhere in Leeds over the half term break, Abbey House Museum will be hosting storybook-themed activities to coincide with their new Fairy Tales and Fantasy exhibition.

Taking place Tues, Feb 14 until Fri 17 then again on Tues, Feb 21 and Wed 22 Feb, from 10am until noon and 2pm until 4pm each day, events will include craft activities based on ogres, witches, giants and trolls, Silly Science, and a new family trail.

Leeds City Museum will also be holding half term events from Tues, Feb 14 until Fri, Feb 17, with a special day for families in association with The Grammar School at Leeds on Feb 14 and then survival-themed crafts over the rest of the week. There will also be an urban art workshop on Feb 17 for youngsters aged 11 and over.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills will be holding activities including poetry trails while Thwaite Mills in Stourton will have indoor games, crafts exploring how animals get through the winter and on Tuesday, Feb 14, visitors can learn how to make a wind chime.

Leeds Discovery Centre will also be showing visitors how modern day gadgets have developed from humble beginnings at a free, family-friendly event, on Feb 15 from 10am until 12 pm.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “There’s an incredible variety of stories to be found when you explore our museums and galleries sites and the huge programme of activities we have on offer always gives visitors the chance to learn about them in new and interesting ways.”

For more details on February half term activities, including booking details and prices, please visit: leeds.gov.uk/schoolholidays