Experts to reveal secrets of historic house’s hidden library
Decorated with a curious mixture of Roman style pillars, a mysterious fake door and a fully working church organ, it’s a room with a very unusual tale to tell.
And this winter, experts at Temple Newsam will be working behind the scenes to open a new chapter in the 270 year-old story of the historic house’s beautiful Georgian library.
The library is among the lavish rooms and antique objects which are being painstakingly cleaned and conserved during the house’s winter season.
Normally access to the room is restricted, but following the winter conservation work, visitors will be able to take a few steps inside and explore it much more closely than ever before.
Originally created in 1743, the library’s elegant features include a number of imposing Corinthian columns, plaster busts of classical authors and stunningly intricate plasterwork.
During the Victorian period, the library was also converted into a chapel, with a magnificent organ left behind as a memento when it was changed back into a library in the early 1970s.
The room also features a false door, built to give the library a symmetrical appearance but which in fact leads nowhere.
Rachel Conroy, curator at Temple Newsam said: “Winter is a really interesting and absorbing time at Temple Newsam, when we not only focus on protecting and preserving the house and its collections, but also look for new ways to open it up for the public to explore.
“The Georgian library and its unusual features paint a particularly vivid picture of how the house has changed to reflect the different people who have lived here over the centuries.
“Each of those people have made their own impression on the house and some have left tangible, physical evidence of themselves and their personalities behind for us to see today.
“We’re really looking forward to visitors being able to fully explore the library and to learn more about what is a beautiful piece of Temple Newsam’s incredible story.”
During the winter months, while Rachel and her team are at work, Temple Newsam House will be available to visit Tuesday to Friday and at weekends by joining a guided discovery tour at 11am, and a twilight tour at 3pm, where guests can see the servants’ quarters and cellars by torchlight.
Appointments to visit and tours can be booked by calling 0113 336 7461. There is also a series of bookable talks, tours and events until Feb 10.
Behind the ropes tours will also take place on November 15, December 20 and January 17, where visitors can step over the ropes for a close encounter with some of the house’s most important objects.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries said:
“It’s fascinating to learn about some of the hard work that goes into making Temple Newsam such a beautiful place for visitors to enjoy and explore.
“The house is home to so many stories and historic features and this work is vital in ensuring it remains a place where future generations can learn more about the people and events which have played such an important part in our local heritage for hundreds of years.”
For more details about Temple Newsam House, visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries