It is not certain who designed the Rievaulx Terrace, or the temples at either end of it. Although the most likely candidate is Sir Thomas Robinson, a Yorkshire gentleman- architect. He was particularly interested in round Temples like those at Duncombe Park, just two miles away.
The Tuscan Temple
Columned rotundas can be traced back to a single classical building- the temple of Vesta at Tivoli near Rome. Later to inspire world famous buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.
The Tuscan Temple at Rievaulx Terrace is very similar to the rotunda at Duncombe Park. The main differences are that the Rievaulx Temple stands on a podium rather than on a set of steps, and that the columns have no bases.
Inside, rich plasterwork decorates the walls and ceiling. In the centre of the dome is a painted roundel of a winged goddess, which is attributed to the Italian artist Andrea Casali. Casali was encouraged to come to England by Thomas Duncombe II’s father-in-law, who employed him at Castle Howard.
On the floor are 13th century tiles from nearby Byland Abbey, re-laid during the 1920’s. While the Temple is not open to visitors, its beautiful interior can still be enjoyed by the view through the windows.