Temple and the Inns of Court

January 25, 2008 at 1:17 am | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Last weekend I visited the Temple district during its open weekend as part of the 400th anniversary since being granted freehold over the land. Although the Temple and the Inns of Court (Inner and Middle Temples) had been around since the 12th century. There are two other inns (Lincoln and Gray) but these weren’t covered in the open day and weren’t really discussed – are they the ugly duckling of the legal world?


So what is the district and why should anyone care? The Inns of Court are colleges used to train barristers in the esteemed study of law.


Due to war and fire damage Inner is a modern reproduction whereas Middle has retained many of its historic buildings, specifically the Middle Temple Hall – a fine Tudor period building.


The Temple where the area gets its name was founded by the Knights Templar and is well known for its round shape, effigies and unfortunately, its use in the Da Vinci Code.


I arrived mid afternoon in time to take the 45 minute guided tour. There were surprisingly large numbers of us and the guide had difficulty projecting her voice. It was a little disappointing that people who chose to come later and join this mass complained about this problem. Amusingly at the end of the tour a random passerby started talking loudly on her mobile and the crowd almost in unison began shushing her.

The tour was quite reasonably interesting as we heard about some of the area’s history and the challenge of imposing secular rather than canon law on society. I’m glad I went on this before striking out on my own.

After the main tour I took the time to check out some of the other buildings. The district is home to many law firms and barrister’s offices which were open in addition to the main halls. Unfortunately, these offices were just that offices and being a white collar worker looking at desks, files and meeting rooms on my weekend is hardly my idea of an engaging time. Presumably if I was more knowledgeable of the previous barristers who’d worked there or more interested in a legal career I would be more interested.

I did take the opportunity to talk with a Middle student and he advised that there was no real rivalry or differences between the Inns, which seems somewhat unlikely given the age of the institutions but I’ll accept his statement. He also suggested that Middle had a better scholarship program, apparently they will interview all applicants who submit on time.

During the open day there were considerably more Middle volunteers than Inner and it certainly has the better hall so at very first blush I’d be inclined to join them but Middle’s symbol is the lamb. Whereas Inner has Pegasus.


Clearly Inner has the trump card.

Or does it?

Middle has quite an impressive library with some of the earliest globes, the largest US law library outside of the United States and a copy of the original Declaration of Independence.

The police were also running various bicycle demonstrations. I must be missing the connection with the Inns of Court.

The Inns of Court are located adjacent to Fleet street and close to Temple and Blackfriars underground stations.

While the open day was a one off there may be other events during the 2008 celebrations that will interest you.

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