The Temple is a historic complex that comprises two of London’s four Inns of Court, professional associations of barristers. The name refers to the original occupants, the Templar Knights.
The Honorable Society of the Temples
Middle Temple and Inner Temple
The Honorable Society of the Middle Temple & The Honorable Society of the Inner Temple, are more commonly known as Middle Temple & Inner Temple.
|The structures in the Temple are truly a sight to behold
They are two of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers; with the other two being the Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn.
It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.
|Details on the facade – detailed down to the very last bit
The Templars were a military order originally founded in 1118 in France to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.
Around 1160 the Templars acquired a site near the river Thames where they built a chapel and a cloister with several large halls. In 1312 the order of the Templars was suppressed and in 1324 their land was handed over to the order of St. John, who leased it to law students.
|I can’t help but go on and on on how beautiful this area is! Absolutely took my breath away…
King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the mid sixteenth century and the crown took ownership of the property. In 1608 King James I leased the Temple buildings to two societies of lawyers: Inner and Middle Temple. The Inner Temple uses the buildings on the east side of the Temple, while the Middle Temple occupies the west side.
The Temple Today
Today there is no visible distinction between Inner Temple and Middle Temple and the whole area is simply referred to as “Temple”. Reliefs of a Lamb and Flag on the Middle Temple and a Pegasus on the Inner Temple, indicate to which Inn of Court a particular building belongs.
The area is a bit of a labyrinth with narrow passageways and can only be accessed via a number of gates. The many buildings of the Temple – there are about 25 – are laid out around picturesque courtyards and gardens.
|A trip to the Honorable Society of the Temples and you can’t leave without the feeling of being enchanted, under some kind of spell
The Middle Temple Garden and the Fountain Court are particularly enchanting. Many of the buildings were destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666 and again during the Second World War, but fortunately they have all either been replaced or restored.
Highlights of Temple
Middle Temple Hall & Inner Temple Hall
Middle Temple Hall, built in 1562-1570, is one of the few structures that survived World War II unscathed. The historic building has served as a dining hall since the Middle Ages, and it is still used as such today. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was also used for theater performances, and one of Shakespeare’s works, Twelfth Night, premiered here in 1602.
Inside the hall, which measures 31 meters long, 12 meters wide and 18 meters high, is a magnificent double Hammerbeam roof. The walls are lined with a carved wooden screen.
The Temple Church was originally built in 1160-1185 by the Templars as a circular chapel. In 1240 it was expanded with a rectangular nave.
On the floor at the center of the original chapel lie marble effigies of thirteenth century Knight Templars. Despite suffering extensive damage during the Second World War, the Temple Church is one of the best preserved medieval churches in London.
Just south of the Temple Church stands a column that marks the spot where the Great Fire of 1666 was finally put out after it had raged for four days.
At the top of the column is a statue of a horse with two knights, a symbol of the Templars. It refers to the Templars’ vow of poverty; as they were initially too poor to buy a horse for each knight.
Gardens and Gateway
Inner Temple Gardens were laid out around 1601, with a set of decorated railings added in 1618 with the Temple’s Pegasus and the Griffin of Gray’s Inn, a sign of the strong relationship between the two; the design was included in the new iron gates made in 1730 and are still present.
The gardens contain various landmarks, including a sundial from 1707, a pair of cisterns dated from 1730 and a lead statute of a black moor by John Nost, which was transferred from Clifford’s Inn when Clifford’s was destroyed. A rookery was established during the 18th century by Edward Northey, who brought a colony of crows from his estates in Epsom to fill it.
|The Gardens in the Temple Halls are very well groomed & maintained
The gardens were previously noted for their roses, and William Shakespeare claimed that the Wars of the Roses started in the Inner Temple Garden.
The Gateway, at the top of Inner Temple Lane on Fleet Street is thought to have existed in the same location since the founding of the Temples by the Knights Templar. It was rebuilt in 1610 by John Bennett, the King’s Sergeant-at-Arms and again rebuilt in 1748.
The building above it, is reputed to have been the council chambers of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and Charles, Prince of Wales, later Charles I.
The original Library existed from at least 1506, and consisted of a single room. This was not a dedicated library, as it was also used for dining when there were too many barristers for the hall, and later for moots.
By 1607 a second room had been added, and Edward Coke donated a copy of his Reports for the library a year later.
The Library of the Inner Temple was far superior to those of the other Inns of Court, and “placed the House far in advance of the other societies”.
The Library refused to accept John Selden’s manuscripts in 1654, most likely because the size of the collection would necessitate a new building, but it has been described as “the greatest loss which the Library of the Inner Temple ever sustained”.
The Library was entirely destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but a replacement was built in 1668. A second, smaller fire in 1679 necessitated the destruction of one library building to act as a firebreak and save the hall. In 1707 the Inner Temple was offered the Petyt Manuscripts and a sum of £150 to build a new Library, which was completed in 1709 and consisted of three rooms. A Librarian was appointed immediately, and the practice continues to this day.
Modifications were made in 1867, 1872 and 1882 which extended the Library to eight rooms.
A new Library was built on the site of the old one in the 19th century, with the north wing being completed in 1882, and contained 26,000 law volumes, as well as 36,000 historical and architectural texts. This building was destroyed during the Second World War, and although some of the rarest manuscripts had been moved off site, 45,000 books were lost.
The replacement Library which stands today was the last, built in 1958 and currently contains approximately 70,000 books.
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