Inner Temple in London

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The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers and judges) in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

The Inn is a professional body for many barristers which provides legal training, selection and regulation. It is ruled by a governing council called "Parliament", made up of the Masters of the Bench (or "Benchers"), and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The Temple takes its name from the Knights Templar, who originally leased the land to the inhabitants of the Temple (or Templars) until their abolition in 1312. The Inner Temple was certainly a distinct society from at least 1388, although as with all the Inns of Court their precise date of founding is not known. After a disruptive early period (during which the Temple was almost entirely destroyed in the Peasant's Revolt) it flourished, becoming the second largest Inn during the Elizabethan period (after Gray's Inn).

The Inner Temple continued to expand during the reigns of James I and Charles I, with 1,700 students admitted to the Inn between 1600 and 1640. The outbreak of the First English Civil War led to a complete suspension of legal education, with the Inns close to being shut down for almost four years. Following the English Restoration the Inner Templars welcomed Charles II back to London personally with a lavish banquet. After a period of slow decline in the 18th century, the following 100 years saw a restoration of the Temple's fortunes, with buildings constructed or restored, such as the Hall and the Library. Much of this work was destroyed during The Blitz, where the Hall, Temple, Temple Church and many sets of chambers were devastated. Rebuilding was completed in 1959, and today the Temple is a flourishing and active Inn of Court, with over 8,000 members.


The Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court, along with Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn and the Middle Temple. The Inns are responsible for training, regulating and selecting barristers within England and Wales, and are the only bodies allowed to call a barrister to the Bar and allow him to practice. The Temple is an independent,

During the 12th and 13th century the law was taught in the City of London, primarily by the clergy. During the 13th century two events happened which destroyed this form of legal education; first, a papal bull of 1207 that prohibited the clergy from teaching the common law, rather than canon law, and secondly, a decree by Henry III of England on 2 December 1234 that no institutes of legal education could exist in the City of London. As a result the system of legal education fell apart. The common lawyers migrated to the hamlet of Holborn, as it was easy to get to the law courts at Westminster Hall and was outside the City. Much of the Temple was rebuilt during the 19th century, most noticeably the Hall and Library, although fever and disease continued as a result of the Inn's still-outdated systems; the same water was used both for drinking and flushing the toilet, for example.

In 1922 the Temple called Ivy Williams to the bar, making her the first female barrister.

Inner Temple was historically governed by a Treasurer and three Governors. Members were divided into two categories; Clerks (Clerici) admitted to Clerks' Commons and Fellows Socii admitted to Fellows' Commons. The Governors held Parliament with a small group of senior barristers; in 1508, for example, Parliament was held with three Governors and four senior barristers. The last Governor was elected in 1566, and Benchers took over later that century. Benchers, or Masters of the Bench, are elected members of the Parliament responsible for overseeing the estates, the Inn's finances and setting internal policy. Today there are approximately 200 Benchers, with honorary, academic and "royal" Benchers appointed as well as those who practice at the Bar and form part of the judiciary. Gerard Legh is normally given the credit for having suggested the Pegasus as a coat of arms, having given an account of Robert Dudley playing the part of Prince Pallaphilos, a patron of the Honorable Order of Pegasus in the 1561 Christmas revels. It may alternately have come about because of the tiles in Temple Church, which show a knight on horseback with a shield and sword raised. From this point onwards the Arms were considered the Temple's property, and they were confirmed by the College of Arms in 1967. described in the early 20th century as similar in value to that of Oxford or Cambridge University. The first reference to plate is in 1534, with a silver cup left to the Temple as part of the estate of a Master Sutton. Further pieces were added over the next century, with Robert Bowes giving a silver gilt cup to Sir John Baker on 16 May 1563. The cup, which was shaped like a melon with feet formed from the "tendrils" of the lemon, is a prized possession of the Temple.

Two silver cups were bought in 1699, and records from 1 January 1703 show that the Temple owned one gilt cup (the "melon" cup) five salt cellars, ten large cups, twelve little cups, and twenty-three spoons. Twelve more spoons were bought in 1707, along with another silver cup, and at some point in this period the Temple purchased or was given a nef.

Crown Office Row was named after the Crown Office, which used to sit on the site and was removed in 1621. The first building (described by Charles Dugdale as "the Great Brick Building over against the Garden") was constructed in 1628, and completely replaced in 1737. The current buildings were designed and built by Sir Edward Maufe. The building was designed by Hubert Worthington and opened in 1955 as part of a complex involving the Hall, Library and Benchers' Chambers.


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. 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. A replacement Library was built in 1958, and currently contains approximately 70,000 books. The church was highly regarded during this period, with William the Marshal buried there and Henry III initially making plans before changing to Westminster Abbey. and Lord Justice Birkett. Several barrister members have gone on to be highly important, including Edward Marshall-Hall, and legal academics have also been members, such as Sir John Baker.<ref name="fm"/> Prime Ministers Clement Attlee and George Grenville have both been members, as was the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah<ref name="fm"/> fifth President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. Outside of the law and politics, members have included the poet Arthur Brooke, Admiral Francis Drake, dramatist W. S. Gilbert, the economist John Maynard Keynes and diplomat and Righteous among the Nations Prince Constantin Karadja.<ref name="fm"/>

See also

  • Thomas Joshua Platt


External links