Knights, Wigs & Inns
This is an area of London that Gary & I am often drawn to for various reasons. Despite the mention of Bars & Inns, this is a story without alcohol.
Firstly, the intrigue of the Knights Templar and secondly the maze of flagstone lanes hidden behind ancient wooden doors at the Inns of Court and the barrister’s chambers.
This legal district of London has been prominent in British law since the late Middle Ages, and thankfully the Great Fire of London in 1666 didn’t quite reach this far.
Who moved the Bar?
One structure that survived was the Baroque style Temple Bar Gate, designed by Christopher Wren. Although King Charles II commissioned a new gate in 1672, which was attributed to Sir Christopher Wren. This gate marked the entrance to the City of London from the West.
Can you hear the gavel?
In place of where Temple Bar gate originally stood is now a memorial designed by Horace Jones, an architect famed for the design of Tower Bridge and many of London’s markets including Leadenhall.
This point also marks where Fleet Street ends, and the Strand begins, and where the Royal Courts of Justice was built in 1882.
Watch your heels!
While strolling around this area, you’ll notice an odd barrister or two, in their wigs and flowing robes.
You may even get run down by a young legal hopeful, wheeling a trolley full of documents between chambers.
You really are in the heart of the legal district and where the historical Inns of Court are located.
Lincoln & Gray
The Inns of Court are made up of four professional associations for barristers.
The four Inns are; Lincoln’s Inn & Gray’s Inn, which are north of Fleet Street and come under the boundary of the London Borough of Camden and Inner Temple & Middle Temple, which are south of Fleet Street and come under the boundary of the City of London. All of which have their own coat of arms.
You are free to wander through the Inns of Court, and you’ll come across chapels, gardens, statues and history just laying at your feet. Lincoln’s Inn the largest and can trace its records back to 1422 and Gray’s Inn to 1569.
You’ll find purveyors of the finest legal paraphernalia.
Is this really the 21st century?
However, the most intriguing Inns of Court are around Inner & Middle Temple, lawyers have been in this district since 1320.
9 to 5
Knights take command
Some of the large wooden doors that you pass through, almost make the area appear private property. However, it’s through one of these doors that you’ll head down to Temple Church.
The church was built by the Knights Templar, the soldier-monks who protected pilgrims to the Holy Land during the crusades.
The oldest and most distinctive part of the church is the round nave, which was consecrated in 1185, believed to be in the presence of King Henry II.
View from Above
The round church is 55ft in diameter, and you are able to climb the winding steps to the top and look down upon the chancel through the arched gallery.
Among the knights who would be buried in the Round, was William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (died 1219), an adviser to King John and regent to Henry III. His sons’ effigies lie around his own
This peaceful part of London is definitely worth a visit; you’ll feel like you have stepped back in time.
Inspired to visit The Temple area of London?
Rub shoulders with judges and lawyers and discover an ancient part of the City of London
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