Temple (London)

The Temple .—Contiguous to the south side of Fleet Street is a most extensive series of buildings, comprising several squares and rows, called the Temple ; belonging to the members of two societies, the Inner  and Middle Temple, consisting of benchers, barristers, and students.  This famous old place, taken in its completeness, was, in 1184, the metropolitan residence of the Knights Templars, who held it until their downfall in 1313; soon afterwards it was occupied by students of the law; and in 1608 James I. presented the entire group of structures to the benchers of the two societies, who have ever since been the absolute owners.  The entrance to Inner Temple, from Fleet Street, consists of nothing more than a mere gateway; the entrance to Middle Temple was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.  Middle Temple Hall, 100 feet long, 42 wide, and 47 high, is considered to have one of the finest Elizabethan roofs in London.  A group of chambers, called Paper Buildings, built near the river, is a good example of revived Elizabethan.  A new Inner Temple Hall  was formally opened, in 1870, by the Princess Louise.  In October, 1861, when the Prince of Wales was elected a bencher of the Middle Temple, a new Library  was formally opened, which had been constructed at a cost of £13,000; it is a beautiful ornament to the place, as seen from the river.  The Temple Church, a few yards only down from Fleet Street, is one of the most interesting churches in London.  All the main parts of the structure are as old as the time of the Knights Templars; but the munificent sum of £70,000 was spent, about twenty years ago, in restoring and adorning it.  There are two portions, the Round Church  and the Choir, the one nearly 700 years old, and the other more than 600.  The monumental effigies, the original sculptured heads in the Round Church, the triforium, and the fittings of the Choir, are all worthy of attention.  The north side of the church has recently been laid open by the removal of adjoining buildings; and in their place some handsome chambers are erected.  Hard by, in the churchyard, is the grave of Oliver Goldsmith, who died in chambers (since pulled down) in Brick Court.  The Sunday services are very fine, and always attract many strangers.  The Temple Gardens, fronting the river, are probably the best in the city.

Lincoln's Inn  was once the property of the De Lacie, Earl of Lincoln.  It became an Inn of Court in 1310.  The fine new hall—worth seeing—was opened in 1845.  The Chapel was built in 1621–3, by Inigo Jones.  He also laid out the large garden in Lincoln's Inn Fields, close by, in 1620.  Lord William Russell was beheaded here in 1683.  In Lincoln's Inn are the Chancery and Equity Courts.

Graves Inn, nearly opposite the north end of Chancery Lane, once belonged to the Lords Gray of Wilton.  It was founded in 1357.  Most of its buildings—except its hall, with black oak roof—are of comparatively modern date.  In Gray's Inn lived the great Lord Bacon, a tree planted by whom, in the quaint old garden of the Inn, can yet be seen propped up by iron stays.  Charles the First, when Prince Charles, was an honorary member of Gray's Inn, and Bradshaw, who tried him, was one of its benchers.

Sergeant's Inn, Chancery Lane, is what its name denotes—the Inn of the sergeants-at-law.  Sergeants Inn, Fleet Street, is let out in chambers to barristers, solicitors, and the general public.  The last remark applies to the other small Inns of Chancery in and about Holborn and Fleet Street.

Till the new Law  Courts are erected in Central Strand, London has no Courts of Law well built or convenient.  The Westminster Courts  are little better than wooden sheds.  So are the Lincoln's Inn Courts.  But they still are worth a visit.  At the Old Bailey, near Newgate, is the Central Criminal Court, for the trial of prisoners accused of crimes committed within ten miles of St. Paul's.  Nominally, this court is free; but practically, a small douceur  is always extorted by the ushers for a place.  In the other courts this practice of ‘tipping' is less common.  The Bankruptcy Court, in Basinghall Street, the Clerkenwell Sessions House, the County Courts, and the Police Courts, are other establishments connected with the administration of justice; but the business of the first will shortly be transferred westward.