Posts Tagged ‘Middle Temple’

A guest post by John Hawkins. This article was first published in London Historians members’ newsletter from December 2014.


In 1855, members of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society visited the Inner Temple, taking time to admire its collections of paintings and prints. Referring to one of the engravings in the old Parliament Chamber, the report of their visit that was published subsequently said:

A bird’s-eye View of the whole of the (Inner and Middle) Temple is also here, engraved by R. White in a large plate (35 by 18½ in.), which was published in 1671, when Sir Heneage Finch, Attorney-General, was Treasurer of the Inner Temple. In one corner are his arms, and in the other those of the Duke of York, with the Holy Lamb and Pegasus, the emblems of the two Temples, and in the margin several other shields of the Benchers. From this print a copy was made at the expense of the Society of the Inner Temple, in 1770 [see Ill. 1], but without engraver’s name. It is of the same size as the original, and intended for a facsimile, but is not quite faithful in some minor details. The same view had, however, been previously copied in Stow’s Survey, edit. 1720, and it is identical with that of which a reduced copy in Brayley’s Londiniana, vol. iii. [1829], is entitled ‘The Temple Buildings in 1720’, and with a print published by Laurie, 1831, entitled ‘The Temple in 1722’. Also in Strype’s Stow, dated 1755. (1)


Anon. after R. White: The Temple in 1671, re-engraved 1770.

‘R. White’ is presumably Robert White (1645-1703), who is generally believed to have assisted David Loggan with the engravings for Oxonia Illustrata between 1665 and 1675 and would therefore have been very familiar with the bird’s-eye views of buildings that were used extensively by Loggan at Oxford and later at Cambridge. White also produced engravings of other London buildings at around this date, for example Bethlem Hospital in 1677. If we can believe the report of the visit, the 1770 version (36 by 19 in) is indeed similar in size to the lost 1671 version. It is regrettable that the report does not itemise the changes ‘in some minor details’.

Although the report’s author did not say so, versions of the Temple engraving had also by then appeared elsewhere. (2) From the end of the seventeenth-century, a number of illustrated books on London were published, arguably reaching their high point with John Strype’s 1720 edition of John Stow’s Survey of London. Four of these publications contained very similar engravings of the Temple, of which the two earliest are almost certainly based on the lost version of 1671. A significant difference is immediately noticeable between two late seventeenth-century engravings (from Delaune’s London, c.1681 and Morden & Lea’s Prospects, c.1687) and two from the early eighteenth-century (from Strype’s Survey, 1720 and Bowles’s London Described, 1731), which is the change in the layout of the gardens. By the early 1700s the western and middle gardens were planted more formally than they had been in the late 1600s and the eastern garden had apparently disappeared entirely. The fact that the less formal, but more extensive, garden is shown in the 1770 re-engraving of the 1671 print suggests that this reflects a real change that occurred towards the end of the seventeenth-century. That the less formal garden was also present in the 1671 version is supported by the fact that the report refers to changes in minor details compared to the re-engraving of 1770, but not the major change that would have resulted from a complete redesign of the gardens. The catalogue of the Guildhall Art Gallery, which holds the Corporation’s collection, lists seven versions of the Temple print, those listed above, plus two others of probably later date derived from them. (3)

The size of the 1671 original engraving suggests that it was not intended as an illustration for a book, but for use as ‘wall furniture’, an increasingly popular use of larger prints at this time. Evidence for this is provided by the complete absence of any references to engravings of the other Inns of Court made to a similar scale, or as early as 1671. This being the case, the mortality rate of prints in such use tended to be high and it would not be surprising if only a limited number of copies survived. In this case, however, it would seem that there may now be no surviving copy at all. This may well have resulted from a short print run. Although copper plates, when treated with care, could be used for making several hundred engravings before a deterioration in quality became noticeable, the limiting factor in this case was more likely to have been the specialist interest of the subject matter. It is very unlikely that White would have produced the plate (or, more likely, plates – there would probably have been two) speculatively and he probably received a fee from the Society for the considerable amount of work involved. This was around the time subscription lists for books and engravings of various types were becoming common, but no advertisements for the 1671 engraving have thus far been identified in the contemporary press.

In the introduction to the first volume of his calendar of the Inn’s records, Inderwick refers to ‘a drawing of the Temple in the possession of the Inn … dated 1563’ and a ‘drawing … published in 1770, by the Hon. Society of the Inner Temple, describing the Inn as it appeared in the year 1671, when the Duke of York, afterwards James II., was made a bencher, and before the great fire which occurred in the Temple in 1678’. He does not explicitly refer here to the 1671 version of the engraving and it is thus possible that by 1898 it was no longer in the possession of the Inn. However, in his introduction to volume three he refers to ‘a map [sic] in the possession of the Inner Temple … “as it was in 1671, when the king and the duke of York dined with the treasurer” Sir Heneage Finch’, which could be a reference to the earlier version. (4)

Given the subject matter, there are several collections that might be expected to hold copies of the 1671 engraving, including those of the Corporation of London and the Royal Family. Unfortunately neither of these do, and a copy is similarly absent from the collections of the British and Bodleian Libraries, the British, Ashmolean and Fitzwilliam Museums and the Museum of London. The fate of the Inn’s own copy is unknown. It is possible that it was the ‘map’ referred to when Inderwick wrote his introductions, but even if this were the case it does not seem to have survived the bombing of 1941. Will a copy ever resurface? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility and would certainly fill an important gap in the history of not only the Inner Temple, but also of seventeenth-century London. ‘Let diligent search be made …’

1) Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, vol. 2 (London: J.H. & J. Parker, 1856), pp. 66-7.
2) John Stow (ed. John Strype) Survey of London 5th edn. (London, 1720); 6th edn (London, 1754/5).
3) I am grateful to Sir John Baker for pointing this out.
4) Frederick Andrew Inderwick (ed.) A calendar of Inner Temple records 5 vols. (London: Inner Temple, 1858-1936), vol. 1, p. xxx and vol. 3, p. xxxi.

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A guest post by talented artist and London Historians Member, Liam O’FarrellAnd an offer to buy the painting or limited edition print at a special London Historians cut price rate. See below for details.

I am a member of London Historians, a group of like-minded London history enthusiasts. Director Mike Paterson invited me along to one of its tours: the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand. I have a keen interest in history and am an artist who is enthusiastic about architecture so this tour was not to be missed.

I’ve often passed this imposing building while riding buses and the goings-on are a common feature on the TV news, ranging from infamous cases such as the Leveson Enquiry on the media’s alleged misdemeanours to the rather bizarre incident of Heather Mills throwing a jug of water over Paul McCartney’s lawyer, Fiona Shackleton. Heather was apparently dismayed at only receiving a £24.3million divorce settlement compared with the £125million which court papers revealed she had demanded. Life can be so very tough.

royal courts of justice, london, liam o'farrell

The building
The courts were designed by architect George Edmund Street. Work began on the huge 6 acre site in 1873 and was officially opened in 1882 by Queen Victoria. Over the years extensions have been added, so currently there are 78 courts within. There was potentially a great deal to get through and so our guide creamed the very best to put in our 90 minute tour.

The tour
Our guide for the day was Colin Davey, a qualified City of London Guide Lecturer, City of Westminster Guide Lecturer and National Trust Guide, as well as being a fellow London Historians Member. He has also spent many years as a practising lawyer so proved ideal for this tour adding much detail and knowledge beyond that of the average guide. We began our tour in the Great Hall. Colin initially gave us a quick overview of the building’s history and function.

the royal courts of justice, london, by liam o'farrell

I was surprised to hear that they do not hold criminal trials at the RCJ: these take place at criminal courts such as the Old Bailey or equivalent. In the RCJ they deal mainly with Civil Law, dealing with matters such as inquests, high value divorce proceedings as well as intellectual property and other commercial disputes. The Royal Courts are, however, courts of appeal, hence the necessity for cells on the premises.

Colin went on to tell us about the numerous paintings and statues of past judges and various other law related cognoscenti who have made a name for themselves over the years. We then moved around the corridors and rooms, learning about the functions and histories of each. Highlights included the ‘Bear Garden’ which neither contains a garden or – you will be relieved to hear – any bears either. It’s an elegant galleried Gothic room, called the ‘Bear Garden’ supposedly by Queen Victoria who said that the bickering barristers sounded like a bear pit or garden where the hapless bears were goaded to fight dogs. Adjoining this is the resplendent ‘Painted Room’ in glittering Victorian green, red and gold über camp. If Liberace were still with us this is where he would like to do lunch. It is however used as the judges’ robing room.

Once the tour was complete we continued the law theme with lunch at Middle Temple Hall on the other side of the Strand. It’s an original Elizabethan hall measuring 110 feet long and spanned by a blacked double hammer-beam roof. It has been in continual use as the eating and mooting hall of the Middle Temple since its inception in 1573. Shakespeare buffs might know that the first recorded performance of Twelfth Night too was played in the Middle Temple Hall.

This was a particular treat for us as the general public is not routinely allowed to walk in off the street. But Mike had booked one of the large refectory tables and we sat down for a hearty lunch at a pretty reasonable price. It is not often you can eat while musing over a collection of original Van Dykes staring down at you.

The tour of The Royal Courts of justice was a real treat and big thanks to Mike Paterson and Colin Davey for an excellent afternoon and plenty of subject matter for my sketchbook.

The painting

the royal courts of justice, london, by liam o'farrellI could have painted the whole of the building though I felt the characters would get lost in the immensity of it all, and it would somehow dilute itself in the process. After some musing I decided to paint the great arched entrance to the front façade. This is where much action takes place, a gaping mouth of a door where all the journalists, cameramen and crowds gather to get the latest on the progress within. It’s also where all the winners and losers spill out to give their side of the story or to dash off as quickly as they can to reassess their thoughts and wallets.

To begin my drawing I positioned myself across the street outside the George pub. I had the occasional company of the pub’s smokers and it also afforded me a little bit of cover as the weather was utterly foul.

I got the bones in of what I needed fairly quickly, I needed to hurry as even with my modest shelter the rain was still coming in and my paper was turning to soggy loo roll with my pencils either slipping across the top or gouging messy holes. This picture would have to be finished off in the studio. And so it was.

royal courts of justice, london, liam o'farrell

Yours to have
If you’d like to buy a print – or indeed the original – of Liam’s lovely watercolour, you may, as follows:

Signed limited-edition (100) print:
£120. London Historians Member price: £100.
Original mounted painting, glazed and in a brushed gold frame:
£560. London Historians Member price: £500
Dimensions: 37cm x 54cm with a white border surround.

Contact Liam O’Farrell directly by email liamo@liamofarrell.com, mobile 07812 191082.
See his other work on his website here: www.liamofarrell.com
ollow him on Twitter as @liams_art

Liam is also available to do commissions.

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I had forgotten, but while preparing this post I quickly realised quite how much we did this year. A  lot. So I’ll break this up into two, maybe three bits.

The idea is for Members to look back at what went on, for non-Members to get a better idea of what we get up to, and if they like what they see, to join us. If that’s you and you’re reading this before Christmas Eve, may I suggest you first visit our good friends at Londonist. <taps nose>

Tube 150. We kicked off the year with our panel talk at London Transport Museum on 10 January, the actual anniversary. Review. Later in the year, in August, we went on a behind-the-scenes at the museum’s storage warehouse at Acton Depot, led by LH Member and London Transport Museum volunteer David Burnell.

London Historians, Tube 150

Full House. Picture: Paul Davey

Tube150, London Historians

Mark Mason, Christian Wolmar, Matt Brown, Annie Mole, Gareth Edwards. Picture: Paul Davey

London Transport Museum, Acton Depot, London Historians

London Transport Museum, Acton Depot.

Our Old Bailey tour in March, conducted by  the magnificently-titled Charles Henty (Secondary of London and Under Sheriff, High Bailiff of Southwark), was tremendous. A complete sell-out, that one. Review.

Old Bailey Tour, London Historians

Old Bailey Tour, London Historians

Picture: Matt Brown / Londonist

History in the Pub: Tudor London.

Mathew Lyons

Speaker Mathew Lyons, LH Member, author of The Favourite (about Ralegh).

Andy Maginley

Andrew Maginley, LH Member, playing his lute.

Tudor London

Our final speaker was Tudor academic Dr Suzannah Lipscomb, here talking to Matt Brown of Londonist, who compered the evening.

history in the pub

A full house, as usual.

Behind the Scenes: Tower Bridge. Review.

tower bridge

London Historians group on an upper walkway.

tower bridge

…and the very opposite: in a bascule chamber.

Behind the Scenes: The Government Art Collection. There was a 15 month waiting list for this! Review.
N.B. We’re doing this again on 13 August 2014, likely to be Members only.

government art collection

Where the art is checked in, checked out, cleaned and restored.

government art collection

Deputy Director Julie Toppolo gave us a wonderful tour.

HMP Wandsworth. One of our Members is a serving prison officer who is also the honorary curator of the prison museum. He has organised three tours of the prison for London Historians so far. Photography extremely restricted, but here is one of our groups. We’ll plan do at least one of these in 2014.

hmp wandsworth

Behind the scenes at Middle Temple. We had a wonderful tour of the Middle Temple, one of the ancient four Inns of Court. Afterwards we had a superb lunch in the Tudor Great Hall. Lord Leveson was at high table. Review.

middle temple

middle temple

Coming Soon: Our Year in Review, Part Two.

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middle templeYesterday, a group of Members went on one of our behind-the-scenes: a tour around the Middle Temple whose ancient hall dates from the Elizabethan era. It’s a magnificent structure with a handsome double hammerbeam roof, one of only four in the world. Middle Temple is one of London’s four Inns of Court, the other three being its near neighbour Inner Temple plus Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn slightly to the north on t’other side of Fleet Street.

Before universities proliferated, along with Oxford and Cambridge the Inns collectively were main centres of learning for young gentlemen who perhaps preferred to hang around the capital. Sir Walter Ralegh was one such. Today the hall’s main function is a refectory for members and students. But in its early days it was also a venue for revels, lectures, drama. Twelfth Night’s first performance was here in 1602. Our tour started and ended here for afterwards we enjoyed a fabulous buffet lunch seated on one of the long bench tables. Between these bookends in time, we were led through a series of wood panelled function rooms, all richly decorated with portraits of luminaries of the past who had close connections with this Inn.

King Edward VII and the late Queen Mother were both enthusiastic supporters who enjoyed the convivial hospitality of the Middle Temple. The guided part of our visit ended in the Library. The books are old; the building is modern, for the old library was irretrievably Blitzed. It’s the home of the Molyneux globes, one terrestrial, the other celestial. They are among the earliest of the type ever made, remarkable survivors. Members of the public are permitted to visit the hall, but only if it’s not being used and at the discretion of the porters, so it’s all a bit random. But we had our fill and much more besides, all thanks to the Inn’s senior librarian Renae Satterley @resatterley whose knowledge, enthusiasm and warm hospitality are a credit to this ancient institution. Rather than repeat what’s available elsewhere, read the history of Middle Temple on Wikipedia here or, better still, on their own web site here. Look out for the PDF download. Related post: Agnus Dei.

middle temple

Our group at the high table. donated by Elizabeth I. A massive plank of Tudor oak which was manoevred in only by removing the stained glass window.

middle temple london

Double hammerbeam roof.

There are hundreds of these members' coats of arms throughout the Middle Temple.

There are hundreds of these members’ coats of arms throughout the Middle Temple.

middle temple london

Contemporary Portrait of Elizabeth I.

middle temple hall

This bench top is a hatch from the Golden Hinde, where newly qualified barristers are sworn in.

middle temple london

The Bench Apartment.

middle temple london

Charter from James I granting possession of the Middle Temple in perpetuity.

middle temple london

The spot where a Zeppelin-delivered bomb pierced the floor. Middle Temple was a victim of bombs in both World Wars.

middle temple london

The Prince’s Room, named in honour of Prince William, formerly the Members’ Smoking Room.

middle temple london

The library.

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The Temple ChurchThe Temple Church is one of London’s oldest, dating from 1185. Henry II is believed to have been at the consecration. The original building – the Nave – is circular, the favoured design in contemporary Templar churches throughout Europe, following the Temple in Jerusalem. The main section – the Chancel – was added in the mid 13C.

When in 1307 the Knights Templar were suppressed throughout Europe by the French Avignon Pope Clement V, egged on by King Louis IV, all their property passed on to the Hospitallers. In England, these in turn passed to the Crown when Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries. In 1608, James I handed the area over to lawyers of the Inner and Middle Temples with the proviso that they take responsibility for the Temple Church, a situation which remains to this day. One would imagine this is the reason that it is the Authorised Version which sits on every pew, but one would like to think that good taste came into it too.

The lawyers have done a great job of keeping this church in impeccable condition. On the floor of the old nave we have eight stone monuments of medieval knights. On the north side of the Chancel is a wonderful modern pipe organ (the original 17C organ was destroyed in the Blitz) on which yesterday the organist was practising, belting out a rousing rendition of “Holy, holy, holy…”, among other old favourites. It may have dislodged tiles off a lesser church.

Temple Church, London

The old Nave, facing West.

Temple Church, London.

The Chancel, facing East.


The Temple Church is based right in the middle of the Inner and Middle Temple district, immediately south of Temple Bar where Westminster and the City of London meet. It is open to the public for a few hours three or four times a week, but at irregular times, which can make planning a visit difficult (this was my third attempt). Entry is free for just another two days, for on 1 March a £3 entrance charge is being introduced. A sign of the times, but still worth it.

Temple Church, London

From the outside: the circular 12th Century Nave

Temple Church, London

Outside. Two knights sharing a horse, a common Templar emblem.

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I’m not sure why, but I’ve always liked the lamb and flag symbol that one comes across from time to time. Perhaps it’s because it appears less belligerent than all those lions, griffins, dragons, bears, stags, swords. Steeped deeply in religiosity,  it recalls an early, gentle Christianity. Typically, the depiction is of a lamb, (sometimes, but not usually, with blood streaming from its chest), in front of a flag on a pole, in most cases, the cross doubling as the staff. The flag is usually St George’s – sometimes triangular, sometimes square or rectangular. Some depictions have the lamb with just the cross, but no flag. Most usually, the lamb is standing, but sometimes you will see it lying down.

So, quite a few variations, and all of these have their own meaning. But the common denominator is the lamb, which has powerful Christian symbolism, representing as it does Christ himself: the Lamb of God. In the New Testament we find:

 Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!(John 1:29)


Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’ (Rev 5:11-12)

The Lamb and Flag is an immensely popular pub name as you’ll discover if you Google “lamb and flag”. But just add “symbol” or similar and you”ll start finding out something more useful. The best place in London to see many Agnus Dei badges is in the Middle Temple district just south of the east end of the Strand, for it is the badge of that particular Inn of Court. Here are some examples. I particularly like the ancient, bashed-up stone carving, encrusted in moss.

agnus dei, middle temple, london

agnus dei, middle temple, londonagnus dei, middle temple, london

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