On the western edge of the City lies the Temple, comprising two of London's Inns of Court (the Middle Temple and Inner Temple) - a quiet, secluded area virtually cut off from the rest of London and pretty much unchanged since the seventeenth century. The Inns of Court are, in effect, law colleges.
The site was originally the base of the Knights Templar, a chivalrous order of monks founded in 1119. The Knights Templar are known to have taken part in the Crusades. The order was dissolved in 1312 but the site still retains the name of the Temple. It was taken over by another religious order but was leased to the lawyers and their students who were settling in the area, which was close to the Royal Courts. The Temple has been a central part of legal London ever since. A barrister - a lawyer who has the right to appear in court - must be a member of one of the Inns of Court. Most of the accommodation nowadays is given over to barristers' and judges' chambers, but there are also ceremonial halls on site, plus the Temple Church - on the same site as the Knights Templars' original place of worship and the oldest part of the complex. A few buildings have been refurbished or have modern wings and annexes, but part of the complex dates from about 1560.
The grounds are open to the public but there are only a handful of entrances to the site and no through traffic is allowed. The Temple, then, still has the quiet and secluded air of the religious order from which it sprang.
For some obscure historical reason the boundary with the City of Westminster actually runs through the site, but for the sake of clarity I shall regard it, for the purposes of this web page, as being wholly within the City of London.
A Temple photo album
Temple official website
Online Law - Middle Temple
Map of the Temple by Streetmap.co.uk
Back to City of London index page
This page last updated 22nd October 2002