Walking Tour of Legal London
The Butterflies hit London on Monday 7th August 2017 this time to visit places of legal history. Having met Blue Badge Guide Mark King at Temple Underground Station and grabbing coffees we walked off through the Victoria Embankment Gardens. First stop was the statue of William Edward Forester ( who set up the National System of Elementary Education) and then the statue of Lady Henry Somerset ( President of British Women's Temperance Association) She promoted women's issues before feminism became a popular and at one time was tipped to be the first female PM. Her family estate included most of Reigate where they had their fine country house, Reigate Priory.
There are now four Inns of Court - Middle and Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn. Inns of Court date back to the 13th century, the first being built next to the River Thames, the M25 of its day. Since then the Inns, built around tranquil gardens, have been the home of the legal profession. At Middle Temple is Middle Temple Hall, a a very large dinning hall containing a top table made from one single oak tree that was floated down the River Thames. Once in position the hall was built around it. This is where William Shakespeare first performed Twelfth Night.
On our way into the Middle Temple we pasted 2 Temple place, the former home of the Lord & Lady Astor and a number of working gas lights.
Before breaking for lunch we entered the Royal Courts of Justice, built and designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1882 and is the largest court in Europe. If you think the building is impressive from the outside think again! You enter into the most amazing hall, easily the size of a couple of badminton courts ( and in the evening badminton is still played here.) It has a lovely high vaulted ceiling off of which are the courts plus lots of nooks and crannies ( 1000 rooms in all) where one can easily get lost. We saw the courts and display cases of various court attire ( gowns and wigs) learning that the clothing had first been introduced so that barristers could not be recognised out of court.
After lunch the tour continued, stopping by the oldest public connivance, and the court tailors Ede & Ravencroft, before visiting Lincoln Inn. We then winded our way through narrow time locked alleyways and courtyards until we arrived at the Rolls Building ( the newest and very modern looking civil court) We then made our way through Inner Temple , with stops of various squares and buildings, before arriving at our last stop, Temple Church. This was built by the Knights of the Temple as their headquarter. It is a round church modelled on the circular church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In 1214 and it was here the Magna Carter was first drafted. Many knights associated with the order are buried in the church including one of the instigators of the Magna Carter.
Article and Photographs Linda Rocket.