The four Great Inns of Court, Inner and Middle Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn, perform the function of University to the legal profession. Each has its own peculiar maze of courts, alleys and gardens preserving the tranquil atmosphere of earlier times, they are private property although freely accessible to pedestrians.
Formerly the property of the Knights Templar's (from 1184 to 1313) and then of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, the Knights Templar were a military Order founded in 1119 at Jerusalem with the object of recovering Palestine from the Saracens. The land finally came into the possession of two Inns of Court - Inner Temple and Middle Temple at the abolition of orders of chivalry by Henry VIII.
Temple Church is one of the few remaining round churches in England - the circular nave, dedicated 1185 by the patriarch of Jerusalem in the presence of Henry II and his court, being built for the Knights Templar in imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The interior, including that of the chancel, added c.1240, is well restored after serious World War II bomb damage; there are important 12th and 13th century tomb effigies and a 1682 reredos by Wren. The church is independent from the Diocese of London enjoying the status of a 'Royal Peculiar' under the jurisdiction of the Queen.
Inner Temple Hall crypt survives from the 14th century, both Inner and Middle Temple have important legal libraries.
Telephone: 020 7797 8250
Address: Middle Temple Lane, EC4
Website: Inner Temple
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