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Archive of the Month

In this series, we explore and illuminate themes, events and artefacts from Middle Temple's history, through the examination and interpretation of material from the Inn's collections, including archives, paintings, silverware, heraldry and more.
April 2024: Temple Bar – The Inn’s historic neighbour: Glorious, gruesome and gone 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the re-erection of Temple Bar in the City of London. This edition reveals the historical significance and representation of this landmark piece of architecture, and the abortive proposals to relocate it to the Inn’s vicinity after its removal.
March 2024: A Stroll through Time – Timekeeping Instruments at Middle Temple Combining aesthetics with pragmatism, sundials and clocks are a distinct part of the Inn’s historic collections. This edition tracks the presence of these instruments at the Inn and their evolution in time.
February 2024: ‘The Precepts of “The Hardwicke” Shall Maintain’ – The Forgotten Society of the Inns of Court Uncovering the history of the Hardwicke Society, a subsidiary membership organisation of the Inns of Court marked by its distinguished membership, vibrant debating culture and robust library of advocacy.
January 2024: Telecommunications at the Temple – Connecting Life Within and Beyond the Inn From telegraph to telephone, Middle Templars had a front-row seat to advances in telecommunications during late Victorian and Edwardian London. This edition looks back on how these sweeping changes affected the Inn and intersected with the lives of those who lived and worked in its precinct.
December 2023: Safeguarding the Inn—From Domestic to Public Police The mid-19th century saw the Inn opening its safety and security arrangements to the City’s newly formed public police force. This edition explores this transition, rather unforeseen for many, and the context around that change.
November 2023: The Evolution of ‘a Laudable Custom’ — Mooting at Middle Temple Tracing the development of mooting, vocational pleading training for future and young barristers, at the Inn and efforts by generations of Middle Templars to revive this time-honoured tradition.
September 2023: The Lost Middle Temple Library – Life and Death of a Victorian Edifice Delving into the history of the monumental Victorian gothic revival library building that once overlooked Middle Temple Garden, from its construction to eventual destruction during the Second World War.
July 2023: 'Insufferable Enormities have Multiplied' - 450 Years of Misbehaviour in Hall The 450 years since Middle Temple Hall was completed have seen many instances of unruly conduct, rule-breaking, bad manners and even violence taking place under its impressive double hammerbeam roof. This month we look back at this varied history of misbehaviour, from sartorial faux-pas to sword-fighting.
June 2023: The Temple Fire of 1679 – A Narrow Escape from ‘Irreparable Loss’ Having escaped the Great Fire of London, the majority of the Middle Temple’s buildings were destroyed by another fire thirteen years later. This edition looks at events during the night of the inferno and the rebuilding of the Inn in its aftermath.
May 2023: The Creation of the Victoria Embankment – Miasmas, Mass Transit and Metropolitan Modification Exploring the complex and dramatic factors which drove the construction of the Victoria Embankment and their impact on the Temple, as well as the Inn’s concerns about the works themselves and the compromises and privations their completion called for
April 2023: King Edward VII – Inception of a Royal Tradition at the Inns of Court On the eve of the coronation a new King, we look back at the Middle Temple’s association with a monarch whose Call to the Bench started a new tradition of Royal Benchers being elected at the Inns of Court.
March 2023: 150 Years of Supporting Students through Scholarships Over the past hundred and fifty years, the Inn has sought to combat financial barriers to studying and qualifying for the Bar. This month we will look back at the introduction of scholarships, their impact, and their development throughout the years.
February 2023: Of Nando’s, Napoleon and Natural History - The Origin of Coffee Culture at the Middle Temple Looking at the introduction to the Middle Temple of the exotic drink known as coffee, and the coffee houses that served as important social focal points for the membership in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
January 2023: Curfews, Coaches and Christopher Wren: The Story of the Middle Temple Gate An exploration of the history of the Middle Temple Gate, the main entrance to the Inn from Fleet Street. Several versions of the gate have existed over the course of seven hundred years, providing the Society with the means to protect and maintain order within the Temple.
December 2022: Reviving Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night - A Ghost of Christmas Misrule With Twelfth Night approaching, we revisit revivals of Shakespeare's eponymous play. Performed in Middle Hall between 1880 and 2002, these productions conjured the chaotic spirit of Tudor Christmas for contemporary audiences.
November 2022: Cooks, Catering and Corruption – The Provision of Food and Drink in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries The practicalities of catering at the Middle Temple were very different in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - this edition explores the complex and sometimes chaotic world of the Inn’s kitchen and buttery.
October 2022: ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ - Burial at the Temple While the lives and accomplishments of members of the Temple community are the subject of much research, the fate of their earthly remains receives much less attention. This edition explores the subject of burial at the Temple from the early medieval period to the mid nineteenth century.
September 2022: The Creation of Professional Standards in Legal Education – Mid-19th Century Reform Looking into reforms to legal education in the mid-19th century that introduced teaching, standards and assessments after several centuries lacking any meaningful support for prospective barristers.
July 2022: 1922 in the Spotlight – Roofing, Remembrance and Royalty This month we look back a century ago at the eventful year of 1922 – a year that included detailed investigations into the condition of the Hall's roof, the unveiling of war memorials, distinguished diners, and the first women to be Called to the Bar at the Middle Temple.
June 2022: The Turbulent Tenure of Doctor Micklethwaite, Master of the Temple 1628-1639 Examining the troubled tenure of Dr Paul Micklethwaite and his various disputes with the Temple – social, financial, and religious – which resulted in adjudication by King Charles I.
May 2022: The Changing Landscape of the Middle Temple Garden Delving into the history of the landscape of the Middle Temple Garden between the 16th and 20th centuries - from its beginning as a medieval riverbed to ‘the most delectable piece of greensward in London’.
April 2022: Vacation Parliaments of the Middle Temple, 1681-1774 - Disrespect, Disobedience and Sedition An exploration of the history of the Inn’s rebellious Vacation Parliaments, where barristers and students protested the policies of the Benchers with varying degrees of civility.
March 2022: Painters, Paintings and Portraiture – Women and Art at the Middle Temple This month we take a closer look at the representation of women in paintings around the Inn and discover more about the five female artists whose paintings are displayed at Middle Temple.
February 2022: Tenants at the Temple – Life in the Inn's Chambers The Middle Temple is not only a place of education and work, but also home to a strong residential population. This month we explore the life of those living in a residential chamber at the Inn over the past few centuries.
January 2022: A Muse for the Poets and a Resort for the Birds – The Many Faces of the Middle Temple Fountain Considered to have been, at the time of its construction, the first permanent water fountain in London, this month we will be using the records in the archive to delve into the history of Middle Temple's fountain.
December 2021: Frost Fairs, Freezing Temperatures and Fires - A History of Winter at the Inn Topically, for December’s Archive of the Month, we will look at how winter has played it part in life at the Inn, from frost fairs, the arrival of snow and struggling to heat freezing chambers.
November 2021: Middle Temple Through the Looking Glass - A History of Windows at the Inn This month we will look at the history of Middle Temple, quite literally, through the window exploring their involvement in the Inn's history through the stained glass in Hall, window taxes, repair works and unwitting participation in misdemeanours around the Inn.
October 2021: Royalty, Rationing and Ruby Port - A History of Grand Day This month we delve into the history of Grand Day to investigate the origin of the event, famous attendees, past menus, and how it runs today.
September 2021: Books, Bread and Beer - A History of Shops and Taverns at the Middle Temple Throughout its history, the Lane has been host to a variety of shops such as stationers, peruke makers (wig makers), hatters and of course, taverns. This month we investigate the history of these establishments through the records in the archive.
August 2021: A Musical Movement - A History of Temple Church Organ and Choir This month we delve into the rich history of music at the Temple by exploring the story of the choir and organ of Temple Church.
July 2021: Of Misdemeanours and Mutiny – A History of Fines and Penalties at the Inn Delving into the history of monetary fines at the Inn placed on members and students, with incidents ranging from wearing a hat in Hall to breaking windows.
June 2021: From High Court to Tennis Court - A History of Sport at Middle Temple Looking into the connection between sport and the Middle Temple, from sporting clubs at the Inn to the professional sporting careers of members.
May 2021: Bonfires, Banners & Beyond - The Restoration and the Inn Exploring the impact of the Restoration of the Monarchy in May 1660 on the Middle Temple and its members - from riotous celebrations and cultural revival to a shifting and unsettled political atmosphere.
April 2021: A People's History of the Library The history of the physical library buildings have been extensively documented over the last 400 years, but this month we will be exploring the impact that librarians, porters, students and even thieves have had in the Library’s past.
March 2021: Disrupting The Norm - How Women made their mark on life at Middle Temple Looking at how the admission of female students has impacted the Inn – from seating plans to coats of arms – and created a more equal experience for all genders.
February 2021: Behind the Armorial Panels - Their History, Preservation and Conservation Delving into the history of the production and display of armorial panels at the Inn, as well as exploring the preservation and conservation work undertaken in the present day to ensure the survival of this unique collection.
January 2021: The Art of Complaining - A History of Complaints at Middle Temple Uncovering a variety of complaints made to the Inn over the past 400 years, with grievances ranging from being kept awake by noisy neighbours to dissatisfied diners in Hall.
December 2020: Feasts, Festivities and Flagrant Disorder - Christmas at the Middle Temple during the Early Modern Period Exploring the celebration of Christmas at the Inn during the 16th and 17th centuries, from grand feasting and ceremony to riotous behaviour and forbidden festivities.
November 2020: ‘These Hard and Troublous Times’ – The Middle Temple and the English Civil War (1642-1651) Examining the turbulent effects of the Civil War on the Inn - member fought against member and Bencher against Bencher, and the widespread disruption to learning and dining culminated in permanent changes to the life of the Society.
October 2020: From the West Indies to the East Riding - Black History Month at the Inn Exploring the archival legacies and sketching the stories of four early and pioneering Black members of the Middle Temple, who came from diverse backgrounds and whose paths led them to remarkable achievements.
September 2020: The Steward of the Inn – Provider of Commons and Collector of Debts, c.1500-1747 Investigating the historic role of Steward of the Inn, whose primary duties were the provision of commons and the collection of debts from members for commons – a role that sometimes made him unpopular with the membership.
July 2020: Gifts, Goldsmiths and Grand Larceny – The History of Four Silver Salvers Uncovering the history of four silver salvers in the Middle Temple’s silver collection. Inconsistencies between the dates of production of the salvers led to discoveries relating to their origin as well as a dramatic tale of grand larceny.
June 2020: The Great Fire of London – A Narrow Escape for the Middle Temple Looking at the Temple’s battle against the fire, which destroyed much of Inner Temple and spared all but one building belonging to the Middle Temple.
May 2020: First Daughter of Domus - HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Exploring the relationship between Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and the Middle Temple. The Queen Mother was both the first woman and the first crowned king or queen to be Called to the Bench at the Inn. She frequently attended events for fifty-seven years from the time of her Call in 1944 to her death in 2002.
April 2020: Bombs, Blazes and Buckets of Tea – Life at the Inn during World War Two Uncovering dramatic first-hand accounts of air raids at the Middle Temple and the bravery of the individuals involved in its defence.
March 2020: A Brief History of Archives and Recordkeeping at the Middle Temple Investigating the recordkeeping practises of earlier generations at the Inn and the how documents gradually moved from the Treasury to their final home in the Archive Repository.
February 2020: From Persecution to Pomegranates - Roman Catholics at the Middle Temple Exploring the complicated and challenging environment faced by Roman Catholics at the Middle Temple over the centuries, from state surveillance to emancipation, via the building of Hall, the Gordon Riots and a mysterious stained glass pomegranate.
January 2020: New Inn - Middle Temple’s Lost Inn of Chancery Delving into the history and archive of New Inn, one the now dissolved Inns of Chancery that acted as preparatory schools for the Inns of Court.
December 2019: Lighting Winter's Darkness - The History of Light at the Middle Temple Shining a light on past methods of illumination at the Inn, reliance on natural light and dim, smoky candles giving way to oil and gas, and finally to the bright electric lighting of the present.
November 2019: Defending Inn and Country: Military at the Middle Temple Looking at the Inn’s role in the military defence of the country, from raising arms against the Spanish in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, to being deployed to South Africa during the Boer War.