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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 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.
October 2019: Early Women of the Middle Temple Exploring archival records relating to the role of women in the early Inn and its attitude towards them, which ranged from begrudging tolerance to outright abhorrence.
July 2019: Duelling, Diamonds and the Deliverance of Europe - Archival Curiosities from Beyond the Inn Uncovering some of the more unusual and unexpected material which has come into the archive's custody by gift, donation or serendipitous accident.
June 2019: Five Centuries of Keeping the Peace - The Porters of Middle Temple Looking at archival records which tell the (often dramatic) stories of the Inn's porters and watchmen, and exploring their personalities, heroism and misdemeanours, by way of noisy policemen, plundering soldiers and the Great Plague of London.
May 2019: From the Alps to Allahabad - Middle Temple and the Mail Exploring the history of the post as reflected in the Inn's archive and illuminating the rich global network of correspondence which converged on the Middle Temple, by way of blundering postmen and episcopal epistles.
April 2019: 1718-1719 in the Spotlight - Debts, Diligence and Degeneracy Casting the spotlight back 300 years on an eventful year in Middle Temple history, featuring such challenges as pirates, swindlers, abandoned children and exploding privies.
March 2019: Friendship & Revolution - The American Connection Tracing the Inn's relationship with the United States, looking at the role played by Middle Templars in colonising America and then fighting for (and against) its independence, twentieth century expressions of friendship and hospitality, and the first female Honorary Bencher.
February 2019: Readers & Readings Exploring the long and winding history of Readers and readings at the Middle Temple, from the dull to the debauched, and looking at the disruptions of the Civil War, the first female Reader and an unexpected royal visit.
January 2019: A Middle Temple Menagerie Uncovering the stories of animals at the Inn, from troublesome hawks and noisy dogs to a royal rat-catcher and the surprisingly diverse animal population of Hall.
December 2018: Dickens & the Inn Telling, through archival records, the story of Charles Dickens' relationship with the Middle Temple and its members, the Inn's role in his work, and his continued presence today.
November 2018: 1914-1918 - Middle Temple at War Exploring, through archival records, the stories of the many barristers, students and members of staff of the Middle Temple who fought or participated in the First World War.
October 2018: Middle Temple Dress Codes Looking at the dress codes imposed both by the Inn and by external powers on generations of Middle Templars - and their violation.
September 2018: Royal Paintings in Middle Temple Hall Examining the stories of the portraits of Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain in Middle Temple Hall, through the archival records and their historical context.
July 2018: Balls at the Middle Temple Taking a look at the Balls given at the Inn from the early twentieth to the early twenty-first centuries - from waltzing in Hall on the eve of the First World War to the uproarious 'Glastonbury in a Tuxedo' events at the turn of the millennium.
June 2018: The Middle Temple Silver Looking at the rich history of the Inn's silver collection, from the earliest evidence of silver plate in 1503 to 21st century acquisitions and donations.
May 2018: The Middle Temple Foundlings Telling the story of the foundling children abandoned at the Inn and taken into its care, looking at who they were, where they came from and how the Inn provided for their health, education and future.
April 2018: Music & Song at the Middle Temple Exploring the story of music at the Inn, its high notes and moments of discord, including noisy musical neighbours, Spanish minstrels in the garden, wartime concerts for wounded soldiers, and a turn on the piano by the founder of the Proms.
March 2018: Eighteenth Century Literati at the Middle Temple Looking at some literary figures of the eighteenth century and their associations with the Inn, from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's youthful romantic adventures to Oliver Goldsmith's embarassment over his chambers, and including a poem by a young William Blackstone.
February 2018: The Middle Temple and the Thames Tracing the relationship between the Inn and London's great river over the centuries, from daring Elizabethan escapades to seasick Admiralty barristers in the 1930s, via seventeenth century Frost Fairs and the 'Great Stink' of 1858.
January 2018: The Lost Middle Temple Silver of the Pre-Civil War Period New evidence uncovered in the archive has revealed a long-elusive list of the Inn's original silver plate, and solved the mystery of its sale in 1649.
December 2017: Christmas Revels & Masques Exploring the rich traditions of Christmas revels and courtly masques at the Inn, from sixteenth-century misbehaviour to singing Treasurers in the 1970s.
November 2017: Seventeenth Century Temple Church Silver and the Middle Temple Taking a closer look at the Temple Church silver, in the context of the religious and political conflicts of the seventeenth century.