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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.
2020
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.
2019
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.
2018
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.
2017
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.
October 2017: Imbibing at the Inn Looking at the purchase, enjoyment and effects of wine, beer and liquor at the Inn, from the 'Sack' and 'Lisbone' wines served to the Benchers in the 1740s to the misdemeanours of students and staff alike over the centuries.
September 2017: Food and Dining at the Inn Exploring the role food has played throughout the Inn's history, from eighteenth century disputes over venison pasties to the Grand Day dinners of today.
July 2017: Middle Temple Gardens Looking into the rich history of the Inn's gardens, from their 17th Century development to the splendours and privations of the 1930s and 1940s.
June 2017: Royalty and the Inn Illustrating the Inn's well-established and ongoing royal connections, looking at records and objects including a disgruntled letter from King Charles I and a unique silver bowl.