Archive of the Month

This series of short articles explores key themes and events in the history of the Middle Temple, through the presentation and discussion of material from the Inn's historic collections, including archival documents, paintings, silverware and other artefacts.


  • May: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.





Middle Temple Gate and Temple Bar, c1800