The Honourable Society Of The Inner Temple, London



History of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

The recorded history of the area known as the Temple begins in about 1160 when it was acquired by the Knights of the Military Order of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, who moved their London base there from the Old Temple site in Holborn. Following the loss of the Holy Land in the 1290s, the Order of the Temple declined and in 1312 was dissolved after the Knights had been arrested and imprisoned at the instigation of Pope Clement V for alleged malpractice. The Templars estates were granted by the Pope to the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem and, although the New Temple was seized initially by Edward II as forfeit to the Crown, the King conceded the consecrated portion and subsequently the whole site to the Hospitallers. The Hospitallers merely drew income from the land. By about 1350, when the royal courts were sitting permanently at Westminster, the Temple had become a home for lawyers and from an early date, it seems that there were two independent legal societies based there, Inner and Middle Temple, each occupying a separate hall. In 1608, James I granted the Temple to the Benchers of the two Inns in free and common socage. The division of the site between the two societies was formalised in 1732 by a deed of partition, with only the Temple Church, the Masters house and garden and the churchyard remaining in common.

For a fuller historical account see: The Inner Temple: A Brief Historical Description by J. H. Baker [1991]; or contact: The Archivist, The Treasurers Office, Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7HL. Tel. +44 207 797 8251 – Fax. +44 207 797 8178

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