The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 11 Inns of Court

Inner and Middle Temple Great Garden

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The Temple Gardens are larger now than in the earlier days of their history, as then there was nothing to keep the Thames within its channel at high tide. The landing steps from the river were approached by a causeway of arches across the muddy banks. It was not until 1528 that a protecting wall was built, and a pathway ran outside the wall between it and the river. Gardens must have existed on this site from a very early date. When the Templars moved there from Holborn and built the church in 1185, it was all open country round, with a few great houses and conventual buildings standing in their own orchards and gardens. After the suppression of the Order, it was in the hands of Aimer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and in 1324 the land was given to the Knights of St. John. As they had their own buildings and church not far off, they granted it "to the Students of the Common Lawes of England: in whose possession the same hath sithence remained." All the consecrated land, and all within the City, was included in the grant to the Knights of St. John: besides this there was some land outside the City, or the Outer Temple, part of which remained in secular hands, and in later times was covered by Essex House, with its famous gardens. The section belonging to the Law Societies, beyond the City, is spoken of in early records as the Outer Garden, and from time to time buildings were erected on it-at first under protest, as in 1565 there was an order "for the plucking down of a study newly erected," and again in 1567, "the nuisance made by Woodye, by building his house in the Outer Garden, shall be abated and plucked down, or as much thereof as is upon Temple ground." All this garden has long ago been completely built over, and the large spaces now forming the Temple Gardens are those anciently known as the "Great Garden," belonging to the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple Garden. The Outer Temple (never another Inn) was merely the ground outside the limits of the City.