The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 21 The Inns of Court and Legal London

Inns of Court

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21. THE INNS OF COURT AND LEGAL LONDON. The district between the Temple on the south and Theobalds Road on the north, bounded (roughly) on the east and west by lines running through Fetter Lane and Lincoln's Inn Fields, may be fairly described as �Legal London,� including as it does the Royal Courts of Justice, the four great Inns of Court, the offices of the leading solicitors, and most of the shops and offices of the legal booksellers, law-stationers, copyists, and the like. All the Inns of Court and Chancery lie within the City of London. The four great INNS OF COURT (Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple, and Gray's Inn) are voluntary, non-corporate, legal societies, which have the exclusive right of calling persons to the English bar. They originated in the 13th century, when the clergy ceased to practise in the courts of justice, giving place to professional students of law. The members of the Inns comprise Benchers, Barristers, and Students. The government of each society is in the hands of the Benchers, or senior members, who vary in number from about twenty in Gray's Inn to about seventy in Lincoln's Inn and the Inner Temple. The four Inns stand on a footing of absolute equality, none claiming any priority. Each Inn forms an enclosed area, with courts surrounded by blocks of buildings, yielding a considerable revenue as chambers for barristers and others. Each possesses a dining hall, library, and chapel, the Temple Church (see below) serving in the last capacity for both the Temple Inns. The Inns provide lectures for law students and examine candidates for admission to the bar. The students may pursue their legal studies elsewhere, but to become a member of an Inn they must �keep term� or �commons� by dining so many times in hall. The Benchers have the right of �disbarring� members for misconduct. Visitors are admitted freely to the quaint and quiet precincts of the Inns. For admission to the buildings and gardens, see below. The first woman barrister in England, Dr. Ivy Williams, was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on May 10th, 1922; but two women were admitted to the Irish bar in the previous winter.