10 May 2015

Legal London And The Demise of The Templars

The Templar's success attracted the envy and concern of many other orders and eventually led to their downfall. Their two most powerful rivals were the Knights Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights. King Philip of France also had concerns about the Templars, both for financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders. 
At dawn on the 13th October 1307 scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip. They were tortured into admitting heresy and were put to death. 
Despite the fact that the confessions had been produced under duress, they caused a scandal in Paris, with mobs calling for action against the blaspheming Order. In response to this public pressure, along with more bullying from King Philip, Pope Clement issued the Papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiaewhich instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. 
In 1312, after the Council of Vienneand under extreme pressure from Philip, Pope Clement issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. Many kings and nobles who had supported the Knights up until that time finally acquiesced and dissolved the Templars in accordance with the Papal command.
So widely was the injustice of Philip's rage against the Templars felt that the "Curse of the Templars" became legend. It is reputed that whilst burning at the stake, the Grand Master Jacques de Molay uttered the statement "Within one year God will summon both Clement and Philip to His Judgement for these actions". Both did die within the predicted year, which served to heighten the scandal surrounding the suppression of the Order.
The Templars were also persecuted in England, as the crown was deeply in debt to them. Their lands were forfeited and taken. King Edward II took control of the Church and gave the site to the Knights Hospitallers, who were the forerunners of the St John Ambulance Service. Many Templars were killed, some fled to Scotland. The buildings were then handed to two law colleges which eventually became the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. 

Middle Temple 
The Lamb and Flag is a religious symbol known as "Agnus Dei" or Lamb of God. It is the adopted emblem of the Middle Temple and can be seen in many places around the Inn, There is a theory that the holy lamb was chosen as the emblem because it had originally been used by the Knights Templar whose arms were two knights mounted on one horse with a trotting Agnus Dei. It is believed that it dates back to the 17th Century. Historical accounts of the building describe a lamb and flag "carved in wood and always kept well gilded". Although the building was completely destroyed by bombing in 1941, it is clear from photographs taken in the aftermath that the lamb itself survived intact. The first production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was performed in Middle Temple in 1602.

After a disruptive early period the Inner Temple was almost entirely destroyed in the Peasants' Revolt but it survived and flourished, becoming the second largest Inn during the Elizabethan period, and further expanded during the reigns of James I and Charles I with 1,700 students admitted between 1600 and 1640. Legal education was suspended during the First English Civil War's outbreak and the Inns almost shut down.
Following the English Restoration the Inner Templars welcomed Charles II back to London with a lavish banquet. After a period of slow decline in the 18th century, the following 100 years saw a restoration of the Temple's fortunes, with buildings constructed or restored, such as the Hall and the Library. Much of this work was destroyed during The Blitz when the Hall, Temple, Temple Church , and many sets of chambers were devastated. Rebuilding was completed in 1959, and today the Temple is a flourishing and active Inn of Court, with over 8,000 members.                                                                                                                               Bomb damage

This late 12th century Temple Church is one of the few remaining round churches in England. Unfortunately it’s currently under renovation so it wasn’t possible to go inside which was disappointing as I believe there are nine full size effigies of the Templar Knights. Their churches were round in honour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

Chapel undercroft. 
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was not unusual for  unmarried girls to leave their newborn babies here. The Inn would adopt the babies and often gave them the name Lincoln.

The inscription, dated 1693, reads “This wall is built upon the ground of Lincolnes Inne no windor es are to be brocken out without leave” (That's not me miss-spelling, but the old English language of the day!). It refers to the need for keeping windows shut, because of the smells from the nearby Boghouse privies

This lovely little 'hut' was built in 1852 for Mr. Temple the head gardener at Lincoln's Inn. It was restored in 1998 and the concrete roof was replaced with lead. I think it’s the smallest listed building in the country. I've seen photos with tubs of pretty flowers around it, perhaps they plant them up for summer.

Wildy & Sons Law Booksellers & Publishers

Ede & Ravenscroft, the oldest tailor and robe maker in London, established in 1689

oh oh found myself in Carey Street! This phrase originates from the London street where the UK bankruptcy court used to be located. The court moved to Carey Street in the 1840s but the phrase didn't emerge as a synonym for bankrupt until much later.

This ornate, Victorian Gothic building, with a high-ceilinged great hall and law courts, was opened in 1882. Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside.

This lovely little shop is the original one founded by Thomas Twining In 1706. It is the oldest shop in the City of Westminster, trading on the same site with the same family and selling the same tea and coffee products. It also has a small museum.


  1. That was a fascinating read; one of the places I must visit someday.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it John,iIt's well worth a visit.

  2. I'm glad you continued with the story of the Templars, it is so interesting.

    1. Thank you Amalia, I'm glad you enjoyed it x

  3. Great post. You must get inside Temple Church one day - it's magnificent. Have you come across Robyn Young? You may be interested in her 'Brethren' trilogy - a nice weave of fact and fiction.

  4. Great post. You must get inside Temple Church one day - it's magnificent. Have you come across Robyn Young? You may be interested in her 'Brethren' trilogy - a nice weave of fact and fiction.

    1. Thank you Mike, that's a nice compliment, your post on Middle Temple inspired me to visit. I was very disappointed to find we couldn't go into the church, I must visit again when the renovation work is finished. Also I imagine the gardens are glorious in full summer. I hadn't heard of Robyn Young, I've had a quick look on the web and the Brethren Trilogy looks like a "must read" thank you for the info.


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