The Inns Of Court

The Arms of The Inns of Court

The following was written anonymously around 1910

WHAT a host of illustrious names, of striking personalities, of historic events are associated with the four Inns of Court. They are described by Ben Jonson in his dedication to "Every Man out of his Humour" as " the noblest nurseries of humanity and liberty in the Kingdom." The Inns constitute an avenue through which some of the ablest lawyers have passed to the most exalted positions in the land. And what a crowd of imperishable memories are awakened by the mere mention of a title second only in importance to that of Parliament itself. It was within the silent cloisters of these Inns that many of the most picturesque figures in history occupied the happiest and, perhaps, the most critical days of their life. Yet the story of how the Inns first came to be constituted the cradles of a legal race is one about which professional lawyers themselves know little, and the general public next to nothing at all. It would almost seem that circumstances have conspired to maintain the secret of their birth. Although much has been written concerning the later history of the Inns, it may with confidence be asserted that the Coat of Arms of each Honourable Society is as much an enigma to the majority of those following the legal profession as it is to that vast army outside the practice of the law.

And the reason is not far to seek. Unlike many of the designs emblematic of institutions which so frequently come under public notice, the Arms of the Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn, the Middle Temple and Gray's Inn are rarely seen outside the somewhat exclusive sphere of the Societies themselves. The beautiful design at the top of this page, adopted by the Legal Insurance Company, Ltd., merits more than passing notice as being representative of four national institutions which have taken almost as active a part in building up the constitution of this country as St. Stephen's itself. And any explanation of these four ornate designs would be materially wanting if unaccompanied by an historical outline of the famous Inns of Court themselves. Only very few of those called to, or qualifying for, the Bar are familiar with the most noteworthy events associated with their respective houses. The dining halls of the four Inns are noteworthy for shields bearing the names of many who have attained eminence in the Courts, and of some who, though "called," have lent lustre to other spheres of public service. These, however, are rarely seen by those who are non-aspirants to the profession. Therefore, an explanation of the meaning of the Coats of Arms, together with a brief outline of the most noteworthy personages and events associated therewith, is bound to prove of extreme interest. In the order in which they are set out on the picture, the Arms are as follows :-

Left-hand top: Inner Temple
Right-hand top: Lincoln's Inn
Left-hand bottom: Middle Temple
Right-hand bottom: Gray's Inn

Site Copyright ickledirectory.co.uk. The text was first written in 1910 by an anonymous diarist.