Temple Gardens, Inner Temple

SOME of the ancient orders for the government of the Inns of Court were extremely curious. In the reign of Henry VIII. the Ancients of the Inns of Court with the Readers and Principals of all the Inns of Chancery having been summoned before the Star Chamber, it was " advised them that they should not from henceforth suffer the gentilmen students among them to be out of their houses after six o'clock in the night without very good and necessary causes, nor to weare upon them any manner of weapon." In 3 & 4 Philip and Mary (1557) the Inns of Court issued a united order for the government of their houses. Under this order " the Companions, except Knights or Benchers, are forbidden to wear in their doublet or hoses any light colours, except scarlets or crimsons, or weare any upper velvet cap or scarf or wings in their gowns, white jerkyns, buskins, or velvet shoes, double cuffs on their shirts, feathers or ribbons in their caps, upon pain of a forfeit for the first default 3s. 4d., and the second expulsion without redemption." Even at the present day students at some, if not all, of the Inns who fail to conform to the regulation of appearing in the dining hall in dark coloured vestments are liable to pay a forfeit, which invariably takes the form of the price of a bottle of wine, enforced by the Senior Barrister.


THE roll of admissions to the four Inns of Court forms a record of names as distinguished as can be found in any University in Europe. According to a manuscript among the Burghley Papers in the Lansdowne collection, the number of members in Gray's in 1585 far exceeded that of any of the other Inns of Court. They were :

Gray's Inn in term 356, out of term 229

Inner Temple



Middle Temple :



Lincoln's Inn



It is hardly necessary to point loud that the membership of the combined Inns at the present day, including students and barristers, numbers many thousands, and that the preparation necessary differs materially from that enforced some years back. Until the end of last year the Preliminary Examination was open to those who wished to qualify for the Bar ; but under the new regulations, which came into force at the beginning of the present year, admission to the Inns of Court is only possible to those who possess a University degree, have matriculated, or passed an examination equivalent to the last named. Within recent times also an alteration has been made in the order in which the examinations take place. Nowadays those members of the Inns who have passed the five legal examinations are called to the Bar by the Benchers on what is known as "call" night. The custom with regard to the procedure on " call " differs at the various Inns. At the Inner Temple it is done privately and the candidates are not robed. At the Middle Temple the candidates, arrayed in wig and gown, in which they afterwards dine, are " called " in hall. At Gray's Inn each candidate presents himself in evening dress and in a purely formal way is welcomed to the Bar by the presiding Bencher, who shakes him by the hand and, in a brief address, expresses a hope for his success in his career. Upon the subsequent withdrawal of the Benchers the newly-fledged barristers are expected to make a speech to their fellows in the dining hall. Such, however, is the acclamation accorded to each utterance that it is almost impossible to hear a word. The students apparently regard the occasion as one not for oratory, but for boisterous jollification

I give this brief outline of the 'origin and customs of the four Inns of Court. The Legal Insurance Company trust that those hitherto unacquainted with the subject will find it of peculiar interest.

The Company's offices are situate in the very heart of the Temple and the Trustees and Directors are all members of the Law, so that there is an appropriateness in the adoption of the emblem on the cover, and also by reason of the nature of the business the Company transacts and its intimate connexion with the legal profession.

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