Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Inner Temple Definition:

One of four Inns of the Court, self-regulating associations of barristers in England and Wales.

Related Terms: Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, Chancery Lane, Inns of Chancery, Inns of Court, Gray's Inn

Formally, the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

With the legal and law school education of students for the Bar now vested in universities, the role and relative importance of the Inner Temple (and the other three Inns of Court), in the profession and practise of law in the United Kingdom, has been altered.

Still the Inner Temple website, circa 2120, describes the institution as follows:

"The Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court and along with information on how to become a barrister; how to join the Inn; scholarships; student barrister qualifying sessions; Continuing Professional Development for practising barristers and social events, you will also be able to find out about the Inner Temple’s history, from its buildings to some of its more famous members; filming and even hosting your own function at Inner Temple.

"The Inns of Court are unincorporated associations which have existed since the 14th Century and play a central role in the recruitment of student members, training of aspiring barristers and continuing professional development of established barristers. The Inns of Court hold the exclusive rights to call candidates to practise law at the Bar of England and Wales. They consist of the Honourable Societies of the Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn.

Inner Temple Pegasus"The (Inner Temple) Inn has over 8,000 qualified members, including Judges, Barristers (both practising and non-practising) and Pupils. Each year approximately 450 students apply to join the Inn with the intention of training for the Bar."

The Inner Temple developed alongside the Middle Temple. Like Siamese twins, each Inn was proudly different and distinct though adjacent.

The coat of arms of the Inner Temple is the Pegasus on a blue background.

The precincts of the Inner Temple include a storied Inner Temple Hall, adorned with armorial displays, and a library which includes some of Edward Coke's original manuscripts. The site of the Inner Temple Library is the site of the ancient vault of the realm in the time of the Knights Templar.

On the sundial of the Inner Temple Gardens, was once found this inscription:

"In vain poor sable son of woe, Thou see'st the tender tear. From cannibals thou fledst in vain, lawyers less quarters give. The first won't eat you 'til you're slain, the first will do it alive."

The Inner Temple grounds include the King’s Bench Walk, where Lord Mansfield formerly resided at No. 5.

In 1668, when George Jeffreys (later, Judge Jeffreys) was in the last of his five years at Inner temple, he was involved in an incident with the Mayor of London. The Mayor felt that he had the right to enter the Inner Temple for an annual banquet hosted by the law school, with an ornamental sword. The law school refused permission and when the mayor showed up with his sword attached to his belt, his entourage was rushed by the law students who held the mayor captive until the banquet was over. The mayor complained to the king who took no position. Jeffreys was feted by the school for his role in the tumult. This incident was recorded by Pepys in his diary, dated March 3, 1669.Inner Temple dining hall

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroying much of the Inner Temple's King's Bench Walk. Two years later, in January of 1679, another fire erupted. This time, the Thames was frozen. The students tried to put the fire out with beer, depleting the school's supplies (beer was a staple; breakfast at the Inns of Court was bread and beer). Still the fire crept towards Middle Temple. The Mayor of London saw opportunity and he appeared at the door of the Inner Temple with municipal firefighters, but with swords. Again, they were refused entrance with the weapons. Again, Jeffreys acted, ordering that a four pounds of gunpowder were set next to houses and lit, to blow an open area to act as a firewall. A local quipped that "he never met with people so willing to be blown up as these lawyers". But Jeffrey's idea worked and the fire was stopped.

Famous alumni: Thomas Littleton, Edward Coke, Judge Jeffreys (the "hanging" judge) and John Selden.


  • Daniell, Timothy, A Literary Excursion to the Inns of Court in London (London: Wildy & Sons, 1971)
  • Headlam, Cecil, The Inns of Court (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1909)
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery, Judge Jeffreys (London: Butterworth & Co., 1948), pages 38-39 and 70-71
  • www.innertemple.org.uk

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