On Tuesday 24 July, 35 Paviors and guests enjoyed a tour of Inner Temple, one of London’s four Inns of Court. Inner Temple has over 12,000 qualified members, including judges, barristers, pupils and students.
Each year approximately 400 students apply to Inner Temple to train for the Bar. Students are required to attend 12 qualifying sessions (often dinners) before they can become a practising barrister. The Inn is governed by 327 Benchers, who are responsible for deciding policy, managing the property and supervising finances. These eminent positions include Master of the Cheese and Master of the Clocks!
The group was shown around by tour guide Jacqueline and visited the beautiful Norman Temple Church. This is a ‘Royal Peculiar’, which means that the place of worship falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British Monarch rather than a diocese. The Round Church is the earliest gothic building in England, and is modelled on the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The group was told about the Church by Rev Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple, and who was directly appointed by the Queen.
The group heard about William Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke, who became Regent following the death of King John in 1216. The Earl had advised King John and was trusted by the Barons, and he was heavily involved in trying to secure the rights of both sides that eventually resulted in the Magna Carta. It was in Temple Church in November 1214 that King John guaranteed the freedom of the English Church, which became the first clause in the Magna Carta a few months later. Magna Carta provided the foundation for trial by jury, underpinned the right of the individual not to be kept in custody indefinitely without trial, and implied that the King was subject to the law. Other clauses included the removal of fish-weirs from the Thames and, consequently, within a few years of the Magna Carta, the river was teeming with life.
The organ in Temple Church was moved there in 1954. The Queen had mentioned, during a visit to the Church, that she recalled dancing to the organ when it had been sited previously at Glen Tanar Castle in Scotland.
Before departing, members of the tour enjoyed lunch in the Parliament Chamber, where they also participated in a light-hearted competition for amusement.
An interesting tale was recounted during the visit. A lawyer was defending a man accused of housebreaking and said to the Court ‘Your Honour, I submit that my Client did not break into the house at all. He found the parlour window open and merely inserted his right arm and removed a few trifling articles. Now, my Client’s arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offence committed by only one of his limbs’. ‘That argument’, said the Judge, ‘is very well put. Following it logically, I sentence the Defendant’s arm to one year’s imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses’. The Defendant smiled and, with his lawyer’s assistance, unscrewed his prosthetic arm and, leaving it in the dock, walked out!