Inns Of Court And Chancery Clifford's Inn
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE Inns of Court and Chancery, which are situated within our present limits, are properly limited to two, namely, the Inner, and the Middle, Temple ; but the buildings, at any rate, of some others still exist, although the original functions of these Inns have been done away with they are Clifford's Inn and the two Serjeants' Inns, one in Chancery Lane and one in Fleet Street. The former are Inns of Court ; the latter were Inns of Chancery a distinction not always remembered.
Before dealing with the Temple it will be convenient to clear the ground by drawing attention to the three Inns which, to-day, remain merely as relics of their former importance. Of these I touch on Clifford's Inn first ; and properly so, because it was the most ancient of the Inns of Chancery. It took its name from Robert de Clifford, fifth Baron Clifford, to whom Edward II. had granted, in 1310, " a messuage and appurtenances next to the Church of St. Dunstan's in the West in the suburb of London," by the service of one penny paid to the Exchequer at Michaelmas. This property had once belonged to Malculine de Harley, Escheator to Edward l., but was taken over by the King, in consequence of certain debts owed by de Harley to the Crown ; later it had been held by John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond, but had again reverted to the Crown. About thirty years after this, the widow of the sixth Baron Clifford let the property to students of law, at an annual rent of £10 ; and from that period onward the place was used as an Inn of Chancery, although still belonging to the Clifford family.
According to Brayley, the Inn, during this early period and down to the reign of Henry v., had as a sign the ` Black Lion ' ; and at this period it was self-governing and in no way connected with the Temple.
Stow speaks of the Inn in his day as being let to the students of law, at four pounds a year ; at which time there appear to have been one hundred during term, and twenty out of term. In 1571 we find Sir Edward Coke, then fresh from the university, residing here, and in the following year, according to Fuller, he " entered as studient of Municipal Law in the Inner Temple," to which society Clifford's Inn had now become attached. Coke must have been subject to those quaint rules which obtained in his day in Clifford's Inn, and some of which Mr. Philip Norman has set down in his interesting account of the place.3 For instance, should he have been guilty of ribaldry, he would have had to pay a farthing for each offensive word ; should he have struck a fellow-member " with-out effusion of blood," a fine of twelve pence was extorted and he " shall make amends " ; if blood were shed, then 6s: 8d. was claimed. He could not play at dice or cards " or any ridiculous amusements in metalls " ; nor could he lend money on usury, or keep dogs, or break into the buttery, or go outside the gates after closing-time, or bring in and conceal any common woman within the sacred precincts of the Inn. In a word, he found in London very much the same sort of restraint as he had found at the University. These rules dated from the time of Edward IV., but were renewed in the reign of Henry
John Selden was also a member of Clifford's Inn, having come hither from Oxford in 1602 ; and here he remained till 1604, when he went to the Inner Temple, where he occupied rooms in an upper storey of Paper Buildings, looking towards the garden.
Another interesting figure connected with the place was that of Harrison, the regicide, who was once clerk to an attorney here, and persuaded his fellow clerk, John Bramston (cousin of Sir John Bramston), to take up arms.
In the year 1618 the members of the Society of Clifford's Inn bought the property, in which they had been tenants for so long, from the fourth Earl of Cumberland and his son, Lord Clifford, for the sum of £600, subject to a rent charge of £4 a year, the reservation of a small piece of land adjoining Serjeants' Inn, and a set of chambers to be kept for the use of the Clifford family. The rent charge was eventually purchased by the Society in 1880.
In Notes and Queries (2nd series) the following notice of a curious custom which obtained in this Inn, is given :—
" A very peculiar dinner-custom is observed in the Hall, which is believed to be unique. The Society consists of two distinct bodies—' The Principal and Rules,' and the junior members, or ` Kentish Mess.' Each body has its own table : at the conclusion of dinner, the chairman of the Kentish Mess, first bowing to the principal of the Inn, takes from the hands of the servitor four small rolls, or loaves of bread, and, without saying a word, he dashes them several times on the table ; he then discharges them to the other end of the table, from whence the bread is removed by a servant in attendance. Solemn silence broken only by three impressive thumps on the table prevails during this strange ceremony, which takes the place of grace after meat in Clifford's Inn Hall, and concerning which not even the oldest member of the Society is able to give any explanation."
The Hall referred to here, appears originally to have had a hearth in its centre, and it was here that Sir Matthew Hale and other judges sat to settle disputes arising about property after the Great Fire. The portraits of Hale and his coadjutors were ordered to be painted, as a memorial of the efflcient manner in which they carried out their difficult and arduous task, and these are now to be seen in the Guildhall Art Gallery.
In 1766 a new Hall was found to be necessary, and this was erected and completed in the following year (the date 1767 and the initials W.P.M., PrincipalWilliam Monk, can be seen outside), from the designs of Mr. Clarke, bricklayer to the Society, at a cost of £600 ; the porch and cupola, as existing, were after-thoughts. It would seem that some of the original brickwork was incorporated in this Gothic building, and it therefore has an interest which its architectural features would hardly justify. The chapel attached to the Inn was anciently called St. Katherine's. It was on the north side of St. Dunstan's Church, and in 1624 was ordered to be fitted with pews, and a doorkeeper kept to prevent the gentlemen of the Inn being annoyed at their devotions.
The precincts of Clifford's Inn, entered by Clifford's Inn Passage in Fleet Street, over which may be seen the arms of the Cliffords, and having access from Fetter Lane, through an old iron gateway, and Chancery Lane, are most picturesque. No. 12 is said by Mr. Norman to be, in part at least, the most ancient, dating from 1624, and was originally known as Fetherstone's building. When this was repaired, the date 1719 and the initials J.P.F., Principal James Foster, were set up, and may still be seen. Other old buildings here date from 1663 to 1690, and are all of a character to arrest attention, particularly as being relics of an earlier day remaining in the midst of a practically rebuilt part of the city. Some years ago the whole of this property was purchased, and it was feared would meet a fate similar to that which has overtaken so much of older London. Recently, however, this has been prevented by the generosity of the Society of Knights Bachelor, which has come forward and saved the threatened vandalism ; one of the chief movers in this splendid act, and the largest subscriber to the fund, being Sir Henry Pellatt, Colonel of the Canadian Royal Rifles, who visited this country on the occasion of the Coronation.
In latter days the chambers in this quiet, unnoticed little corner have been occupied by some notable people. At No. 13 once lived George Dyer, the friend of Lamb, who fell into the New River on a famous occasion, which gave rise to Elia's delightful paper on his Amicus Redivivus. Here Dyer lived from 1792 to remote old age, dying in 1841, aged eighty-five. Lamb likens him to " a dove in an asp's nest " here, but he loved the place, and, when a female companion was necessary, married his laundress--the lady who could neither read nor write, and whom her husband termed not literate.' One hopes that when Leigh Hunt breakfasted with Dyer here, and found " no butter, no knife . . . and the teapot without a spout," that it was in his host's unregenerate bachelor days ; although even under marital conditions, things must have been not quite as they should be, if one can gather anything from Crabb Robinson's description of the lady in later years (1860), when he called on her in Clifford's Inn, " an apartment at the top . . . small and seemingly full of inhabitants." " If cleanliness be next to godliness," adds the diarist, " it must be acknowledged that she is far off from being a good woman."
Another resident here was Robert Paltock, the author of Peter Wilkins ; but a far more notable man is connected with the place, namely, Samuel Butler, who for many years lived in No. 15, one of the houses dating from 1663. Butler's Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited are famous books, but he wrote, here, one that I venture not only to think finer, but also to class as one of the greatest novels (within its limits) of the century The Way of All Flesh which is surely not known in anything like the way it merits. It is a remarkable book, and, if only because of its being written in Clifford's Inn Clifford's Inn deserves to be preserved.
This is not, and never has been, properly, an Inn of Court or Chancery, like the similar institution in Fleet Street. It was, to use Stow's words, so called, for that divers judges and serjeants at the law keep a commons, and are lodged there in term time." It adjoins Clifford's Inn on the west, and once the property appertained to the See of Ely. In 1393-94, it was, however, described as " Tenementum domini Johannis Skarle," and subsequently demised to the Clerks in Chancery. It was originally called Faryngdon Inn (" Hospicium nuper Faryndon's in Chancellor's Lane "), after that Farringdon who gave his name to the Ward ; but in 1508 it is called Serjeants' Inn. It seems to have been selected by the Serjeants as their headquarters, after their earlier Inn in Holborn (Scroop's Inn, it was called) had been sold, and their other home in Fleet Street, which, however, according to Dugdale, was a more recent one, had become dilapidated.
In the year 1416 Serjeants' Inn was given over wholly to the Law (it is called Hospicium Justiciariorum, in 1430), as before this date we are told that the Serjeants merely had lodgings there. Subsequently the freehold passed to the Ashleys in the person of Sir Anthony Ashley, knight, and from them the lawyers continued to rent. At a later date it appears to have reverted to the Bishops of Ely, as it was from that See that the place was eventually purchased by the Serjeants.
The original hall was erected by Lord Keeper North, whose residence in Chancery Lane communicated by a door into the gardens of the Inn. In 1837-38, however, much rebuilding took place here, under the direction of Sir Robert Smirke ; but the hall was left untouched, and was then fitted up as a Court for Exchequer Equity sittings. Later it was used as a kind of state dining room for the Serjeants and the Common Law Judges who, in those days, were always Serjeants. Another apartment used as a private dining room contained, we are told by Timbs,1 one of the finest collections of legal portraits in London, including a specially notable one, by Cornelius Jansen, of Sir Edward Coke who was living in Serjeants' Inn at the time of the inquiries into the murder of Overbury.
The Judicature Act of 1873 did away with the necessity for a judge to have been a Serjeant-at-Law, and about four years later the body which had by now a very small claim to existence, sold their Inn for £57,100 and divided the proceeds among themselves a circumstance which, as may be supposed, did not pass without adverse criticism.
In May 1909, what was left of Serjeants' Inn was offered for sale, it being put up at the instance of the executors of Serjeant Cox. It was submitted as a building lease for ninety-nine years, a sum not less than £40,000 to be expended on the erection of new buildings. The area of the property was 16,600 feet, and it was secured by a bid of £3200 as an annual rent, representing at twenty-six years' purchase a capital sum of £83,200. From an account of this sale we learn that there was a net charge of £180 per annum to the Bishop of Ely ; so that, through all the long course of years, the See retained at least a small hold on the property.
This property was, apparently so early as the reign of Henry lV., granted, in reversion, to the Dean and Chapter of York, by Henry Maupas and Thomas Maxey, clerks, for pious uses ; and Brayley 1 states that in the Inquisition, and also in the licence of alienation, it is described as " one messuage, and five shops, with sollers built over them, and their appurtenances, in the Parish of St. Dunstan in the West, in the suburb of London."
There is some uncertainty as to when the Serjeants first occupied this Inn. Timbs, in his Curiosities of London, remarks that it was " about the beginning of the reign of Henry Vl., and not before, that they resorted to the Fleet-street inn, which had a very fine chapel and hall, and a stately court of tall brick buildings." On the other hand, a later authority says that " the Fleet Street Inn appears to have been a private dwelling in the reign of Henry VIll.," and Noble asserts that between 1442 and 1474 the place had private residents.
This latter statement is, I suppose, based on the fact that, in 1442, the Dean and Chapter of York leased the place for a term of eighty years, and at a rent of ten marks per annum, to William Antrous, or Antrobus, citizen and tailor, the property being then described as " unam messuagium cum gardino in parochia Sti. Dunstani in Fleet Street quod nuper fuit Johannis Rote, and in quo Johanne Ellerker et alii servientes ad legem nuper inhabitarunt." But this last passage would alone be sufficient to prove that lawyers had already been seated here, even if it was not fairly well authenticated that Antrobus himself was a steward to the Serjeants-at-Law, and dwelt in the Inn, in that capacity.
About the year 1500, the Dean and Chapter of York again demised it, to Sir Lewis Pollard, Justice of the Common Pleas, Robert Norwich and Thomas Inglefield, King's Serjeants, and others, for thirty-one years, at a half-yearly rental of fifty-three shillings ; although Antrobus's lease had. not run out a fact which makes it still more probable that he was merely acting for the Serjeants, who thus obtained an extension of their lease by surrendering the unexpired term.
Unfortunately Stow throws no light on the subject, merely stating that " Then is Serjeants' Inn so called, for that divers judges and serjeants at law keep a commons, and are lodged there in term time." To add to the confusion, Mr. Thornbury states that in 1627 the Inn began its legal career by being leased for forty years to nine judges and fifteen serjeants.
But this is, indeed, anticipating the course of events ; for, apart from its earlier legal history here traced, we know that, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the place was seized by the Crown on the grounds that its proceeds had been used to support certain Chantries connected with the Cathedral of York ; and that in 1550 Edward vi. granted it to Sir Edward Montague, Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas, and John Champenet ; although it was subsequently given back to the Diocese of York, as the result of a trial by law.
Its connection with York, at a later period, is proved by certain data concerning it, written by Archbishop Sancroft, in a book now preserved at Cambridge, from which Brayley quotes some entries, one of which tells us that, in 1608, the half-year's rent was £1, 13s. 4d. and 15s. for the Porter's Lodge, " which rent continued to the Distraction " . and that " Mr. Humble pays the Inne £3 per annum for opening his jett window into their yard."
It was here, on June 11, 1629, that a full bench of judges decided that peers might be attached upon process for contempt out of Chancery — a blow to feudalism, which had very far-reaching results. This decision, signed by Chief-Justice Hyde and eleven other judges, is now preserved in the British Museum. The place was burnt in the Great Fire, but was rebuilt at the charges of five judges and ten serjeants, a new lease of sixty years having been obtained in 1670.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Inn contained quite a number of illustrious legal luminaries : two Lord Chief-Justices, Pratt and King; two Lord Chief Barons, Montague and Smith ; Justices Powys, Blencowe, Tracy, and Fortescue ; Baron Page, Sir Thomas Trevor,1 and a number of well known Serjeants.
Seven years later, however, the Serjeants gave up this Inn in favour of the one in Chancery Lane ; and subsequently Adam, the architect, erected the present structure, with a frontage to Fleet Street, for the Amicable Assurance Society. This in turn went elsewhere in 1865, and was succeeded here by the office of the Norwich Union.
The arms of the Inn, a dove and a serpent, are introduced into the iron gate opening into Fleet Street. In the square behind are still some old houses, on one-of which may be seen a stone bearing a coat of arms, the initials S. I., and the date 1669. There are one or two interesting facts connected with Serjeants' Inn ; in the first place, it forms a parish in itself, making its own assessments and contributing to the city rates ; again, its pavement was formed out of some of the stonework of old St. Paul's ; and, lastly, it was one of the old-fashioned places which, unmoved by the progress of science, kept to its lamps, long after gas had superseded them elsewhere.
Beyond the famous men I have mentioned, I do not know of any one of importance as having resided in the Fleet Street Serjeants' Inn, except the great John Delane, of the Times, who lived at No. 16 from 1847 to the autumn of 1878. Here he received his innumerable friends at his hospitable round table ; and here much of his remarkable editorial work was done. Mr. Dasent, in his Life of Delane, thus refers to the residence in Serjeants' Inn ; it was, he says, " an old house which had a certain quiet dignity of its own from its good panelled woodwork and well-designed staircase. The house has been much altered in recent years, and some of the rooms, amongst them the dining-room, which has seen so many gatherings of wit and intellect, have been subdivided, but the seventeenth-century wood-work is for the most part still (1908) intact." The London County Council has placed one of its memorial tablets on the building. Before leaving Serjeants' Inn we must not forget that Thomas Coventry, the old crusted lawyer, to whom Lamb, in part, owed his first employment, lived " in a gloomy house opposite the pump " here.
Before saying anything about the two Inns of Court which are situated within the precincts of the Temple, a short account of that historic and supremely interesting spot itself must be attempted. So often, however, has the Temple been dealt with, not only in innumerable histories of London, but also in such specific works as those on the Inns of Court, by Herbert (in 1804) and Pearce (in 1848), that this large subject need, here, necessarily, be only treated in a more or less cursory way.
The area under notice first became the home of the Knights Templars in 1184, when they removed hither from outside Holborn Bars, where they had been established just sixty-six years earlier. In 1185 the Temple Church was dedicated,1 and the place became known as the New Temple. The causes of the dissolution of this great and powerful body need not detain us, for its annals can be read in Addison's History of the Knights Templars and in other works ; but there seems little doubt that, like many rich and wealthy corporations, it rose to a pitch of overbearing arrogance, little in keeping with its original intention, and when Spenser, in a well-known passage in his Prothalamion, says that the Templars " decay'd through pride," he asserts a now pretty-well-recognised fact. It is known that, from whatever cause it arose, the Templars fell from their once high estate, an inquiry into their conduct having been held in St. Dunstan's Church, in 1308, by the Pope, resulting in their dissolution about 1310, and that three years after this, Edward II. bestowed their property, in Fleet Street, on Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke.
On his death in 1324 it passed to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, but soon after reverted to the Crown, and was thereupon bestowed on the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. By the deed incorporating this gift, not only were the outlines of the Temple clearly set forth, but provision was expressly made, that the public should have a right of entry to the Temple Church from Fleet Street, a privilege confirmed by a mandate, dated Nov. 2, 1329, from Edward III. to the Lord Mayor, desiring him to cause the gates to be kept open for this purpose, during the daytime.'
As in the case of most rights of way, this one through the Temple precincts gave rise to various disagreements, and so early as 1360 we find the citizens complaining that the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem interfered with the free passage of goods unloaded at the Temple Stairs, or Bridge, as it was indifferently called. Indeed, there is no doubt that, down to the days of Charles II., and even later, the younger members of the Temple were as much occupied in breaking the laws as in studying them, for there are many references to acts of aggression against the citizens, in the authorities of the period, some of which I shall have occasion to speak of, later on.
In the meantime, to follow the chronological history of the Temple, we find the King, in 1333, granting the property to William de Langford, for the space of ten years, at a rent of £24 per annum, and by a decree of three years later, it was laid down that the boundary of the Temple Church extended to the old gate of the Temple, where some new houses, we learn, had shortly before been erected. This grant to Langford must, I think, have been of a certain portion of the property probably alienated from that bestowed on the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Subsequently we find this body leasing the main portion to 'students at law,' at the instance of Edward III.
Unfortunately the history of the Temple during these years is rather obscure. We know, however, that during Wat Tyler's rebellion, in 1381, much havoc was done here, the lawyers' books and records being burnt in Fleet Street ; and that the students at law were eventually divided into two distinct Societies the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple each paying a rent of £10 a year.
In 1541, or thereabouts, the Order of the Knights of St. John was dissolved by Henry Vlll., and the Temple thereupon reverted to the Crown, although the students at law still continued as tenants. Then, as previously, the two Societies of the Middle and Inner Temple were entirely disassociated. They paid their rents separately ; they added to their buildings separately (each addition generally taking its name from the Treasurer in office at the time, or from some notable member) ; and they kept their records separately. These records, including the list of officers, etc., begin, as to the Middle Temple, in 1501 ; and as to the Inner Temple, in 1506.
The first indication we have of the two Societies being treated as a single corporate body is in the reign of James I., when the King, by a deed dated Aug. 13, 1608, granted the Temple to them jointly, although, as before, each was called upon to pay the £10 rent. By this deed the monarch reserved the right of nominating the Master, a right still exercised, although, of course, the Temple has for many years been ever since the days of Charles II., indeed the freehold of the two Societies.
For the sake of convenience, and to avoid confusion as much as possible, I will deal separately with the two Societies who hold the Temple jointly, and will begin with that of the Middle Temple.
The entrance to this portion of the Temple is, today, by the stone-fronted gatehouse which Sir Christopher Wren erected in 1684, and which Ralph, in his Critical Review of the Publick Buildings in London, describes as " in the style of migo Jones, and very far from inelegant." At an earlier period, however, there stood here that building forming an entrance, which Sir Amias Paulet, while a prisoner in the Inner Temple gatehouse, had caused to be built and adorned with arms and cardinals' hats, in order to appease the anger of Wolsey, whose prisoner he then was. Wren's gateway, which is an excellent piece of work, and an admirable example of the few buildings he erected to stand flush with the street, is too little regarded by those who pass by it ; it was set up after a fire, at the expense of the Benchers.
The glory of the Middle Temple, however, is the Hall, built between the years 1562 and 1572, during the period that Edmund Plowden was treasurer of the Society. Measurements go for little in the case of anything which chiefly relies for its attraction, as does this room, on the beauty of its carvings, but its excellent proportions can be judged from the fact that it is 100 feet in length, 40 feet wide, and nearly 50 feet in height ; while its splendid open timber roof with its innumerable pendants and soffits, its remote corners in which the echoes of so many eminent voices linger in mysterious obscurity, is one of those things of beauty, to which distance lends an added enchantment.
But it is, above all, the perfect Renaissance carved screen and music gallery which touches, or should touch, the nascent artistry in our composition. When the sun glints through the stained-glass windows on which are emblazoned the arms of notable members of the Society, and splashes the oak, softened and mellowed by age, with the remote hues of the rainbow, then, in this quiet haven of rest, the mind flies back to the days when the place was alive with the pomp and circumstance of great feasts ; when illustrious auditories listened to Shakespeare's plays, perhaps directed by the bard himself ; when men and women whose names electrify the dullest mind to alertness, sat and talked beneath that historic 'open timber roof.'
Above all is this Hall notable, because here we know that Twelfth Night was performed, on February 1602, as recorded by Manningham, in a much quoted passage in his Diary. This incident naturally stands out alone. But at the time it was but one among the usual Christmas revels which took place here, when plays, and masques, and feasts, at which royal and illustrious guests were generally present, were matters of course.
The mention of Shakespeare reminds me that, at least once, he specifically mentions the Hall, in one of his plays ; for in Henry IV. we find Prince Henry remarking to Falstaff, " Jack, meet me to-morrow in the Temple Hall."
Some early references to the well-known theatrical tendencies of the members of the Temple are extant. Thus Machyn, writing in 1561, records how on " The xxvij day of December cam rydyng thrugh London a lord of mysrull unto the Tempull, for ther was Brett cher all Cryustynmas and grett revels as ever was for the gentyllmen of the Tempull evere day, for mony of the conselle was there."
Again, in 1635, we find from another source that " On Wensday, the 23 of Febru... the Prince d'Amours gave a masque to the Prince Elector and his brother in the Middle Temple, when the Quene was pleas'd to grace the entertaynment, by putting off majesty to putt on a citizen's habitt, and to sett upon the scaffold on the right hand amongst her subjects."
A later entry, from Wycherley's Plain Dealer, where Freeman remarks, " Methinks 'tis like one of their halls in Christmas time, whither from all parts fools bring their money to try by the dice (not the worst judges) whether it shall be their own or no," received a striking commentary when the floor of the Hall was taken up, about 1764 ; for beneath it was then found a large number of dice which had evidently dropped between the chinks of the boards.
In these early days the members of the Temple appear to have been very much inclined to the free and easy manners associated chiefly with youth, for which the Universities were noted, and which produced those rules, still in force, which appear to our more sober days too puerile to be taken seriously. They were addicted so greatly, it seems, to the game of " shove and slip-groats," played with copper coins which were jerked with the palm of the hand from the edge of a table towards certain numbers marked on it,2 that this had at last to be forbidden. They were interdicted, too, from carrying any weapon into Hall, and for good reason, as one of them, Sir John Davies (after wards Lord Chief Justice), 'bastinadoed ' a fellow student, at dinner, for which the assailant was expelled. And we know that the broils between the students and the citizens, chiefly those turbulent dwellers in Alsatia, were frequent and often anything but bloodless.
But these matters are more to do with the social history of London than with its topography ; and it is more pertinent to return to the buildings which form the Middle Temple than to pursue the record of the life of those who inhabited them.
The present library is modern, having been erected from the designs of Mr. H. R. Abraham, in the Gothic style, the roof being a diminished copy of that of Westminster Hall. This library is 86 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 63 feet high, and is lighted at the south end by an oriel window looking out on the famous Temple Gardens, with the barge-laden Thames beyond. There were, in addition to the oriel, seven high windows on each side and a large window on the north. The building was opened by the late King (then Prince of Wales), himself a Bencher of the Middle Temple, on Oct. 31, 1861.
The earlier library is referred to by Hatton (1708) thus : " Here is a good Library near the back steps of the Hall, to which Sir Bartholomew Shore and several others have contributed books ; it is open for all persons about 6 hours in a day. . . . Here is this inscription over the door :
" ANNO DOMINI 1697
BIBLIOTHECA ORNATA & AUCTA
FRANCIS . MORGAN . THESAURARIO.' "
The Temple Gardens to which I have incidentally referred are, in one sense at least, the most notable part of the precincts, for if the rival champions of the Houses of York and Lancaster never did actually pluck their respective emblems from the bushes growing there, Shakespeare, in a noble and notable passage, has made them do so, and this is better than history, for it has touched the imagination for all time, and has established the fact better than any chronicler could have done. No one can pace that beautiful oasis to-day without immediately calling to mind the scene with which Genius has immortalised the spot.
There is, I think, no necessity for me to repeat the well-known passage here. Rather will I take the opportunity, before proceeding, of saying a word about the Temple Bridge or Stairs which gave access from the river to the Temple grounds. This bridge was formed by two stone arches into the Thames, and, as we have seen, was considered as the common property of the citizens. Indeed, when the question arose in 1360, as we have seen it did, the petitioners, of whom one John de Hydyngham was the leader, affirmed on oath that " time out of mind the commonalty of the city have been wont to have free ingress and egress with horses and carts, from sunrise to sunset, for carrying and carting all manner of victuals and wares therefrom to the water of Thames, and from the said water of Thames to the city aforesaid, through the great gate of the Templars, situate within Temple Bar in the suburb of London, and, that the possessors of the Temple were wont, and by right ought, to maintain a brid ge at the water aforesaid."
The Temple Stairs have long ceased to have any practical sense, for the Embankment has swept away all that foreshore which was once part and parcel of the Temple Gardens, and now, although there is, between certain hours, a right of way up and down Middle Temple Lane, the idea of victuals and wares being carried to and from the Thames by it would be as surprising as if we met. a megalosaurus dragging its slimy length towards Fleet Street by this via sacra.
Before saying anything about the Inner Temple, let me set down the names of some of the more illustrious ones who have been connected with the Middle Temple. Foremost of these was the learned Plowden, whose memory is perpetuated in the Hall and in the Buildings named after him, and Sir Walter Raleigh, certainly one of the Society's most illustrious members ;
Sir John Davies, whom we have seen expelled, and to whom Jonson dedicated his Poetaster ; Sir Thomas Overbury, whose death in the Tower is still something of a mystery ; John Ford, the dramatist, Manningham, the diarist, and John Payne, the patriot ; Lord Clarendon, whose uncle, Sir Nicholas Hyde, was once treasurer ; Bulstrode Whitelocke, the ambassador ; and, as Walpole said of Richard Cambridge, Evelyn 'the Everything.' Ireton, the Parliamentary leader, and Aubrey and Ashmole, the well known antiquaries, were also members, as were the dramatists Shadwell and Congreve and Wycherley and Southerne. Later notabilities comprise Edmund Burke and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Tom Moore, and Havelock, the hero of the Mutiny. To name the legal luminaries whose earlier studies have been prosecuted under the agis of the Middle Temple would be to write pages of names, many of now forgotten worthies ; but it is well to remember that Blackstone and Eldon, Stowell and Dunning, Lord Keeper Guildford and Lord Chancellor Somers were of them ; and that Talfourd, to whom Pickwick is dedicated (this alone gives him immortality), and who is generally supposed to be the original of Traddles, was once a pupil with Havelock, in Chitty's chambers.
Noble mentions a curious circumstance connected with the Middle Temple, not, I think, generally known, which may, therefore, find a place here. In the seventeenth century a member of the Society conveyed to the Benchers several houses in the City, the rents of which were to be used for paying the fees of two referees who were to meet twice a week during term time, in the Hall or elsewhere, to settle, if possible, such disputes as might be brought before them. Although these referees were duly appointed, there appears to be no record of any case being submitted to their judgment ; and it is known that two of them, finding the place a sinecure, allocated the fees they received towards making additions to the library. Noble pertinently asks whether this arrangement was ever made publicly known, as he could not but think that, had it been so, the referees would hardly have found their office a sinecure.
THE INNER TEMPLE
This portion of the Temple possesses a gateway, but it is só shorn of whatever importance it may once have possessed that it can to-day merely be regarded as an interesting and not unpieturesque fragment.1 As the larger part of the Inner Temple was destroyed in the Great Fire, there is little left anterior to that period. It is due to this disaster that, unlike the Middle Temple, the Inner Temple only possesses a modern Hall. This building stands on the terrace overlooking the garden (known, nowadays, to so many who would otherwise seldom, if ever, penetrate its shy retreat, on account of the annual Flower Shows held here), and is close to the Library and the Parliament Chamber. Erected from the designs of Smirke, and completed in 1835, it is said to stand on the exact site of its predecessor which dated from the time of Edward ill.
We have seen how the Middle Temple disported itself in masques and revels of all kinds, and we find that the Inner Temple was in no way behindhand in this respect. Indeed, its reputation for stage-plays was, if anything, the greater of the two, and the Hall that is no more, must have witnessed some notable performances.
One of the earliest recorded of these was when Tancred and Gismund, written by Sir Christopher Hatton, in collaboration with four other students, was given before Queen Elizabeth, in 1568.' In a Christmas masque, held seven years earlier, Sir Christopher had been " Master of the Game," and Roger Manwood impersonated a fictitious Chief Baron of the Exchequer, to which actual office he was, curiously enough, appointed in 1578. It was on the occasion of these revels, held on December 27, as recorded by Machyn, that the first English tragedy, Gorboduc, was performed.
As is well known, Ben Jonson was a great writer of masques, and some of these were performed by the Templars ; as was the one, founded on the story of Circe and Ulysses, by William Browne, the disciple of Spenser, and better known by his Pastorals ; and another produced by Francis Beaumont, and entitled Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn.
According to Timbs the last revel in any of the Inns of Court, was that held on February 2, 1733, in the Inner Temple Hall, in honour of Mr. Talbot, a Bencher, having the Great Seal delivered to him. A large gallery built over the screen was filled with ladies, and music in the little gallery at the upper end of the Hall played all dinner-time. After dinner began the play, Love for Love, and the farce of The Devil to Pay, by actors from the Haymarket. After the play the Lord Chancellor, the Masters, Judges, and Benchers retired into their Parliament Chamber ; in half an hour they returned to the Hall, and, led by the Master of the Revels, formed a ring and danced, or rather walked, round the fireplace, according to the old ceremony, three times ; the ancient song, accompanied with music, being sung by one Tony Aston dressed in a Bar-gown. This was followed by dancing, in which the ladies from the gallery joined ; then a collation was served and the company returned to dancing. T he Prince of Wales was present.
In early days there is little doubt that the amicable relations of the City and the Temple were, if not exactly strained, at least liable to be interfered with on very slight pretexts. Such an occasion arose, in 1555, when, at a dinner given by John Prideaux, Reader of the Inner Temple, the members took umbrage at Sir John Lyon, then Lord Mayor, coming into the Hall with the civic sword of state borne before him, as an emblem of his authority, and we read that " when he was goynge, the sworde was willed to be bourne downe in the closter."
Apparently there was a recognised opposition to this exhibition of civic jurisdiction on the part of the members of the Temple, for a somewhat similar incident is recorded by Pepys, who heard from a Mr. Bellwood, at the New Exchange, " how my Lord Mayor (Sir William Peake), being invited this day to dinner at the Readers' of the Temple, and endeavouring to carry his sword up, the students did pull it down, and forced him to go and stay all day in a private Councillor's chamber, until the Reader himself could get the young gentlemen to dinner ; and then my Lord Mayor did retreat out of the Temple by stealth, with his sword up. This did make great heat among the students ; and my Lord Mayor did send to the King, and also I hear that Sir Richard Browne did cause the drums to beat for the Train-bands ; but all is over, only I hear that the students do resolve to try the Charter of the City." On the following 7th of April the case was brought before His Majesty in Council, and Pepys, who was present, tells us that no result was come to, it being determined first to await a legal decision as to the City's jurisdiction over the Temple ; a question that has apparently remained undecided to the present day, the result being that the Temple is " extra parochial," closing its gates at ten o'clock every night, in defiance of the City's pretensions.
In 1691, another disturbance of a more serious character, although one not having the possibility of such far reaching results, occurred when the Benchers of the Inner Temple closed a door which communicated from their precincts to Whitefriars. The lawless denizens of 'Alsatia ' chose to regard this as an interference with their ` privileges,' and as soon as the entrance was bricked up, unbricked it. Needless to say, this action led to a pitched battle between the Alsatians and the students, and resulted in at least two deaths. The leader of the former was a certain Captain Francis Winter. It was not till 1693 that Winter was brought to trial, but he was found guilty of murder, reprieved for a time, but eventually executed in Fleet Street, " opposite to White Fryers," says Luttrell, adding that " he died very penitently ; and after he was cut downe from the gibbet, he was put into a coffin, and interr'd this evening."
Luttrell gives the following account of the original circumstance : " The benchers of the Inner Temple, having given orders for bricking up their little gate leading into Whitefryers, and their workmen being at work thereon, the Alsatians came and pull'd it down as they built it up ; whereupon the sherifs were desired to keep the peace, and accordingly came, the 4th, with their officers ; but the Alsatians fell upon them, and knockt several of them down, and shott many guns amongst them, wounded several, two of which are since dead; a Dutch soldier passing by was shott thro' the neck, and a woman into the mouth ; Sir Francis Child himself, one of the sherifs, was knockt down, and part of his gold chain taken away. The fray lasted several hours, but at last the Alsatians were reduced by the help of a body of the King's guards ; divers of the Alsatians were seized and sent to prison."
Among the famous men who have been connected with the Inner Temple was, as we have seen, Sir Christopher Hatton ; the Lord High Treasurer Buckhurst ; John Bradford, who was admitted a student in 1547 and who died at the stake at Smithfield, in 1555, having been, three years earlier, chaplain to Edward VI. ; Coke and Littleton, the great lawyers ; the learned Selden, who came hither from Clifford's Inn, in 1604 ; Heneage Finch, Solicitor-General in 1660, and Lord Chancellor fourteen years later, being created Earl of Nottingham in 1681, with whom Charles Il. once dined in Hall, an honour then unprecedented ; the notorious Judge Jeffries ; and at least three poets Francis Beaumont, who entered in 1600, and in 1613 produced his Masque of the Inner Temple ; William Browne, who wrote, inter alia, Britannia's Pastorals ; and William Cowper, who once meditated suicide in his chambers, whither he came, in 1755, from the Middle Temple.
In order to deal with the various buildings contained in the Temple, other than the Halls about which I have already had something to say, I propose to take them alphabetically ; and I have left what references it seemed needful to make, to notable residents, to this portion of my subject, as by so doing we shall see better what parts of the Temple are hallowed by particular memories, than if I simply set the names down in the lists I have already given.
This court, appertaining to the Middle Temple, leads from Middle Temple Lane to Essex Street. It was one of the first buildings constructed of brick within the Temple precincts — hence its name — it having been erected at the charges of Thomas Daniel, the then treasurer, in 1569. The north side has been rebuilt in recent times. Various notable people have had chambers here, but it is No. 2 which will always be chiefly memorable, for here Goldsmith lived and died ; here Blackstone preceded him ; here Thackeray once had chambers ; and here Mackworth Praed died in 1839.
Much might be written of Goldsmith's sojourn here, indeed, much has been written by Forster, for instance, in his life of the poet. His rooms were on the right hand, " up two pair of stairs," and were once thus described by Thackeray : " I was in his chambers in Brick Court the other day," says the novelist. " The bedroom is a closet without any light in it. It quite pains one to think of the dear old fellow dying off there. There is some good carved work in the rooms." Hither Filby sent home that wonderful coat of which Goldsmith was so proud ; here his friends, Beauclerk and Oglethorpe, Johnson and Boswell, Langton and Percy and Reynolds and Bickerstaff, used to come and dine with him and admire the new furniture with which, in the flush of his success over The Good-Natured Man, the poet had crowded the rooms he had taken on a lease purchased for £400. Blackstone, engaged on his Commentaries, was used to complain of the noise made above him by his noisy neighbour and his cronies.
From his windows Goldsmith was wont to watch the rooks in the Temple Gardens, and he speaks of this " colony in the midst of the city," in his Animated Nature.
It was in these chambers that he died in 1774, and his books and furniture, removed from here, were sold by Mr. Good of 121 Fleet Street, in the July of that year.
One of Shakespeare's innumerable editors, Edward Capell, died also in Brick Court, in 1781 ; while Thackeray took rooms at No. 2 in 1855. As we shall see, he had occupied chambers in other parts of the Temple, at an earlier date, where he had experienced, no doubt, many of the incidents which he narrates so vividly in Pendennis. At his death, the Middle Temple desired to bury him within its precincts.
The old sundial, with its motto " Time and tide tarry for no man," still remains in Brick Court.
CROWN OFFICE ROW
Just as Brick Court is indissolubly connected with Goldsmith, so is Crown Office Row with Charles Lamb, for here the latter was born on Feb. 10, 1775. The Row has been, in part at least, rebuilt, but, with its outlook to the Thames across the grass and trees of the garden, can still lay claim to be the " Cheerful Crown Office Row," which Elia calls it. His reference to the place is classic. " I was born," he says, " and passed the first seven years of my life in the Temple. Its church, its halls, its gardens, its fountain--its river, I had almost said, for in those young years what was this king of rivers to me but a stream that watered our pleasant places ?—these are of my oldest recollections."
Crown Office Row was not quite forty years old when Charles Lamb first saw the light there, and so immortalised it, for it was erected in 1737.
The subsequent rebuilding was based on designs by Sydney Smirke, and was undertaken in 1863, being completed, at a cost of £16,500, in the following year. Among other worthies who have lived in chambers here was Sir James Scarlett, at No. 1, in 1809 ; Lord Lyndhurst who came hither on leaving Cambridge ; and Thackeray who, with Tom Taylor, occupied rooms in No. 10, after he had been called to the Bar, in 1834.
This portion of the Middle Temple abuts on the east side of Middle Temple Lane, was originally erected in 1630, and perpetuates the one-time presence of elm trees here. It has been rebuilt, and much of the original material was sold in 1879. It was in chambers, on the first floor, in Elm Court, that Lord Keeper Guildford first began to practise at the Bar, by which stepping-stone he arrived so quickly to such marked success. I cannot find record of any other very notable people having been connected with Elm Court, so we may pass on to
This is situated, close to Brick Court, on the west side of Middle Temple Lane, and, of course, takes its name from the once neighbouring Essex House. It was here that Evelyn came to reside when he took up his residence in the Middle Temple (he had been admitted when yet at school, on Feb. 13, 1637) on April 27, 1640. " I repaired with my brother," he writes in his Diary, " to the Tearme to goe into the new lodgings that were formerly in Essex Court, being a very handsome apartment just over against the Hall Court, but four payre of stayres high, w'ch gave us the advantage of the faire prospect."
A portion, at least, of Essex Court seems to have been rebuilt in 1677, for that date appears on a tablet between Nos. 2 and 3.
When Porson, the great Greek scholar, came to London from Cambridge, in 1791 or 1792, he took rooms in No. 5 Essex Court, and here he remained for a number of years, pursuing the frequently uneven tenour of his way. Here it was, indeed, that once putting out his candle, in the midst of one of his Homeric debauches, he is described as staggering downstairs to relight it, and after many vain attempts, uttering his famous curse against " the nature of things." 1
Lord Lyndhurst, whom we have met with in Crown Office Row, also had chambers at No. 3 Essex Court, in the year 1803.
The presence of fig trees is not unusual even in such urban surroundings as those of Fleet Street. We know they grew " in some close places " near Bridewell, and that they produced fruit in the Rolls Garden ; 2 while the court we are now dealing with, takes its name from the same cause. It is a very old part of the Inner Temple, situated on the east side of Inner Temple Lane, having been partially erected in 1617, with additions some ten or twelve years later.
There are not many interesting associations with Fig-Tree Court, except such as are inseparably connected with the Temple as a whole, and its older remaining buildings in particular. Lord Thurlow once occupied chambers here, as did the ubiquitous Lord Lyndhurst, and there once apparently resided here that shadowy Mr. John Mackenzie to whom Macpherson left £1000 to pay for the publication of Ossian.
The Middle Temple possesses a fountain, the successor to an older one whose spouting powers have been recorded by Sir Christopher Hatton, and whose " low singing " inspired some of Letitia Landon's verses. It stood, as the present one stands, in Fountain Court, which is so named in consequence. It is by reason of this adjunct that Fountain Court is one of the pleasantest spots in the Temple ; but it also has another cause for being dear to us, for here Tom Pinch used to meet his sister Ruth, " because, of course, when she had to wait a minute or two, it would have been very awkward for her to have to wait in any but a quiet spot and that was as quiet a spot, everything considered, as they could choose." Dickens gives us another peep into the court, still in the company of Ruth Pinch, and under even happier circumstances for her, when she came there under the escort of John Westlock, and we are told how " brilliantly the Temple fountain sparkled in the sun, and merrily the idle drops of water danced and danced ; and, peeping out in sport among the trees, plunged lightly down to hide themselves." This is surely a better memory than the one -time residence of legal dignitaries, or, as Lamb would have said, " old crusted lawyers "!
is another part of the Temple which Dickens has annexed to his all-embracing domain of London topography, for in it Pip and his friend Herbert Pocket had their joint rooms. " Our chambers," says Pip, " were in Garden Court, down by the river. We lived at the top of the last house." Here Pip was visited on a memorable occasion by Magwitch, it will be remembered.
Besides such associations, Garden Court has been the residence of more corporeal, if not more real, personages. Goldsmith lived here, in two separate sets of rooms successively, from 1764 to 1768. The first of these chambers was on the library staircase —for the Inner Temple Library was situated here, having been originally erected in 1641, and rebuilt in 1824 by Sir Robert Smirke.
It is interesting to remember that the son of Boswell who must often have visited Goldsmith here, had chambers in No. 3 Garden Court at a later day, and that Francis Horner, the political economist, occupied rooms in the next set (No. 4) from 1807 to 1809.
The gate leading from the court into the garden dates from 1730.
Hare Court, between Middle Temple and Inner Temple Lanes, takes its name from Nicholas Hare, who was Master of the Rolls in the time of Queen Mary, and who died in 1557, although the east portion was not erected till a hundred years after that event.
Here stands the famous pump, referred to by Garth in his "Dispensary," and immortalised by Lamb in a notable passage in one of his letters to Manning : " Our place of final destination I don't mean the grave, but No. 4 Inner Temple Lane," he writes "looks out upon a gloomy, churchyard like court, called Hare Court, with three trees and a pump in it. Do you know it ? I was born near it, and used to drink at that pump when I was a Rechabite of six years old ; " and he tells Coleridge, in a letter dated June 7, 1809, that his new rooms look into Hare Court, " where there is a pump always going. Just now it is dry. Hare Court's trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in a garden." 1 If we are to take the delightful ` Distant Correspondents ' au pied de la ' lettre, then Barron Field, to whom Lamb addresses that most amusing of epistles, once had chambers close to those of Elia ; for the latter remarks : " I am insensibly chatting to you as familiarly as when we used to exchange good-morrows out of our old contiguous windows in pump - famed Hare Court in the Temple. Why did you ever leave that quiet corner ? Why did I ? — with its complement of four poor elms, from whose smoke-dyed barks, the theme of jesting ruralists, I picked my first lady-birds ! "
Thackeray, whom we have met with in Crown Office Row, appears to have occupied chambers in Hare Court while a student of the Temple, in 1831.
INNER TEMPLE LANE
The rooms which Lamb occupied, whose back windows looked into Hare Court, were situated in Inner Temple Lane. But this thoroughfare had become notable before Elia's time, from the fact of Dr. Johnson having once lived there. The portion of the lane containing both Johnson's and Lamb's former dwellings has been rebuilt, and is now known as JOHNSON'S BUILDINGS the old portion having been pulled down in 1857, although Johnson's staircase was, very properly, preserved.1 The Doctor's rooms were in No. 1, and from his garret, which was very airy, Boswell records getting " a view of St. Paul's and many a brick roof." This garret was over Johnson's chambers, and served as his, apparently, very disorderly book-room.
Boswell tells us of his first visit here : " His chambers were on the first floor of No. 1 Inner Temple Lane. . . , He received me very courteously ; but, it must be confessed, his apartment and furniture, and morning dress, were sufficiently uncouth but all these slovenly particulars were forgotten the moment he began to talk."
It would be impossible, in the space at my command, to say anything about Johnson's life here, or of his many notable visitors ; nor is this necessary, as most people know their ` Boswell ' ; but one incident must be recorded, as one can hardly ever walk down Inner Temple Lane without thinking of it, and it has woven itself into the very stones of the street. Here is Boswell's description of the circumstance :
" When Madame de Boufflers was first in England [said Beauclerk], she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple Lane, when all at once I heard a voice like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who, it seems, upon a little recollection, had taken it into his head that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality, and, eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the staircase in violent agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Temple gate, and, brushing in between me and Madame de Boufflers, seized her hand, and conducted her to her coach. His dress was a rusty brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers, a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by this singular appearance."
Johnson lived here from 1760 to 1765, and Boswell, in order to be near him, took chambers in Farrer's Buildings.
Another notable resident in Inner Temple Lane, was William Cowper who came here from the Middle Temple in 1754 or 1755, and here attempted to put an end to his life, in consequence of an unprosperous love affair. Here, too, at No. 5, once lived the future Lord Chief Justice Campbell ; but, after Johnson's, the chief association of the place is with Charles Lamb, who came to No. 4 in 1809 and left it in the autumn of 1817. I have before incidentally referred to his residence here, so I will content myself with giving a. whimsical extract from one of his letters to Manning, written the year after he had come into residence, which describes his rooms like a vignette :--
" I have," he writes, " two sitting-rooms : I call them so par excellence, for you may stand, or loll, or lean, or try any posture in them, but they are best for sitting ; not squatting down Japanese fashion, but the more decorous mode which European usage has consecrated. I have two of these rooms on the third floor, and five sleeping, cooking, etc., rooms on the fourth floor. In my best room is a choice collection of the works of Hogarth, an English painter of some humour. In my next best are shelves containing a small but well-chosen library. My best room commands a court in which there are trees and a pump, the water of which is excellent cold with brandy, and not very insipid without."
It was while here that Lamb produced his unsuccessful farce of Mr. H. at Drury Lane ; collaborated with Mary Lamb in the Tales from Shakespeare ; and made a name as a critic by the publication of his Specimens of English Dramatic Poets.
In London Past and Present, I find the fact recorded that barometers were first sold in London, by Jones, a clock-maker, in Inner Temple Lane, Jones being induced to do so on the advice of Lord Keeper Guilford.
KING'S BENCH WALK
The picturesque row of houses standing at the east end of the Temple, at right angles with the river and facing Paper Buildings, is of considerable age so far, at least, as Nos. 4, 5, and 6 are concerned, these dating from 1678. When it is remembered that Wren was responsible for these, little further need be said, although attention should certainly be drawn to the excellently proportioned doorway of No. 5 and its masterly design in rubbed brick relieved by delicately wrought Corinthian capitals in stone. No. 8 dates from about a hundred years later ; while some of the houses are as relatively recent as 1814, and a new range of stone buildings, designed by Smirke, was erected here in 1838.
Shadwell, in his Squire of Alsatia, published in 1688, refers to the lawyers' chambers here, and the names of one or two later notable occupants have been preserved. Thus we know that one of Goldsmith's numerous residences within the Temple precincts was at No. 3, I imagine between his sojourn in Garden Court and his final abode in Brick Court. Certainly he was here in 1765, as in the July of that year Sir Joshua Reynolds notes an engagement to dine with him here.
At No. 5, the set with the beautiful doorway, Lord Mansfield, when plain Mr. Murray, had chambers, and was here visited by Pope. Rogers, who liked to trace the footsteps of distinguished men, once told Dr. Mackay that he used as a boy to make pilgrim.. ages to No. 5, in order " to tread over the very steps where the feet of Pope had passed." Another notable person who sometimes called on the rising barrister, was the redoubtable Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. She seems to have made it a habit to come in the evening, to consult Murray to whom she had given a general retainer in her many legal actions. One night, returning from a merry-making with some of the wits of the day, he found his client impatiently awaiting him, and had to listen to a lecture from a past mistress in that art : " Young man, if you mean to rise in the world, you must not sup out," she told him. Another time she sat till midnight for him, and then left in a rage because he had not returned. His servant inf ormed him that she would not give her name, " but swore so dreadfully " that he was sure she was a lady of quality ! Lysons, the well known topographical writer, and Jekyll, 2 the inveterate wit, both had chambers next door, at No. 6, a house in which Daines Barrington, familiar to readers of Lamb's essay on the " Old Benchers of the Inner Temple," died in 1800 ; and George Colman, junr., also occupied rooms somewhere in the row.
Barrington was some time Treasurer. He walked " burly and square," Lamb tells us, and " did pretty well, upon the strength of being a tolerable antiquarian, and having a brother a bishop." But he could hardly have been a kindly creature, for an item in his annual accounts reads : " Disbursed Mr. Allen, the gardener, twenty shillings, for stuff to poison the sparrows, by my orders," a charge which the Benchers, to their credit, disallowed.
MITRE COURT BUILDINGS
connects King's Bench Walk with Mitre Court. This was another of Charles Lamb's Temple residences, for he came to No. 16 in 1800. As in the case of the Inner Temple Lane lodging, we have Elia's own description of his rooms and their situation :
" I live," he writes to Manning, " at No. 16 Mitre Court Buildings, a pistol shot off Baron Maseres. You must introduce me to the Baron. I think we should suit one another mainly. He lives on the ground floor for convenience of the gout ; I prefer the attic story for the air. . . . N.B. — When you come to see me, mount up to the top of the stairs. I hope you are not asthmatical and come in flannel, for it is pure airy up there. And bring your glass, and I will show you the Surrey Hills. My bed faces the river, so by perking upon my haunches, and supporting my carcass with my elbows, without much wrying my neck I can see the white sails glide by the bottom of the King's Bench Walk as I lie in my bed."
A neighbour of Lamb's, and apparently a frequent evening caller, was Southey's friend Rickman, "the finest fellow to drop in o' nights . . . thoroughly penetrated into the ridiculous wherever found, understands the first time."
The buildings have been rebuilt, but the pleasant memory hangs about the spot of Charles and Mary Lamb's joint establishment here ; of Coleridge's visit here marred, however, by one of Mary's periodical attacks ; of that noble, self-sacrificing life which made. the intervals between these attacks periods of quiet happiness ; of those famous Wednesday evenings, which began in 1806, until the removal in 1809 to Southampton Buildings and the later return to Inner Temple Lane.
Paper Buildings, although now hardly to be termed picturesque, occupy an unrivalled position, for on one side they are ` over against' the warm, red-bricked King's Bench Walk, and on the other enjoy the pleasant prospect of the Temple Gardens and the incomparable vista of what in the distance still looks like the silver Thames. Being rebuilt in a purely utilitarian style,1 with unornamented exterior and staircases suitable rather to a prison than a nucleus of chambers, it requires some effort of the imagination to people the present erection with the ghosts of those who inhabited its predecessor ; but this is so much the case with many other buildings in London that there ought to be little difficulty in doing so here.
The original Paper Buildings dated from 1609, and are said to have been erected by Mr. Heyward to whom Selden, who shared chambers with him, dedicated his Titles of Honour, and others. They were, according to Dugdale, 88 feet in length and 20 feet broad, and consisted of four storeys. The Great Fire consumed them, but they were rebuilt in 1685. Fate was against them, however, for the rebuilt portion also fell a victim to the flames in 1838, and the present structure dates from about that period, although the red-brick portion fronting the Embankment, and irreverently termed ` Blotting-Paper Buildings,' was not built till 1848, having been designed by Sydney Smirke.
In the original pile Selden had chambers in conjunction, as I have said, with his friend Heyward, and Aubrey tells us that here "he had a little gallery to walke in " looking over the gardens. It was here, too, that he was visited by a friend who told him he was possessed of two devils, and he informs us how he cured him, in the article on ` Devils ' in his Table-Talk.
The fire of 1838 broke out in the chambers of Mr. Maule (afterwards Justice), noted for his irony and straw-splitting, at No. 14 ; and Lord Campbell, whose rooms here were just over Maule's, was burnt out, nothing of his possessions being saved. The fire is said to have originated through Maule going to bed and leaving his candle alight by his bedside. Another notable man who once occupied chambers in Paper Buildings was George Canning ; while Samuel Rogers had the rooms here which had before belonged to Lord Ellenborough. Rogers's dining-room was on the ground floor with a view over the river, and he had had looking-glass inserted in the window-shutters in order to multiply this pleasant prospect.
A hardly less real person than these very substantial (one could hardly call the cadaverous Rogers substantial, though !) inhabitants is connected with this part of the Temple, for the Sir John Chester of Barnaby Budge had his chambers at, it is conjectured,1 No. 3, and was here visited by Hugh and Simon Tappertit and Gabriel Varden. It seems probable, too, that Stryver, for whom Sydney Carton acted as ` jackal,' also had rooms here, for we are told how the latter on one occasion, " having revived himself by twice pacing the pavements of King's Bench Walk and Paper Buildings, turned into the Stryver Chambers."
As is generally known, others besides legal luminaries are to be occasionally found in rooms within the Temple, and a friend of the writer has the most delightful set right at the top of Paper Buildings, where, like Teufelsdröckh, he seems alone with the stars, far removed from the noise and tumult of the busy throng below him.
When Tom Pinch was installed as librarian to his mysterious patron by Mr. Fips, that eccentric gentleman " led the way through sundry lanes and courts, into one more quiet and gloomy than the rest ; and singling out a certain house, ascended a common staircase . . . stopping before a door upon an upper story." 1 This dwelling was in Pump Court ; and it was here, at a later date, that old Martin Chuzzlewit made himself known to Tom, and subsequently gave Mr. Pecksniff a dressing which even he probably never forgot.
The court, of course, takes its name from the pump which may still be seen in the middle of it. It was here that the disastrous fire in the Middle Temple began in January 1679. As l have not mentioned this elsewhere, I will copy out Luttrell's account of the circumstance :
" The 26th (of January), about 11 at night, broke out a fire in the chamber of one Mr. Thorn-bury, in Pump Court, in the Middle Temple. It burnt very furiously, and consumed, in the Middle Temple, Pump Court, Elm-tree Court, Vine Court, Middle Temple Lane, and part of Brick Court. It burnt down also, in the Inner Temple, the cloysters, and the greatest part of Hare Court ; the library was blown up. The Thames being frozen, there was great scarcity of water ; it being so bitter a frost, the water hung in isecles at the eves of the houses. The engines plaid away many barrells of beer to stop the fire : but the cheif way of stopping the fire was by blowing up houses ; in doeing which many were hurt, and particularly the earl of Feversham, whose skull was almost broken ; but he is now in some hopes of recovery. This fire lasted till the next day at noon ; and, 'tis suspected, was begun by treachery."
Two notable men had chambers in Pump Court : Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, as a student in 1710, and again, in a different set, when he began to practise, in 1715 ; and Fielding, when called to the Bar, in 1740.
Originally this block of chambers was known as Bradshaw's Buildings, having been erected by Henry Bradshaw, who was Treasurer of the Inner Temple in the reign of Henry VIll. At a later date, notably in the time of Elizabeth and James i., it had an important resident in the person of Sir Laurence Tanfield, who was Reader in 1595, Serjeant-at-Law in 1603,2 a Justice of the King's Bench in 1606, and Lord Chief Baron in the following year, and who died on April 30, 1625. It was after him that the court was renamed.
Beyond the fact of Tanfield's residence here, the place has no particular memories except one, which gave it an anything but enviable notoriety ; for it was at one of its houses that, in 1732, Sarah Malcolm, a laundress, murdered Mrs. Duncombe and her two servants. Retribution followed on this ghastly crime, and Sarah Malcolm was executed, opposite Mitre Court, in Fleet Street, in March 1733. For some unexplained reason, she was buried in St. Sepulchre's Church yard, but her body was subsequently exhumed, and her skeleton is now preserved (though why, it is difficult to say) at Cambridge. Hogarth painted her (three-quarter length) portrait for Horace Walpole, who paid the artist five guineas for it ; and he also produced a full-length of the murderess, which once belonged to Alderman Boydell. Sarah was a good looking girl of twenty, and she elected to be represented in a red dress as likely to be becoming Nothing, however, could hide from Hogarth her criminal expression, and he is said to have remarked that he could judge from her face that she was capable of any wickedness.
With regard to certain other `courts' and `buildings' in the Temple, little need be said : some of them are of quite modern date, like Plowden Buildings and Goldsmith Buildings, which perpetuate in their names, however, once famous residents ; Harcourt Buildings, named, I presume, after Lord Chancellor Harcourt (1661-1727), is known to have once contained the chambers of Pope's friend and legal adviser, William Fortescue, because the poet addresses a Ietter to him there ; Lamb Buildings, so called because of the sign of the 'Holy Lamb ' (the badge of the Templars) which may be seen over its doorway, and not after Charles Lamb, as might, perhaps, be supposed, was once the residence of Sir William Jones, from 1776 to 1783 ; while Vine Court also possesses but a single item of interest, in the fact that Sir John Finett's " Philoxenis " was sold, in 1561, " by H. Twyford and G. Bedell at their shops in Vine Court, Middle Temple, and the Middle Temple Gate." '
Before leaving the Temple, I must not overlook the MASTER'S HOUSE which was erected for William Sherlock, who was Master at the end of the seventeenth century. It is a picturesque red-brick Queen Anne building, with a small garden in front, close to the Temple Church, and when creeper-clad, in summer-time, makes a pleasant spot of greenery amid its less rural surroundings. Here have resided the various masters since the days of William Sherlock. Of these were Thomas Sherlock, the son and successor of William, afterwards Bishop of London ; Samuel Nicholls ; Gregory Sharpe ; George Watts ; Thomas Thurlow (Lord Thurlow's brother) ; William Pearce ; Thomas Rennell ; Christopher Benson ; Thomas Robinson ; Charles John Vaughan ; Alfred Ainger (dear to all lovers of Lamb) ; and the Rev. H. G. Wood, D.D., the present Master, who was presented in 1904.
As will be seen, I have only been able to touch lightly on the history of the Temple, a history fraught with so much that is notable and interesting. Even what I have said about the structure itself seems, on re-reading it, slight and inadequate ; but had I done more, I should have found myself embarked on such a sea of data as would have kept me sailing through an ocean of print before I sighted land.
Annals Of Fleet Street:
Streets South Of Fleet Street
Streets North Of Fleet Street
Temple Bar And Some Bankers
Inns Of Court And Chancery Clifford's Inn
Churches Of Fleet Street
Taverns And Coffee-houses Of Fleet Street
Famous Men And Women Of Fleet Street
Fleet Street And The Press