Archive Catalogue

Article Index

The Inner Temple Archives
Summary Description of Holdings

The archives are described in more detail in a Handlist of the Inner Temple Archives (1992) which is available in the Inner Temple Library and at the National Register of Archives Catalogue (2002) available in the Inner Temple Archives.

Records of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (1505-)

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court, which between them are responsible for the selection, training, and regulation of barristers in England and Wales. It occupies the eastern half of a site, known as the Temple, which was chosen by the crusading Knights Templar in the twelfth century as their London headquarters. The round church that they constructed there, reputedly modelled on the Church of St. Sepulchre in Jerusalem, still forms part of the Temple Church. By the mid-fourteenth century, when the royal courts became permanently sited in Westminster, the Temple had become a home for lawyers who formed two societies there, the Inner and the Middle Temple, each occupying one of the halls constructed by the Templars on the site. Their status was formally recognised in 1608, when James I granted the land jointly to them in perpetuity for the accommodation, entertainment and education of students and practitioners of the law. Although the buildings that it occupies have changed considerably over time, the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple continues to fulfil this role to the present day.

The Inner Temple Archives holds the past administrative records of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. Dating from 1505, these include records relating to the admission, education and call to the bar of members; the management of the Inn by the Treasurer and Council of Benchers, known as the Inn's Parliament, and its committees and sub-committees; the day to day administration of the Inn and its property by the Sub-Treasurer and his staff; and the conduct of events taking place within the Inn. The Inn also holds some records relating to the Temple Church, which is jointly owned and administered by the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. The records have been catalogued in the following categories:

ADM: Records of Admission and Membership(1547-1969)

These records relate to the admission of students to the Inner Temple and to their subsequent membership of the Inn. They include admission registers, admission stamp duty books, admission papers, membership files, students address books, tables of admission fees, receipt counterfoils and lists of students suspended, readmitted or dead.

BAR: Records of Call to the Bar and Barristers (1642-1995)

These records relate to the call to the bar of members of the Inner Temple and to matters concerning call to the bar and the professional status of barristers. They include bar books, call lists, call papers, bar bonds, bar examination results, unsuccessful applications for call and papers concerning qualifications for call and the status of barristers.

BEN: Records of Master of the Bench and Bench Committees (1668-)

These records relate to the election of senior members as masters of the bench of the Inner Temple and to activities of the Bench Table and bench committees responsible for the governance of the Inn. They include bench lists, petitions to the masters of the bench, Bench Table orders and minutes and papers of bench committees and working parties. See also PAR.

BUI: Records of Buildings and Works (1726-1982)

These records relate to the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings within the Inner Temple, apart from the Temple Church (see TEM). They include building specifications and contracts, correspondence with architects, building contractors and tenants, building accounts and some plans. For other plans see PLA.

CHA: Records of Chambers and Rents (1615-1986)

These records relate to professional and residential tenancies of chambers within the Inner Temple. They include chambers admittance books and reference books, chambers bonds, tenancy agreements, rentals and chambers accounts, surrenders and assignments of chambers, and papers in chambers disputes.

COM: Records of Commons, Dues and Catering (1914-1962)

These records relate to commons and other dues, including preacher's duties, collected from members of the Inner Temple. They include commons, pensions and preacher's duty account books, commons bonds, buttery books, student term books, a Christmas account book and papers concerning catering charges. Concerning catering at special events see EVE.

DIS: Records Of Disciplinary Cases (1821-1980)

These records relate to disciplinary procedures against student and barrister members of the Inner Temple for professional misconduct and other disciplinary offences. They include bench committee minutes and reports, correspondence, copies of court proceedings and judgments and other case papers. Restricted access.

EDU: Records Relating to Legal Education and Scholarships (1871-)

These records relate to internal and external initiatives to promote and regulate the professional education of bar students and to scholarships and educational activities organised within the Inn. They include reports of joint committees of the four Inns of Court, consolidated regulations, moot books and case papers, moot committee minutes, applications and examination scripts for scholarships and prizes, and scholarship payment books.

EMP: Records of Employees (1866-1972)

These records relate to the employment and remuneration of Inner Temple staff. They include wages books, pension records, job applications, employment contracts and bonds, servants' Christmas fund account book, and provident committee report.

EVE: Records of Special Events, Dinners and Entertainments (1843-)

These records relate to special events hosted by the Inner Temple for members and guests including royal visits, Grand Days, dinners, garden parties, balls, the RHS Temple gardens flower show and ceremonial occasions. They include administrative papers, invitations, menus, programmes, table plans and invoices. For photographs see PHO.

EXT: Records of External Bodies (Reference Copies) (1961-)

These comprise reference copies of the minutes and papers of external bodies involving or relevant to the Inner Temple including the Senate of the Four Inns of Court and its sub-committees, the General Council of the Bar and the Council of the Inns of Court.

FIN: Financial Records (1606-1979)

These records relate to the management of the Inn's finances and investments. They include audited accounts of the Treasurer, Steward and Sub-Treasurer, general ledgers, cash books, receipt and expenditure accounts, general balance sheets, investment records, and trust fund accounts and balance sheets

GAR: Records Of Garden Management (1809-1964)

These records relate to the maintenance and use of the Inner Temple gardens. They include estimates, drawings and correspondence concerning planting and garden improvements, and regulations for use.

INS: Insurance Records (c.1898-1953)

These records comprise expired policies and related papers concerning the insurance of the Inn's buildings and movable property.

LEG: Legal Records (1761-)

These records relate to the rights and legal status of the Inner Temple. They include copies of Parliamentary legislation affecting the Inn, legal agreements concerning the Inn and neighbouring properties, charitable trust deeds and papers concerning bequests to the Inn and legal disputes. See also CHA, LOC, MID and MUN.

LOC: Records of the Inn as a Local Authority (1806-1976)

These records relate to the role the Inner Temple as a local authority, with responsibility for certain local government functions, and its exclusion from the jurisdiction of the City of London. They include correspondence, reports, bye-laws and legal papers.

MID: Records Concerning Relations with the Middle Temple (1727-1899)

These records relate to liaison with the Middle Temple over matters of mutual concern including events, the partition and exchange of property, compensation claims and barge moorings. They include deeds, correspondence and legal papers. See also LEG.

MUN: Muniments of Title (1582-1976)

These records comprise title deeds, trust deeds (excluding charitable trust deeds) and evidence book relating to property owned by the Inner Temple. See also LEG.

PAR: Records of the Inner Temple Parliament (1505-1979)

These records comprise the minutes of the Inner Temple 's governing body, the council of benchers, known as the Inn's Parliament. For records of bench committees see BEN.

PHO: Photographs (1879-)

These photographs taken on behalf of or acquired by the Inner Temple depict the Inn's buildings and the jointly owned Temple Church, including war damage and reconstruction; Inner Temple members (principally benchers); and events taking place in the Inn. For photographs of the Inn's possessions see POS.

PIC: Prints And Other Illustrative Material (1750-)

This collection of past views of the Inner Temple has been acquired over time. It includes prints, engravings and drawings and photographs and photocopies of pictures held elsewhere. In addition, see the Tom Henry's catalogue of portraits and pictures held elsewhere in the Inn.

PLA: Plans (1820-1983)

These records comprise plans of the Inner Temple site and of individual buildings and were mainly drawn up in connection with building projects and the provision of services to the Inn. Thye also include some plans relating to the Temple Church and the Master of the Temple's house, jointly owned with the Middle Temple. See also BUI and SER.

POS: Records of Inn's Movable Possessions (1868-1984)

These records relate to acquisition, valuation and maintenance of the Inn's movable possessions, principally its silver plate, portraits, pictures, records, manuscripts and furniture. They include inventories, valuations, photographs and papers concerning acquisitions and sales.

REA: Records of the Readership (c.1800)

These comprise papers relating to the office of Reader of the Inner Temple. The Reader is elected from among the most senior benchers of the Inn and was originally required to deliver a learned reading on a legal statute or other aspect of the law. It has become customary for the Reader's shield, or coats of arms, to be displayed on the panelling of the Inner Temple hall during his year of office. The Reader subsequently serves as Treasurer of the Inn.

SER: Records Of Services (1861-1976)

These records relate to the provision of services to the Inner Temple, including sewerage, gas, electricity and telecommunications. They include agreements with service providers and related papers. For plans see PLA.

SUB: Records of the Sub-Treasurer (1841-)

These records comprise volumes and files complied by the Sub-Treasurer relating to more than one of the Inn's functions. They include letter books, correspondence, key books, press cuttings books and general files. Other records of the Sub-Treasurer and his staff are arranged within functional sub-fonds.

TAX: Records of Taxation (1695-1935)

These records relate to the assessment and collection of central government taxation by the Inner Temple as an independent taxation authority and its exclusion from City of London ward rates. They include Tax Commissioners' proceedings, Land Tax assessments for the Inner Temple, Clifford's Inn and Clement's Inn, correspondence and legal papers. See also LOC.

TEM: Records of Adminstration of the Temple Church (1613-1996)

These records relate to the Inner Temple's role in the administration of the Temple Church, jointly owned by the Inner Temple and Middle Temple. They include papers regarding the appointment of the Master of the Temple and the Reader of the Temple Church, minutes of the joint Choir Committee, reports, estimates and accounts for repairs and restoration of the church fabric, service sheets and papers relating to the status of the church as a royal peculiar.

See also TCC, TUN and the Middle Temple Archives.

TRE: Records of the Treasurer (20th cent.)

These records comprise correspondence and papers of the Treasurer, the most senior bencher of the Inn, during his year of office.

WAR: Records Concerning Second World War Measures (1933-52)

These records relate to preparations made before and during the Second World War to defend the Inner Temple against enemy attack and to subsequent claims for compensation for war damage. They include proposals for an underground air-raid shelter, air raid precaution reports and notices, fire watching register, inventories of library stock and correspondence and papers relating to insurance and compensation claims. See also BUI and PHO.

WAT: Records of Watching And Policing (1734-1860)

These records relate to the duties and remuneration of watchmen within the Inner Temple and the introduction of the City Police into the Inner Temple after the passing of the City Police Act of 1839. They include a list of watchmen, rules concerning watching, bench committee reports, correspondence and chambers' petition against noise.

Donated and Deposited Records

CLI: Clifford's Inn Records (1618-1885)

These records, which originally belonged to the Society of Clifford's Inn, were discovered in the vaults of premises in Brick Court, Middle Temple, occupied by George Thatcher and Son, solicitors, after transfer there from their former offices at 32 Essex Street. George Booth, who acted as secretary to the society before its demise in 1903, was also based at 32 Essex Street, which explains the presence of the records there. They were donated to the Inner Temple by Frank Wright, a member of the Middle Temple, son-in-law of Alec Thatcher, in April and May 1998 and February 1999.

The only other records known to survive from Clifford's Inn, one of the three Inns of Chancery attached to the Inner Temple, are held by the National Archives, Kew (principally LC9/344 & TS59/11) and the sixteenth century rules which used to hang on the wall in the Inn and are now held in the Inner Temple Library (Miscellaneous Ms. no.189). Scattered references to Clifford's Inn also appear in the records of the Inner Temple, its parent Inn of Court.

The records donated to the Inner Temple archives, which date from 1618 to 1885, appear to be the administrative papers of the Principal or his Secretary, but exclude the main series of admissions registers and minutes of the governing body. They include muniments of title, admission bonds, chambers admissions, surrenders and assignments, correspondence, draft indexes, tax assessment and miscellaneous papers.

DDP: Deposited, Donated or Purchased Records

These records relating to the Inner Temple and its members have been acquired by the Inner Temple Archives to illustrate further aspects of the history of the inn and of individual past members. They comprise original documents, such as letters patent of appointment and letters, and copies of relevant records held elsewhere, such as wills and obituaries.

TCC & TUN: Records of the Temple Church Choir and Templars' Union (20th cent)

These records relate to administration and activities of the Temple Church choir and the Templars' Union for past choir members. They include voice trial books, register and index of choristers, choir pay books, choir holiday camp log books, Templars' Union minute books and papers, copies of 'The Templar' magazine, choir music, programmes, service sheets, correspondence and photographs. See also TEM.

Inner Temple Library

ITR: Inner Temple Records (1575-1851)

These manuscripts relating to the administration and history of the Inner Temple were acquired by the Inner Temple Library and bound into 39 volumes. Although they have long been held separately from the Inner Temple Archives, and therefore have been treated as a separate fonds, they are integrally linked with the Inn's official archives. They include letters and papers of the Treasurer and Sub-Treasurer on administrative matters, 1586-1830; account books, estimates, invoices and other accounting records, 1673-1780; papers concerning the Temple Church, 1660-1845; orders for burial in the Temple Church, 1771-1851; orders concerning the duties and remuneration of employees, 1695-1765; papers concerning customs, revels and foundlings, 1678-1816; chamber books, 1709-60; notes on the Inns of Court and Inns of Chancery, with related documents, 1700-75; rules and orders relating to the government of the Inner Temple and the building and tenancy of chambers, 1575-1771; and papers in legal cases involving the Inner Temple, 1630-1741

For detailed list see J Conway Davies Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (Oxford 1972) volumes II & III pp.969-1083

Contact Details

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should apply in writing to: The Archivist,
Celia Pilkington.

Or by post:
The Archives
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
Treasury Office
London  EC4Y 7HL