- The coats of arms inside the Middle Temple dining hall
- My classmates putting up with me while I took 100 photos of all the coats of arms
All the Details:
Middle Temple Law Library
Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court, which also includes Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. In order to become a lawyer or barrister in England or Wales, students must join one of the four Inns. The Inns traditionally served as the community for students to live in and learn from. Although students no longer contain their lives within the confines of the Inns’ buildings, they are still the hub of learning for those studying law. The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple began in the 13th century and was the headquarters of the Knights Templar.
We were lucky enough to be shown around Middle Temple by librarian Renae Satterley. The library at Middle Temple focuses on American and European Union law. We were shown around the library main floors that contain two levels of book shelves. We were told that there were also two basement levels for storage and a climate controlled level for rare books. The library, unfortunately, has no classification system, due to the idea that classification labels detract from the appeal of the ‘Gentlemen’s Library’ look. There were also two rare globes from the 16th century on display at the front of the library; one depicting the Earth and the other the sky.
Next we were shown through some of the more luxurious rooms that would have served as drawing rooms and smoking rooms for the lawyers of the Middle Temple. My absolute favorite part of Middle Temple was the dining hall. Its walls, as well as the wall of the hallways leading to it, are covered in hundreds of coats of arms. The coats of arms represent the ‘readers’ that have presented lectures at qualifying sessions that are attended by the students. Students must attend twelve of these sessions that usually involve dinner and a lecture, debate, or performance. Each lecturer or ‘reader’ then has their coat of arms placed on the wall. The beautiful display of colors and symbols was mesmerizing!