Today I was very pleased to be able to join my wife as her guest at the Mistress Constructor's Champagne Tea at Middle Temple. Access to this ancient and sought after venue was facilitated by the Master Constructor, Sir Vivian Ramsey, a Bencher at the Middle Temple.
The tour commenced in Middle Temple Hall with a short outline of the history of the Inns of Court from our eminent guide, Ian Mayes QC, formerly Master of the House of the Middle Temple, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers. Ian gave us an amusing insight into the rivalries between the four Inns of Court, concentrating on the escapades and antics between students of the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple.
We then walked the short distance to the Temple Church, which Ian explained is one of the most historic and beautiful churches in London. Hidden away in the Inns of Court, it has eight hundred years of history.
The Church was built by the Knights Templar, the order of crusading monks founded to protect pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem in the 12th century.
The Church is in two parts: the Round and the Chancel. The Round Church was consecrated in 1185 by the patriarch of Jerusalem. It was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world: the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It recently came to the attention of the public when it featured in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent film.
The tour then moved back to the Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, which was established in the 14th century, with its name also deriving from the Knights Templar. We were given a guided and detailed tour of the magnificent Hall, probably the finest example of an Elizabethan Hall in London, spanned by a double hammer-beam roof, begun in 1562 and little altered to the present day.
The tour ended with a visit to the library with its treasures, including the two earliest globes made in England, one a celestial globe which depicts how God would see the world from above, and the second a terrestrial globe which left a lot of room for error!
After the fascinating and educational tour we were treated to a wonderful champagne tea in the Parliament Chamber of the Middle Temple, another ancient and beautiful room adorned with amazing paintings.
This was yet another truly interesting and informative event for which we are very grateful to the Mistress Constructor, Lady Barbara Ramsey.