The 20th & 21st Centuries
1920s – Present

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George Thalben-Ball, Organist; ‘Oh for the Wings of a Dove’

In 1923 Dr George Thalben-Ball was appointed organist and choirmaster. This musician, later world- renowned, was to serve the church even longer than his predecessor, John Hopkins, retiring in 1982 after 59 years in office.  One reason for his fame was the record made in 1927 of Mendelssohn’s 'O, for the Wings of a Dove' in the Church.  It is as famous as any recording ever made: it has been available ever since 1927: more than five million copies have been sold. The recording became world-famous and brought visitors to the church from all parts of the globe.

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Church bombed in the Blitz

The night of 10 May 1941 was fine and moonlit.  The river was at low ebb; water pressure was weak.  The sirens sounded at 11.00pm; the raid lasted all night.  By morning, five Livery Company Halls had been destroyed; the House of Commons Chamber had been burnt out, Westminster Hall and the Abbey scarred.

An early bomb landed in Middle Temple Gardens and destroyed the water mains.  Around midnight fire-watchers saw an incendiary land on the roof of the Church, at the south-east angle of the chancel.  The fire caught hold on the chancel roof; it spread to the vestries, to the organ so to the wooden furnishings inside the Church itself.  The heat split the Chancel’s columns, but the vault held up; the wooden roof of the Round caved in on the knights’ effigies below.

The fire was still burning in the Round at noon on the next day.  In the Chancel the pews and choir-stalls had been reduced to lines of ash.  The Smith-Rothwell organ was destroyed beyond recognition.  In the Church’s lobby, at the south door, is a painting by Kathleen Allen (1906-1983) of one effigy as it appeared on 11 May.

The fire spread to Lamb Building (in the centre of the present Church Court) and burnt it out.  ‘At two o’clock in the morning,’ wrote the Senior Warden, ‘it was as light as day.  Charred papers and embers were flying through the air, bombs and shrapnel all around.  It was an awe-inspiring sight.’  On the same night Inner Temple’s Hall, Parliament Chamber and Library, the Cloisters and large parts of Pump Court were destroyed.

It was seventeen years before the Church itself was fully repaired.  The cracked columns were all replaced, with new stone from the beds of Purbeck ‘marble’ quarried in the Middle Ages.  The Chancel’s columns had been famous for tilting outwards; they were rebuilt at the same angle.  The tomb of the learned and courageous John Selden – who stood out against the abuse of executive power in the 17th century – was rediscovered under the south-west corner of the Chancel.  The Easter Window, a gift from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, was designed and built by Carl Edwards.

Sir Frank MacKinnon (Treasurer of Inner Temple in 1945) compiled a report in 1944 which reveals how far and fast taste had changed since the nineteenth-century refurbishments.     

For my own part, seeing how dreadfully the Church had been despoiled by its pretended friends a century before, I do not grieve so very acutely for the havoc now wrought by its avowed enemies …. If the Church is now once again truly restored, it can hardly fail to be far more beautiful than the Victorian vandals made it for us.  To have got rid of their awful stained glass windows, their ghastly pulpit, their hideous encaustic tiles, their abominable pews and seats (on which alone they spent over £10,000), will be almost a blessing in disguise.  An ancient text about the first Temple may even, I hope, be apposite.  ‘The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.’

From the memories of Cecile Robinson, wife of Roy Robinson, Subtreasurer of Inner Temple during the war.

Until 10th May I had never realised what an air raid could be like.  That night was one of terror.

Trouble started at 11pm and right from the commencement everything was hectic.  High explosives fell in all directions – one explosion followed by another.  I was a firewatcher that evening and found myself in Middle Temple Lane.  As the bombs fell thick and heavy, we were not ashamed to duck occasionally under the archway leading to Pump Court.

As we approached King’s Bench Walk we saw a lovely blue green light on my roof.  I have seldom moved so quickly.  I told Mr Morris where the sandbags and the stirrup pump were and we were on the roof in no time.  A sandbag put paid to one incendiary but another had gone through the slates and was burning inside the rafters.  So a little excellent work with the stirrup pump and we had the fire out.  We decided to refill the buckets with water in case we needed them again.  We certainly would.

I suppose by now most people know what happened that night.  Incendiaries and high explosives dropped incessantly: planes were overhead all the time.  When the Church caught fire we discovered that we could not get any water to it.  We had to watch the fire spreading and not be able to do a thing to help.

The fire brigade stood by helplessly.  I asked the man in charge if he couldn’t get the apparatus needed for relaying water from the Thames.  He assured me that he had tried but the tide was too low.  The fire was spreading and rapidly approaching the Round Church.  My husband returned with his leg stitched up but he declined to rest and was insistent that he should do something.  He went into the Church and returned with his jacket covered with tiny globules of silvery lead which must have dripped from the piping. How it escaped his face and head I cannot imagine, as he was not wearing a hat.

My own roof caught fire six times that night and if I had not been on the spot I should not be occupying these chambers now.

It was not until 6am that the ‘All Clear’ sounded.  We did not notice daybreak – the flames were so bright that there was no transition of night to day.  At about this time the fire brigade got some water and although the pressure was not that great it was something.  No. 1 King’s Bench Walk was burning fiercely, and Mrs Buckmaster at No. 2 was expecting it to spread at any moment to her chambers.  The Cloisters were now well alight and at about 9am Lamb Building also caught fire.  Later pumps and firemen began to arrive from many outside districts, some from Oxford I believe.

All Sunday, the fires raged and it seemed with the approach of evening that the raiders would return and find us quite unprepared.  The extinguishers needed filling, the buckets and stirrup pumps were missing and the fires made a wonderful target for the enemy.  The fires burnt for several days – even a fortnight afterwards we had to call in the fire brigade to a fire which had started again in the cellar.

The night of May 10th was certainly our worst and Heaven, or rather the RAF, forbid that we ever get another like it.

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Middle Temple Bomb Damage, May 1941

The Blitz

In London the night of 10 May 1941 was clear, the moon was almost full. The River was at low ebb; water pressure was weak. The sirens sounded at 11.00pm; the raid lasted all night. German crews flew two, even three sorties each, and dropped over 100, 000 incendiaries. It was the worst night in London’s war. 1,436 people were killed, over 2,000 injured, 14 hospitals damaged. There were fires the whole length of London. In the city’s centre the Mint, Mansion House, Tower and British Museum were all hit; the Temple Church, St Clement Danes, St Mary-le-Bow, Holy Trinity Sloane Street and St Columba’s Pont Street were damaged or destroyed; the House of Commons Chamber was burnt out, Westminster Hall and the Abbey scarred.

Londoners were used to such raids. On every night between 7th September and 13th November 1940 the city had been bombed. The most famous photograph of the War, of St Paul’s surrounded by smoke and flames, was taken from the roof of the Daily Mail building during the great raid of 29th December. At the start of the Blitz communal shelters were insanitary and badly constructed; by its end the Government feared that civilians might settle in the refurbished Underground for the War’s duration. Other improvements were more slowly made: in 1941 local councils were still responsible for fire-fighting within their boroughs; only after 10th May did the Government establish the National Fire Service.

But were there limits to Londoners’ resilience? ‘I began to realise,’ wrote an American journalist, ‘to what deep depths of their being the 10th May raid had shocked and shaken the people of London. It was just one raid too much.’ The Government too was asking how many nights of such ferocity could London sustain before it was ablaze day and night and all normal life came to an end. The question was never answered. Hitler had already informed his High Command that Germany would launch its attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, exactly one year after the fall of France. Attention and resources were turned to the East. The London Blitz was over.  


It was not only London that suffered; Birkenhead and Liverpool had already been attacked in August 1940, at little cost to the Luftwaffe. By mid-November it was clear that the attacks on London were causing no collapse in Britain’s will to fight. German strategy was changed: to attacks on industrial centers throughout the country. On the night of 14th November 1940 Coventry Cathedral and a large part of the city were destroyed. The German crews had been ordered to cripple the aircraft industry and ancillary services. But German radio took advantage of the raid’s more general results. A new word was coined: to Coventrise – to reduce a city to rubble. Other cities, warned German broadcasts, would suffer the same fate. It was said that Hitler had wanted to erase, auszuradieren, the city from the map of England. That was more than one night’s raid could do. But if such an attack had been repeated, night after night? Whitehall addressed the question then, and would face it again in the years to come: when Bomber Command and the USA’s Eighth Air Force had the planes and the power to bomb German cities at will.


The first bombs fell on London on 25th August 1940. The very next night there were British bombers over Berlin. Churchill was adamant: Germany should taste its own medicine. There were scruples within his own staff. Churchill insisted again, after the first naval mines were parachuted onto London in September:- ‘The dropping of large mines by parachute proclaims the enemy’s entire abandonment of all pretence of aiming at military objectives. At 5,000 feet he cannot have the slightest idea what he is going to hit.’  This proved that the intention was an ‘act of terror’ against the civilian population; and Churchill sought retaliation for such attacks, one for one.

On Monday 12th May The Times reported in two columns the damage inflicted on London by the raid of the 10th. The next column reported the same night’s attack on Hamburg by Bomber Command. A bomb-aimer described the view from his plane: ‘The flash of the burst was like a great flame-red ball half-a-mile across. …Everything under the ball seemed to be burning and crumbling, and the docks all around, as well as the sky, were lit up. A large block of buildings was caught in the flames, and a few minutes later there was a shattering explosion.’ The Times quoted a German announcement of the raid: ‘numerous fires and much damage were caused, almost exclusively to residential quarters’. What London was suffering, German cities were suffering too: docks in London, docks in Hamburg; residential areas in London – and in Hamburg too. The value for British morale was enormous: something was being done.

Such sorties were subject  to operational restraints. From the outset, three strategies had been considered for the use of limited and vulnerable bombers: to attack the Germans’ oil supplies, their communications or their cities. The first two required a full knowledge of sites and accurate bombing. Bomber Command doubted the information could be secured; and by 1941 it was clear that night bombing was not accurate. ‘In Bomber Command,’ wrote Sir Arthur Harris in 1944, ‘we have always worked on the principle that bombing anything in Germany is better than bombing nothing.’ Better, in turn, the industrial centres surrounded by houses than tiny targets surrounded by fields.    

Residential areas might suffer collateral damage in raids on a military centre. But were such areas being chosen by the Government and Bomber Command as targets in themselves? Church leaders suspected so, and with good reason. The Chief of the Air Staff clarified a new bombing directive to Bomber Command in February 1942: ‘the aiming points are to be the built-up areas, not, for instance, the dockyards or aircraft factories…’ Could such means be justified, however important the end? Air Staff knew how delicate a topic this was. In public the Secretary for Air invariably suggested that Bomber Command was aiming only at military or industrial installations; if he mentioned the severe damage done to residential areas, he implied or said that it was incidental or even regrettable. Only so, he explained privately in 1943, could he satisfy the enquiries of Archbishop Temple and of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, whose objections might otherwise disturb the morale of crews.

Such careful publicity did not lay unease to rest. In February 1944 Bishop Bell of Chichester asked in the House of Lords for a clear statement of the Government’s policy on the bombing of towns. The Government had in 1939-40 accepted the distinction between military and non-military objectives. But policy had, claimed Bell, clearly changed. Cities were now being ‘plastered’, area by area, night after night: most clearly,  Berlin – ‘until the heart of Nazi Germany,’ in the words of Sir Arthur Harris, ‘ceases to beat.’ Culturally, insisted Bell, this was a tragedy: Berlin and Hamburg were treasuries of art and books. Strategically, it was inept: morale in Germany was high. And morally it was indefensible: ‘Hitler is a barbarian. There is no decent person on the Allied side who is likely to suggest that we should make him our pattern or attempt to be competitors in that market.’ For the Government, Lord Cranborne replied. He confirmed that the Government’s policy was ‘not merely to sprinkle bombs broadcast with the object of damaging ancient monuments and spreading terror among the civilian population.’ But Berlin, Magdeburg, Essen, Hamburg – these were the centres of Germany’s industry,  communications, politics and secret police. Krupp’s production of heavy guns had been  reduced by 75% after the raids on Essen; in Hamburg 400 million man-hours had been distracted from industrial output.  

The Nazis themselves ascribed Germany’s defeat in 1918 to the collapse of civilian morale; Sir Arthur Harris, from 1942 the Commander-in-Chief, Bomber Command, agreed. Was area bombing the most effective means of undermining it once more? The Government heard in 1940 that German ‘cocksure’ confidence had been dented by the raids; Londoners had already been put on the defensive; now Berliners could be too. German commitment to the Nazis was believed to be weaker than British commitment to opposing them. All the more questionable, perhaps, to bomb civilians believed to distrust their regime; but all the more likely to promote civil unrest or a putsch.

Whitehall’s doubts, nonetheless, endured. A report of August 1944 suggested, that civilian morale in Germany was, despite heavy bombing, ‘negative rather than good or bad’. Might the Allies’ raids be made more effective in a single blow of ‘catastrophic force’ when victory was imminent? The blow’s effects on morale would be short-term but acute: enough to force capitulation. Timing was crucial: a central government in Germany must still be in place, to offer and oversee the surrender. Over Berlin itself, Allied casualties were high; was there an alternative target? ‘Immense devastation could be produced if the entire attack was concentrated on a single big town other than Berlin, and the effect would be especially great if the town was one hitherto relatively undamaged.’

Sir Arthur Harris had established a close relationship with the Prime Minister. Harris believed that Germany had missed victory in 1940 ‘by a hair’s breadth’. Britain must not make the same mistake. In particular: Britain must avoid a land war in Europe: to confront Germany’s ‘vast and efficient army’ on the ground would lead at best to the slaughter of Britain’s youth ‘in the mud of Flanders and France’; at worst to a second Dunkirk. ‘The certain, the obvious, the quickest and the easiest way to overwhelming victory’ was the ‘utter destruction’ of German cities. In November 1944 Harris drew up a list of twelve such targets: it included Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig. By January 1945 the Russians were advancing on Germany’s eastern border. Churchill, in preparation for Yalta, asked his Air Staff what cities might be ‘especially attractive targets’. He clearly wanted action. His wishes were relayed to Sir Arthur Harris. Churchill himself was told that ‘severe bombing’ of Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig ‘would not only destroy communications vital to the evacuation from the East but would also hamper the movement of troops from the West.’ On the night of 13th February Harris dispatched over 800 aircraft to Dresden. ‘Catastrophic force’ was applied: 35,000 people died in the city’s fires. Dresden was Coventrised.  


On 14th November 1940 the Provost of Coventry, R. T. Howard, had spent the first part of the night on the Cathedral’s roof, smothering incendiaries with sand and dousing the first fires with water. When the fires in and on the building were finally out of control, Howard turned to saving the Cathedral’s most precious furnishings. Almost all his efforts were in vain. He later wrote:

‘On the night of its destruction, in an amazing and miraculous way, Coventry Cathedral became the living embodiment of the tremendous truth that, through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all crucifixions in human experience can issue in resurrection. As I watched the Cathedral burning, it seemed to me as though I were watching the crucifixion of Jesus upon His Cross. After all, the Cathedral was not primarily a church belonging to man; it was the church of Jesus Christ. That such a glorious and beautiful building, which had been the place where Christian people had worshipped God for five hundred years, should now be destroyed in one night by the wickedness of man, was surely a monstrous evil that nothing could measure. It was in some mysterious way a participation in the infinite sacrifice of the crucifixion of Christ.

‘As I went with this thought in my mind into the ruined Cathedral on the morning after the destruction, there flashed into my mind the deep certainty that as the Cathedral had been crucified with Christ, so it would rise again with Him. How or when, we could not tell; nor did it matter. The Cathedral would rise again. ‘Through the ruined Cathedral we became aware as never before that God is Love, and that His Love is indestructible. However real and dreadful Evil may be, God is infinitely greater. He can make Good to triumph over Evil. He is ruling in Love to that End.’              

 ‘O ye fire and heat,’ quoted the Provost, ‘bless ye the Lord:        
Praise him and magnify Him for ever.’

Robin Griffith-Jones is Master of the Temple, London. He wishes to thank the Dean’s Office and the Archivist at Coventry Cathedral for their help.
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Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, credited with the inspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, referred to it as the ‘international Magna Carta for all mankind’.  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, from Articles 3, 6, 7, 9: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.  Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.  All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

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Installation of Glentanar Organ

The Glen Tanar Organ

Over the course of 250 years the Smith organ – like organs in many other ancient churches and cathedrals – became larger and more complex in line with organ-building developments and with the tastes of the organ loft’s incumbents. By 1941, the organ reflected the need for an eclectic instrument that could both accompany increasingly complex liturgical music and perform a wide concert repertoire. Marion Scott (1877–1953), the friend of Ivor Gurney and champion of his music, knew the Temple Church well before World War II.  She particularly loved the tones of its organ which, she said, ‘stood to other organs in the same relation as a perfect Stradivarius to other violins’, making it ‘almost as sensitive as a string quartet’.  

In the late 1940s Dr George Thalben-Ball, Organist of the Temple Church and doyen of English choirmasters, was among those supervising the Church’s repair after the Second World War. Both Harrison & Harrison and Walker’s had such full order books that the Temple would have to wait for at least five years.

Dr Thalben-Ball had played and admired the organ at Glen Tanar before the War.  It was a large and beautiful Harrison & Harrison, built in 1927 in the great tradition of English romantic organs. By chance Thalben-Ball met Lord Glentanar again after the War, in Cambridge, and asked after the organ. Lord Glentanar regretted that it was under-used; indeed, if Dr Thalben-Ball could suggest a good home for it Lord Glentanar would willingly offer it, as a gift, to a new owner.  

Thalben-Ball could suggest, with great gratitude, the best of all possible homes: the Temple Church. The organ’s move took months of work; and on 23 March 1954, at the rededication of the Chancel by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of The Queen Mother, the glorious Glen Tanar organ was heard in the Temple Church for the first time.

Lord Glentanar’s gift of the organ was conditional on its installation here by Harrison & Harrison. (It has been in the care of Harrison’s ever since.) ‘This offer fills me with delight,’ Thalben-Ball wrote. ‘The organ, a four-manual “vintage” Harrison instrument, is probably better than anything that could be obtained new at the present time, and in many respects equals, and in a few surpasses, the old Temple organ.’

The Glen Tanar organ arrived in London by train on 6 July 1953. A generous organ chamber 33ft wide, 18ft deep and 40ft high was built on the north side of the church, where the previous organ had been located, to house the instrument. The organ occupies two bays: the western bay contains the Tuba, Great Reeds and the Choir and Solo Organs, the eastern bay the Great and Swell Organs. The Pedal pipes are split between the two. Lord Glentanar wished that the organ should not be altered without his permission: ‘Its balance is well-nigh perfect and any additions would need to be very carefully considered and very beautifully executed.’  In fact the only change to the specification was the addition of the Double Ophicleide 32ft in the pedal which gave the full organ greater depth.  

The organ has, since the refurbishment of 2009-11, 65 stops, the size of instrument usually found in an English cathedral. Its longest pipes, which provide the deepest bass frequencies, are 32 feet long while the smallest pipes in the treble registers are only a few inches in length. Each pipe (the organ now has 3,828) has been skilfully crafted and ‘voiced’, and relies on a complicated mechanism to transfer the player’s intentions from the keyboard. It is unsurprising that until the onset of the Industrial Revolution the pipe organ was the most complicated machine encountered in everyday life.

This organ is both a beautiful, versatile solo instrument and a perfect accompaniment to the Church’s choir and liturgy. Here its ability to provide subtle nuance and a wide variety of tonal colours is invaluable. The Harrison instrument and the choir complement each other perfectly and they have very much become – through many recordings, concerts and broadcasts – the Temple ‘sound’.

Seven hundred years after the Sheriffs of London listed the two pairs of organs and the choirmen’s and choristers’ copes in the Temple Church, our organ, choirmen and choristers continue to make music worthy of this beautiful Church, to the glory of God and to the delight of all those who hear them in the Church itself, in our broadcasts and in our recordings. At the heart of it all is the ‘wondrous machine’ that has now been restored to its pristine splendour.                    

But oh! what art can teach,    
What human voice can reach,                  
The sacred organ’s praise?                  
Notes inspiring holy love,                    
Notes that wing their heavenly ways                    
To mend the choirs above.                                        

Orpheus could lead the savage race:                    
And trees uprooted left their place,                    
Sequacious of the lyre:                    
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher;                    
When to her organ vocal breath was given,                      
  An angel heard,                      
  And straight appeared,                    
Mistaking earth for heaven.

John Dryden (1631-1700), A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, November 22, 1687, set to music by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), Stanzas VI-VII.

Six Dixon brothers served as Temple Church choristers from 1900 to 1919:
Alfred Capel Dixon
Walter Howard Dixon
Charles William Dixon
Harry Sydney Dixon
Horace Uttey Dixon 
George R Septimus Dixon.
Walter Howard Dixon (1891-1915) and Harry Sydney ‘Squib’ Dixon (1897-1915) were both killed at Ypres; they were the first of the Temple’s former choristers to be killed on active service in World War I. In the course of our Organ Appeal, 2009-11, we were touched by the generosity of many people; no gift was more moving than those of two sisters, great-nieces of the Dixon brothers, who contributed in the memory of the two who were killed. 

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Chancel rededicated

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Round rededicated

Royal Visit, 7 November 1958

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The Da Vinci Code

‘The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple’ written by The Reverend Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple is available for purchase at the Welcome Desk of the Temple Church or on Amazon.


Tom Hanks and Ian Mckellen in 'The Da Vinci Code', Temple Church London, 2003

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Royal Charter renewed

The Templars were suppressed, 1307-14. The lawyers of Inner and Middle Temple were well established in the Temple in the 15th century, and on 13 August 1608 their occupancy was secured by the grant of Letters Patent from King James I. Her Majesty The Queen graciously re-issued the Letters Patent in 2008.  Here are extracts from the Letters’ new translation by Professor Sir John Baker.

Whereas our realm of England, having flourished mightily for so many ages in the arts of peace and war, and having by the singular providence of God in his own time devolved upon us by hereditary right, is acknowledged with good reason to owe a great part of its happiness to the ancient laws proper to this realm, proved through a long series of ages and being particularly adapted to that populous and warlike people and approved by continual experience, and whereas the Inns of the Inner and Middle Temple, London, having long been among those four most celebrated colleges of all Europe continually filled with persons studious and learned in the aforesaid laws, have for a long time been dedicated by the liberal bounty of our forebears, as Kings of England, to the use of those studying and professing the said laws, unto which, as to the best seminaries of instruction and upbringing, a great many young persons of honourable background, excellently endowed in mind and body, have daily flocked from all parts of this realm, and from whom by reason of their highest merits many have been advanced, both in our own time and in the times of our forebears, to occupy public and arduous positions in the state and in the administration of justice, wherein they have provided high examples of prudence and integrity, to the honour of the said profession, the adornment of this realm, and the no mean benefit of the whole commonwealth, as is to us abundantly manifest:

Know ye therefore that we, being desirous of perpetuating, so far as in us lies, the happy estate of this realm of England, which has flourished throughout so many ages by the administration of the said laws, and earnestly seeking not only the continuance of the ancient renown of the said Inns but also the accession of new glory, and that we may leave behind to all posterity clear evidence of our good will and bounty towards the profession of the said laws and those professing the same, have of our especial grace, certain knowledge and mere motion given and granted, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors do give and grant unto our well beloved and faithful [here follow the names of the grantees] our aforesaid Inns, and the capital messuages and buildings with the appurtenances, called or known by the name or names of the Inner and the Middle Temple, or the New Temple, London…

The Letters specified, in relation to the Inns, messuages, houses, buildings, chambers and other premises, that

we will and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors do strictly command [that the Inns] shall serve for the accommodation and education of those studying and following the profession of the aforesaid laws, abiding in the same Inns, for all time to come.

The Letters continued:      

And the said [grantees], for themselves, their heirs and assigns, covenant with and grant to us, that they will well and sufficiently maintain and keep up the aforesaid Church, the chancel and the belfry of the same, and all other things in any way appurtenant to the said Church, in all respects and for all time to come, at their own expense, for the celebration there in perpetuity of divine service, the sacraments and sacramentals, and all other ecclesiastical offices, ministries and rites whatsoever in so far as it is befitting and has until now been used…

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Portrait of James VI of Scotland and I of England, 1604, in the Collection of Middle Temple

To mark the Quatercentenary of the Letters Patent, Inner and Middle Temple commissioned for the Temple Church a stained-glass window from Caroline Benyon, one of the UK’s leading glaziers. The window is installed in the central bay of the Church’s south side. On the left- and right- hand lights are the symbols of the two Inns: the Pegasus of Inner Temple, and the Lamb and Flag of Middle. In the centre light, the scales of justice are suspended from the centrally positioned sword. On either side of the Crown are symbols from the Coat of Arms of King James VI of Scotland and I of England: the three lions guardant of England and Scottish lion rampant; the Irish harp and the fleur de lys of France are below. Beati pacifici, ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers,’ was the King’s motto. The Commonwealth symbol and the stars of the European Union are incorporated near the base of the design. The window was dedicated by the Dean of the Chapels Royal, The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, at Choral Communion on Sunday 27 April 2008. Caroline Benyon’s father, Carl Edwards, designed the Church’s East Window.


24 June 2008, Evensong in Temple Church to mark the re-issuing of the Letters Patent by Her Majesty The Queen.

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800th Anniversary of Magna Carta