Inns of Court

The four Inns of Court have the exclusive right to "Call" men and women to the Bar - ie to admit those who have fulfilled the necessary qualifications to the degree of Barrister-at-Law, which entitles them, after a period of pupillage (vocational training) either to practise as independent advocates in the Courts of England and Wales or to take employment in government or local government service, industry, commerce or finance. Thus, to qualify as a barrister, everyone must join an Inn and keep a qualifying session on at least 12 occasions.

The government of each Inn is ultimately controlled by the Masters of the Bench, elected mainly from among its members who are also senior members of the judiciary or Queen's Counsel.

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Grays Inn
There has been law teaching on this site since the reign of Edward III. The London residence of the De Grey family, who had strong links with the Wales and Chester Circuit, was the Manor of Purpoole, where a number of lawyers and their families came to live and work and formed the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn. The Inn flourished under the first Elizabeth. The Hall was completed at the beginning of her reign and anyone who was anyone at her Court joined Gray's. The 'Armada' screen in the Hall may have been partly made from the timbers of the Spanish ship 'Nuestra Senora del Rosario' and donated by the Lord High Admiral of England, Howard of Effingham, who was a member.

The Inner Temple
The recorded history of the area known as the Temple begins in about 1160 when it was acquired by the Knights of the Military Order of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, who moved their London base there from the Old Temple site in Holborn. Following the loss of the Holy Land in the 1290s, the Order of the Temple declined and in 1312 was dissolved, after the Knights had been arrested and imprisoned at the instigation of Pope Clement V for alleged malpractice. The Templars estates were granted by the Pope to the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem and, although the New Temple was seized initially by Edward II as forfeit to the Crown, the King conceded the consecrated portion and subsequently the whole site to the Hospitallers.

The Inner Temple Library provides a service for Inner Temple barristers and students and for barrister members of the other Inns of Court. Facilities include a reference library of over 70,000 volumes of English law as well as Specialist Scottish & Commonwealth collections. There is also a very comprehensive Current Awareness blog.

Lincoln's Inn
In the heart of Central London lies Lincoln's Inn, a haven from the roar of traffic and crowded pavements. The Inn occupies most of the rectangle formed by High Holborn on the north, Carey Street and the Royal Courts of Justice on the south, Chancery Lane on the east and Lincoln's Inn Fields on the west. Indeed, if one excludes the frontage to High Holborn and the south-eastern block, the eleven acres of the Inn comprise virtually all that remains. The Inn is old, very old; but it is no mere relic. It houses a living, functional body of public importance, the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn. ''Lincoln's Inn'' is thus a term which describes both the place and the Society which inhabits it.

Middle Temple
No precise date can be given for the establishment of the Middle Temple, or for that matter of the other three Inns of Court, though it is likely that the four Inns had come into being by the middle of the 14th century. The Inn's name derives from the Knights Templar who were in possession of the site we now call the Temple for some 150 years. The origins of the Inn trace from two roots: the occupation of the Knights and the replacement of priestly lawyers by a lay profession.

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