Middle Temple Law Library
In London, there are four Inns of Court: Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Grey’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn. We took a tour of Middle Temple Library. Middle Temple has a huge archive because British Law is based on precedent, so they must keep all old materials. This library opened in 1958 because the last building was twice. They built the new one out of concrete. A really interesting thing about Middle Temple is its association with the USA. The 3rd floor of the library is the American section. When the English were first living in America, they sent their sons back to London to study law at Middle Temple, and that is how they set up a legal system. Five Middle Temple guys actually signed the Declaration of Independence! We got to see a lithograph copy of the document and signatures from the 19th century. It was so amazing. Middle Temple still has exchange programs with some law schools in the U.S. Another interesting thing about this library is that they don’t use a classification system. There are no labels on any of the spines of the books. Books are organized by author, and people must use the catalog to find a title because it is hard to browse.
After the library, we toured some other incredible rooms. They all were very prestigious and had a lot of history. There is one room that was called the Smoking Room, but was changed to Prince’s Room when Prince William accepted to be a bencher there. We also saw the Queen’s Room and Parliament Room. Next we saw Middle Temple Hall. It looked a lot like Christ Church Dining Hall, except for the double hammer beams which I was told are very expensive. The first performance of Twelfth Night took place in this hall! It was an amazing tour and experience all around.