Holborn, the Strand, and Fleet Street have a legal history dating back to the middle ages, and this is the beating heart of the UK’s legal system. Well preserved and full of history, this place is definitely worth exploring.
This hidden gem is not as hidden as you might think. It’s an underground station many will simply pass through rather than alight. But enter this place from Fleet Street and you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
The Middle Temple was established during the 14th Century with its name deriving from the Knights Templar who owned this land for 150 years before. Whilst rich in Grade I listed buildings, the area in and around Temple was badly destroyed by bomb raids during World War Two, making the snippets of history throughout Holborn and Fleet Street even more special.
King Edward II took this land from the Knights Templars and it was used by the Knights Hospitallers from 1345 to rent the land and buildings to Londons lawyers looking for a base between Westminster and the City. There are now four Inns of Court, and one must be part of one of these in order to be accepted into the Bar.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields:
A short walk west of Temple is Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and the famous London School of Economics. It’s more the surrounding area that I find beautiful, and a surprising find up the back of Fleet Street and the Strand.
Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in which barristers of England and Wales must be a part of. One of the worlds most prestigious organisations, the precise date of founding is unknown, an agreement with all four of the Inns of Court means the founding dates shall never be made public, so one Inn cannot take precedence above another.
Just round the corner is London School of Economics, a public research university that is renowned for being one of the best in the world for social sciences.
Make sure you walk up to the corner of Sheffield Street and Portsmouth Street and take some time to admire The Old Curiosity Shop, a 16th Century shop and literary landmark. One of the oldest shops in London, this was made famous by Charles Dickens. It was a miracle this wooden beamed building survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz, but it did, and today it is still operating as a shop!
Walk around Serle Street and Carey Street and enjoy the view behind the Royal Courts of Justice, it is much quieter than the front of the building, so you can take your time getting an undisturbed photo of just admiring the architectural brilliance of this building. Built in the 1870’s and being opened by Queen Victoria in 1882, this is one of the largest and most important courts in Europe.
Take a left up Chancery Lane and you will find yourself in the heart of Holborn.
The main thoroughfare through central London, also known as the A40, High Holborn is a busy street with shops, cafes and restaurants. Whilst it’s not the most notable place for shopping, this road has some iconic buildings and fabulous peaces of architecture.
Staple Inn is one of the most iconic structures in the area, located close to Chancery Lane Tube Station, it is the last surviving Inn of Chancery. Designated a Grade I listed building, it was originally attached to Gray’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Courts and dates back to the 1500’s.
Another place not to be missed is the Cittie of Yorke pub, situated on a site that has been a pub for hundreds of years, this one however was rebuilt in the Edwardian times.
From here it’s up to you where you guy, either head down to the Strand and along to Trafalgar Square, or perhaps meander your way down to bustling Covent Garden. Luckily for you, London is easily explored on foot, as long as your legs can take it.