Inner Temple Library

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Inner Temple Library
Herbert Railton - The Inner Temple Library (modified).jpg
The Inner Temple Library, c. 1895, Herbert Railton, illustrator
Establishedc. Henry VII era; original building in existence by 1506
LocationInner Temple
London, EC4
SizeOver 70,000 volumes[1] of English law
Access and use
Access requirementsWritten application to the Librarian, to use material not available elsewhere
Population servedBarristers, judges, and student members of the Inns of Court
Other information
DirectorMargaret Clay (Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts)

The Inner Temple Library is a private law library in London, England, serving barristers, judges, and students on the Bar Professional Training Course. Its parent body is the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court.

Its law collections cover the legal systems of the British Isles (England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and also Commonwealth countries. There are, in addition, extensive non-law collections covering such subjects as history, topography, biography and heraldry, and an important collection of legal and historical manuscripts.


The Library is first mentioned in 1440,[2] then in the Inn’s records in 1506. The Library refused to accept John Selden's manuscripts in 1654, most likely because the size of the collection would have necessitated a new building, but it has been described as "the greatest loss which the Library of the Inner Temple ever sustained".[3] In 1707 the Inner Temple was offered the Petyt Manuscripts (William Petyt had been Keeper of the Records in the Tower, and a well-known writer of constitutional law)[4] and a sum of £150 to build a new Library, which was completed in 1709 and consisted of three rooms. A Librarian was appointed immediately, and the practice continues to this day.[5]

The library building before World War II was a Gothic building built in 1827-8 by Sir Robert Smirke,[6] contained about 60,000 volumes.[7][8] Modifications were made in 1867, 1872, and 1882 which extended the Library to eight rooms[9] In 1886, J.E.L. Pickering, Librarian, read a paper at the Library Association monthly meeting on a 5-month trial at the Library, entitled "The Electric Light as Applied to the Lighting of the Inner Temple Law Library".[10]

The building was destroyed during the Second World War: several thousand volumes of printed books (but none of the manuscripts) were lost.[11][12][13][14] The destroyed books were mostly replaced, either by gift or purchase, over the next 30 years or so.

The present building was completed in 1958 to the design of T.W. Sutcliffe, and is in the style of the eighteenth century. The library itself occupies the top two floors, with private rooms of the benchers below.[15]

The history of the Library is discussed in some detail in the introduction to J. Conway Davies's Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (Oxford, 1972).


The Library is open to all members of the four Inns of Court.[16] The Library is not open to the public, though non-members may be admitted, upon written application to the Librarian, to consult material not available elsewhere.


  1. ^ Inner Temple Library Archived 2010-01-15 at the Wayback Machine – Welcome page – accessed 22 January 2010
  2. ^ Inner Temple Papers, p. 234, Taylor & Francis, 1948, MacKinnon, Sir Frank Douglas, accessed 25 November 2009
  3. ^ "Library History". Inner Temple. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  4. ^ Great Britain Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, ''Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Volume 11, Part 7, The Manuscripts of the Duke of Leeds, the Bridgewater Trust, Reading Corporation, the Inner Temple, &c, James Joel Cartwright'', H.M. Stationery Office (1888), accessed 26 November 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  5. ^ "Library History – 18th century". Inner Temple. Archived from the original on 19 December 2000. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  6. ^ London illustrated, 1604–1851: a survey and index of topographical books and their plates, Adams, Bernard, Library Association, 1983, ISBN 0-85365-734-3, ISBN 978-0-85365-734-7, accessed 25 November 2009
  7. ^ The Scottish law review and Sheriff Court reports, Volume 15, Scotland. Sheriff Courts, William Hodge and Co., 1899, accessed 25 November 2009
  8. ^ ''A pictorial and descriptive guide to London and its environs: with two large section plans of central London; map of London and twelve miles round; two railway maps; map showing main roads out of London; plan of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and twenty other maps and plans. Over one hundred ...,'' Edition 35, p. 193, Ward, Lock & Co., limited, 1910, accessed 25 November 2009. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  9. ^ "Library History – 19th century". Inner Temple. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
  10. ^ "The Electric Light as Applied to the Lighting of the Inner Temple Law Library", The Library chronicle, Pickering, J.E.L., Volume 3, p. 173, Library Association, Editor Ernest Chester Thomas, 1886
  11. ^ "Huge Bombs Fall; Nazis Batter Center of City—Use New Routes in 13th Night of Siege; More Landmarks Struck: British Museum, Inner Temple and Home Office Hit, but Vital Plants Carry On" Daniell, Raymond, The New York Times, 20 September 1940, accessed 25 November 2009
  12. ^ "Havoc in "The City"; Ancient Guildhall and Historic Churches Are Wreckedl Fire Bombs Spread Ruin; British Charge a 'Deliberate' Nazi Attempt to Destroy Heart of the Capital Censorship Restrictions Lifted Old Bailey Another Victim; Firemen Killed and Injured; Raid Held Invasion Prelude; Reprisai Clamor Expected; Only One Raider During Day" The New York Times, 31 December 1940, accessed 25 November 2009
  13. ^ [ Displaying Abstract ] (2012-06-10). ""Guildhall Housed Many Treasures; Originally Built 500 Years Ago, It Was Damaged in the Great Fire of 1666; Wren Churches Struck; St. Bride's, St. Vedast and St. Lawrence Jewry Among Them -Priceless Books Burned", ''The New York Times'', 31 December 1940, accessed 25 November 2009". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  14. ^ "London Letter" 26 A.B.A. J. 935 (10 October 1940), accessed 25, November 2009
  15. ^ "Breem, W.W.S., "Sketch of the Inner Temple Library," 64 Law Libr. J. 5 (1971), accessed 25 November 2009". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  16. ^ Inner Temple Library – Using the Library – accessed 22 January 2010

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′47″N 0°06′34″W / 51.5131°N 0.1095°W / 51.5131; -0.1095