Normal Londoners will rush through the Temple area of London, race along Fleet Street and possibly settle into a cosy chair somewhere delicious along The Strand.
Instead of doing the above, the next time you find yourself with a spare half an hour or so fancy a ‘London Kiwi’-style tour of the area instead? For medieval history, cats, Hollywood movies, Charles Dickens and a decent cup of tea read on.
Temple is an area of central London in the vicinity of Temple Church. It’s one of the main legal districts of the capital, an independent enclave free from governing by the City of London, and a notable centre for English law, both historically and in the present day. You can start the tour from Temple tube station (on the District and Circle Lines) and it pretty well loops back there. Easy squeezy ‘guv. << Click the title links for longer blogposts, and use the Googlemaps for navigation. >>
Middle Temple Hall
The Temple area of the City of London consists of the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, which are two of the four Inns of Court and act as local authorities in place of the City of London Corporation within their areas. The Middle Hall is a beautiful, beautiful double-hammer beamed scion of history.
I’ve visited before, both as part of Open House London and enjoying a summer lunch in the grounds, but recently I was invited on a Blue Badge tour of the historic rooms and to have lunch in the gorgeous banqueting halls. Sima from the Curious Pixie was also there, and wrote a far more thorough treatsie on our experience – click here to read her experience in Middle Temple Hall, and click here to book your own lunch or tour.
Orchestrated by a secret brotherhood, the Priory of Scion and protected by a military arm called the Knights Templar, Tom Hanks – I mean Robert Langdon – found himself flown to London, and held at gunpoint by a rogue monk demanding he solve one of the longest running religious secrets in history. (He broke in though, I’d recommend checking the visiting times ahead of the tour.)
2,000 years of history, Hollywood film crews and a rounded honey-stoned church still bring visitors through the beautiful, religious heart of the medieval Inner and Middle Temple, two of England’s four ancient societies of lawyers the Inns of Court.
Dr Johnson was quite a man. His best known work, Johnson’s Dictionary, was the first comprehensive English dictionary taking over 9 years (it took 40 Frenchmen 40 years to compile theirs) was a definitive title for over 150 years. It “offered insights into the 18th century and ‘a faithful record of the language people used'” unlike many of the day. He also had a very special cat called Hodges… (For visiting hours to Dr Johnson’s House click here.)
Seven Stars Pub
The Seven Stars pub was built in 1602 and in all likelihood was built specifically as an alehouse (the evidence has some patches to contend with) but in modern times, it’s a retreat for celebrating legal eagles who like cozy interiors.
One of the most famous residents – a black and white ruff wearing cat called Tom Paine – has alas passed from this mortal coil, but a young fur-fellow called Ray Brown also keeps a close eye on the goings-on, wearing his Elizabethan ruff and eschewing photographs. (If you’re still thirsty, I’d recommend a stop off at the Cittie of York too.)
The Royal Courts of Justice
The building is reminiscent of a cathedral in both style and scale. Soaring arches and beautiful stained glass windows ornamented with the coats of arms of Lord Chancellors and keepers of the Great Seal, combined with a mosaic marble floor leading to a maze of enchanting corridors to create a majestic setting or exciting visit to one of London’s best-kept secrets. (For booking a tour into the Royal Courts of Justice click here.)
This East End nursery rhyme (with rather a dark back story) rings out across the scurrying business people who probably don’t ever look up, or explore the area that they dash about. If you can time walking past on the hour, you’ll be treated to a peal of musical chiming.
Fun fact for the day: Approximately 165,000,000 cups of tea are sipped on average a day in England alone (and I’m sure that doesn’t include the half cups that are left behind, victims of busy lives.)
The Museum (ahem, Shop) is a tiny cabinet of curious. Sandwiched a stone’s throw from the internationally famous Fleet Street, the narrow frontage sits between two much larger buildings on the Strand. The figures proudly characterise the history of this tempestuous foodstuff.
Play darts in the Cheshire Cheese
Wander into this higgledy-piggledy traditional pub with timber beams and open fires. The former haunt of Charles Dickens isn’t a polished to within-an-inch-of-it’s-life-gastropub, but a proper little locals’ pub, full of character and often has four-legged visitors wagging their tails.
A post shared by Amelia Noel (@amelia.noel) on
And then, if you’re still thirsty, along Aldgate the Waldorf Astoria has a lovely cocktail bar, Roka does a lethal bottomless brunch, The Delaunay has an inspired cake selection, Christopher’s does an American style menu, Eneko at One Aldwych has a lovely Basque-inspired menu or you can nip into the Savoy.
Here’s a map for easy navigation:
Have you spent much time in the Temple area of London?
Pin for later adventures: