We Walked the Path of Legal History

Trip Start Dec 27, 2011
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Trip End Jan 11, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today, after breakfast, we took a tour of the Inns of Court. The Inns of Court are where lawyers study to become lawyers. They are almost like fraternities, as you have to attend a certain number of dinners at your Inn before being allowed to practice as a barrister. 

We walked past Charles Dickens's house on the way to the first Inn (Gray's Inn). Gray's Inn's most famous resident is Sir Francis Bacon, who was a member of the Inn and designed the garden at the Inn. The Inn is known to be lively and fun (their mascot is the Griffin), even though they have the smallest of all the halls. A few more fun facts: Churchill and FDR first met in the hall at Gray's Inn. Also, the cupola was used as a model for Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Professor Tingle (who you will met later) is a member of Gray's Inn. 

We walked down Chancery Lane, the street that lawyers for centuries have used to walk down from the Inns to the Royal Courts on Fleet Street and the Old Balley nearby. Chancery Lane is also the site of a race. In 1922, four women qualified to become solicitors, and they raced each other down Chancery Lane to find out who would be the first solicitor in England. Carrie Morrison won. We followed the party inn with the most serious of the inns, or Lincoln's Inn. Lincoln's Inn was the setting for many Charles Dickens's books, including Bleak House (the fictional case Jaurndice v. Jaurndice was set at Lincoln's Inn). Also, when families would leave foundling children, they would often leave them in Foundling's Court at Lincoln's Inn in hopes that a barrister would take in the child. Thomas Moore was one of the most famous residents. Lincoln's Inn is one of two groups who can make the royal toast of loyalty sitting down (the other being the Royal Navy). The story goes that Charles I gave Lincoln's Inn that right because after one dinner, they were having trouble finding a lawyer sober enough to make the toast to the king. For a very long time, the books in the library were chained to the desks, making it impossible for members of other inns to come and steal the books. Finally, there were many rules at Lincoln's Inn imposed on the students, one being a fine of 20 shillings for fornicating on the lawn (a fine 5x that was imposed on those students caught in their chambers). 

On the way to the Middle/Inner Temples, we passed Ede and Ravenscroft, a wig maker. Reportedly, it costs upwards of $1200 for a white horse hair wig. The bigger wigs cost even more (the wigs get bigger as the person gets more important, hence the term "big wig"). We saw a firm on Carey Street where David Bowie clerked. Right across from the Temples on Fleet Street is the infamous shop of Sweeney Todd, which is now a jewelry store and a pub called "Pies and Ales."

Inside the Inner Temple, we got to stand where Tom Hanks stood while filming the Da Vinci Code in a recess designed by Christopher Wren. When Wren was building the courtyard, the lawyers demanded that he add columns for support, even though he told them it wasn't necessary. When they were repairing after WWII bombings, they discovered that all of the columns had about an inch of space between the top of the column and the ceiling, offering no actual support at all. The hall at the Inner Temple is argued over between the Temples, and it is a point of contention that the Pegasus (the mascot of the Inner Temple) has its butt facing toward the Middle Temple. The most infamous member of the Inner Temple was Montague Druit, a down-and-out lawyer who drowned himself in the Thames and was also a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders. The Great London fire stopped right outside the Inner Temple once Charles II came out and began fighting the fire (although the Puritans claim that he was the one who started it because he allowed frivolity, etc.). He actually left after a few minutes and made his little brother stay to fight the fire, but Charles took credit. 
 
We couldn't get into the Middle Temple today because Dean Faught's contact was at lunch. We went to lunch at the Knights Templar (a pub). The Knights Templar were the main occupants of the Temples before they were ousted. The price was great: I got a beer and a burger for 6.79 pounds. 

After lunch, we went to the British Library in search of the "Treasures" room and a cool souvenir. A few white lies and some smiles got all eight of us (Katie, me, Chris, Umang, Justin, Joe, Patrick, and Candice) library cards to the museum for free. In the Treasures room, I saw letter from Mary Queen of Scots to Elizabeth I, letters from Elizabeth to James II, and the death warrant and copy of the sentence handed down by Elizabeth against Mary. It was very neat. There was even a draft of a letter from James to Elizabeth asking her to make him her heir. He spelled "true" like "trew," which is funny, because that is exactly how a Scottish person stills says the word. I also saw the Magna Carta. When I walked into the room, there was a touch screen with a number of questions. I thought I was going to get something to read if I hit once, because the room was dead quiet, so I did. Instead, I started a video. I jumped so high! Interestingly enough, another woman did the same thing not one minute later. 

We came back to the Club and it was good to sit a bit before heading to Richmond. We had to take the Picadilly line from Russell Square to the District line at Earl's Court to Richmond. The train ride was a good 30 minutes. 

At Richmond, we all had drinks at the Prince's Head. At the bar, Professor Tingle told us all about his explorations into Nigeria to help set up a medical privacy system. A guy mooned our group for taking pictures outside as we left. We walked up Richmond Hill to take a look at Mick Jagger's old house (it would break Dean Faught's heart to know he doesn't live there anymore) and a field of daffodils that sold for $.50 in order to preserve it. On the way down the hill, I got to hear the same story about medical privacy in Nigeria because apparently Tingle forgot that I was sitting directly across from him at the bar. We ate dinner at Nando's, a portuguese chicken place. The most notable part of dinner was the dessert, which was delicious except for the blob of Crisco that the waiter SWORE was ice cream....even though it never melted. I am ashamed to admit that I put some of it in my mouth. 

After dinner, we caught the last train back into London. I had to pee the WHOLE time. I swore I wasn't going to make it back....but I did. 
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