London Gardens Trust Inventory
London Gardens Trust Inventory


Gardens of Inner Temple * (including Hare Court, King's Bench Walk) City of London


* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is 1 of the 4 Inns of Court, along with Middle Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is possible that gardens have existed since the Knights Templar established themselves here in c.1160. Leased to students of the law since the C14th, in 1608 the land was granted by a Charter of James I to the Benchers of the Inner and Middle Temple. By the mid C15th the buildings and gardens were separated into the Inner and the Middle Temple although formal division took place in 1732. The Great Garden of the Inner Temple was created by the building of an embankment to control the Thames in 1533, another embankment in 1770 doubled its size and it was again enlarged in the 1870s when the Embankment was constructed. There are lawns, a fine collection of trees, rose beds, a peony garden, seasonal displays in the High Border and a woodland garden.

Basic Details

Site location:
The Inner Temple, Middle Temple Lane, Victoria Embankment


Type of site:
Institutional Grounds

medieval; C17th, C19th & C20th

C19th: Robert Marnock, William Robinson

Listed structures:
LBII*: Inner Temple Hall Buttery (+ SAM); gates, gate piers & steps, Crown Office Row. LBII; Gateway to Tudor Street., 5 lamp standards in King's Bench Walk; 1 lamp standard in Hare Court; 2 lamp standards outside Inner Temple Hall

City of London

Site ownership:
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

Site management:
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

Open to public?

Opening times:
Private but with public access. Inner Temple Garden: weekdays 12.30-3pm (unless closed for private function or maintenance)
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 20 times, most recently in 2019.

Special conditions:
Inner Temple Garden access via north gate opposite Crown Office Row


Open for events including Rare Plant Fair, OGSW, National Garden Scheme

Public transport:
Tube: Blackfriars (closed until 2012)/Temple (District, Circle). Bus: 4, 11, 15, 23, 26, 76, 172, 341, 388.


The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ312808 (531270,180890)

Size in hectares:
Inner Temple Garden:1.7

On EH National Register :
Yes (Inner Temple Garden)

EH grade:
Grade II

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Conservation Area name:

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Policy Area/St Paul Heights Policy Area (part)

Other LA designation:
Monument Views and Setting (part)

Gardens of Inner Temple * (including Hare Court, King's Bench Walk)

Gardens of Inner Temple, June 2008. Photo: S Williams

Click photo to enlarge.


Fuller information

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

The Honourable Societies of the Inner Temple and of the Middle Temple (q.v.) are two of the four Inns of Court, along with The Honourable Societies of Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn (q.q.v.). It is possible that gardens have been on this site since the Knights Templar established themselves here in c1160 when they moved from Holborn but Temple Church (q.v.) is the only surviving building from that time. In the C14th the property was leased to students of the law by the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who had succeeded to the property by order of Parliament in 1324 after the Knights Templar were suppressed by the Pope. In 1608 the Temple land was granted by a Charter of King James I to the Benchers of the Inner and Middle Temple, 'to serve for all time to come for the accommodation and education of the students and practitioners of the laws of the realm'. The main open areas surviving from early gardens are those of the Middle Temple and Inner Temple, extending west-east for 240m along the Embankment; Fountain Court to north-west of Middle Temple Garden, and King's Bench Walk to the north-east of Inner Temple Garden, this latter used largely as a car park today. Temple buildings were badly bombed in World War II when Lamb Building was lost, its site commemorated by a plaque in Church Court. The present Middle Temple and Inner Temple Gardens both have extensive sweeps of lawn, enclosed to the south by a raised east-west walk, lined by notable mature planes, with railings along the outer boundaries. The gardens were already renowned for their roses in Shakespeare's time and he set the dispute between Richard Plantagenet and John Beaufort that led to the War of the Roses here (Henry VI Part 1, Act 2). By the mid C15th the Temple buildings and gardens had been separated into the Inner and the Middle Temple although formal division took place later in 1732. The Inner and Middle Temple Gardens were excepted from the provisions of the London Square Preservation Act, 1931 on the undertakings of the Benchers to preserve their Gardens (and Squares) as permanent open spaces.

Medieval records refer to an orchard close to the consecrated ground of Temple Church. During the C15th and C16th the Inner Temple gardens were principally small courtyard areas of cultivation, for example it is thought that the modern day Hare Court was originally 'le Nutgardyne'. The Great Garden of the Inner Temple was created by the building of a brick embankment to control the Thames in 1533. A large area of this was enclosed in 1588, and the erection of chambers on the site of 1-4 Paper Buildings cut the garden in two, extending King's Bench Walk to the then riverside. In the early C17th the remaining portion of the Great Garden, between the Hall and the river, was redesigned with formal parterres and flowering trees, and after the Civil War was given mainly to lawn with intersecting gravelled paths. It was again redesigned after the Great Storm of 1703 following the Dutch style of garden which became fashionable following William and Mary's ascendancy to the throne. New gates and steps were made at the northern end, a greenhouse was erected at the west of the terrace for over-wintering the orange trees. The construction of Blackfriars Bridge led to the erection of a new embankment, completed in 1770, which doubled the size of the Great Garden. Formal plantings of bulbs, perennials, flowering shrubs and annual were introduced.

When the Embankment was constructed in 1864-70, direct access to the river was lost although the garden area was enlarged. Robert Marnock, then Curator of the Botanical Gardens in Regent's Park designed the extended space, including the planting of the double line of plane trees on the broad walk above the District Line tunnel. Two decades later his protégé William Robinson, was consulted after the Garden was further disturbed by the installation of the electricity supply. The present layout of the northern and central sections is largely that of the early C19th redesign, which included the terrace, large expanse of lawn and perimeter planting. In Victorian times an annual chrysanthemum show was held in Inner Temple Garden, predating the Royal Horticultural Society's Great Spring Show that was held here from 1888 to 1911 but, following its increasing popularity and complaints by the Benchers, it was then moved to the Royal Hospital (q.v.) to become the Chelsea Flower Show. The link was rekindled in 2008 when the RHS staged a 3-day September Floral Celebration of the Garden here.

Features surviving from earlier formal schemes of the Great Garden include the terrace along the north side, with central Queen Anne sundial by Edward Strong of 1707 (the circular steps and gates above were added in 1730). The High Border on either side of the main gates has spectacular seasonal displays. From the sundial are steps down to the gardens to the south, on either side of which are displays mainly devoted to Mediterranean species. The bed along the west side of Paper Buildings has been planted with roses to commemorate the Inn's Shakespearean connection with the Wars of the Roses. To the east of Paper Buildings is the Peony Garden and contains the statue of a kneeling blackamoor by van Nost. The pond, immediately in front of the broad walk, dates from the 1960s. There is a pot display there and also by the steps from King's Bench Walk. The rest of the Inner Temple Garden has extensive lawns with scattered trees including catalpa, ailanthus, thorn, whitebeam, flowering cherry, sorbus, cedar, magnolia, gingko. Fruit trees, recalling the medieval orchards, include a black mulberry, Japanese Blood Walnut and a medlar.

In addition, within the Inner Temple precincts there are various courtyards, some of which are landscaped, including Hare Court. Church Court, Pump Court and Elm Court are the property of Middle Temple. Elm Court has a formal garden in addition to the courtyard space. Church Court is paved, enclosed with Farrars Building and cloisters to the west and adjoins the Master's Garden and Temple Church of St Mary (q.v.).

Sources consulted:

EH: E Cecil, 'London Parks and Gardens', 1907, p261-279; N Pevsner, rev B Cherry, 'London I', 1985, 335, 341; G Taylor, 'Old London Gardens', London, 1953 p28-36; Hatton, 'New Views of London', 1708, p797; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); article in The London Gardener, volume 3 1997-98, p39-48. Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); Hilary Hale, 'The Great Garden A History of the Inner Temple Garden from the 12th to the 21st Century'

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