I am a history graduate. I love history and the early modern era in particular. When the opportunity arose for a guided tour at an Elizabethan hall in the centre of London I jumped at the chance.
I’ll be perfectly honest that I had never heard of Middle Temple Hall before. The history of the site and the hall was absolutely fascinating dating back to the Knights Templar, and the Blue Badge tour guide was so knowledgeable and interesting.
The hall dates from the 1570s and has survived the Civil War, the Great Fire of London, a shell in the First World War and a bomb in World War Two.
I waited before the tour in the Minstrels’ Gallery and later discovered that the whole end of the hall had been damaged during the Blitz by a bomb blast nearby. The devastation of the bomb is shown in the painting by Frank Beresford displayed in the gallery.
The screen was painstakingly restored to its impressive current state.
Things were very festive in the hall and this really contributed to a fantastic atmosphere. The tree was huge and some of the bauble were the biggest I’d ever seen!
Middle Temple Hall is one of the four Inns of Court and barristers today still need to have dinners there to become qualified. The hall is open to the barristers and judges but also to the general public. A buffet and a set menu are available at a very reasonable cost. There is a dress code and specific rules for behaviour when attending which adds to making the occasion of dining there very special. The hall is available for hire for weddings and corporate events as well as being open for the public.
There are key areas of historical significance. The first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was performed here in 1602. Sir Walter Raleigh and the man who ordered his execution have adjacent coats of arms in one of the stained glass windows.
A table made from Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind as well as a smaller one from Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth are present. In one of the smaller side rooms is a suit of armour belonging to the Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s favourite.
So after the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch from the buffet selection. I had contacted the venue ahead of my visit to inform them of my wheat allergy and vegetarianism which they had no trouble catering for. The starter I chose was curried parsnip soup, perfect for the icy cold day and spicier than I expected but absolutely yummy.
I then had a plate of vegetables while I waited for the chef to prepare my main course which was made especially for me: a pea and mushroom risotto.
The whole experience was so wonderful and I would recommend the tour to anyone keen on the Tudors or finding out more about the history of our beautiful capital city. The setting for a meal was spectacular and the food exceeded expectations.
*I was given a complimentary meal and tour. All photos, video and opinions are my own.