The Middle Temple Law Library functions as a library for the four Inns of the Court. There are four Inns in the UK and these spaces all share their library collections. The Middle Temple Law Library focuses on EU and American law and therefore has a very strong relationship with the US. For example, upon heading up the winding staircase, there is a framed print of the Declaration of Independence. Looking carefully, you will notice that some of the signatures at the bottom have little red stars next to them. This is because all of these people graduated from Middle Temple.
The library was opened in 1641 after lawyer Robert Ashley gave his library of 3,700 book to the Inn along with funds for a librarian. Although Ashley was a member of the Inn, he gave more than just law books. He also donated medical, science and modern text books. As the collection has grown since Ashley’s passing, it now holds 250,000 textbooks, law reports, journals and Parliamentary papers.
The library houses two 16th century globes – one is a celestial globe, while the other is a terrestrial globe. This is the only location where both globes can be seen together. These two massive globes greet you as you enter the library’s gallery level.
The Middle Temple Law Library is also attached the the Middle Temple Hall – an impressive space that was built in 1570. Funded by Edmund Plowden, the double hammer beam roof makes this room so unique. There are only three others like it. The hall’s walls are adorned with hundreds of coats of arms of of the Inn’s readers . The hall is used for dining, meetings and special occasions. Another striking feature are the three long oak tables stationed in the hall. at 29 feet, these tables are one solid piece of oak and were gifts from Elizabeth I and placed into the hall upon its completion in the 1570s.