The Strand is one of the oldest and most important roads in London. It is the site for the Royal Courts of Justice, where Kitty has her trial against Julius Tallow in The Golem’s Eye. Historically, along with the nearby Fleet Street, the Strand linked the City of London - the centre of commerce - to the City of Westminster - the centre of government. The Strand lends its name to the surrounding area, which has long been the legal centre of both London and the rest of the country. The name derives from the Old English word for ‘shore’, revealing its original position as the bank of a much wider and shallower Thames.
Many small roads and alleys lead towards the Embankment and the River Thames, such as the one Mr. Pennyfeather follows Kitty down after her trial. The street’s long history is clearly visible in the highly varied architectural styles, many of which retain the characteristics of the old land laws, which lead to very tall and very narrow buildings. Many of the pubs along this road, and particularly onto Fleet Street, can be traced back to before the Great Fire of London in 1666, and many of the businesses are likewise hundreds of years old; Twinings Tea still has their original premises and shop here. Additionally, the Strand is an important processional route, where much of the nobility built their palaces: Somerset House, Northumberland Avenue and the Savoy all take their names from the historic palaces that once stood on the sites where they now exist.
A view of the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. You can see the now-defunct Stand station, which closed in 1994 and hadn’t offered full service since 1962.
Just off of the main thoroughfare are many, often overlooked, small churches, many of which were built by Christopher Wren (the architect for St. Paul’s Cathedral) after the fire. One of the most interesting is Temple Church, built in the 12th century and headquarters of the historic Knights Templar. Along the Strand, opposite Temple tube station, is the Royal Courts of Justice. This houses both the High Courts and the Courts of Appeal, the Gothic style building built in the 1870s. Each courtroom was designed by a different architect, and so is unique to itself. Most trials are open to the public, although this depends on the nature of the case, and there are also places for citizens and legal advice as well as information and emotional support.
The Inns of Court are only open 12.30-3:00 in the afternoons, M-F, no bank holidays, so plan to be there at noon. The entrance to MiddleTemple Lane is just where the Strand becomes Fleet Street, to your right if you’re walking towards Fleet Street. You will think you aren’t allowed to enter because a long barrier reading NO ACCESS or something like that stretches beneath the entrance archway, and there is a man sitting inside a booth like a sentry on the lookout for eager explorers. It definitely puts you off.
Rest assured, however, that the sign is for CARS (they may not enter) You are free to stroll past Scary Man, as long as you are properly dressed (no trainers/tennis shoes, hoodies, that sort of thing) and you must behave yourself in a very dull fashion or they will throw you out. You cannot shout or run around or ride a bicycle or spin like a top and cartwheel across the gardens in a short skirt. These are LAW COURTS! You must behave. You won’t care, though, because the place is so fabulous even I behaved myself and that is extremely unexpected.
Inner Temple and Middle Temple are connected by a multitude of labyrinthine passageways and courtyards and Narnian portals and the allotted two and a half hours will pass very very quickly. My BFF and I went to Inner and Middle Temples one day and Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn (the other two) the next.
Lincoln’s Inn is easily reached from the Gothic Revival glory that is the Royal Courts of Justice building, on the other side of the street (the Strand). Follow the enormous building until you can turn left up ChanceryLane, which may be my favourite street in the whole city it is EXTREMELY EXCELLENT! Walk up and down that first (you’ll see the back of the Tudor Lincoln’s Inn building- it’s the oldest of the law courts, founded in 1422); then at the bottom of the street turn into Carey Street and begin your explorations into glory.
Gray’s Inn is north of Lincoln’s in Holborn, and isn’t as attractive or thrilling as the other three; but the others I would rate my number-one- can’t-miss London attraction.
The Duchess will mark the 75th anniversary of @aircadets on Sunday 7th February, on her first official engagement as Honorary Air Commandant Her Royal Highness will attend a service @RoyalAirForce Church St Clement Danes, followed by a reception at the Royal Courts of Justice"