Two of the four sites – Inner Temple and Middle Temple – were located centrally in the capital below the Strand to the east of Temple Bar, while Lincoln’s Inn was just north of the Strand. Gray’s Inn was positioned further north on a north-south axis along the western edge of Gray’s Inn Road.
The students at the four Inns of Court also often organised and acted in plays and masques at winter festival times at the Inn’s hall, priding themselves on their ‘rhetorical’ powers of persuasion, an essential part of a good lawyer’s professional equipment. The tradition is still carried on today when Inn members create and perform in Christmas shows. However, in the Shakepearean period all four sites should be considered authentic ShaLT performance locations in their own right, since their indoor halls were used as performance spaces for visiting playing companies. Most famously, in 1594 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men put on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors at Gray’s Inn, whilst his Twelfth Night was staged at Middle Temple in 1602.
Thomas Nashe, Pierce Peniless, 1592
‘The afternoon being the idlest time of the day, wherein men that are their own masters (as gentlemen of the Court, the Inns of the Court, and the number of captains and soldiers about London) do wholly bestow themselves upon pleasure, and that pleasure they divide (how virtuously it skills not) either upon gaming, following of harlots, drinking, or seeing a play.’