While on my recent visit to London, I had also gone to visit the Royal Court of Justice. It was amazing that after all these years masonry still continues to hold substantial influence in Judiciary. The photographs taken just a year ago are as below;-
Without going into too much of the current influence that masonry has in English Judiciary, I recall something familiar written by Stephen Knight in 1984. I reproduce herein below the verbatim from his book “The Brotherhood”.
“To, understand why Freemasonry is so powerful in the law, it is helpful to be familiar with the distinct roles of the two branches of the legal profession.
The barrister is the only member of the profession who has a right of audience in any court in the country. Whereas solicitors may be heard only in magistrates Courts, County Courts and, in certain circumstances, Crown Courts, a Barrister can present and argue a client’s case in all these as well as in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and in the house of Lords. But unlike the solicitor, the barrister cannot deal with the client direct. Contact between the client and Barrister is supposed to be always to be through the Solicitor, although this always does not work in practice. The etiquette of the profession demands that the Solicitor, not the client instructs the barrister. Thus the barrister is dependent on the solicitor for his living.
In England, the rank of barrister-at-law is conferred exclusively by four unincorporated bodies in London, known collectively as the Honorable Societies of the Inns of Court, The four Inns, established between 1310 and 1357, are Lincoln’s Inn, Grays Inn, the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple. Prior t the establishment of the later two Inns, the Temple which lies between the fleet Street and the River Thames, was the head quarters of Knights Templar, declared heretics by King Phillip IV of France and rumored wiped out during early fourteenth century. There is a modern day Order of Knights Templar within British Freemasonry . From the beginning the men of law were linked with Freemasonry.
Each Inn has its own library, dining-hall and chapel. Thousands of barrister’s chambers are crammed into the large, impressive eighteenth and nineteenth century houses. There are cobbled alleys, covered passages, Gothic arches and winding stairs. There are gardens, swards, opulent residences and courtyards, all turning their backs on the outside world and looking into their own small world, redolent of dusty ledgers, moth-eaten wigs, public school mores, black gowns, scarlet robes and all ponderous unchanging majesty of the law of old England.
Each Inn is owned by its Honorable Society and is governed by its own senior members – barrister and Judges – who are known as benches. The benches decide which students will be called to the bar (That is made barristers) and which will not. Their decision is final. As with so much else in British Law, ancient custom attend the passage of students to their final examinations and admissions. Candidates must of course pass examinations, which are set by the council for Legal education. But in addition they must keep twelve terms which in everyday language means that on set of occasions in each term in (Hilary, Easter, Trinity and Michaelmas) for three years, candidates must dine at their Inn, If they do so without fail, pass their exams and pay their fees they will then be called, and the degree, or rank, of barrister-at-law will be bestowed upon them.
The Scottish equivalent of barrister is an advocate, and the Scottish equivalent of the Inns of Courts is the faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh. Kings Inn, Dublin is the Irish counterpart of the English Inns.
In 1966 a Senate of the inns of Court was setup as an overall governing body. Its first president was, not unexpectedly, a Freemason of Grand rank: Mr Justice Widgery. Widgery had been Junior Grand Warden in the United Grand Lodge in 1961. In masonry he went on to become Senior Grand Warden in 1972, and in the non-secret World to become the first Lord Chief Justice of England to have been a solicitor as well as a Barrister.
The Senate itself was superseded in 1974 by a new body which combined the functions of the Senate with the general Council of the Bar. This was given the name of Senate of the inns of the Court and the bar t its ninety-four members including six benchers from each Inn devolved the duty to oversee the conditions of admission, legal education and welfare, and the authority to discipline and disbar, which was previously vested in each honorable Society. The presidents since 1974have been Lord Justice Templeman, Lord Scarman, Lord Justice Waller, Lord Justice Ackner and Lord Justice Griffiths. Of these, Waller is a Freemason of Grand rank; Templeman did not respond to letters of enquiry; Ackner asked if he was a mason ‘give …. No information at all concerning Freemasonry’; Griffiths, in reply to same question, regretted that he was unable to enter into correspondence on the matter raised; Scarman did not reply.
Gray’s Inn has its own craft Lodge-No 4938 – Which has its own Royal Arch Chapter and which meets at Freemasons hall on third Monday of January, March and October (Its yearly installation meeting) and on the first Monday of December.
Some specialized sections of the bar have their own Lodges, such as Chancery bar Lodge (No 2456) Constituted in 1892, whose membership comprises barristers dealing mainly in chancery matters and Judges of the Chancery Divisions of the High Court. The Lodge meets in Lincoln’s Hall. Masonic Barristers are among the hardest Masons of all to persuade to talk, or even admit to being part of brotherhood. Take, for example, the barrister with chambers in Gray’s Inn who, unable in truth to deny his membership, told me, ‘I don’t know in what circumstances you may or may not have been told and I am not in a position to discuss the matter with you in any shape or Form’. The bar remains a Masonic stronghold.”