Description of Inner Temple Gatehouse
Inner Temple Gatehouse at 17 Fleet Street is a Grade II* listed building in London EC4.
The building formed part of the property granted to the Knights Templar in the 12th-century, which in 1312 passed to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
Fleet Street was lined with small buildings at an early date and Hospitallers' records show that at the beginning of the 16th-century tenants included the landlord of an inn called The Hand which was on the site of the eastern half of No 17.
The Order of St John was dissolved in 1540. In 1610 the owner of the property decided to rebuild. The new building became a tavern, known for the next thirty years as the Prince's Arms. In 1671 the property was sold to James Sotheby in whose family the freehold remained until it was purchased by the London County Council in 1900.
The house changed its name to the Fountain during the 17th century and from 1795 to 1816 the front part of the house was occupied by a well-known exhibition, Mrs Salmon's Waxworks, while the tavern business continued in the back part of the premises.
In 1900 it was discovered that there was a false front on the building incorporating eight carved panels. Behind this was the original 17th-century half-timbered front, shorn of its bay windows but entirely preserved by the thick layers of paint which covered the whole front. The facade now appears in its original form.
Inside the building the main feature of interest is the large room on the first floor. Originally panelled in oak, only the portion on the west side of the room now remains. The remaining panelling and the chimney piece are Georgian and of pine.
The great treasure of the house is the ceiling, one of the best remaining Jacobian enriched plaster ceilings in London. In the centre of the design are the Prince of Wales feathers, and the letters PH in a star-shaped border.
There are two stained glass windows in the room - both 20th century. The right-hand window is the 'Royal' window, designed to commemorate the supposed association of the chamber with the Duchy of Cornwall. The other window illustrates the connection of the room with the London County Council, the City of London and the Society of the Inner Temple.
Prince Henry's Room was transferred to the City of London in 1969 from the Greater London Council.
1. City of London cityoflondon.gov.uk
2. Historic England List entry Number: 1064693 historicengland.org.uk