Join the Club

Catherine Baksi looks at the social and sporting activities provided by the Bar and the Inns of Court.

All work and no play makes Jack or Jill a dull boy or girl. And that aphorism seems to be taken to heart by many at the Bar – for as well as working hard, barristers play hard too. The Bar and the four Inns of Court have a number of active sporting and social clubs, which not only help members relax, but help foster collegiality among the profession. Here is some, though not an exhaustive selection of what is on offer.

One of the oldest clubs is the Bar Golfing Society which came into existence in 1903. It is open to members of the Bar and former members who hold or have held judicial office, and has some 400 members, most of whom are “active”. According to its website—www.bargolf.org.uk—the annual £25 subscription opens up the possibility of playing in a wide range of events, as well as the chance to say “bad luck judge” in a satisfyingly insincere tone at the annual tournament. To join contact Oliver Saxby on 020 7797 8400 or e-mail oliversaxby@aol.com.

In addition the four Inns have their own golfing societies, which have competed annually since 1921 for the Scrutton Cup, as well as running their own fixtures. The contacts are Alastair Hodge (Inner) at hodge@5essexcourt.co.uk; George Hamer (Gray’s) at George.hamer@8newsquare.co.uk, John Church (Lincoln’s) at jchurch@2gis.co.uk and Stuart Ritchie (Middle) at sr@littletonchambers.co.uk.

Refreshers, the Bar Cricket Club, was according to legend founded in the early 1930s on a foggy winter day when Walter Monckton (later Viscount Monckton of Brenchly), Charles Russell (later Lord Russell) and Claud Duveen (later Judge Duveen) happened to meet in the Temple and one of them suggested it might be fun to organise some not too serious cricket for the following summer. With about 40 regulars, who range in ability, it organises 15 matches a season, a weekend tour to Norfolk and the occasional foreign tour. The highlight of this year will be the rematch against the Sydney Bar ashes match, at Pembroke College, Cambridge. More details can be obtained from Philip Cayford QC on 020 7404 1044, via e-mail at PCayford@29br.co.uk, or from the website: www.refreshers.cc. Lincoln’s has its own cricket club, founded in 1981, with Lord Denning as its president. It used to have a busy fixtures list, but now only plays one match a year—Lincoln’s v Whitchurch, the Hampshire village where Lord Denning lived. This year’s match will take place on 2 August. Anyone interested in playing should contact Oliver Wise on 020 7797 7837.
 
Mark Stevens organises the Pegasus Football Club, which is open to all members of the Bar. It is currently in the second division of the London League, which is open to legal firms, legal departments and the Inns of Court. It plays midweek evenings from September through to March. It is made up of 30 clubs, playing in three divisions on astroturfs around the capital from Battersea to the Beckham Academy in Greenwich. To get involved in the Pegasus Football Club contact Mark at markstevens100@hotmail.com or visit the website, www.pegasusfc.co.uk. For more information about the London League check out www.londonleague.co.uk. Gray’s has its own football club. It also plays in the London League and is in the second divisions, alongside teams from CMS Cameron McKenna and Norton Rose. To join contact John Rainey at johnrainey@hotmail.com.

If you want to feel the wind in your hair maybe the Bar Yacht Club is for you. It organises a number of events throughout the season including a “fitting out” and a “laying up” supper, as well as internal yacht races. For more information or the calendar of events contact Anthony Callaway at anthonycallaway@hotmail.co.uk or on 07803 986 894.

Anyone for tennis? If so, there’s the Bar Lawn Tennis Club. Although it does not meet to play matches just for fun, it holds a number of competitions against other professional institutions, including the Law Society, the Bank of England, and the Swedish, Irish and French Bars. It organises internal competitions, both singles and doubles, and a tournament between the four Inns. If tennis is your game contact Birgitta Meyer at meyer@stonebuildings.com.

For those not wishing to work up a sweat, there is the Bar Musical Society, which aims to promote the love and appreciation of music by students, members of the Inns, barristers and judges. It hosts three or four concerts a year, held in each of the Inns, given by professional musicians, and followed by an optional supper. Further details can be obtained from Damian Falkowski on 020 7404 5252 or dfalkowski@4-5graysinnsquare.co.uk.

Inn Societies

The Inns run a variety of societies, some of which are restricted to their own members, but others are open to all barristers. Middle Temple Historical Society has been going since 1982. It meets four or five times a year for supper parties in the Inn. After sherry and dinner a guest speaker gives a talk on a historical subject. Past topics have included the coat of arms of Middle Temple Hall, the Inn’s portraits and furniture and the links of Middle Templars with the American war of independence. This year His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke, the Recorder of Cardiff, addressed the meeting on 11 June on “A History from the Western Circuit”. The Society also organises the occasional outing to a site of historical interest in London, which has in the past included Charles Dickens’ house, Dr Johnson’s House and the Tower of London. It is open to all members of the Inns plus anyone interested in the work of the Society. For details contact the secretary Lynne Townley on 07846 503541.

As mentioned above Lincoln’s has a Golf Club and a Cricket Club, which are open to all its members. It also has the rather more exclusive Denning Society. Its membership is restricted, at the request of the late Lord Denning, one of the Inn’s most famous members, to those at the Inn who hold scholarships or bursaries. The Society seeks to perpetuate his memory, by providing a forum for its members to meet and mix with all age groups on three major occasions each year – a summer reception, an autumn lecture and a dinner in January to celebrate Lord Denning’s birthday.

One of the clubs at Gray’s is the Croquet Club, which hosts an annual tournament in Gray’s Inn Walk. Held this year between 7 June and 21 July, the 12 sessions will be on one weekday evening each week and on Sunday afternoons.

The Gray’s Inn croquet rules are handed down by oral tradition and explained at each session to avoid unseemly disputes, and tuition is available. Members, families and friends are invited to take part, and students and beginners of all ages are welcome. Prizes are awarded at the Treasurer’s reception on 24 July. Students and pupils can enter without charge, but barristers and Benchers pay £20 for all 12 sessions. Booking is helpful, but not essential. To do so, or for more information, contact David Guy at graysinncroquet@hotmail.com or on 07711 697 099, or call the Treasury Office on 020 7242 4367.
Inner Temple has a Drama Society, predominantly made up of student members of the Inn, but anyone who auditions can take part. Recent productions include Lady Windermere’s Fan (May 2009). For details e-mail: innertempledrama@hotmail.co.uk.

Students

All the Inns encourage their student members to get involved in Inn life and mingle with others in the Inn. Three out the four have Student Associations, which all student members are automatically members of at their respective Inns.

The Inner Temple Students’ Association encourages members to attend lunch in Hall on the first Friday of each month. Its committee, led by current president Oliver Doherty, organises several social events, which this year have included a party on a Thames river boat and a formal Burns Night supper. Events planned for the spring and summer include a west end theatre trip, a wine tasting and the summer ball on Friday, 5 July. Further details are on the website www.innertemplestudents.org.

In addition the Inner Temple Debating Society meets every Tuesday at 6.30pm in the advocacy suites at 1 Paper Buildings, where students receive training to compete in competitions at all levels. Anyone wishing to get involved should contact Kate Drummond at inner2007@hotmail.co.uk or the education and training department.

Its Mooting Society organises regular workshops and advocacy talks and takes part in and organises competitions. For more details contact www.itmoot.org or e-mail innertemplemooting@gmail.com.

The Middle Temple Students Association (“MTSA”) has so far this year hosted a James Bond evening and a speed moot. Its summer ball will be on 24 July. The Association supports debates and moots, running workshops to help members improve their skills. MTSA debaters have achieved notable success in both national and international competitions. For more information contact the president, Joanna Tomkin, at president.mtsa@middletemple.org.uk or debating.mtsa@middletemple.org.uk.

The Association of Gray’s Inn Students (“AGIS”), whose president is Rebecca Norris, encourages members to have lunch together in Hall on Wednesdays at 12.30. Events include advocacy and theatre workshops, a pub crawl, ice skating and theatre trips. Its summer ball will be on 25 July. Information about AGIS can be found in the weekly newsletter, Little Griffin, the facebook group or by contacting agis@graysinn.org.uk.

Lincoln’s does not have a student society, but student representatives at each of the BVC providers sit on a committee with Benchers and barristers to give a voice to the student body. It does however have mooting and debating societies that are contactable through the education department.

There should be something in there for everyone. If not, then why not start up a new one?

Catherine Baksi is a news reporter for the Law Society Gazette specialising in the Bar

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