Photograph of Middle Temple Hall, the location for the first recorded performance of Twelfth Night


This photograph shows the location of the first recorded performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: the Hall of Middle Temple, London.

The play was on 2 February 1602 and is recorded in the diary of a trainee barrister called John Manningham. This record demonstrates that Shakespeare’s first audience included people educated enough to respond to the broad, cosmopolitan frame of cultural reference included in the play, and to appreciate the Malvolio plot which more modern readers have found difficult to enjoy.

One of the finest Elizabethan halls in London

‘The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple’ is one of the 'Inns of Court', the training, disciplinary and administrative institutions at the heart of England’s legal profession. These Inns house barristers, lawyers so-called because they had been called to the 'bar'; a physical feature of the courtroom from which legal representation is made.

The room itself has been described as one of the finest Elizabethan halls in London. It survived both the Great Fire of London due to a change of wind direction and two fires – in 1677 and 1678 – which destroyed much of the rest of the building.

Full title:
One hundred and twenty plates with text, and fifteen unpublished plates
1875-86, London
Photograph / Image
Henry Dixon, Society for photographing Relics of Old London
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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