Pegasus Emblem

The Honourable Societies of the Inner and Middle Temple share the Temple site and in 1732 a deed of partition formally divided it between them. If you look on the buildings you should be able to identify which belong to each society by the emblems sculpted on them – the Lamb and Flag for the Middle Temple and the Pegasus for the Inner Temple.

The Pegasus or flying horse has been the emblem of the Inner Temple from at least the 16th century, but we can only speculate as to why it was adopted. The most likely reason is that it was chosen in honour of Lord Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth I’s Master of the Horse, who took part in the Christmas revels at the Temple in 1561. In the revels, Dudley, who later became Earl of Leicester, was leader of the fictional Order of the Pegasus and his followers all bore the Pegasus symbol.

The emblem then seems to have been adopted by the Inner Temple for subsequent revels, whilst its fellow inn, Gray’s Inn, chose the griffin as its symbol at about this time. Other theories are that the Pegasus was derived from a misrepresentation of a broken tile of a knight with shield on horseback in the Temple Church, which was thought to have been a winged horse; or from the Templars’ seal which showed two knights with shields on horseback, the two shields resembling wings. Whatever the reason for its adoption, the Pegasus is here to stay as the emblem of the Inner Temple and you will see representations of it throughout the Inn.