Beyond Lincoln’s Inn, across Holborn–the road which takes its name from
the burn that flowed through the hollow–lies Gray’s Inn, a great quiet
domain, quadrangle upon quadrangle, with a large space of greensward
enclosed within it.

‘Nothing else in London,’ so Nathaniel Hawthorne noted, ‘is so like the
effect of a spell as to pass under one of these archways and find
yourself transported from the jumble, rush, tumult, uproar, as of an age
of weekdays condensed into the present hour, into what seems an eternal
Sabbath. It is very strange to find so much of ancient quietude right in
the monster city’s very jaws–which yet the monster shall not eat
up–right in its very belly indeed, which yet in all these ages it shall
not digest and convert into the same substance as the rest of its
bustling streets.’

Yet the site of Gray’s Inn lies outside the City Boundary, and the
Chambers, where Francis Bacon wrote, were set in a quiet spot amidst
gardens, beyond which stretched Gray’s Inn Fields, intersected by the
country roads of Holborn and Gray’s Inn Lane. The latter lane took the
name of Theobald’s Road later, because it led to Theobalds in
Hertfordshire, which was the favourite hunting seat of King James I. In
these fields beyond Gray’s Inn Lord Berkeley’s hounds showed sport to
the Gentlemen of the Inns of Court in the reign of Queen Mary.

It is indeed difficult to realize and remember how small London was, how
comparatively tiny even the ‘Great Wen,’ which moved Cobbett’s wrath and
disgust, and how recent is the growth of that continuous monotony of
streets, which have spread over the fields where our grandfathers shot
snipe and partridges. Even at the beginning of the last century Gray’s
Inn was a ‘private place in the suburbs,’ suitable for study, removed
from the bustle of the City. ‘The moment the sun peeps out,’ wrote Sir
Samuel Romilly from his Chambers in 1780, ‘I am in the country, having
only one row of houses between me and Highgate and Hampstead.’

There is a popular legend that Gray’s Inn derives its name from the
Grey Friars, whose Church stood hard by. But this legend is not in any
way supported by the probabilities. Gray’s Inn, in fact, was the Inn,
_hospitium_, or dwelling-house of the Greys of Wilton. Its site was
included in the Manor of Portpool, the name of which survives in
Portpool Lane. The name of this Manor is derived from Port (= market or
gate), and pool, just as in West Smithfield there was a pool called
Horsepool.[59] The ‘market-pool’ in question may have been that in the
northern Courtyard of Staple Inn, or somewhere else on the property of
the De Greys.

A very large portion of the Hundred of Ossulston, in which Gray’s Inn
lies, appears to have belonged to the Bishop and Canons of St. Paul’s,
and from the Manor of Portpool an ancient prebend of St. Paul’s
Cathedral takes its name.

The exact date when the De Greys first came into possession of the Manor
of Portpool is not certain. But Reginald de Grey died in 1308, according
to an Inquisition taken after his death at ‘Purtpole,’ seized of a
messuage and certain lands there, which he held of the Dean and Chapter
of St. Paul, London, by rent, service, and suit.

This Reginald de Grey was Justiciar of Chester, whose work would often
bring him to the Capital. It is reasonable to suppose that his following
of clerks and lawyers would, as in the case of the Earl of Lincoln, be
resident in his London ‘Inn,’ and thus form the nucleus of what
afterwards developed into a School, Guild, or Society of Lawyers.

The Society of Gray’s Inn probably came into corporate existence some
time in the fourteenth century. The exact date cannot, indeed, be
determined. As in the case of the other Inns, the known surviving
records are scanty. And this, perhaps, is due to the same cause.

Fire wrought havoc in Gray’s Inn, as elsewhere, and the earliest
archives of this Inn, as of the Temple, were probably destroyed at the
end of the seventeenth century. In 1687 we learn that, ‘as they were in
the midst of their revels and masquerades, a violent fire broke out,
which destroyed most of the paper buildings that remained; several
records are also lost and burnt or blown up.’

Such early records as do exist of the Inn as a corporate institution in
its early days do not amount to convincing evidence, but they do point
to the existence of Gray’s Inn as an Inn of Court in the fourteenth
century. A list of the Readers of the Inn, with their Arms, from the
year 1359, compiled in the reign of Henry VIII. (Harleian MSS.), we may
take for what it is worth. It is said that William Skipwith, a
Serjeant-at-Law in 1355, belonged to Gray’s Inn, and was the first
Reader. Again, in 1589, Sir Christopher Yelverton, in resigning his
membership of Gray’s Inn, as it was compulsory for him to do on being
appointed a Serjeant-at-Law, made a farewell speech to his brother
members, stating that ‘I doe acknowledge myself deeplie and infinitely
indebted unto this House for the singular and exceeding favours that I
and myne ancestors have received in it … _for two hundred years agoe
at least_ some of them lived here.’ This statement, if accurate, would
prove the Inn to have been a corporate institution at least as early as
1389. Again, we gather from the ‘Paston Letters’ that Sir William
Byllyng, Chief Justice in 1464, told William Paston that he had been ‘a
felaw in Gray’s Inn,’ and also mentioned one Ledam as a ‘felaw’ there.
This is the first, and for many years the last, mention of any Fellows
in Gray’s Inn. It may either be considered to be a confirmation of the
view that the Lawyers’ Society was in possession in the fifteenth
century, or merely a proof that Byllyng himself and Ledam were
fellow-lodgers in some part of Lord Grey’s tenement. But there is, in
fact, no indubitable mention of the Lawyers’ settlement here until the
time of Henry VIII. However, the great-grandson of the Justiciar,
Reginald de Wilton, leased out the _hospitium_ in Pourtepole in 1343.
And in 1370 Lord Grey de Wilton let ‘a certain Inn in Portepole’ for 100
shillings. Stow, on the authority of one Master Saintlow Kniveton, says
that gentlemen and professors of the Common Law were Lord Grey’s
tenants. At any rate, before the end of the fourteenth century (1397)
the records show that the Lords de Grey had enfeoffed others–who
possibly represented the Society of the Inn–with the use of their
property. Then, in 1506, Edmund, Lord de Grey, decided to part with it
altogether. He was perhaps persuaded to adopt this course by the fact
that the suburban villa of the De Greys was by this time already being
swamped by the rising tide of houses that was flowing westward from the
City. He sold to Hugh Denys and others ‘the Manor of Portpoole,
otherwise called Gray’s Inn, four messuages, four gardens, the site of a
windmill, eight acres of land, ten shillings of free rent, and the
advowson of the Chantry of Portpoole aforesaid.’

The Manor presently escheated to the King, and licence was granted to
the previous tenants to alienate to the House of Jesus of Bethlehem at
Shene (_i.e._, Richmond) in Surrey, both the Manor of Portepoole and the
lands in the parish of St. Andrew of Holborn, and the advowson of the
chantry pertaining thereto, to be held to the annual value of ten marks
(£6 13s. 4d.). Then, in 1516, occurs the first distinct mention of a
Society of Lawyers settled in these four messuages, with their gardens,
windmill, and chapel. For an association consisting of two Serjeants and
four Barristers, representatives of a Society of Students of Law, took
out a lease in that year of the Manor of Portpool from the Prior and
Convent of Shene at a rent of £6 13s. 4d. This lease was renewed, at the
same rent, by Henry VIII. when, at the dissolution of the monasteries,
the Inn, together with the whole of the Priory of Shene, passed into the
hands of the Crown. The rent was commuted into a freehold by the
Commissioners of the Commonwealth in 1651, upon payment of a heavy fine.
It was resumed by Charles II., the sale being declared null and void,
and was sold to Sir Philip Matthews. Gray’s Inn thenceforth paid the old
rent to him and his heirs, until, in 1733, the Benchers bought the
freehold of the property from them. It is now the absolute legal
property of the Society of Gray’s Inn.

By the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Gray’s Inn had risen into great
popularity. The Inns of Court now formed one of the leading Universities
of England–‘the noblest nurseries of humanity and liberty in the
Kingdom,’ Ben Jonson declared. And chief among the Colleges of Law, with
almost double the number of students in any other Inn, stood Gray’s Inn.
The great Lord Burghley always refers to it with the deepest affection,
mentioning it as ‘the place where myself came forthe unto service.’

Its popularity, however, can hardly have been due to the luxuriousness
of its chambers, which, we are told, were ‘disagreeably incommodious.’

Dugdale remarks that there was ‘not much of beauty or uniformity’ in the
buildings, ‘the structure of the more ancient having been not only very
mean, but of so slender capacity that even the Ancients of this House
were necessitated to lodge double’–as, for instance, in Henry VIII.’s
day, Sir Thomas Nevile wrote to say that he would accept of Mr.
Attorney-General to be his bedfellow in his Chamber there.

In 1688, it appears, the Inn was divided into three Courts–Holborn,
Coney, and Middle or Chapel Court. Coney and Chapel Courts were
afterwards converted into Gray’s Inn Square–a title conferred upon them
in 1793.

Holborn Court must have included South Square and Field Court, the
latter so called from its being a passage into the Red Lion Fields,[60]
where a Bowling-Green was laid out in the seventeenth century. When, at
the close of that century, Dr. Barebone, the great builder, bought Red
Lion Fields and began to build upon that site, ‘the Gentlemen of Graies
Inn took notice of it, and thinking it an injury to them, went with a
considerable body of 100 persons, upon which the workmen assaulted the
gentlemen, and flung bricks at them, and the gentlemen at them again, so
a sharp engagement ensued, but the gentlemen routed them at last.’[61]

The principal entrance to Gray’s Inn was formerly from Gray’s Inn Lane.
It was not till the end of the sixteenth century that, as Stow puts it,
‘the Gentlemen of this House purchased a messuage and a curtillage
situate upon the south side of this House, and thereupon erected a fayre
gate and a gatehouse, for a more convenient and more honourable passage
into the High Street of Holborne, whereof this house stood in much
neede, for the former gates were rather posterns than gates.’

By Gray’s Inn Gate, Jacob Tonson, Pope’s publisher, kept his shop before
moving to Fleet Street. Soon after Holborn Gate was erected, the shop
underneath was taken by another bookseller, one Henry Tomes by name,
who, appropriately enough, published the first edition of Bacon’s
‘Advancement of Learning.’

The Entrance Gate from Holborn leads us from the throng and bustle of
the streets, the din and rush of the City, and the noisome fumes of
twopenny tubes and motor-buses, through a dull and narrow alley into
South Square–a large, irregular quadrangle of pleasing, harmonious
eighteenth-century houses. Opposite the entrance passage a detached
block faces us (No. 10), containing the Common Room, admirably rebuilt
in 1905. This is connected by an archway with the Hall, Chapel, and

The foundation of the Library has been


IT is one of several classic entrances of this type in the Square, and
bears the date 1738.]

attributed to Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam. But references to it occur
before 1576, the year in which he became a Member of the Inn.[62] But it
was not till 1737 that the need was felt for the erection of a building
specially intended to house it. Then an Order was passed for building a
Library in Holborn Court, now known as South Square. A hundred years
later additions were made, and in 1883 a new Library building was added,
which is entered separately from the internal angle of South Square, and
which fronts externally upon the then newly-made Gray’s Inn Road. The
Library boasts a small but valuable collection of manuscripts, including
that of Bracton’s ‘De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliæ.’

The old Hall was rebuilt in 1556. It follows the usual plan of a
sixteenth-century Hall, having a raised dais and ‘high’ table at the
east end, and the characteristic Tudor bay window on the north side. A
very handsome oak screen, richly carved with Renaissance ornament, and
divided into round arched bays by Ionic columns, conceals the vestibule.
Above the enriched cartouche frieze of the Screen is an open and carved
balustrade, extremely handsome, though of later date, which forms a
front to the Minstrel Gallery. A glazed lantern in the centre of the
Hall indicates the ancient louvre. A very fine open timber roof of the
hammer-beam type covers this charming room, and harmonizes with the
eighteenth-century oak panelling, which lines the walls, and is
decorated with the arms of the Treasurers. A large traceried window over
the Minstrel Gallery, five mullioned and transomed windows on the south
side, and four similar windows, in addition to the large bay window, on
the north, adequately light the Hall. Many of the windows contain fine
heraldic glass, with escutcheons of famous members of the Society.[63]
On the walls of the Hall hang portraits of Kings Charles I. and II., and
James II., Sir Nicholas Bacon and Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans,
Baron Verulam, Lord Coke, Sir Christopher Yelverton (1602), Sir John
Turton (1689), Lord Raymond, Chief Justice (1725), Sir James Eyre
(1787), Sir John Hullock (1823), Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester,
etc. But the chief treasure is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth, hung
above the dais, which was presented to the Society by Henry Griffith,
one of the Masters of the Bench.

The exterior of the Hall was sadly ruined by the Goths, or Vandals, of
1826. The walls and gables of dark red brick, ornamented with brick
battlements, and relieved by labels and mullions of stone, were, like
those of the Chapel, rendered hideous by the stucco madness of the age;
mean modern battlements were added; slate was substituted for the warm
red tiles of the old roof; and a wooden lantern of new and feeble design
placed instead of the octangular wooden lantern, with a leaded cupola,
which rose from the centre of the roof. More recently the stucco
disfigurations have been removed, and the old red-brick buttresses and
walls with the stone labels have been happily revealed again.

There is a tradition in the Inn that the Screen which we have mentioned,
and also some of the dining-tables now used in the Hall, were given to
the Society by Queen Elizabeth. At dinner on Grand Day in each term ‘the
glorious, pious, and immortal memory of good Queen Bess’ is still
solemnly drunk in Hall. Certainly and happily this Hall, one of the most
venerable and most beautiful of all the Halls in London, remains very
much, as regards the interior, what it was in the days of the Virgin

There is another legend which connects the name of good Queen Bess with
this Hall. It is said that Her Majesty was present at the performance in
Gray’s Inn Hall of the masque, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ under the
stage management of Shakespeare. There is no intrinsic improbability
about this. Though the Pension Book does not record any visit of
Elizabeth to Gray’s Inn, the nature of the entries is such that omission
therefrom cannot be said to prove the non-occurrence of an event.
Francis Bacon, who was made a Bencher in 1586, and was elected Treasurer
in 1590, was a _persona grata_ at Court, and not only took a delight in
the preparation of pageantries, but also knew Shakespeare well. It is,
therefore, quite likely that Queen Elizabeth visited the Inn on the
occasion of the production of a masque by Shakespeare.[64] It is at
least certain that in February, 1587, eight Members of Gray’s Inn,
acting apparently with the approval of the Bench, produced a play called
‘The Misfortunes of Arthur’ for the entertainment of Queen Elizaabeth
at Greenwich while Her Majesty was visiting the fair. It was apparently
in connection with this play that Bacon, being then Reader of Gray’s
Inn, wrote to Lord Burleigh as follows: ‘There are a dozen gentlemen of
Gray’s Inn that, out of the honour which they bear to your Lordship and
my Lord Chamberlain, to whom at their last masque they were so much
bounden, are ready to furnish a masque: wishing it were in their power
to perform it according to their minds.’[65]

The Benchers and Students of Gray’s Inn indulged in the Christmas
_Saturnalia_ of Masques and Revels with as great, or even greater, zest
than the other Societies of Lawyers. And Bacon, philosopher, statesman,
and courtier, was by no means backward in his enjoyment of ‘Masques and
Triumphs.’ ‘These things are but toys,’ he wrote, ‘but since Princes
will have such things, it is better they should be graced with elegancy
than daubed with cost.’ And accordingly he devoted some of his abundant
energy to superintending the festivities in his own Inn, and even to
assisting in the composition of some of the ‘Triumphs.’

As early as 1525 mention is made of a masque that was acted in the Hall
here, which was composed by John Roo, Serjeant at the Law, and ‘sore
displeased’ Cardinal Wolsey. George Gascoigne, the poet, a Member of the
Inn, translated plays from the Greek (Euripides’ ‘Jocasta’–the
‘Phœnissæ’?) and Italian for the students to act. And now, in 1594,
there were high festivities at Gray’s Inn, when an extravaganza was
produced bearing the significant title: ‘History of the High and Mighty
Prince Henry, Prince of Purpoole [Portpool], Archduke of Stapulia
[Staple’s Inn] and Bernarda [Barnard’s Inn], Duke of High and Nether
Holborn, Marquis of St. Giles and Tottenham, Great Lord of the Cantons
of Islington, Kentish Town, Paddington, and Knightsbridge, Knight of the
most Heroical Order of the Helmet and Sovereign of the same; who reigned
and died A.D. 1594.’ Owing to the Hall being overcrowded on the first
night, the students of the Inner and Middle Temples quitted the Hall in
dudgeon, and the performance of the main piece had to be adjourned. To
make up for the withdrawal of ‘The History of Prince Henry’ from the
playbill, it was thought ‘good not to offer anything of account saving
Dancing and Revelling with Gentlewomen…. To eke out the programme
Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” was then played by the players.’

Thus Gray’s Inn Hall shares with the Hall of the Middle Temple the
distinction of being the only buildings now remaining in London in
which, so far as we know, any of the plays of Shakespeare were performed
in his own time.[66]

At Shrovetide the Prince of Purpoole and his company entertained Queen
Elizabeth at Greenwich. After the performance Her Majesty ‘willed the
Lord Chamberlain that the gentlemen should be invited on the next day,
which was done, and her Majesty gave them her hand to kiss with most
gracious words of commendation to them: particularly in respect of
Gray’s Inn, as an House that she was much beholden unto for that it did
always study for some Sports to present her with.’

The success of this Masque was no doubt largely due to the fact that it
was supposed to contain veiled allusions to many living persons of note,
and that these allusions, uttered by the mimic Councillors of the
Purpoole Court, were known to be written by the greatest of the sons of
Gray’s Inn, Bacon himself. ‘The speeches of the six Councillors,’ says
James Spedding, ‘carry his signature in every sentence.’[67] That they
were written by him, and by him alone, no one who is at all familiar
with his style, either of thought or expression, will for a moment

The Masque prepared by Francis Beaumont, to celebrate the marriage of
the Count Palatine with the Princess Elizabeth, was performed before the
King and Royal Family in the Banqueting House at Whitehall (February 20,
1613), and Francis Bacon, it is recorded, then Solicitor-General,
‘spared no time in the setting forth, ordering, and furnishing’ of it.

On Twelfth Night, 1614, the ‘Maske of Flowers’ was presented ‘by the
Gentlemen of Graies Inn’ in the same Banqueting Hall upon the occasion
of the marriage of the Earl of Somerset. This Masque, when published,
was dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon, who apparently bore the whole
expense of the performance. In 1887 ‘The Masque of Flowers’ was revived,
being again performed with great success in Gray’s Inn Hall. Other
masques of this and later times are mentioned by Mr. Douthwaite (p. 234
_et seq._). Of the Masque performed by the Inns of Court before Charles
I., which has been already referred to, ‘The Triumph of Peace,’ James
Shirley, the dramatist, was the author. He had chambers in Gray’s Inn.

The form of self-government that obtained at Gray’s Inn was very similar
to that which the other Inns enjoyed.

The Officer named Treasurer at other Inns was at Gray’s Inn known as the
Pensioner. According to Sir Nicholas Bacon and some other Commissioners
who drew up a report upon the Houses of Court for the information of
Henry VIII., ‘a Pension, or, as some Houses call it, a Parliament,’ was
summoned every quarter, or more if need be, ‘for the good ordering of
the House, and the reformation of such things as seem meet to be
reformed.’ These Pensions or Parliaments were ‘nothing else but a
conference of Benchers and Utter Barristers only, and in some other
Houses an Assembly of Benchers and such of the Utter Barristers and
other ancient and wise men of the House as the Benchers have elected to
them before time, and these together are named the Sage Company.’ This
report does not mention the Ancients of Gray’s Inn. ‘The Grand Company
of Ancients’ consisted of three classes–Barristers called by seniority
to that degree; sons of Judges, who by right of inheritance were
admitted Ancients; and persons of distinction who, in the words of
Fortescue already quoted, were placed in the Inns of Court, not so much
to make the Laws their study as to form their manners and to preserve
them from the contagion of vice. The Constitution of the Inns, and the
correct relation between the Benchers and Junior Members, were not
arrived at without certain crises. The internal politics of the Houses
were occasionally lively. Thus at the Middle Temple the right of the
Benchers to regulate the affairs of the Inn, without reference to the
Parliaments of barristers and students to whom, apparently, the right of
self-government within certain limits was, by ancient custom, entrusted
in the Vacations, was a ground of hot dispute in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. The right to hold a Parliament at any time was
demanded. The Benchers replied that the Junior Members were only
entitled to deliberate and represent on matters occurring in

The Chapel of Gray’s Inn Loftie describes with equal brevity and justice
as ‘ancient, but without interest.’

In 1315 John, Lord Grey, had given lands in

[Illustration: GRAYS INN SQUARE

THE Hall (on the right) was rebuilt in 1556, and the chapel, covered
with greenish stucco (in the centre), is ancient, but has suffered much
from wholesale restorations.]

the manor to the Canons of St. Bartholomew, to endow a Chaplain.
Chaplain and Chapel alike passed to the lawyers along with the Inn, and
it is likely enough that the present old Chapel, in spite of plaster and
bad stained glass, represents at heart the fourteenth-century Chapel of
the Greys.

The earliest mention of it in the existing records of the Society is in
the eleventh year of Elizabeth. It was ‘beautified and renewed’ at the
end of the seventeenth century, and received a blanket of stucco, a
fringe of silly battlements, and an ugly slate roof in the first
part of the nineteenth. Some armorial bearings, chiefly of the
seventeenth-century Bishops and Archbishops, survive in the Eastern
Window of five lights, but much of the painted glass mentioned by
Dugdale has disappeared or been removed to the Hall.

Beyond South Square stretches a delightful quadrangle of homogeneous
houses, which contains a large gravelled centre, bordered by a few
sickly plane-trees. This is Gray’s Inn Square, which, as we have seen,
took the place of Coney Court and Chapel Court. It was at No. 1, Coney
Court, burnt down in 1678, that Bacon, ‘the greatest, wisest, meanest of
mankind,’ is said to have lived. The site of his rooms is covered now by
No. 1, Gray’s Inn Square, part of the row of buildings erected in 1868
at the West end of this Court. In 1622 Bacon was granted chambers in the
Inn consisting of ‘certayne buildings in Graies Inne [of late called
Bacon’s Buildings] for the terme of fiftie years.’

Francis Bacon was entered by his father, the Lord Keeper, on June 27,
1576, together with his four brothers, Nicholas, Nathaniel, Edward, and
Anthony. This was that Sir Nicholas who founded the Cursitor’s Office or
Inn, from which Cursitor Street takes its name; Cursitor Street, with
its bitter memories of sponging-houses and bailiffs, which have been
improved away along with the lumbering machinery of the law that made
such things possible. Sir Nicholas had been Treasurer of the Inn in
1536. Francis Bacon, in the dedication quoted below, describes Gray’s
Inn as ‘the place whence my father was called to the highest place of
justice, and where myself have lived and had my proceedings, and
therefore few men are so bound to their Societies by obligation both
ancestral and personal as I am to yours.’ An Order in the following
year, 1577, directed that all the sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon should be
‘of the Grand Company and not be bound to any vacations.’ In the
twenty-eighth year of Elizabeth, Francis Bacon was advanced to the
Readers’ Table. He was elected Treasurer in 1608.[69] As
Solicitor-General he dedicated his ‘Arguments of Law’ to ‘my lovinge
friends and fellowes, the Readers, Ancients, Utter Barresters and
Students of Graies Inn,’ signing himself ‘your assured loving friend and
fellow, F. B.’

It was from Gray’s Inn that the procession of Earls, Barons, Knights and
Gentlemen started, which accompanied him to Westminster when he became
Lord Keeper. And it was to Gray’s Inn that he returned after his
impeachment and fall, coming ‘to lie at his old lodgings,’ and write
many of his Treatises and Essays. ‘Those noble studies,’ says Macaulay,
the brilliant historian, who himself occupied chambers at No. 8, South
Square, in a building that was destroyed to make room for the extension
of the Library–‘those noble studies, for which he had found leisure in
the midst of professional drudgery and of courtly intrigues, gave to
this last sad stage of his life a dignity beyond what power or titles
could bestow. Impeached, convicted, sentenced, driven with ignominy
from the presence of his Sovereign, shut out from the deliberations of
his fellow-nobles, loaded with debt, branded with dishonour, sinking
under the weight of years, sorrows and diseases, Bacon was Bacon still.’
He commenced a Digest of the Laws of England, a History of England under
the Tudors, a body of Natural History, a Philosophical Romance. ‘He made
extensive and valuable additions to his Essays. He published the
inestimable treatise, “De Augmentis Scientiarum.” The very trifles with
which he amused himself in hours of pain and languor bore the marks of
his mind. The best collection of jests in the world is that which he
dictated from memory, without referring to any book, on a day on which
illness had rendered him incapable of serious study.’ It is the brain
and personality of such a genius that haunts this spacious, quiet square
of Gray’s Inn. And presently we shall see how upon the Inn itself and
its pleasaunces this many-sided mind impressed itself to our advantage.

Through an arch in the far angle of the Square we pass to a narrow,
oblong building of the crudest early nineteenth-century type, looking
across an ugly wall upon the noisy Gray’s Inn Road. This is the ugly
line of Verulam Buildings (1811), which Charles Lamb justly called
‘accursed,’ for they encroached upon the gardens, ‘cutting out delicate
crankles, and shouldering away one or two of the stately alcoves of the
terrace.’ A postern-gate at the far corner leads out to the junction of
Gray’s Inn Road with Theobald’s Road, a dismal thoroughfare, which is
bounded by a railing, through which a delightful vista of green trees
and turf gladdens the sight of the passer-by–turf and green trees which
form the gracious playground of the children for whom the gates are
opened each summer evening.

Another Gateway by ‘Jockey Fields,’ in Theobald’s Road, leads past
Raymond Buildings, the same kind of ugly, unabashed, stock-brick
barracks as Verulam Buildings, and dating from the same period. Crude
and unpleasing as these dull blocks are to behold, they have the great
advantage of being very pleasant to live in, for they line and look out
upon the Gardens which the great Philosopher laid out. Raymond Buildings
end in Field Court, which in turn adjoins South Square. One side of
Field Court is formed by the iron railings and fine iron Gateway (1723)
which terminate the Gardens. Square stone gate-posts carry the Griffin
of the Inn. For the device of Gray’s Inn is a Griffin, or, in a field
sable. Within this Gate a broad avenue of plane-trees, flanked by grassy
lawns and terraces, leads to a green earth-work terrace at the northern
end of the gardens. This terrace was probably constructed with the
intention of shutting out the view of the squalid houses that had begun
to spring up in that direction.

James Spedding records that Raleigh, just before his last disastrous
voyage to the New World, had a long conversation with Bacon in those
Gardens. And it is said that Bacon planted here a ‘catalpa tree,’ very
likely brought home by Raleigh, which still survives, and is certainly
one of the oldest in England. This is the sprawling, senile tree,
tottering to its grave with the aid of a dozen propping sticks, which
forms a striking feature upon the left-hand side of the path, looking
from the Gateway.

Bacon’s love of gardening is breathed in every line of his delightful
Essay upon Gardens. ‘God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it
is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the
spirits of man, without which buildings and palaces are but gross
handyworks.’ And it appears probable that the Gardens of Gray’s Inn were
laid out under his direction in 1597 and the following years. For in
1597 the Society ordered ‘that the summe of £7 15s. 4d., due to Mr.
Bacon for planting of trees in the walkes, be paid next terme.’ In the
following year a further supply was ordered ‘of more yonge elme trees in
the places of such as are decayed, and that a new Rayle and quicksett
hedge bee set uppon the upper walke at the good discretion of Mr. Bacon
and Mr. Wilbraham, soe that the charges thereof do not exceed the sum of
seventy pounds.’ And, this limit having apparently been carefully
observed, in 1600, £60 6s. 8d. was paid to Mr. Bacon ‘for money
disbursed about the Garnishing of the Walkes.’

There is also record of a Summer-house erected by Bacon ‘upon a small
mount’ in the Gardens, which bore a Latin inscription to the effect that
Francis Bacon erected it in memory of Jeremy Bettenham, formerly Rector
of the Inn, in the year 1609. It was destroyed in the eighteenth

The rooks which nest in the trees of Gray’s Inn Gardens, and which fare
sumptuously upon the fragments of food daily offered to them by the
residents in the Chambers of Gray’s Inn, made their first appearance
when the elms on the Chesterfield property in May Fair were felled.
They appear to have driven out a pair of carrion crows which had built
here time out of mind, and whose ancestors may well have looked down
upon the author of the ‘Novum Organum,’ as he walked in those quiet
alleys with his friend, or mused as he rested on the seat which was so
callously destroyed a century and a half ago.[70]

The principal entrance to the Gardens was from Fullwood’s Rents, and,
when coffee-drinking first came into vogue, Coffee-Houses sprang up
here, and reaped a rich harvest from the crowds who made of Gray’s Inn
Gardens a fashionable and popular promenade.

For Gray’s Inn Walks became as fashionable a resort in the seventeenth
century as Merton Gardens at Oxford in the eighteenth, and when Pepys’
wife was ‘making some clothes,’ he took her here to observe the
fashions. And Sir Roger de Coverley loved to pace the green terrace of
Gray’s Inn.

The figure of the great Philosopher overshadows all others at Gray’s
Inn, but the Society can boast a long line of members distinguished in
Politics, the Law and Literature. Sir Philip Sidney was a Member of this
Inn; so were John Hampden and John Pym, and Thomas Cromwell became an
Ancient in 1534.

Sir William Gascoigne, Chief Justice 1400, is claimed by both Gray’s Inn
and the Middle Temple. The former can at any rate point to Gascoigne’s
arms in the bay-window of the Hall.

George Gascoigne, the poet, William Camden, and William Dugdale, the
great and learned antiquaries, were all members of Gray’s Inn. Among the
poets who resided here are George Chapman, Samuel Butler, John
Cleveland, Oliver Goldsmith, and Robert Southey, who entered the Inn in
1797. Cobbett dwelt here for a season, and another ‘Rymer’ in the author
of the ‘Fœdera.’ Dr. Kenealy, who defended ‘the Claimant,’ was the
last barrister to have business Chambers here, the tide of legal
business having flowed down Chancery Lane. Gray’s Inn can boast a Royal
Bencher in the person of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, who, by a
‘Special Pension’ in 1881, was admitted a Member, called to the Bar, and
elected a Bencher in one day.

Such, in brief outline, is the history of the Four Inns of Court, in
which is vested the monopoly of calling to the Bar of England such
students as have kept terms at the Inn, and have commended themselves
to the approval of the Benchers. Starting as independent voluntary
associations of students and practisers of the law, either in connection
with the Court of some great Justiciar, or merely in hostels, where the
apprentices might find board and lodging during their years of learning,
they developed into Societies, nobly housed, which controlled their
students after a collegiate fashion.

Without charters, endowments, or title-deeds, they developed on the
lines of self-governing Guilds, subject only to a certain ill-defined
control by the Judges, whilst their property was vested in a
self-elected Committee of Benchers for the time being. It is under the
guidance of these Committees that the Inns of Court have gained and
maintained their position through the centuries, training the successive
generations of barristers in the high traditions of honour and ability
characteristic of the English Bar, and imparting to their youthful
apprentices at the law, through the social system of ‘keeping terms,’
the unwritten rules of right conduct in the legal profession.

It remains now to glance at the Inns which started level in the race
with the Inns of Court, but whose history and development have been so

Continue Reading


It was probably the removal of the Knights Templars to the New Temple
that gave rise to the construction of New Street. Some thoroughfare
connecting their old property in Holborn with their new premises and the
river was necessary to their convenience and their trade. Thus, probably
through their instrumentality, New Street, or, as we now call it,
Chancery Lane, came into existence, and, connecting two of the main
arteries leading from the western suburbs into the City, and cutting
through the very heart of the area occupied by the Inns of Court, it
soon developed into what Leigh Hunt described as ‘the greatest legal
thoroughfare in England.’[48] Chancery Lane, or Chancellor’s Lane, as
the name appears in its earlier form, is said to have been called after
a Bishop of Chichester, who was Chancellor of England at the end of the
thirteenth century. A house and garden, near the southern end of
Chancery Lane, was, we know, the town residence of the Bishops of
Chichester. Here dwelt St. Richard, Bishop of Chichester (1245-1253),
‘in true possession thereof in right of his Church of Chichester.’ The
name of Chichester Rents perpetuated the memory of this episcopal
habitation. Possession of this town residence of the Bishops of
Chichester was finally acquired by the lawyers about the middle of the
sixteenth century. A few years later (1580) they obtained the freehold
of the open space known as Coney Garth, or Cotterell’s Garden. But it is
not at all clear how the Society of Lincoln’s Inn came into occupation
of these premises, or how its name had come to be attached to property
properly belonging to the See of Chichester and St. Giles’s Hospital. In
the absence of any other obvious explanation, we must look back for the
origin of the Society of Lincoln’s Inn to a group of lawyers housed in
an Inn belonging to the Earl of Lincoln, and must try to account for
their presence on their present property by the theory of a migration
from their first hostel. This theory fortunately presents no difficulty,
and it is supported by various facts and indications.

The parent house of Lincoln’s Inn would appear to be the Inn of the
great Justiciar Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, which stood to the
south-east of St. Andrew’s Church. It was natural and necessary for the
great Administrators of the Law to gather about their Courts a following
of trained lawyers to help them to enunciate the theory, and to perform
the business thereof. As the followers of Le Scrope, the great Justice
of King’s Bench, settled in Scrope’s Inn, and the followers of De Grey,
the Justiciar of Chester, in Grey’s Inn, so about the residence of the
great Justice Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, in his Manor of Holborn,
congregated the forerunners of the Society of Lincoln’s Inn, students of
law and practisers in the Justiciar’s Court.

The hostel of the Earl of Lincoln stood at the north end of Shoe Lane,
near Holeburn Bridge. The buildings were erected upon the ruins of the
Monastery of the Blackfriars. The Blackfriars had settled themselves in
Holborn, west of the north end of Chancery Lane, and gradually amassed
property that reached down to the house of the Bishops of Chichester.
But presently they followed the example of the Knights Templars, and
moved nearer the River to the site of what is still called Blackfriars,
just within the City Wall. Their Holborn property they sold a few years
later (1286) to the Earl of Lincoln, who undertook to pay 550 marks, in
instalments, to the Friars, ‘for all their place, buildings and
habitation near Holeborn.’[49]

Now, of Henry, Earl of Lincoln, tradition says that he developed his new
estate by cultivating the gardens and orchards upon it, and that he made
large sums by selling the fruit grown there. But it was, no doubt, to
the labours of the former monkish owners, the preceding Blackfriars,
that the gardens and orchards of the Earl of Lincoln owed their so rich
and wonderful harvests.

Lincoln, it is said, had so great a love for Lawyers that his house was
filled with students of the Law. He had already arranged, according to
this tradition, to transfer his house to them entirely, when, in 1311,
he died. Such, according to Dugdale, was the story current ‘among the
antients here.’ This tradition represents the fact that the Justiciar
gathered about him a nucleus of men conversant with the Law, who should
be capable of transacting the business of his Court, and who would
naturally make it part of their business to train others to their
trade. Equally naturally such Lawyers of Lincoln’s Inn would, in
accordance with the almost invariable custom of medieval times, form
themselves into a Guild, the Society of Lincoln’s Inn. It is probable,
then, that the students ‘apt and eager,’ whom the Earl had gathered
about him, formed themselves into the very Society which still exists,
though it has changed its habitation. That change did not take place
immediately after the Earl of Lincoln’s death. Through Lincoln’s
daughter and heiress, Alesia, all his property passed to Thomas, Earl of
Lancaster. The great quantities of wax and parchment recorded, among his
household expenses,[50] as used in his Hostel at Shoe Lane, would seem
to indicate that the legal business was still carried on here in 1314.
Before entering upon the inheritance of Alesia, the Earl of Lancaster
had already acquired the property of the Knights Templars, which
included not only the New Temple, but also nearly the whole of the
western side of New Street or Chancery Lane. Upon the attainder of the
Earl of Lancaster in 1321, all his property, including Lincoln’s Inn in
Shoe Lane, became the escheat of the King. This was subsequently
restored to Alesia, who was known as Countess of Lincoln.

The business of the Law had by this time become centred round Chancery
Lane, and the Society of Old Lincoln’s Inn may well have deemed it
desirable to migrate southwards. In such case it would be natural to
find them settling upon a site which was likewise part of the property
of the Earldom afterwards the Duchy, of Lancaster.

Once in full possession of their property, the Lawyers turned with great
energy to the business of building. They began to enclose their domain
with lofty brick walls. The great Gateway, a Hall, a Library, and a
Chapel were begun in the reign of Henry VII. The material chosen was the
native red brick of London, so admirably suited to the Town, and the
style adopted was that Tudor treatment of brick so admirably suited to
the material. The Lawyers were guided in their choice, no doubt, by the
possession of a Brick-field in the Coney Garth (= Searle’s Court, now
New Square).

One of the chief features of Lincoln’s Inn is the Tudor Gateway, which
forms the main entrance into Chancery Lane. The liberality of Sir Thomas
Lovell, one of the Benchers of the Society, and Treasurer of the
Household of Henry VII., was chiefly responsible for its erection. This
magnificent Gatehouse, with its flanking Towers of brick, built in 1518,
whilst Wolsey was Chancellor, narrowly escaped destruction, in obedience
to the imperious will of Lord Grimthorpe and his Gothic followers.

Fortunately it has survived, and, with the exception of the magnificent
Gatehouses of Lambeth Palace and St. James’s Palace, remains almost
alone as a specimen of this period of architecture in London, when the
Gothic was yielding place to the Palladian style.

The walls of the massive tower, four stories high, are striped with
diagonal lines of darker brick. The entrance, under an obtusely-pointed
arch, was originally vaulted. The groining has disappeared, but the
front still bears, in a heraldic compartment over the arch, the arms of
Henry VIII. within the Garter, and crowned, having on the dexter side
the purple lion of Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, and on the sinister the arms
and quarterings of Sir Thomas Lovell.

The bricks of which this Gatehouse and the outer wall of Lincoln’s Inn
are built have an interest beyond their colour and their age. For upon
the task of laying them ‘Rare Ben Jonson’


SHOWING the interior side of the gateway, built in 1518. Ben Jonson
worked as a bricklayer on this gatehouse.]

is said to have laboured, trowel in hand and book in pocket. Aubrey, in
his ‘Lives,’ records that Ben Jonson worked some time with his
father-in-law, a bricklayer, ‘and particularly on the garden wall of
Lincoln’s Inne, next to Chancery Lane…. A bencher, walking thro’ and
hearing him repeat some Greeke verses out of Homer, and finding him to
have a wit extraordinary, gave him some exhibition to maintain him at
Trinity College in Cambridge.’ This is only a tradition, though a very
likely one; and, as Leigh Hunt says, tradition is valuable when it helps
to make such a flower grow out of an old wall.

Within the Gatehouse a small Quadrangle is formed by the Chapel, Old
Library, and the two wings of Old Buildings. Octagonal turret-staircases
fill the corners of these brick buildings, and in the turret at the
South-East corner lived Thurloe, who was Secretary of State to Oliver
Cromwell. A tablet in Chancery Lane, on the outer face of the building,
records this fact, whilst the Treasurership of William Pitt in 1794 is
apparently thought so little worthy of memorial that the sundial which
once commemorated it has been allowed to disappear.[51] A portrait by
Gainsborough of that great Statesman hangs in the Benchers’ Room.
Tradition has it that Oliver Cromwell once had chambers in Lincoln’s
Inn, an idea which probably sprang from the fact that Richard Cromwell
was a student here in 1647.

The brick buildings forming this Court within the Gatehouse were
constructed during James’s reign, and it was then decided to build ‘a
fair large chapel, with three double chambers under the same,’[52] in
place of the one then standing, which had grown ruinous, and was no
longer large enough for the Society. This older chapel, which did not
stand on precisely the same site, was dedicated to St. Richard of
Chichester. The new chapel was raised on arches, which form in
themselves a tiny cloister, and produce a pleasing and unexpected effect
amid these dusty purlieus of the Law.

The Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn, which was designed, according to Dugdale,
by Inigo Jones, in his Gothic manner, and in which Dr. Donne, the witty
prelate and great poet, preached the first sermon on Ascension Day,
1623, suffered even more than the Church of the Templars at the hands of
the destructive Gothic Revivalists. The Chapel was needlessly enlarged.
The buttresses were stuccoed. The beautiful proportions, which Inigo
Jones, like all the truly great architects, knew how to impart to his
buildings, were wantonly and inexcusably destroyed.

John Donne had entered as a law student at Lincoln’s Inn, and, after
taking Orders, he was appointed preacher to the Inn. Before this, when
Secretary to Lord Keeper Egerton, he had been secretly married to Anne,
Lady Egerton’s niece. Ruin stared him in the face when, on discovery of
the marriage, he was dismissed. With a characteristic ‘conceit’ he ‘sent
a sad letter to his wife,’ as Walton[53] says, ‘and signed it John
Donne, Anne Done, Un-done.’

Having taken Orders at the instance of King James, he was soon
afterwards ‘importuned by the grave Benchers of Lincoln’s Inn, who were
once the companions and friends of his youth, to accept of their
lecture.’ Before he finally left the Inn to be Dean of St. Paul’s, he
laid the foundation-stone of the new Chapel, and at the consecration
ceremony, 1623, Ascension Day, he preached a sermon on the text, ‘And it
was at Jerusalem, the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.’ So
great was the throng of listeners that ‘two or three were endangered
and taken up dead for the time with the extreme press.’ But Donne, great
preacher as he was, lives, not by his sermons, but by his poems and by
the Life with which the pen of Izaak Walton conferred immortality upon

Like the Master of the Temple, the Chaplain of Lincoln’s Inn presides
over the Chapel and attends in Hall during term-time. A Preachership was
instituted in 1581, and the office has been filled by such men as
Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta and hymnologist, and Thomson,
Archbishop of York. Amongst earlier Preachers may be mentioned Herring
(1726), afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and Warburton (1746),
Bishop of Gloucester, who founded the Warburton Lectures on Religion,
which are annually delivered in the Chapel.

The old coloured glass, representing Old Testament figures and the
Twelve Apostles, made by Hall, of Fetter Lane, but probably designed by
the Flemish artist, Bernard van Linge, is very good. It is contemporary
with the original building, and was paid for by subscribers, who
included in their number Noy, the Attorney-General, and Southampton and
Pembroke, the friends of Shakespeare.

In the Vaults lie Prynne, whose grave is unmarked, and the youthful
daughter of the great Lord Brougham (1839), the only woman ever buried
here. Lord Wellesley composed a Latin epitaph to grace her tomb. It has
no great merit as a composition.

The Old Hall stands at right angles to the Chapel. Older than the
Gatehouse itself, it has been quite ruined by frequent alterations,
restorations, and by hideous plastering. It was stuccoed by Bernasconi
about the year 1800. ‘The Loover or Lanthorn,’ according to the Records
of the Society, was ‘set up in the sixth of Edward VI.’

That the same customs obtained in Lincoln’s Inn as in the other Inns,
and were celebrated in this Hall, is indicated by an order of the
Society during the reign of Henry VIII., that the ‘King of Cockneys on
Childermass Day should sit and have due service; and that he and all his
officers should use honest manner and good order, without any waste or
destruction making, in wine, brawn, chely, or other vitails … and that
Jack Straw and all his adherents should be banisht and no more be used
in this House.’

It was in this Hall that the Lord Chancellor used to sit and hold his
Court, under a picture by Hogarth of ‘S. Paul before Felix’ (1750),
before the new Law Courts were built.

Adjoining the Hall, on the South side, was the Library. The building is
now let out in chambers. This Library was founded by John Nethersale, a
member of the Society, who bequeathed forty marks to be spent on the
building and on Masses for the repose of his soul (1497). Ever since, it
has been increased, and, passing from Old Square to Stone Buildings, and
from Stone Buildings to its present noble home, has grown in wealth and

Many of the volumes still retain the iron rings attached to their
covers, by which, in old times, books in a Library were chained to the
desks–as may be seen in the College and University Libraries at Oxford
and Cambridge. The Library was further enriched by Sir Matthew Hale,
Chief Justice, 1671, who bequeathed his MSS. to it.

In 1787 the Library was moved to Stone Buildings, and finally to a noble
building adjoining the New Hall, which Hardwick had just erected. The
fair proportions of this building were unfortunately ruined by Sir
Gilbert Scott, who, backed by Lord Grimthorpe, altered them to 130 feet
by 40 feet. This new Library and the magnificent Hall adjoining


THE Hall was built in 1843, and opened by Queen Victoria on the occasion
when Prince Albert was created a Bencher.]

it were erected in 1843 on the west side of that garden, where Ben
Jonson is said to have laboured; and thus, whilst the southern half of
the view into Lincoln’s Inn Fields was sacrificed by the Society, a
beautiful site, amidst broad green stretches of lawns, shady trees, and
flower-beds, was secured for their new blocks. Moreover, the Benchers
took great and praiseworthy pains[54] to procure a good design, which
should harmonize with the existing buildings ‘in the style of the
sixteenth century, before the admixture of Italian architecture.’[55]
The result of much deliberation and delay was a singularly successful
design by Philip Hardwick, the architect who built the classical
portions of Euston Station. Nobly proportioned, constructed of striped
brick in the Tudor fashion, with stone dressings, so as to harmonize
fitly with the Gatehouse opposite, and decorated with six bays, a
projecting window at the north end, and a great south window, fine in
detail and fine in its proportions, Lincoln’s Inn Hall is a building as
distinguished as it is surprising, when we remember that it is a product
of the year 1843.

This Hall was opened with great ceremony by Queen Victoria, and upon
that occasion Prince Albert was created a Bencher of the Inn. Within, as
without, the Hall is superb; the proportions and the materials are
excellent. The roof is elaborately carved, and ornamented with colour
and gilt. The windows are rich in stained glass; the royal arms figure
in the centre of the beautiful south window, the others are filled with
old glass. In some directions, it must be confessed, the decoration is a
trifle overdone, especially the heraldic decoration. The arms of the
Inn, fifteen _fers de moline_ on a blue ground, with the shield of Lacy
‘or, a lion rampant purpure,’ are repeated with bewildering frequency in
every material.

Above the daïs is the great fresco ‘School of Legislation’ (1852). G. F.
Watts had proposed to paint the larger hall of Euston Station, gratis,
with a series of frescoes illustrating the ‘Progress of Cosmos.’ The
Directors of the London and North-Western Railway fought shy of so
unbusinesslike a proposal. Nor can it be said that they were not in some
degree wise, for London atmosphere is by no means suitable for
fresco-work. The work of art, which the Directors rejected, took shape
upon the north wall of the Hall of Lincoln’s Inn. For the Benchers
accepted a similar offer from Watts, and that generous-minded artist
adorned their Hall with the greatest of English fresco-decorations:
‘Justice, a Hemicycle of Law-givers,’ a group of legislators from Moses
to Edward I. The painting has suffered sadly from the acids of the
smoke-laden compost known as London air.

The Benchers’ rooms, delightful sanctums that remind one of Oxford
Common-rooms, contain some very fine portraits of distinguished members
of the Inn: Chief Justice Rayner, by Soest; Pitt, by Gainsborough; Lord
Erskine, by Sir Thomas Lawrence; and later portraits by Cope, Sargent,
Watts and others, of Lord Davey, Lord Russell of Killowen, Sir Frank
Lockwood, Lord Macnaghten, etc. The men famous in Law, in Letters, and
in Politics, who have been members of Lincoln’s Inn, are too numerous to
mention. Of lawyers, besides Lord Brougham, there are Murray, Lord
Mansfield, Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Bathurst, and Lord Campbell.
Canning, Perceval, Disraeli, Gladstone, Daniel O’Connell, William Penn,
and William Prynne stand out among the makers of history who have been
members of this Inn; whilst, among men of Letters, the George Colmans
(father and son), Horace Walpole, Charles Kingsley, and George Wither,
are amongst the most prominent, though the latter produced his
best-known poem in the Marshalsea Prison. And another shade, one may
fancy, haunts the green fields of Lincoln’s Inn and the busy, muddy
thoroughfare of Chancery Lane: it is that of Sir Thomas More, who passed
from Oxford and New Inn to enter at Lincoln’s Inn in 1496, and was
presently appointed Reader at Furnival’s Inn. Here, in the intervals of
his political career, he made a very large income at the Bar.

The south end of the Hall faces the garden, which is enclosed by the old
houses of New Square. The fig-tree and the vine, like some stray
survivals from the monkish vineyard, flourish against the soot-blackened
bricks at the corner of these old houses, which, in pleasing calm and
quiet dignity, surround the well-kept lawn and flower-beds. An empty
basin in the centre of this garden marks the spot which was once adorned
by a sun-dial and fountain, said to have been designed by Inigo Jones.
By Inigo Jones were certainly designed the noble houses on the western
side of the great green expanse of Lincoln’s Inn Fields–houses with
‘Palladian walls, Venetian doors, grotesque roofs, and stucco floors.’ I
believe some of these houses contain beautiful work in the ceilings,
mantelpieces, etc.

The whole Square, indeed, was ‘intended to have been built all in the
same style and taste, but, unfortunately, not finished agreeable to the
design of that great architect, because the inhabitants had not taste
enough to be of the same mind, or to unite their sentiments for the
public ornament and reputation’ (Herbert).

Just as the Templars rented a field adjoining their buildings which they
used for tilting, so, beyond the houses of Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln,
and the Bishop of Chichester, lay a meadow, and beyond it again the
Common, still known as Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Before 1602 there were no buildings on the north side of Lincoln’s Inn,
and, so late as the reign of Henry VIII., so rural were the surroundings
that rabbits abounded there, and had, indeed, to be preserved from the
sporting proclivities of the students.

In Great Turnstile and Little Turnstile we have the names of narrow
lanes which still recall the days when Lincoln’s Inn Fields were fields
indeed, and the Turnstiles gave access to a path which ran under the
boundary wall of the Inn, and formed a short cut to the Strand.[56] The
enclosing of the Fields with buildings caused much heart-burning among
the Benchers and Students of Lincoln’s Inn, and in 1641 the Society
presented a petition to Parliament, complaining of the great increase of
buildings in their neighbourhood, and ‘the loss of fresh air which the
petitioners formerly enjoyed.’ But Parliament turned a deaf ear to the
stifling Lawyers, and the building went on unchecked. A century later
Gay, in his ‘Trivia,’ recounted the dangers of the neighbourhood:

‘Where Lincoln’s Inn’s wide space is railed around,
Cross not with venturous step; there oft is found
The lurking thief; who while the daylight shone,
Made the wall echo with his begging tone:
That crutch which late compassion moved, shall wound
Thy bleeding head, and fell thee to the ground.’

No. 13, Lincoln’s Inn Fields is one of the most fascinating, as it is
one of the richest, of the smaller museums that I know. It is the house
of an architectural and artistic genius, filled with the treasures he
collected, amidst which he loved to live and work. It is preserved for
us as he left it. For this is the home which Sir John Soane built for
himself, and in which he died, at the age of eighty-three, in 1837,
bequeathing his house and treasures to be preserved as a trust for the
Public, and more especially for Amateurs and Students in Painting,
Sculpture, and Architecture.

Sir John Soane started life as an office boy at Reading; he was the
Architect of the Bank of England and the Dulwich Galleries; he
surrounded himself with a school of young architects, and for their
instruction and his own delight ransacked Europe for treasures of art,
both antiques and of his own day. The scope of this Collection is as
striking as its very high level of excellence. Chippendale furniture,
French fifteenth-century glass, a noble architectural library, and many
historical curios–these are the least of the lovely things he has given
to us. Beautiful bronzes and Greek and Etruscan vases are balanced by
the work of Wedgwood and Flaxman; superb illuminated manuscripts by the
exquisite Mercury of Giovanni di Bologna, and curious ancient gems, upon
one of which a head is cut so cunningly that whichever way you turn its
gaze follows you. We pass from the marvellous alabaster tomb of Seti I.,
King of Egypt about 1370 B.C., and Greek and Roman sculptured marbles,
to a room in which first editions of ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Robinson
Crusoe’ confront Tasso’s manuscript, Reynolds’ sketch-book, and the
folios of Shakespeare’s plays which Boswell possessed. And yet we have
taken no account of the pictures–of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ ‘Snake in the
Grass,’ of Canaletto’s ‘Venice’ and Turner’s ‘Van Tromp’s Barge,’ of
Watteau’s ‘Les Noces,’ of Raffael’s Cartoons–of a score of pictures and
portraits by first-rate artists; and yet there remains that wonderful
little room, which is lined by the masterpieces of Hogarth–‘The
Election Scenes’ and the ‘Rake’s Progress.’ It is a wonderful place,
this London, in which such a treasure-house can lie, unnoticed and
almost unvisited, in the centre of an old square in the City.

It is somewhat outside the scope of this book to deal with the dwellers
in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, but mention may be made of Thomas Campbell, the
poet, who had chambers at No. 61, whilst No. 58 was the House of
Forster, the biographer of Dickens, which is described in ‘Bleak House’:
‘Formerly a house of State … in these shrunken fragments of its
greatness lawyers lie, like maggots in nuts.’

More fascinating than all is that ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ which still
survives upon a tiny triangular plot amidst the ruin of tenements that
have been lately razed to the ground. It proclaims itself the house
immortalized by Dickens, and may very well have been the shop which
suggested to him the scene of his ‘Old Curiosity Shop.’ It is an ancient
building–an old red-tiled cottage, possibly as old as those superb
houses of Inigo Jones, ornamented with the Rose of England and the
Fleur-de-Lys of France, on the west side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which
were put up a year before Charles laid his head upon the block in

A legend, however, says that it is of later date, a relic of a dairy
once belonging to that famous Louise Renée de Perrincourt de
Queronaille, favourite of Charles II., who was created by him Duchess of
Portsmouth. Portsmouth House stood opposite, and was believed to have
been purchased by the Duchess from the proceeds of a ship and cargo
presented to her by King Charles. But whether this was so or not, and
whether the little shop in question is the actual begetter of Dickens’s
vision, we cannot say with certainty. We need at least say nothing to
discourage the belief which guides the feet of the lover of Dickens to
Portsmouth Street, there to purchase souvenirs and conjure up the vision
of the dark little shop, with its low ceiling and odd, unexpected
corners, once more littered with knick-knacks and second-hand furniture
in all stages of breakage and decay, and little Nell and her tender old
grandfather sitting there again in the candlelight.[57]

It remains to mention the Northern wing of Lincoln’s Inn, the
rectangular Court which lines Chancery Lane on the one side and faces
the green sward of the Garden on the other. ‘The Terrace walk,’ says
Herbert (p. 301) truly enough, ‘forms an uncommonly fine promenade …
and the gardens themselves, adorned with a number of fine, stately
trees, receive a sort of consequence from the grandeur of the adjoining
pile.’ This is Stone Building, and is the outcome of a design to rebuild
the whole Inn in 1780 in the Palladian style. The design was not carried
out, and even this section of the undertaking remained incomplete for
sixty years. Even now much of the building is of brown brick. In 1845
Hardwick, who was then carrying out his fine Gothic design for the Hall,
completed the façade commenced by Sir Robert Taylor. The fine Corinthian
pilasters of freestone, the simple pediments, and the chaste greys and
pearly whites of the plain stone, thrown into strong relief by the
soot-blackened portions of the building where it is not exposed to the
cleansing effect of wind and rain, render this nobly-proportioned


COMMENCED in 1780 as part of a great scheme of rebuilding the whole Inn
in the Palladian style. The illustration shows the so-called ‘Pitt’

Court delightful to the eye, and, contrasting with the warm reds of the
other buildings in Lincoln’s Inn, convince one, if one needs convincing,
that red-brick and Portland stone are the only materials suitable for
London architecture.

In the Eastern wing of Stone Buildings is the Drill Hall of the Inns of
Court Volunteers, and here are preserved various memorials of the many
Volunteer Associations which have been connected with the Inns of Court.

So far back as the time of the Spanish Armada an armed force was raised
amongst the barristers and officers of the Inns for the defence of the

A copy of the original deed of this association of lawyers to resist the
threatened invasion (1584), relating to Lincoln’s Inn, hangs in the
Drill Hall. The original is still in possession of the Earl of
Ellesmere, whose ancestor, Thomas Egerton, then Solicitor-General and
afterwards Chancellor, was the first to sign it.

Upon the arrest of the Five Members in 1642, five hundred warlike
Lawyers marched down to Westminster to express their determination to
protect their Sovereign, Charles I.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Charles, who from the beginning of
his reign had always encouraged the Benchers and Students to exercise
themselves in arms and horsemanship, granted a commission to Edward,
Lord Lyttleton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, to raise a regiment of
infantry from ‘the Gentlemen of the Inns of Court and Chancery.’
Lyttleton died of a chill contracted whilst drilling his recruits, and
was succeeded by Chief Justice Heath. A regiment of foot ‘for the
security of the Universitie and Cittie of Oxford,’ and a regiment of
cavalry ‘very fine and well-horsed,’ to guard the King’s person, did not
exhaust the fighting capacity of the Lawyers, for the majority of the
Bar, who saw the real issue at stake in the country, sided with the
Parliament. Bulstrode Whitelock, Lieutenant-General Jones, and
Commissary Ireton were Gentlemen of the Robe, who rose to eminence in
the service of the Commonwealth. John Hampden, we have seen, was a
member of the Inner Temple; Oliver St. John was a member of Lincoln’s
Inn, and so, too, tradition says, was Oliver Cromwell, who, when Captain
of the Slepe Troop of the Essex Association, occupied chambers in the
old Gatehouse here.

Dugdale quotes some orders that were drawn up, in the reign of King
James, for establishing ‘the Company of the Inns of Court and Chancery
in their exercises of Military Discipline,’ among which was the wise
provision that ‘if anyone be a common swearer, or quarreller, he shall
be cashiered.’ The number was limited to 600, and ‘It is intended that
no Gentlemen are to be enjoyned to exercise in this kind, but such as
shall voluntarily offer themselves, to be tolerated to do it at their
own voluntary charge.’ The officers were to be chosen by their Captain;
every House to give their own Gentlemen their rank, and the priority of
the Houses to be decided by chance of dice.

During the rising of the Young Pretender in ’45, Chief Justice Willes
raised a regiment ‘for the defence of the King’s person.’ The occasion
for arms passed away quickly, and it was not till 1780 that the
barristers and students found themselves compelled once more to meet
force by force. For the Gordon Rioters, after sacking Lord Mansfield’s
house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, set fire to a distillery belonging to a
papist, near Barnard’s Inn, and the gutters of Holborn ran with blazing
spirit, of which the rioters drank until they died. It was to escape the
fury of the mob that John Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, escorted his
lovely young wife from his house in Carey Street to the Middle Temple,
of which he was a member. Her dress was torn, her hat lost, and her hair
dishevelled by the violence of the rioters. ‘The scoundrels have got
your hat, Bessie,’ cried the gallant husband, who had made a runaway
match with her, ‘but never mind, they have left you your hair!’

So long as the riots continued, the Lawyers kept armed watch in the
Halls of their respective Societies. At the Inner Temple the mob forced
the gate, ‘and would no doubt have plundered and burnt the place as Wat
Tyler’s followers did four centuries before, had not a sergeant of the
Guards, who acted as military instructor to the law-gentlemen, called
out to the armed Templars: “Take care no gentleman fires from behind!”
The rioters, fearing that some ambush had been prepared for them, took
to their heels and never again molested this sanctuary of the law. In
and around Gray’s Inn, a similar armed watch kept the ‘No Popery’ people
at bay, and many years later Sir Samuel Romilly used to point out the
gate where, musket in hand, he had stood sentry during some of the worst
nights of the riots. The Lincoln’s Inn students, it seems–or, as
another account says, those of the Temple–would have joined the
military in repressing the riots, but were told by one of the officers
in command that he did not wish ‘to see his own men shot!’[58]

After the French Revolution, at the first rumour of invasion by the
armies of the Republic, companies of Volunteers were recruited from
Lincoln’s Inn and the Temple. Two corps appear to have been formed–one
known as the Bloomsbury and Inns of Court Association, and the other the
Legal Association. The Lincoln’s Inn Corps was commanded by Sir William
Grant, then Master of the Rolls, who had seen service in Canada, at the
Siege of Quebec. The Temple Companies were commanded by Lord Erskine,
who had served in the Royal Navy before he took to the Law.

Embodied in 1803, the Gentlemen of the Inns of Court took part in the
grand Review of Volunteers in Hyde Park before the King. When the Temple
Companies defiled before King George III., His Majesty asked Lord
Erskine, who commanded them, who they were. ‘They are all lawyers, sir,’
said Erskine. ‘What! what!’ exclaimed the King. ‘All lawyers? Then call
them the Devil’s Own!’

Many amusing stories are told of the Lawyer Volunteers–how Erskine used
to read the word of command from the back of a paper like a brief, and
how Lord Eldon and Lord Ellenborough had to be dismissed for sheer
inability to learn the ‘goose-step.’ And it was said that when the word
‘charge’ was given, every member of the Corps produced a note-book and
forthwith wrote down six and eightpence! Such was the origin of the
subsequent Volunteer Corps, which, when the Volunteer movement came
again to the front in the crisis of 1859, was enrolled as the 23rd
Middlesex–a title afterwards changed to the 14th Middlesex. Upon the
standard of this Inns of Court Volunteer Corps it was proposed to
inscribe the appropriate phrase, ‘Retained for the Defence.’ Its popular
title, the Devil’s Own, which it still keeps, is inherited from George
III.’s witticism–if it was indeed his–anent the Legal Association.

For the South African War some forty men were selected from the Inns of
Court for service with the specially raised City Imperial Volunteers,
popularly known as the C.I.V. In the welter of War Office rearrangements
the existence of the Devil’s Own has been almost miraculously preserved
‘for the Defence.’ But, of course, its title has been altered. The 14th
(Inns of Court) Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps has now become the 27th
London Regiment.

Continue Reading


The passage I have quoted from Thackeray at the end of the last chapter
shadows forth eloquently enough something of the feeling of respect and
awe which the young barrister–and even those who are not young
barristers–may naturally feel for the precincts within which the great
English Lawyers lived and worked–the Inns of Court, where the splendid
fabric of English Law was gradually built up, ‘not without dust and

But for most laymen the Temple and its sister Inns have other and
perhaps more obvious charms. For as we pass by unexpected avenues into
‘the magnificent ample squares and classic green recesses’ of the
Temple, they seem to be bathed in the rich afterglow of suns that have
set, the light which never was on sea or land, shed by the glorious
associations connected with some of the greatest names in English
literature. Here, we remember, by fond tradition Geoffrey Chaucer is
reputed to have lived. Here Oliver Goldsmith worked and died, and here
his mortal remains were laid to rest. Here, within hail of his beloved
Fleet Street, Dr. Johnson dwelt, and Blackstone wrote his famous
‘Commentaries.’ Here the gentle Elia was born. Hither possibly came
Shakespeare to superintend the production of ‘Twelfth Night.’ Here, in
the Inner Temple Hall, was acted the first English tragedy, ‘Gorboduc;
or Ferrex and Porrex,’ a bloodthirsty play, by Thomas Sackville, Lord
High Treasurer of England, and Thomas Norton, both members of the Inner
Temple. And hither, to witness these or other performances, came the
Virgin Queen.

The main entrance to the Middle Temple is the gateway from Fleet Street,
scene of many a bonfire lit of yore by Inns of Court men on occasions of
public rejoicing.[29] This characteristic building, of red brick and
Portland stone, with a classical pediment, was designed by Sir
Christopher Wren, and built, as an inscription records, in 1684. An old
iron gas-lamp hangs above the arch, beneath the sign of the Middle
Temple Lamb.

Wren’s noble gate-house replaced a Tudor building, erected, according to
tradition, by Sir Amias Paulet, who, being forbidden–so Cavendish[30]
tells the story–to leave London without license by Cardinal Wolsey,
‘lodged in this Gate-house, which he re-edified and sumptuously
beautified on the outside with the Cardinal’s Arms, Hat, Cognisance,
Badges, and other devices, in a glorious manner,’ to appease him. The
fact seems to be that this old Gateway was built in the ordinary way
when one Sir Amisius Pawlett was Treasurer.[31]

Adjoining this Gateway is Child’s Bank, where King Charles himself once
banked, and Nell Gwynne and Prince Rupert, whose jewels were disposed of
in a lottery by the firm. Part of this building covers the site of the
famous Devil’s Tavern, which boasted the sign of St. Dunstan–patron of
the Church so near at hand–tweaking the devil’s nose. Here Ben Jonson
drank the floods of Canary that inspired his plays; hither to the sanded
floor of the Apollo club-room came those boon companions of his who
desired to be ‘sealed of the tribe of Ben,’ and here, in after-years,
Dr. Johnson loved to foregather, and Swift with Addison, Steele with

Immediately within the Gateway, on the left, is


IT stands on the south side close to the site of Temple Bar, was
designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and built in 1684.]

an old and very picturesque stationer’s shop, belonging to the firm of
Abram and Sons, in whose family it has been since 1774. It is much more
than a stationer’s shop, for Messrs. Abram have accumulated in the
course of years a very valuable and interesting collection of old deeds
and documents and prints. The overhanging stories of the house rest upon
a row of slender iron pillars–pillars which Dr. Johnson used to touch
with superstitious reverence each time he passed, in unconscious
continuation of that ancient pillar-worship of which many traces linger,
for those who have eyes to see, about the Temple and St. Paul’s. We are
now in Middle Temple Lane, the narrow street down which the citizens of
London were wont to hurry in order to take boat to Westminster from the
Temple Stairs, in the days when the River was the highway between the
City and the Court, between London and Westminster, the counting-houses
of the merchants and the palace and abbey of the King. Of late years the
introduction of tramways and of motor traffic on the Embankment has
tended largely to revive the popularity of the old route, though not all
the thousands of pounds squandered by the London County Council upon an
ill-considered scheme of steamboats could induce the Londoner to adopt
again the water-way, which the bend of the River and the tide must make
slow. Next below us on the left is the group of chambers called Hare
Court, a plain to ugly, red-brick to stock-brick barracks, through which
one can reach the Temple Church. Beyond, on the right, we come to what
remains of Brick Court. This is a most charming specimen of the Queen
Anne style. An inscription over the doorway of No. 3, _Phœnicis
instar revivisco_, informs us that it rose like the Phœnix from its
ashes in 1704. But in this present year of Grace (1909), an old brick
building has been removed, which fronted the Hall and the Lane, and
which claimed to be the oldest building left in the Temple, the first
constructed of brick, erected there in Elizabeth’s reign, and referred
to by Spenser in the lines of his ‘Prothalamion’:–

‘Those bricky towres,
The which on Themmes brode aged backe doe ryde,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whylome wont the Templar Knights to byde,
Till they decayed thro’ pride.’

There is nothing, however, to prove that Spenser was referring to Brick
Court. The ‘Prothalamion’ was published in 1596; and I would suggest
that the phrase ‘bricky towres’ might apply most naturally to the Middle
Temple Hall.

Of all the Chambers in the Inns of Court rich in reminiscences of famous
men, none are so redolent of literary fame as No. 2, Brick Court. We
cannot, as Thackeray[32] wrote, who himself, like Winthrop Mackworth
Praed, had chambers here, pass without emotion ‘the staircase which
Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds trod to see their friend, their kind
Goldsmith–the stair on which the poor women sat weeping bitterly when
they heard that the greatest and most generous of all men was dead
within the black oak door.’

Not the Temple, but No. 6, Wine Office Court, nearly opposite the
Cheshire Cheese, was the scene of Dr. Johnson’s famous rescue of the
author of ‘The Vicar of Wakefield,’ who had been arrested by his
landlady for his rent, and sent for his friend in great distress. ‘I
sent him a guinea,’ says Johnson, ‘and promised to come to him
directly…. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had
a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the
bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means
by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel
ready for the press. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the
landlady I should soon return, and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it
for sixty pounds.’

Goldsmith left Wine Office Court and lodged for a while in Gray’s Inn,
and thence migrated to some humble Chambers upon the site of No. 2,
Garden Court, Middle Temple (1764). These buildings have disappeared.
But the success of his play, ‘The Good-Natured Man,’ for which he
received £500, enabled him to launch forth into more splendid
apartments. He purchased the lease of No. 2, Brick Court, which still
stands as he left it, for £400. He furnished his rooms with mahogany and
Wilton carpets, and, bedecking himself in a suit of ‘Tyrian bloom satin
grain,’ prepared to entertain his most aristocratic acquaintances.
Johnson, Percy, Reynolds, Bickerstaff, and a host of other friends of
either sex, climbed those stairs to the rooms on the second floor on the
right-hand side (‘two pair right’), were entertained to dinners and
suppers, much to the discomposure of the studious Blackstone, who,
painfully compiling his great ‘Commentaries’ in the chambers below,
found good cause to grumble at the racket made by ‘his revelling
neighbour.’[33] And some years later the staircase that led to the rooms
of that most lovable of geniuses was crowded by friends, ‘mourners of
all ranks and conditions of life, conspicuous among them being the
outcasts of both sexes, who loved and wept for him because of the
goodness he had done.’[34] For from these rooms, one April afternoon,
the mortal remains of Oliver Goldsmith were borne forth, to be buried
somewhere on the north side of the Temple Church. The exact spot is not
known, but as near to it as can be ascertained a plain gravestone now
bears the inscription (1860): ‘Here lies Oliver Goldsmith.’ The
Goldsmith Buildings, that run parallel to the north side of the Church,
belong, like Lamb Buildings, somewhat unexpectedly to the Middle Temple,
but they have no immediate connection with Oliver Goldsmith.

The bedroom in Goldsmith’s Chambers Thackeray describes as a mere
closet, but he commented upon the excellence of the carved woodwork in
the rooms. The windows looked upon a rookery, which for long flourished
in the elm-trees, since cut down, which gave their name to Elm Court.
Gazing upon this colony, Goldsmith, in the intervals of composing his
‘Traveller’ or ‘Deserted Village,’ would note their ways, and so
recorded them in his ‘Animated Nature’:[35] ‘The rook builds in the
neighbourhood of man, and sometimes makes choice of groves in the very
midst of cities for the place of its retreat and security. In these it
establishes a kind of legal constitution, by which all intruders are
excluded from coming to live among them, and none suffered to build but
acknowledged natives of the place. I have often amused myself with
observing their plan of policy from my window in the Temple, that looks
upon a grove where they have made a colony in the midst of the City….’

In recent years many of the brightest ornaments of the English Bar have
had Chambers in Brick Court, including Lord Coleridge, Lord Bowen, Lord
Russell, and Sir William Anson. There is a sundial in this Court–one of
the many for which the Inn is famous–from which Goldsmith may often
have taken the hour. It warns us that Time and Tide tarry for no man,
and took the place (1704) of one that bore the motto, ‘Begone about your
business,’ of which the story goes that it was a Bencher’s curt
dismissal of a Mason who asked him for the motto to be engraved thereon.

The Buildings in the Inns grew up in haphazard fashion. They were
erected by individual members or Benchers at their own cost, and
interspersed with stalls and shops, with the sanction of the Benchers.
The builders were granted the right of calling their blocks of chambers
after their own names, if they chose, and of nominating a certain number
of successors from among members of the Society, who might become
tenants without paying rent to the Inn.

To this haphazard method of building, and to the influence of numerous
fires, is due the devious labyrinth of little Courts, the inextricable
maze of blocks of Chambers, which lie upon our left as we descend Middle
Temple Lane, and which lend so peculiar a character to the Temple Inns.
Pump Court, Elm Court, Fig-Tree Court, which fill the spaces between the
Lane and Wren’s Cloisters and the Inner Temple Hall, owe their irregular
shape to these causes, and their titles to the chief features of the
plots about which they were built.

First comes Pump Court, where Henry Fielding, the novelist, and Cowper,
the poet, once had chambers. Upon its old brick walls is a sundial with
its warning motto: ‘Shadows we are, and like shadows depart.’[36] The
great fire of 1679, which damaged the Middle Temple far more than the
Fire of London, broke out at midnight in Pump Court. It raged for twelve
hours. The Thames was frozen, and barrels of ale, so tradition runs,
were broached to feed the pumping engines in lieu of water. Pump Court,
Elm-Tree Court, Vine Court, the Cloisters, and part of Brick Court were
consumed. The Church and Middle Temple Hall were only saved by the
timely use of gunpowder, a device that had been found effective in the
Great Fire of 1666.

Elm Court Buildings, as they now are, date from 1880. They are built of
good red brick and stone, but marred by feeble Renaissance ornament.
They boast a sundial, facing the Lane, which proclaims that the years
pass and are reckoned–_pereunt et imputantur_. The Middle Temple Lane
ends in the atrocities of the nineteenth century: between the walls of
the feeble Harcourt Buildings, the stock-brick ugliness of Plowden
Buildings, which have rather less architectural charm than a
soap-factory, and in the dreadful Temple Gardens and the Gateway which
opens upon the Embankment, a gross abomination of florid ugliness.

On the right, below Brick Court, beneath a gas-lamp raised upon a
graceful iron arch, some steps


lead us to a raised pavement, dotted with a few plane-trees, beyond
which lies the Fountain. This pavement is the forecourt of the Middle
Temple Hall, a building which, in spite of restorations and recasings
and counter-restorations, remains of unique and unsurpassed interest.
For now that Crosby Hall is to be translated, it is the only building
left _in situ_ in London which can be directly and certainly connected
with William Shakespeare. The Middle Temples had an ancient Hall between
Pump Court and Elm Court, the west end of which abutted upon Middle
Temple Lane. This was superseded in 1572 by the present famous building.

‘Gray’s Inn for walks,
Lincoln’s Inn for a wall,
The Inner Temple for a garden,
And the Middle for a Hall.’

The old doggerel lines fairly sum up the features of the Inns. And this
lovely Hall of the Middle Temple, whose proportions are so fair–it is
100 feet by 42 feet by 47 feet high–produces a delightful impression of
space and lightness. A magnificent timber roof with Elizabethan
hammer-beams harmonizes with the rich panelling, on which are painted
the arms of ‘Readers,’ and the gorgeous carving of the Renaissance
Screen, which was erected in 1574, some fourteen years before the date
of the Spanish Armada, from the spoils of which fond tradition says it
was constructed.

The Hall is very rich in heraldry, and has some interesting portraits,
chiefly of royal personages. Above the Bench Table hangs Van Dyck’s
portrait of Charles I. The windows illustrate the survival of Gothic
detail long after other details had passed into the Italian style. The
points are very slight, but contrast sharply enough with the Renaissance
curves and pendent roof. There is some modern stained glass, tolerable
in colour, but incongruous in style.

Parliament Chamber and the Benchers’ rooms are approached through old
carved oak doors, relics of the old Hall in Pump Court.

The Entrance Tower was designed by Savage (1831): the Louvre was
restored by Hakewill. An oil-painting, attributed to Hogarth, of the
Hall Court, with the Entrance Tower of the Hall in its ancient state, is
to be seen in the Benchers’ Committee Room of the Inner Temple.

One of the most splendid Refectories in England, comparable to the Hall
of Christ Church at Oxford, this noble room adds to the charm of its
beauty the charm of a literary memorial. For from this stage the
exquisite poetry and gentle fun of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ first
fell upon the ears of the listening lawyers upon occasion of a Christmas
Revel three hundred years ago. Here Shakespeare himself, we must
believe, has trodden; those rafters rang once with the poet’s voice. For
even if he did not act himself in his play that night of wonderful
Post-Revels–and that, in spite of tradition, is indeed scarcely
probable, for the dramas performed on these occasions were, as we have
seen, acted by members of the Inn–yet it is more than probable that he
would be employed as Stage-Manager for the occasion, and would take his
natural part in rehearsing the play.

It so happens that one John Manningham–a fellow-student, by the way, of
John Pym–kept a diary of his residence in the Temple from 1601 to 1603.
That diary has been preserved among the Harleian Manuscripts now in the
British Museum. And on February, 160½, he made a note which will cause
his name to live for ever. ‘At our feast,’ he wrote, ‘Wee had a play
called “Twelve Night, or What you will,” much like the “Commedy of
Errores,” or “Menechmi” in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in
Italian called “Inganni.”[37]

And to this stately Hall, we may be sure, came Elizabeth, surrounded by
a brilliant group of statesmen, lawyers, sailors, to witness such plays,
or perchance to lead the dance with some comely courtier like Sir
Christopher Hatton. The connection of the Middle Temple with the great
Elizabethan Admirals and Adventurers is indeed noteworthy.

Sir Francis Drake was honourably received by the Benchers in this Hall
after his victories in the West Indies (1586), and in the Hall, below
the daïs, is a serving-table made out of the timber of his ship, the
_Golden Hind_. He had been admitted, _honoris causa_, to the Society of
the Inner Temple four years earlier. Other famous Elizabethan seamen
were admitted at the Middle Temple in the persons of Sir Martin
Frobisher, Admiral Norris, Sir Francis Vere (all in 1592), and Sir John
Hawkins (1594). Taken in conjunction with the fact that Richard Hakluyt,
the elder, was a Bencher of the Middle Temple; that Sir Walter Raleigh,
who had been admitted to membership of the Inn in 1575, placed the
expedition he sent out in 1602 under the command of Bartholomew Gosnold,
another Middle Templar; that the records show that several members of
the Middle Temple were interested in the early development of Virginia;
and that the Inn possesses the only existing copy of the ‘Molyneux
Globes,’ this and other indications seem to justify Mr. Bedwell’s
contention[38] that ‘the colonizing enterprises of the closing years of
the sixteenth century were closely associated with the Middle Temple,’
and that on both sides of the Atlantic members of that Inn took a
prominent part in the ‘birth of the American Nation.’

This connection with the Colonies, natural, necessary and profitable
both to those new countries, which thus obtained the services of
educated men–Governors trained in knowledge of affairs, and
Attorney-Generals imbued with the high traditions of English Law–and to
the Inns themselves, which were thus kept in touch with the New World,
is illustrated by the fact that the Middle Temple is represented by no
less than five of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence. Of
these, Thomas McKean is said to have written the Constitution of
Delaware in a single night. And of the other four, Edward Rutledge,
Thomas Lynch, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Midleton–all Representatives
of South Carolina–the first is believed to have drafted the greater
part of the Constitution of that State, and was afterwards Chairman of
the Committee of Five who drafted the first Constitution of the United

Meanwhile the literary and dramatic tradition of the Middle Temple was
continued by such members of the Society as Congreve, Wycherley, Ford,
Sir Thomas Overbury, and Shadwell, King William’s Poet Laureate, who
lives in Dryden’s Satire. Later, that tradition was continued by
Sheridan, Thomas Moore, Thomas de Quincey, and Henry Hallam, the
historian of the Middle Ages.

Since 1688, when a change was made in the oath of supremacy, which, by a
statute of 1563, all Utter Barristers were required to take, the names
of the members of the Inns of Court who are entitled to practise in the
Courts have been preserved in the Barristers’ Roll. Since 1868
barristers have been excused the oath, but the Roll must still be signed
after call to the Bar. The lists are kept in the Public Record Office.

The names of eminence inscribed upon this wonderful Roll can only be
hinted at here. The Middle Temple can boast such great lawyers as Edmund
Plowden and Blackstone, and Lord Chancellors in Clarendon, Jeffreys (who
was a student here, but called to the Bar at the Inner Temple), Somers,
Cowper, and Eldon; whilst Mansfield, C.J., Lord Ashburton, Robert
Gifford, Lord Stowell, Lord Campbell, Cockburn, the Norths, and the
Pollocks, were men and lawyers of no less eminence. Nor must we omit to
mention one whose undying fame was earned, not in the Courts, but in the
Camp; for Sir Henry Havelock, the hero of Cawnpore and Lucknow, figured
among the Templars ere he went to India. Of another kind of eminence was
Elias Ashmole, the Antiquary, whose name lives at Oxford. In the
destructive fire of 1678 he lost in his rooms at the Middle Temple his
papers, books, and rich collection of coins and medals. His friend, John
Evelyn, the diarist, also had rooms in the Middle Temple, in Essex
Court, just over against the Hall Court (1640).

The north wing of Essex Court, which forms part of Brick Court, was
rebuilt in 1883;[39] the remainder of these charming brick buildings,
with the Wigmaker’s shop, belong to the second half of the seventeenth

Though the Gateway which leads to Middle Temple Lane is the grander,
there is another entrance by ‘the little Gate,’ which is still more
charming and characteristic. Screened by the tortuous ways of Devereux
Court, an old wrought-iron gate opens onto an ancient and spacious

As we stand beneath the old brick buildings of this ‘New Court’–so
‘new’ that it was built by Sir Christopher Wren (1677)–the whole charm
of the Temple scenery unfolds before our eyes, and we understand at once
the ‘cheerful, liberal look of it’ which Charles Lamb loved.

For below us lies the most unique and one of the loveliest views in
London, a city of beautiful vistas. A flight of steps, framed by ancient
iron standards bearing the sign of the Lamb, leads down to a Fountain in
the centre of a broad paved terrace. And through the trees that shade it
we catch glimpses of green lawns and flower-beds hedged about by Hall
and Library and Chambers. Here still, beneath the shady trees–though
Goldsmith’s rooks no longer caw in them–sparkles the water of the
Temple Fountain, though the Fountain itself is not that which provoked
Lamb’s wit, nor that which Dickens loved. It was through the smoky
shrubs of Fountain Court that the delicate figure of Ruth Pinch flitted,
in fulfilment of her little plot of assignation with Tom, who was always
to come out of the Temple past the Fountain and look for her ‘down the
steps leading into Garden Court,’ to be greeted ‘with the best little
laugh upon her face that ever played in opposition to the Fountain, and
beat it all to nothing. The Temple Fountain might have leaped twenty
feet to greet the spring of hopeful maidenhood that in her person stole
on, sparkling, through the dry and dusty channels of the Law; the
chirping sparrows, bred in Temple chinks and crannies, might have held
their peace to listen to imaginary skylarks, as so fresh a little
creature passed; the dingy boughs, unused to droop, otherwise than in
their puny growth, might have bent down in a kindred gracefulness, to
shed their benedictions on her graceful head; old love letters, shut up
in iron boxes in the neighbouring offices, and made of no account among
the heaps of family papers into which they had strayed, and of which, in
their degeneracy, they formed a part, might have stirred and fluttered
with a moment’s recollection of their ancient tenderness, as she went
lightly by.’[40]

From the Fountain Terrace we look down upon a terraced garden framed by
various blocks of buildings, which, if they do not group and harmonize
so as to form a perfect whole, yet produce an effect which is quite
singular and has a charm of its own. Beneath the Terrace, on the left
the west end of the Hall abuts upon a green lawn; on the right a flight
of steps leads down to a path which skirts the not unpleasing gabled
façade, in red brick and stone, of the Garden Court (1883). Facing us
now, are the steps which lead up to the embattled Lobby of the Library,
beneath which an archway leads to the Library Chambers facing Milford
Lane. Hence a private gate leads out into the Lane, where are the steps
to Essex Street, remains of the old Water Gate of Essex House. The
left-hand side of the green parallelogram of garden is formed by those
ugly Plowden Buildings, for which the only hope is that they may soon be
buried in the decent obscurity of Virginia Creeper, which can cover a
multitude of architectural sins, and the still uglier Temple Gardens,
and the Gateway, for which there is no hope at all.

In Dugdale’s time the Middle Temple Library, owing to the fact that it
always stood open, had been completely despoiled of books. The present


ON the left are the buttresses of Middle Temple Hall.]

building, in the Gothic style by H. R. Abraham, is ugly in itself, its
proportions, especially when viewed from the Embankment, being painfully
bad. Its height is far too great for its length and breadth, and this is
due to the fact that two stories of offices and chambers are beneath the
Library Room, which is approached by a charming outside staircase. The
Library itself, which is 86 feet long, is a beautiful room with a fine
open hammer-beam roof. It was opened on October 31, 1861, by King Edward
VII., then Prince of Wales, who was called to the Bar and admitted as a
Bencher of the Middle Temple on the same day.

Mr. Loftie very justly observes of the Middle Temple that ‘Its Lawn
seems wider, its trees are higher, its Hall is older, its Courts are
quainter, than those of the other member of this inseparable pair.’ The
Middle Temple has, indeed, been unkindly compared to a beautiful woman
with a plain husband. This comparison, however, is far from just. For
though its beauty is perhaps less obvious and has been much impaired by
the ravages of modern builders, yet the Inner Temple remains a _locus
classicus_ for the fine beauty of the Jacobean and Queen Anne styles,
and across its green lawn the view of the Embankment, the River, and
Surrey Hills–too often, alas! shrouded in smoke–is extremely
delightful. Moreover, the heart of the Inner Temple presents the
engaging completeness of a Collegiate Building. The Church and Master’s
House on the North; the Cloisters on the West; the Buttery,
Refectories, Hall, and Library on the South; the Master’s Garden, the
Graveyard and Garden of the Inn on the East, form just such a Court or
Quadrangle as delights the eye at Oxford or Cambridge.

I have spoken of the Inner Temple Gateway. In King’s Bench Walk–once
known as Benchers’ Walk–the Inner Temple can boast a row of typical
Jacobean mansions, with handsome doorways,[41] which look upon a broad
and classic avenue of trees. Nor can an Inn, which records the names of
Sir Edward Coke and of John Selden amongst its members, and which was
the home of Dr. Johnson and Charles Lamb, be reckoned inferior to any in
the fame and interest of its _alumni_.

Dr. Johnson moved from Staple Inn to Gray’s Inn, and from Gray’s Inn to
No. 1, Inner Temple Lane (1760). Here, in a spot so favourable for
retirement and meditation, as Boswell calls it, in a house whose site is
indicated by the ugly block of Johnson’s Buildings (1851), were those
rooms which have been so vividly described by the great man’s admirers.
Here, in two garrets over his chambers, his library was stored, ‘good
books, but very dusty and in great confusion.’ Here was housed an
apparatus for the chemical experiments in which he delighted, whilst the
floor was strewn with his manuscripts for Boswell to scan ‘with a degree
of veneration, supposing they might perhaps contain portions of the
“Rambler” or of “Rasselas.”’ It was in his chambers here on the first
floor, furnished like an old counting-house, that the uncouth genius
received Madame de Boufflers–received her, no doubt, clad, as usual, in
a rusty brown suit, discoloured with snuff, an old black wig too small
for his head, his shirt collar and sleeves unbuttoned, his black worsted
stockings slipping down to his feet, which were thrust into a pair of
unbuckled shoes. And then, when he began to talk, ‘with all the
correctness of a second edition,’ all thought of his slovenly appearance
and his uncouth gestures vanished; the knowledge and the racy wit of the
man triumphed. We see the lady, fascinated by the great man’s
conversation, bowed out of those dirty old rooms, whilst the ponderous
scholar rolls back to his books. Then her escort hears ‘all at once a
noise like thunder.’ It has occurred to Johnson that he ought to have
done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of

Eager to show himself a man of gallantry, he hurries down the stairs in
violent agitation. ‘He overtook us,’ says Beauclerc, ‘before we reached
the Temple Gate, and, brushing in between me and Madame de Boufflers,
seized her hand and conducted her to the coach.’ To the bottom of Inner
Temple Lane came the devoted Boswell, and took chambers in Farrar’s
Buildings–now rebuilt (1876)–in order to be near to the object of his
biographical enthusiasm. Another name famous in Literature the Inner
Temple can boast. Francis Beaumont, the dramatist, was a Member of this
Inn, and in 1612 he wrote the Masques performed by this Inn and Gray’s
Inn before King James at Whitehall, in honour of the marriage of
Princess Elizabeth and the Count Palatine of the Rhine. This Masque he
dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon, who represented Gray’s Inn in its

The grey walls of Paper Buildings; the plain yellow brick of Crown
Office Row; the stock-brick of Mitre Court, the Goldsmith Buildings that
have supplanted the dingy attic of No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, which
looked through the trees upon the (now vanished) pump in Hare Court, are
none of them buildings which in themselves can stir any emotion but
repulsion, but they have a lasting charm and interest, for they are the
sites of the homes of Elia; they are haunted by the ‘old familiar faces’
of Charles Lamb and his friends.

Charles Lamb first saw the light in No. 2, Crown Office Row, ‘right
opposite the stately stream which washes the garden-foot,’ and there
passed the first seven years of his life. ‘Its church, its halls, its
gardens, its fountain, its river, I had almost said, for in those young
years what was this king of rivers to me but a stream that watered our
pleasant places?–these are of my earliest recollections.’

The name of these buildings was derived naturally enough, because, at
least from the days of Henry VII., the Clerk of the Crown occupied the
Crown Office in this Inn until its removal to the Courts of Justice in
1882. The eastern yellow brick half of the row, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, was
built in 1737, the western half, Nos. 4, 5, and 6, of stone in the
Italian style, in 1864, by Sydney Smirke. The Row no longer extends to
No. 10, where Thackeray had chambers, sharing them possibly with Tom
Taylor, before he migrated to No. 2, Brick Court.

Of his old Chambers here Taylor wrote with affectionate regret when he
heard of the ‘bringing low of those old chambers, dear old friend, at
Ten, Crown Office Row.’

‘They were fusty, they were musty, they were grimy, dull, and dim,
The paint scaled off the panelling, the stairs were all untrim;
The flooring creaked, the windows gaped, the doorposts stood awry,
The wind whipt round the corner with a wild and wailing cry.
In a dingier set of chambers no man need wish to stow,
Than those, old friend, wherein we denned at Ten, Crown Office Row.’

The present Mitre Court Buildings date from 1830. At No. 16, in the old
block, Charles Lamb once lived (1800), preferring ‘the attic story for
the air.’ ‘Bring your glass,’ he writes to a friend, ‘and I will show
you the Surrey Hills. My bed faces the river, so as by perking upon my
haunches and supporting my carcass upon my elbows, without much wrying
my neck, I can see the white sails glide by the bottom of King’s Bench
Walk, as I lie in my bed.’ In Fuller’s Rents, now replaced by Nos. 1 and
2, Mitre Court Buildings, the Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth’s favourite,
and Sir Edward Coke, the great Chief Justice, once had chambers (1588

Coke was a Bencher before he became Chief Justice and wrote upon
Lyttleton. Sir Thomas Lyttleton (author of the famous ‘Treatise on
Tenures’) is the first name upon the list of the Benchers of the Inner

A heavy iron gate, shut at night, marks the entry to Mitre Court and
what was formerly Ram Alley. Between the North side of Mitre Court
Buildings and the entrance to Serjeants’ Inn are the remains of a small
garden, marked by a few sickly trees. Beyond, is a passage leading into
Serjeants’ Inn, which is approached by a flight of steps, and is shut
off from Mitre Court by a door, which at the present day is seldom, if
ever, closed. Through this private way of his, the lines of which can
still be traced, the compact and wiry figure of the great Lord Chief
Justice, Coke, might often have been seen passing between the two

From 1809 to 1817 Charles Lamb lived at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, a
house that has been replaced by part of the ugly Johnson’s Buildings.
‘It looks out,’ he says, ‘upon a gloomy churchyard-like Court, called
Hare Court, with three trees and a pump in it. I was born near it, and
used to drink at that pump, when I was a Rechabite of six years old.’

‘That goodly pile of building strong, albeit of Paper hight,’ as Lamb
facetiously calls it, succeeded Heyward’s Buildings, where Selden
laboured. Paper Buildings were burnt down in 1838, thanks to the
carelessness of Sir John Maule, the eccentric Judge, who left a candle
burning by his bedside. Both he and Campbell, afterwards Chancellor,
lost everything in the flames.

In Paper Buildings George Canning, the Statesman, and Samuel Rogers, the
poet, had chambers, and Lord Ellenborough also (No. 6). The present
block, by Smirke, contains the chambers of another Prime Minister in Mr.
Asquith. The Inner Temple can boast yet another Premier in George
Grenville, who became Prime Minister (1763) in the same year as he was
elected Bencher.

The name of Edward Thurlow, the rough-tongued, overbearing Lord
Chancellor, is unhappily connected, like that of Grenville, with the
policy which resulted in the loss of our American Colonies.

Thurlow had chambers in Fig-Tree Court, the smallest and most dismal of
these legal warrens in the Temple. He died in 1806, and was buried in
the Temple Church.

Amongst other great lawyers who had chambers in Paper Buildings, Stephen
Lushington, Edward Hall Alderson, and Sir Frank Lockwood must be named.

Paper Buildings form the Western boundary of the ‘Great Garden,’ which,
indeed, before the erection of buildings here, used to extend to King’s
Bench Walk. It stretched from Whitefriars to Harcourt Buildings and
Middle Temple Lane, and from the Hall to the river wall, and if it has
been narrowed by Paper Buildings, it has been elongated by the
successive embankments of the River. Always carefully cultivated and
planted with shrubs and roses, it remains, little altered by the passing
centuries, one of the sweetest and most grateful of things–a trim
garden in the midst of a grimy town. This is the scene chosen for that
great and growing Flower Show, which is one of the most popular and
pleasing of the social functions of the London season. The great
wrought-iron gate opposite Crown Office Row is a magnificent specimen of
eighteenth-century craftsmanship. It will be noticed that it bears, in
addition to the winged Horse, the arms of


CROWN OFFICE ROW is on the left, Paper Buildings on the right. The
Gardens run right down to the Thames Embankment, and are the scene of
the Temple Flower Show.]

Gray’s Inn–a compliment to the ancient ally of this Inn, which was
returned upon the gateway of Gray’s Inn Gardens, and over the arch of
the Gatehouse leading to Gray’s Inn Road. It was upon the neighbouring
terrace that the Old Benchers, of whom Lamb wrote so pleasingly, used to
pace. Immediately within the railings is a sundial, which dates from the
beginning of the eighteenth century. Of these ‘garden gods of Christian
gardens, these primitive clocks, the horologes of the first world, there
is a delightful profusion in the Temple. Best known of all of them,
perhaps, is that which is borne by a kneeling black figure in a corner
of the garden near the foot of King’s Bench Walk. It was brought here
from Clement’s Inn. The oft-quoted epigram, which was one day found
attached to this Blackamoor, is feeble enough:

‘In vain, poor sable son of woe,
Thou seek’st the tender tear;
From thee in vain with pangs they flow,
For mercy dwells not here.
From cannibals thou fled’st in vain;
Lawyers less quarter give–
The first won’t eat you till you’re slain,
The last will do’t alive.’

Occasionally as I pass these many sundials, shrouded in the yellow haze
of London fog, or scarce visible through the murk upon the dark walls
of narrow Courts, I find myself repeating Edward Fitzgerald’s mot, when,
after a wet week spent with James Spedding at Mirehouse, he gazed
reflectively upon the sundial in the garden there, and observed: ‘It
_must_ have an easy time of it.’

Fires, frequent and disastrous, have destroyed nearly all the old
buildings in the Inner Temple. Only the Church and a fragment of the
Hall survive from medieval days. The Great Fire (1666), which left the
Middle Temple almost unscathed, wrought devastation in the Inner. The
Inn was then rebuilt with great rapidity, the erection of Chambers being
left to the enterprise of Members, as before, whilst the Society as a
whole devoted itself to the construction of the Library and Moot-Chamber
beneath. In the fire of 1678 the old Library was blown up with gunpowder
in order to save the Hall.

The present Inner Temple Hall is a crude, pseudo-Gothic structure, which
was designed by Sydney Smirke, and was opened by the Princess Louise in
1870. It supplanted the restored and tinkered remains of the old Hall.
For the ancient Refectory of the Knights Templars stood in the time of
Henry VII. on the same site as this Hall, and does, indeed, form the
nucleus of it.[44] The Clock Tower, at the East end of the Library,
which forms one side of the nondescript Tanfield Court, perpetuates an
ancient tower, which was surmounted by a turret built of chalk, rubble,
and ragstone, like the Church, and carried a bell under a wooden cupola.
It stood near to this spot, and was attached to the Treasurer’s house.
The feeble architecture of the exterior is agreeably at variance with
the fine interior of the Hall, with its open timber roof and handsome
screen. Upon the panelled walls, like those of the Middle Temple Hall,
are painted the coats of arms of past Treasurers and Readers, in
perpetuation, as it were, of the old custom of the Knights Templars, who
used to hang their shields upon the walls when they sat two by two at
dinner in the old Hall, wherein, as the Accusers averred, the Novices of
the Order were compelled to spit upon the Cross, to kiss an Idol with a
black face and shining eyes, and to worship the Golden Head kept in the
Treasury adjoining. The doors in the panelling at the East End lead now
to nothing more thrilling than Parliament Chambers–‘a handsome set of
rooms, the walls of which are covered with portraits and engravings of
legal luminaries.’[45]

In the minstrel gallery hang some old drums and banners, which serve to
remind us of the martial achievements of the Lawyers, when ‘forth they
ride a-colonelling.’ Two very richly carved doors at the north and south
entrances to the Hall, one of which bears the date 1575, are reasonably
supposed to be surviving fragments of the great carved screen, said by
Dugdale to have been erected in the Hall in 1574.

The four fine bronze statues of Knights Templars and Knights
Hospitallers are by H. H. Armstead (1875). The Hall is rich in
portraits. Beneath a large painting of Pegasus are portraits of King
William III. and Queen Mary, of Queen Anne, George II., and Queen
Caroline. Portraits of Sir Edward Coke and Sir Thomas Lyttleton, Sir
Matthew Hale, Sir Randolph Carew, and Sir Simon Harcourt, among others,
hang upon the walls.

The old Hall of this, as of the other Inns, was frequently the scene of
Revels and Merry-making.[46] Here, as elsewhere, Christmas Feasts
formed prominent incidents in the life of the Society, and one such has
been described by Gerard Leigh (1576), when the guests were served ‘with
tender meats, sweet fruits and dainty delicates confectioned with other
curious cookery … and at every course the Trumpeters blew the
courageous blast of deadly War, with noise of drum and fyfe; with the
sweet harmony of Violins, Sackbutts, Recorders and Cornetts, with other
instruments of music, as it seemed Apollo’s harp had tuned their stroke.
Thus the Hall was served after the most antient of the Island.’ And it
was in the old Hall of the Inner Temple that the first performance of
the first English tragedy took place in 1561. This was ‘Gorboduc; or
Ferrex and Porrex,’ and it was written by two distinguished members of
this Society: Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville. A hundred years later
Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards Lord Chancellor and Earl of Nottingham,
‘the Oracle of Impartial Justice,’ gave in this Hall the most
magnificent ‘Reader’s Feast’ upon record.

King Charles came in his barge from Whitehall, with his Court, and was
received at the Stairs by the Reader and the Lord Chief Justice in his
scarlet robes. He passed into the Temple Garden through rows of Readers’
servants, clad in scarlet cloaks and white Tabba doubtlets, and the
Gentlemen of the Society in their gowns, whilst music and violins
sounded a welcome to His Majesty. The Duke of York was also present upon
this occasion, and so delighted was he with the entertainment that he,
together with Prince Rupert, was at once admitted to the Society, and
presently became a Bencher.

Sir Heneage Finch was the most famous of a long line of distinguished
members of that family who have been Benchers. It is characteristic of
the Inner Temple that it has and always has had a tendency for members
of the same families to supply the vacancies among the Benchers. The
Pollocks, Wests, Wards, and Finches point back to a long roll of
ancestors distinguished in the Law and the annals of the Temple. This
tendency coincides with the aristocratic nature of the Society. For many
centuries a candidate for Bencher was required to show at least three
generations of ‘gentle blood,’ a regulation which affords a curious
contrast to the more democratic nature of Oxford and Cambridge. In
Elizabeth’s reign it was ordered that ‘none should be admitted of the
Society, except he were of good parentage and not of ill-behaviour.’
Such another Inner Temple family was that of the Hares, who lived for
generations in Hare Court, the south side of which was built by Nicholas
Hare about 1570. Hare Court, together with the rooms once occupied by
Chief Justice Jeffreys, has been recently rebuilt. A doubtful portrait
of that ferocious Judge by Sir Peter Lely was presented to the Inn by
Sir Harry Poland, K.C.

The exterior of the Library Building is not imposing. It contains on the
ground and first floors the Parliament Chambers, offices, and
lecture-rooms, and on the second floor a very fine library, admirably
arranged in a room perfectly suited to the student.

Very early indications of a Library existing with chambers under it are
found in the records. It stood at the west end of the Hall. A later
building, apparently, at the east end of the Hall was afterwards used as
the Library, and was rebuilt in 1680, after having been destroyed by
gunpowder in 1678 in order to save the Hall from the fire in that year.

The north wing, upon the site of No. 2, Tanfield Court, was opened in
1882. A case containing a collection of ‘Serjeants’ Rings’ is of some
interest. In the anteroom to the Parliament Chambers hangs a portrait of
William Petyt, a former Treasurer of the House and Keeper of the Records
at the Tower, who bequeathed his exceedingly valuable collection of
historical documents, etc., to the Inn. A fine piece of carving by
Grinling Gibbons, as it is supposed, which is placed in this anteroom
also, bears the inscription ‘T. Thoma Walker Arm. A.D. 1705,’ and was
the result of a payment of £20 5s. made by Sylvester Petyt, Principal of
Barnard’s Inn and brother of William, as executor of the latter’s

The narrow alley that leads from Fleet Street through Mitre Court and
Mitre Buildings, gives little promise of the broad open expanse of


A DOORWAY, probably by Sir Christopher Wren.]

walks, sparsely dotted with plane-trees, and narrowing down to a distant
glimpse of gardens, and of the River beyond, to which it guides our

This stretch of gravel walks is enclosed on the west by Paper Buildings
and on the east by the buildings of the King’s Bench Walk. The lower
half of the latter, below the gateway leading into Temple Lane, and
facing the Gardens, dates from 1780, and is quite devoid of
architectural merit or even any pretence to it; but the northern section
is composed of houses of rare excellence. The fine proportions, the
appropriate material, the handsome doorways of these houses, and the
graceful iron lamp-brackets in front of them (Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6), all
proclaim the influence of a great master in a good period. The doorways
of Nos. 4 and 5 are, indeed, with every probability, attributed to Sir
Christopher Wren, whose genius was largely employed in the re-building
of the Temple. For the Fire of London reached the Temple two days after
it broke out, and almost completely destroyed all the buildings east of
the Church, King’s Bench Walk included. The houses then were quickly
rebuilt, but, as an inscription on a tablet on No. 4 records, only to be
burnt down again in 1677. No. 4 was rebuilt in 1678, No. 5 in 1684.

In No. 1, James Scarlett, Lord Abinger, had chambers; at No. 5, William
Murray, Lord Mansfield, of whom Colley Cibber, parodying the lines of
Pope, wrote:

‘Persuasion tips his tongue whene’er he talks,
And he has chambers in the King’s Bench Walks.’

Another famous lawyer who had rooms here was Frederick Thesiger, Lord
Chelmsford. The most remarkable of the cases tried by him is said to
have formed the basis of Samuel Warren’s ‘Ten Thousand a Year,’ a novel
whose title we most of us know now better than its contents. The author
of this popular novel, with its legal satire of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap,
was written at No. 12, King’s Bench Walk, in what Warren calls ‘this
green old solitude, pleasantly recalling long past scenes of the
bustling professional life’;–though how King’s Bench Walk can be called
a solitude, or why a solitude should recall the bustling professional
life, deponent sayeth not. Warren was treasurer in 1868. A painting,
attributed to Hogarth, of King’s Bench Walk in 1734, hangs in the
Benchers’ Committee Room, together with a painting of Fountain Court,
also attributed to him. At No. 3 lived Goldsmith in 1765.

And now, since we have drifted again from law to poetry, mention must be
made of two other poets whose names are connected with the Inner Temple.
About the year 1755 William Cowper left his lodging in the Middle
Temple, and took Chambers in the Inner, remaining there till his removal
to the Asylum ten years later. That was nearly three hundred years after
the Father of English poetry is said to have lived here. For, if we
could believe the life of Chaucer prefixed to the Black Letter Folio of
1598, both he and Gower, the poet, were members of the Inner Temple.
‘For not many years since Master Buckley did see a record in the same
house, where Geoffrey Chaucer was fined two shillings for beating a
Franciscan Friar in Fleet Street.’ Master Buckley was Chief Butler of
the Inner Temple (1564), and as such performed the functions of
Librarian. He may, therefore, quite well have seen a record to this
effect. But there is no reason to identify this Chaucer with the poet.

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