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.

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