The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 21 The Inns of Court and Legal London

Gray's Inn

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The fourth and last of the great Inns of Court is Gray's Inn, in Gray's Inn Road, to the north of Holborn. It is known to have been occupied by lawyers before 1370 and takes its name from the former owners of the site, the Lords Grey de Wilton. The Hall, dating from circa 1560, resembles that of Middle Temple and contains a handsome carved screen. Shakespeare's �Comedy of Errors� was produced here during the Christmas revels of 1594, when the ambassador of �Templaria� (i.e. the Inner Temple) was entertained by the state of �Graya� (Gray's Inn). The Chapel is old but uninteresting; the so-called Archbishops� Window (1894) represents Becket, Whitgift, Juxon, Laud, and Wake. The Library (built in 1738, remodelled in 1841; 30,000 volumes) has some interesting manuscripts and missals. The shady Gardens are supposed to have been laid out by Francis Bacon, a statue of whom (by Pomeroy; 1912) stands in the South Square. The two great names of Gray's Inn are Nicholas and Francis Bacon, the latter of whom became Treasurer of the Inn (signatures in the Library). He retained his chambers here from 1577 till his death in 1626. Among other members were Sir Thomas Gresham, Thomas Cromwell, Lord Burleigh, Archbishop Laud, Sir Samuel Romilly (tablet on No. 6 Gray's Inn Sq.), and Sir William Gascoigne, the judge traditionally reported to have committed the Prince of Wales (Henry V.) to prison. Among the curious customs observed in the Inn is a toast on grand days �to the glorious, pious, and immortal memory of Queen Elizabeth.� The device of Gray's Inn is the Griffin. This is blazoned on the gate of the Inner Temple garden, while the Pegasus of the Inner Temple appears above the gateway leading from Gray's Inn Square to Gray's Inn Road, in token of the ancient amity between the Inns.kj Hawthorne writes of Gray's Inn that �Nothing else in London is so like the effect of a spell, as to pass under one of these archways and find yourself transported from the jumble, mob, tumult, uproar, as of an age of week-days condensed into the present hour, into what seems an eternal Sabbath� ('English Note-Books'; December 6th, 1857).