The Garden Guide

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

Lincoln's Inn

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Lincoln's Inn, the third of the great Inns of Court, is situated on the east side of Lincoln's Inn Fields but has its main entrance in Chancery Lane. It occupies the site once occupied by the palace of the Bishop of Chichester and a monastery of the Black Friars, sold circa 1278 to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, whose arms are the device of the Inn. It may have become an Inn of Court as early as 1310, though its existing records do not date back further than 1424. The fine Gatehouse in Chancery Lane was built in 1518 by Sir Thomas Lovell (whose arms it bears) and was restored in 1899. The story that Ben Jonson worked as a bricklayer on the adjoining wall in 1617 is apocryphal, as the dramatist was then 44 years old and at the height of his fame. The new Hall and Library is a successful red brick edifice in the Tudor style, built by Philip Hardwick in 1843. The Hall (visitors usually admitted) contains a large mural painting by G. K Watts ('Justice�a Hemicycle of Lawgivers'; 1853-59). The library (no admission) is the oldest in London (1497), and contains a statue of Lord Eldon by Westmacott, and the most complete collection of law-books in England (60,000 volumes). The manuscripts, largely bequeathed by Sir Matthew Hale, are very valuable, especially the fourth volume of �Prynne's Records.� The Old Hall (circa 1506), still used for lectures and examinations, served as the Court of Chancery from 1733 to 1873, within which period falls the famous case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. It contains a poor example of Hogarth's work (St. Paul before Felix; 1748). The old exterior brickwork and the fine wooden roof, both disguised with stucco by Bernasconi circa 1818, were brought to light once more in 1926. The Chapel (apply at the chief porter's lodge; service on Sunday at 11 a.m.), by Inigo Jones (1623), has been much restored and altered; the crypt used to serve, like the Temple Church, as a rendezvous for the barristers and their clients. The consecration sermon was delivered by Dr. Donne, who had also laid the foundation stone. The windows, some of which were 17th century Flemish work, were shattered by a zeppelin bomb on October 13th, 1915, and have been restored. The fine iron gates (1863) on the north side of the gardens in New Square should be noted. Among the eminent names associated with Lincoln's Inn are those of Oliver Cromwell (name not on the books), Sir Thomas More, Sir Matthew Hale, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, William Pitt, John Donne, Horace Walpole, Lord Mansfield, Lord Erskine, Lord Brougham, Cardinal Newman, Canning, Disraeli, and Gladstone. Judah Philip Benjamin (1811-84), the Confederate politician, who became a leading London barrister, was a member of Lincoln's Inn. A tablet on the Chancery Lane wall of No. 24 Old Buildings (near the Gatehouse) notes the fact that John Thurloe, Cromwell's Secretary of State, lived here during the time of his office,1645-59. The �Thurloe State Papers� were discovered in the ceiling of the attic at No. 13 (now destroyed) in the reign of William III. Thurloe and Prynne are buried in the crypt of the chapel. The most famous preachers of Lincoln's Inn were John Donne, Archbishop Ussher, Archbishop Tillotson, Archbishop Juxon, Bishop Warburton, Bishop Heber, and Frederick Denison Maurice.