Lincoln's Inn

London, England

With elements dating back to the 1400s, and from every century since, Lincoln's Inn is a treasure trove of London architecture through the ages.

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Lincoln's Inn has been home to one of London's four Inns of the Court (the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn) since around 1312. It is made up of several grandiose buildings, each with its own story to tell. The history of the site, however, predates even the earliest of these structures.

- © Secret City

The Blackfriars and The Earl

In around 1221, the Holburn site was settled on by a group of Dominican Monks, the Blackfriars. They stayed there until the latter half of the Century, at which point they moved into the City of London proper.

The land was then appropriated by the Earl of Lincoln. He built a house which was later bequeathed to a college of lawyers.

And the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn was born.

- © Secret City

Lawyers In Flight

The lawyers themselves had been in need of a home since 1234, when they had been sent packing from the City of London by a royal decree banning law schools.

The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn was one of four legal associations to be moved to Holburn in the wake of this event. They set-up base in the Earl's House and the rest is history.

Although the house itself hasn't survived the ages, much of their past can still be seen in the features of the more recent buildings.

- © Secret City

The Old Hall

Dating back to at least 1489, this stunning building has played host to countless revels, moots and feasts over the years. It has even served as a Court, a fact that is mentioned in Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

We are fortunate, however, to still be able to see it at all. Centuries of remodelling and alterations almost spelled disaster, when, in 1920, Sir John Simpson had to dismantle and rebuild it to prevent its roof from collapsing under the weight of the added plaster.

- © Secret City

The Chapel

Stood in a place where a church has been for at least 590 years, Lincoln's Inn's current chapel was built between 1620-23. It was used as a meeting place, a place of worship and a recreation space.

Dubious rumours claim that its bell dates back to 1596. Less doubtful and far more fun, however, is that it's said to have tolled nine o'clock curfew, every day, with an extra chime added for each year that the current treasurer had lived.

Now, I'm no expert in medieval life expectancies, but something tells me that that could get a tad annoying...

- © Secret City

The Great Hall and Library

These 19th Centuries buildings were built to account for the Honourable Society's growth, the Old Hall no longer being large enough to fit everyone inside

- © Secret City

The Gatehouse

The gatehouse dates back to 1518 and remains as impressive now as it surely was then.

- © Secret City

One More Thing...

Our modern legal exams are a relatively new thing. In as late as the early 1700s, one of the only requirements for someone who wanted to argue in court was that they must have eaten at least five termly dinners at Lincoln's Inn. Gobble, gobble.

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What you need to know

Lincoln's Inn
Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London, UK
Tips before you visit

Opening Times

Lincoln's Inn Precincts: Mon-Fri - 7am-7pm

Lincoln's Inn Chapel: Mon-Fri - 9am-5pm

Guided Tours: 2pm on 1st and 3rd Friday of every month.

Closed every Saturday-Sunday.