The Inn did not originally own the land it occupied. The main part of the Inn was held on a tenancy from the Bishops of Chichester who had been granted the land in 1228, and the adjacent land to the north and west belonged to the Hospital of Burton Lazars. The benchers acquired the freehold of the whole site in 1580. At that time the buildings comprised the Old Hall, the cluster of chambers around it and a Chapel (replaced soon afterwards), with the main entrance being from Chancery Lane via the Old Gatehouse.
The development of the remainder of the site continued as and when finances permitted and opportunities arose, through to the twenty-first century. Coupled with the fact that the Inn did not lose any buildings in the two world wars, this has resulted in a picturesque variety of styles and periods. The chronology is as follows.
The Chapel was erected in 1623 and, at the end of the seventeenth century, chambers were erected in New Square, which had formerly been an open space contiguous with Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Except for the block forming 7 Stone Buildings, running northwards adjacent to Chancery Lane, were put up in the last quarter of the eighteenth century not only as chambers but also to provide a new building for the Library and accommodation for offices of the Court of Chancery.
The building of the Great Hall and Library abutting on to the eastern side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields was completed in 1845. At the same time, the new main gateway from the Fields was created, the grounds re-modelled and the final southwest block of Stone Buildings added. During the last decades of the nineteenth century the old chambers to the north of the Old Gatehouse were pulled down and replaced in a different configuration, and the Library and the Chapel extended by three bays and one bay respectively.
Smaller buildings – the Garden House, Hardwicke Building (both behind the east side of New Square), and the block in the North Garden, next to the corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields – were interpolated during the twentieth century. And most recently, the freehold of 33 Chancery Lane (nearly opposite the Old Gatehouse) was bought in 2004 for use as barristers’ chambers and as extra accommodation for the Inn itself – a novel excursion beyond our traditional boundaries.
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