December 2015 - Spa Fields Riots

In the Treasurer's accounts for 1817, there is a very intriguing entry listing the sum of '£6 6s' under the heading 'incidents'. The obvious questions then arise - what was this incident and what were the payments made for? Click on the cover of the accounts to see the initial intriguing entry

Read more: December 2015 - Spa Fields Riots

November 2015 - Banishing beards

The popular charitable event, Movember, which is underway this month, prompted some curiosity about the portraits and prints we have depicting late sixteenth century members sporting rather luxuriant facial hair. However, after delving into the Black Books, it became apparent that it was not until after much wrangling with the Inn authorities, that these members were permitted to have beards at all. Prior to November 1559 when 'all orders heretofore made in this House touchinge beardes shalbe voide and repealid' members of the Inn were expected to maintain an appearance similar to existing members including

    Sir John Fortescue                Sir John More           Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich                            


If members were to be unshaven, then they were permitted to have beards of no more than two to three weeks growth or else run the risk of being fined.

Read more: November 2015 - Banishing beards

October 2015 - Zeppelin bombs and Chapel windows don't mix

As is generally known, this Inn, in contrast to the other Inns, was fortunate in receiving only relatively slight bomb damage during the Second World War. It may not be so widely known, however,  that it was perhaps less fortunate in the First World War. At 9.25 on the evening of Wednesday the 13 October 1915, a Zeppelin air raid took place, dropping incendiary bombs on the roofs of 7 and 8 Stone Buildings and explosive bombs on 9 New Square and beside the Chapel. Although none of the damage was structural, some of the original seventeenth century stained glass windows in the Chapel were partially destroyed. 

The images below show the location of the bomb explosion (see the blast marks and shrapnel pock marks on the wall of the Chapel) and the damage done to the Chapel windows. Copies of the images were given to the Inn by Historic England at the end of last year and can be viewed on their website by clicking here

Read more: October 2015 - Zeppelin bombs and Chapel windows don't mix

September 2015 - The Great Plague

September 2015 marks the 350th anniversary of the peak of the Great Plague of London in 1665. Between 1664 when this outbreak of bubonic plague first appeared to the summer of 1666 when it subsided, around 100,000 people died in London which at the time was about a quarter of the total population. It affected all members of society and spread throughout the City of London to many nearby suburbs as well as to various towns in Britain. Lincoln's Inn was not safe from the outbreak and indeed by June 1665 all members of the Inns of Court were told to leave, many returning to their houses in the country. The entry shown below comes from the Black Books for June 1665 and lists how the Inn was to deal with the plague or 'infection' as it is called here, under four heads.

Read more: September 2015 - The Great Plague

August 2015 - Lett out the wyne

 Frontispiece from John Taylor's A Brown dozen of Drunkards  

One of the features of student life at the Inns from the medieval period until the middle of the seventeenth century that sounds odd to modern ears is that not only did students have to keep terms but also vacations.  Term time (which still survives in residual form as ‘dining periods’) coincided with the legal terms when the courts sat at Westminster.  These were relatively short – the Michaelmas term was about seven weeks but the other three terms only about three weeks each.  During term the students were fully occupied attending the sessions of the courts, which was an essential element of their education.  Formal tuition thus had to take place in the vacations.

Read more: August 2015 - Lett out the wyne

July 2015 - Summer Ball 1905

On 14 July 1905 a ball was held at Lincoln's Inn. This was not the first ball to be held at the Inn, although the previous two balls in 1870 and 1874 were held by the Inns of Court regiment rather than expressly for Inn members. There does not appear to be any particular reason why the ball was held other than there appears to have been a demand from the members that there should be one. Very early on it was decided that the numbers allowed to attend the ball should be capped at 800 and that letters should be sent to members intimating this. Ultimately invitations were sent to 164 officials and their guests, 275 Benchers and their guests, 405 Barristers and their guests and 20 students (totalling 864) of which about 800 attended.

As with similar balls held at Universities there was food, entertainment and dancing. The plan below shows how the terrace area by the Great Hall building was laid out with cloak rooms, a buffet and refreshments room and 'sitting out' rooms. 


Read more: July 2015 - Summer Ball 1905

June 2015 - Lincoln's Inn and the Napoleonic Wars

This year marks the 200 anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo which took place on the 18 June 1815 and so this month we're looking at the Inn's connections to the Napoleonic wars.

The first acknowledgement to the wars with France is a document in the Archives (ref: F2b/72) which lists men from St. Andrew's Holborn parish who were found by the Inn and willing to join the Navy.  Lincoln's Inn accepted a share of the obligation on St Andrew's Parish to find these men notwithstanding the Inn's claim to be treated as an extra‑parochial enclave. Please click on the page below to flick through the list which includes the names, parish and place of birth, occupation and age of the recruited men.

Read more: June 2015 - Lincoln's Inn and the Napoleonic Wars

May 2015 - Stone Buildings and World War II

By comparison to the other Inns of Court which were very heavily bombed during the Second World War, Lincoln’s Inn survived the duration relatively unscathed. However, although it is known that the Inn suffered some loss of windows during the war, it seems to be less well known that one area of the Inn that was badly damaged was Stone Buildings. Looking at the buildings today you would barely be able to see the effects of the severe damage the buildings sustained during the Blitz, particularly on the nights of 10 October 1940 and 10 May 1941. In the October raid, 9 Stone Buildings was very badly damaged as can be seen from the photograph below.


Read more: May 2015 - Stone Buildings and World War II

April 2015 - The King's Grocer's House

The Inn has never historically owned property outside of the main Inn site with the exception of one property, the King’s Grocer’s House at 24 Newgate Street. Rather than being deliberately bought, this property was bequeathed to the Inn on 30 April 1565 through the will of Sir Roger Cholmeley, Treasurer of the Inn 1529-30. The house given by Cholmeley was probably originally made of wood and tiles as is hinted at in some of the earlier deeds we have for the property. The image below shows the extract from Cholmeley's will bequething the house to the Inn (ref: D1c6) and a transcription of it can be found by clicking here.  

Cholmeley will extract

Read more: April 2015 - The King's Grocer's House

March 2015 - The Bennett Fund

Lincoln's Inn has a long history of educating and supporting students and those studying for the bar. The Inn's scholarships, bursaries and prizes assist many students with the costs incurred during their legal training. Much of the necessary funding for these has come from generous benefactions. One was a gift of £1,000 (worth many times that in today's money) in 1944 made by Viscount Bennett. On the 30th March 1946 the Inn established the Bennett Fund to apply the money for the 'charitable purposes in aid of (or in connection with) the education of members of the society'. Initially the terms of the Bennett Fund were that it would support a cash prize to be awarded at intervals of not more than three years and that it would be awarded specifically for the 'encouragement or assistance of the study of constitutional law and comparative jurisprudence within the British Empire or of any legal or allied study relating to the British people or constitution'. An image of the first page of the Trust deed is below. 


Read more: March 2015 - The Bennett Fund

February 2015 - The Golden Book

On 29 February 1672 Charles II, his brother James Duke of York (later James II), Prince Rupert of the Rhine and various other nobles and courtiers visited the Inn at the invitation of Sir Francis GoodrickeLent Reader and Solicitor General to the Duke of York.

After a grand entrance followed by much eating and (particularly) drinking the King asked for the admissions book to be brought to him so he and the other members of his party could sign it, so essentially making themselves members of the Inn. No monarch had ever been a member of the Inn so this was seen as a great honour by those members of the Inn in attendance at the gathering. These signed pages of the admissions register were subsequently removed and were bound separately into what is now known as the 'Golden Book', along with the description of the event. Please click on the image of the front cover of the Golden Book below to flick through the pages relating to the King's visit. Note the 'C R' on the King's coat of arms on the cover representing the Latin 'Carolus Rex' or 'King Charles'. 

Read more: February 2015 - The Golden Book

January 2015 - Serle's Coffee House

Frontispiece to Ned Ward's Vulgus Brittanicus (1710)

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw an explosion in numbers of coffee houses in Britain, particularly in London, and Lincoln’s Inn was no exception. In the Inn’s records there is an entry in 1704 referring to the ‘Coffee-house room in Serle’s Court’, ie in what soon became more commonly known as New Square.  Many decisions of Council relating to Serle’s Court, which was developed and built under an agreement with Henry Serle made in 1682, were transcribed into a separate series of records, Serle’s Court Books (Archive ref: E2a/1-2), rather than into the Black Books, the main series of minutes of Council, though the printed edition of the Black Books as in this case includes selected extracts from them.  Although the earliest express record to the coffee house, the entry clearly implies that it had been in place there before 1704 - doubtless before the Inn provided its own facilities such as the ‘Refreshment Room’ and now the MCR it was a useful amenity.  Details gleaned from the Serle’s Court Books show that by the mid-eighteenth century Serle’s coffee house, as it had become known, was based on the ground floor of 3 New Square, at the south-east corner of the square next to Wildy’s archway. Until about 1760 it was on the right hand side as you go in the door and from 1760 in the rooms directly ahead as you go up the steps. In addition to the coffee house, there is also a mention in 1722 of there being a brewery in the basement of the building used by the then proprietor, Mr Hart. In addition to selling coffee, coffee houses also sold alcohol and served food, explaining why Mr Hart had a brewery in the basement.

Read more: January 2015 - Serle's Coffee House