November 2017 - Threat of cholera and the water pumps at Lincoln's Inn
Either side of the Brewster Memorial Gates, at the North end of New Square Garden, are two stone water pumps.
They are listed by Historic England and dated as ‘circa 1863’, but we cannot be certain exactly when they date from. A possible suggestion is that they were designed by Philip Hardwick as part of the redesign of the garden, following the building of the Great Hall and Library in 1845.
In the month that marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it seemed a good opportunity to look at religion at Lincoln’s Inn during this time.
The current Chapel was completed in 1623, replacing a smaller, pre-existing one. The exact location of the earlier chapel is not known, although we do know that it was not on the same site as the current chapel. Building accounts for the new chapel describe the previous chapel as being located in a ruinous state nearby, even once the new building was open and being used for services. In 1822 a small fragment of carved alabaster from the original chapel was discovered, and it is now on display beside the pulpit.
200 years ago this month, Ben Price, the Principal of Furnival’s Inn wrote to Lincoln’s Inn on behalf of ‘himself and the other Antients and Members.’ The letter was a petition from the Society to Lincoln’s Inn, requesting a renewal of their lease. Their letter is dated 12 September 1817 and it was heard at a Council meeting on 6 November 1817.
Over 10 years ago, two Lord Chancellor’s purses were discovered in the previous Archive strongroom. They were mounted in wooden frames and wrapped in brown paper, annotated simply as ‘Lord Chancellor’s Purses.’ There was no accompanying documentation, and no trace of their acquisition in the records.
In June 1780 some interesting entries, relating to the payment of certain bills, occur in the Black Book. At a Council held on 29 June 1780 it is ordered that ‘several tradesmen’s bills for provisions, wine &c, for the Northumberland Militia, amounting to the sum of £364 12s be paid.’
This month marks the anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas Lovell, who died on 25 May 1524. He had been one of a group of key councillors who had aided Henry VII. Amongst other positions, he acted as Treasurer of the Chamber and was made Chancellor of the Exchequer for life in 1485. He had proved invaluable in helping to secure Henry’s position on the throne, having joined the revolt against Richard III in 1485 and later raising men to fight for Henry VII. A document from 1508 lists 1,365 men, sworn to fight in Lovell’s retinue on behalf of the king. More than half of these men were enlisted from estates which Lovell was steward of, including boroughs such as Derby, Lichfield, and Nottingham. He was clearly valued by Henry VII as a trusted councillor and, along with Sir Reynold Bray, he was given the sensitive task of arranging for the construction of Richard III's tomb.
There are thought to be around 100,000 war memorials in the UK. Many of these were created by communities after the end of the First World War. This was certainly the case with the War memorial at Lincoln’s Inn, which was built in 1921 to honour members who lost their life in the Great War.
In 2019, 100 years will have passed since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act enabled women to have careers at the bar, and 2023 will see the 100 year anniversary since the first women were called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. In anticipation of this, on 15 March this year, the Inn is holding a Women’s Forum: Celebrating Women at the Bar: Past, Present and Future. In celebration of this upcoming event, this Archive of the Month looks at Gwyneth Bebb (married name Thomson), who was one of the first women admitted to the Inn after the Act was passed on 23 December 1919.
January is usually the time of year when we attempt New Year’s resolutions, and dietary restraint, after having enjoyed the culinary delights of the Christmas season. The Inn has always provided excellent dining facilities for its members throughout term time, although the way in which it has administered this has changed substantially over the years.
In the Archive there is a contract for the employment of George S Elliott as ‘Cook and Purveyor’, dated 16 December 1873. This document relates to the employment of George Samuel Elliott, who joined the Inn during a period when the catering and dining arrangements were undergoing various attempts at reform.