The Estate

The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn is the oldest of the four Inns of Court, dating back to 1422, and is also the largest with our estate spanning eleven acres.

Take a tour of our eleven acre estate

The Origins of Lincoln’s Inn

Together the four Inns of Court: Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn form one of the most historic legal organisations in the country, taking their place alongside the church, the monarchy, parliament and the two ancient universities.

Lincoln’s Inn holds the oldest continuous run of historical records. Minutes from meetings of the Inn’s Council and governing bodies have been meticulously recorded in the Black Books, with our earliest volume dating from 1422. It is thought that the Inn existed in some form, although probably not on this site, since the late fourteenth century.

Historic hall with chandeliers filled with rows of chairs

The Old Hall

The Inn’s oldest surviving building built around 1490. The decorative screen in the Old Hall dates from 1624 and is believed to have been designed by Inigo Jones, the first significant English architect in the early modern period.

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Historic hall from the back set up for a conference filled with rows of chairs

The Great Hall

Completed in 1845, the Inn extended an invitation to Her Majesty Queen Victoria as guest of honour at the opening ceremony. Many paintings are displayed on the walls and a striking fresco by the renowned painter G. F. Watts, entitled 'Justice, A Hemicycle of Lawgivers' decorates the North wall.

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Tables set up for dining in restaurant with domed ceiling and chandelier

The MCR Restaurant & Bar

In 2004, a mezzanine floor was added in the top half of the Great Hall's Victorian kitchens to create a new space for a Members’ Restaurant & Bar. The kitchens were originally described as ‘a large and lofty apartment, with a stone vaulted roof, supported by columns; and a huge projecting fire-place.’ These original features can still be seen in the space today.

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Queen Elizabeth standing next to a wall displaying when the Ashworth Centre was opened by her

The Ashworth Centre

Our latest development saw the biggest change in the Inn’s estate for well over 100 years. Officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in December 2018, it is named after one of the first female barristers to be called to the bar, Mercy Ashworth, who went on to practice from chambers within Lincoln’s Inn.

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The site at Lincoln’s Inn

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. In fact the oldest document in the Archive, dated 16 November 1228, is the grant from Henry III to Ralph de Neville, Bishop of Chichester. The adjacent land to the north and west belonged to the Hospital of Burton Lazars.

Birds eye view of historic venue showing the rest of Holborn surrounding it

The Benchers acquired the freehold of the whole site in 1580. At that time the buildings comprised the Old Hall, the cluster 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 eleven acre 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.