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The home of London’s legal profession

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Grays Inn
Lincoln's Inn
Lincoln's Inn Fields
Old Curiosity Shop
Sir John Soane's Museum
Royal Courts of Justice
The Inns of Court are the home of London’s legal profession and associations to which every English barrister must belong. The “Inns” were once a hostel for trainee lawyers. In the 19th century King’s College was built next to Somerset House to teach law; before this however, the only way to obtain legal training was to serve an apprenticeship at one of the Inns of Court. Today, the number of Inns has been reduced to just four - Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. All are located in the Holborn area of London.

Combined arms of the four Inns of Court. Clockwise from top left: Lincoln's Inn, Middle Temple, Gray's Inn, Inner Temple
Photo Marc Baronnet

Did You Know?

Each of the four Inns of Court has three ordinary grades of membership: students, barristers, and Masters of the Bench or "benchers". The benchers constitute the governing body for each Inn and appoint new members from among existing barrister members.

Legal corridors at the Inns of Court
Photo TourNorfolk
Lincoln’s Inn is the oldest of the Inns and can be traced back to 1422. It takes its name from the third Earl of Lincoln, who lived nearby; it also has some of the best preserved buildings of all the Inns.  Members of Lincoln’s Inn include many past and present famous people including Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Lincoln's Inn
Photo TourNorfolk
Lincoln’s Inn Fields give students and lawyers a pleasant open space to relax; however the fields were not always so pleasant. Back in the 16th century the fields were used as a public execution site. In one incident in 1586, Anthony Babington was hung, drawn and quartered in the square for plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. Apparently, the punishment made such a horrendous mess that the Queen ordered that his accomplices should be simply hanged!

Lincoln's Inn Fields and Bandstand
Photo's © Redvers, psflannery

Sir John Soane's Museum is a self endowed monument to one of London's important architects and collectors
Photo pollobarca2
Today, the Inns of Court are a more peaceful place, with plenty of atmospheric cobbled lanes to stroll around. The ghost of the great Victorian writer Charles Dickens is said to haunt the streets near the Old Curiosity Shop. This is a tiny 16th century overhanging building, now a shoe shop and the inspiration for Little Nell’s Antique Shop.

The Old Curiosity Shop, dating from 1567
Photo Lonpickman

Gray's Inn
Photo TourNorfolk

A row of red telephone boxes, near Lincoln's Inn
Photo TourNorfolk
On the Strand, you will find the Royal Courts of Justice, known as the Law Courts. Built in the 1870's, this Victorian Gothic style building houses the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Justice. The building is open to the public (with restrictions depending upon the nature of the cases being heard) and highlights include various carvings and an impressive marbled Main Hall.

Royal Courts of Justice
Photo Anthony M
Visitor Information
Some of the gates into the Inns of Court are locked at weekends. Sir John Soane's Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Nearest Tube Holborn. Tel: 020 7440 4263

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