London Drum

Lincoln’s Inn – One of London’s Four Inns of Court

Lincoln’s Inn
Where? Lincoln’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn Fields · Web: Opening times? Grounds: 8 AM to 7 PM (Mon-Fri) Visiting hours may change Price? Free Time required? A typical visit is 30 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 8, 25, 242, 521 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Holborn Central Piccadilly Other nearby stations: Chancery Lane and Temple Train fares

Craig’s review… Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court and you’ll find it round the back of the Royal Courts of Justice. (The other three can be found nearby – Gray’s Inn, Middle Inn, and Inner Temple near Temple Church.) Back in Tudor times they were regarded as the country’s third university after Oxford and Cambridge and trained up all the legal professionals. If you walk around the grounds today then you’ll find it full of barristers, briefs and solicitors. It’s like a little campus, I suppose, consisting of a chapel, some chambers (digs) and a hall.

You can have a walk around the beautiful grounds for free but if you want to have a look inside the buildings then you’ll have to stump up for a guided tour. Unfortunately they only do a few each month so it’s not an easy thing to visit, but if you’re a fan of old architecture then I definitely recommend finding the time.

The Chapel undercroft

My tour today started in the undercroft of the chapel. I always arrive everywhere far too early so I was milling around for fifteen minutes making small talk with the strangers (I’m useless at small talk). And to make matters worse they all turned out to be American lawyers. Then the guide turned up and made us announce our names and recite a few highlights from out CV which was a bit embarrassing, because my CV is basically blank. The Americans’ CVs were full of Ivy League degrees and words like Harvard and Yale, whereas mine was just putting out the peas at Sainsburys.

Then she went around the circle again asking us what interest we had in the law. (What was this, a police interrogation?) I have no interest in the law whatsoever (I’ve watched a few episodes of The Bill on the telly) – I was strictly there for the architecture – but I didn’t want to appear rude so naturally I just lied through my teeth and told everyone that I absolutely loved the law. Then I remembered that I was with a bunch of lawyers so they would have been able to tell straight away that I was lying – ah well.

The Old Tudor Hall

After ten minutes she eventually led us into the old Tudor Hall and launched into a long monologue about how English solicitors, barristers and QCs are trained. The Old Hall reminded me a little bit of the Great Hall at Hampton Court but on a much smaller scale, with long wooden tables, candle chandeliers and huge oil paintings of high court judges hanging on the walls.

The Chapel and New Hall

Next up was the chapel itself, which must have some of the finest stained glass in the country. I’ve been to plenty of religious buildings in places like Oxford, Canterbury, Cambridge and Bath, and the strained glass in here trumped the lot. It was almost like oil on glass and the paint and saints were incredibly intense and colourful.

The New Hall reminded me of the Guildhall with its deep reds and chestnut-coloured browns. We couldn’t walk around much because they had it dressed up for a dinner event… the kind of dinner where everybody gets four knives, five forks and a set of clear-cut crystal glasses.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Charterhouse (walk it in 14 mins or catch a tube from Holborn to Barbican) and Staple Inn (you can walk it in 4 mins). You can go and see Middle and Inner Temple near Temple Church

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

Mags Do you need to book in advance to see Lincoln's Inn?

Craig Hi Mags. If you're going on a tour then you should definitely book in advance, but if you're just walking around the grounds to see it from the outside, then you can turn up whenever you like during opening hours

PHayes Is it really worth doing a tour? I would like to see it but I'm not sure if I can be bothered paying and wasting time on a tour

Craig Hi PHayes. If you're interested in the history of the legal profession then you'll probably get more out of the tour, because this whole place is like a legal campus and that's what they spend most of their time talking about. I thought the inside of the Tudor Hall and New Hall were worth seeing, but they're not jaw-droppingly amazing -- it's the outside that will impress you the most, and you can see that for free

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