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Lincoln's Inn, Westminster, 1821-23 (4)


Architectural Note:-
The origins of Lincoln's Inn as a de facto college of lawyers is largely obscure. The Hall, designated ‘Old Hall’, is part of the complex’s medieval nucleus, arranged in college-fashion around a courtyard. It was built from 1489-1492, and is notable for having four oriel windows; those at its south end were added in 1583. In 1720, a plaster barrel vault carried on consoles was inserted, to the designs of James Gibbs. Thirty years later, William Hogarth’s large canvas depicting St Paul before Felix was hung on the north wall. Substantial alterations were undertaken in 1819. Attributed to James Wigg, the Gothic tester over the north dais may date from this campaign. In this form, the interior was included amongst the plates of Rawlindson & Pugin's Microcosm of London (1808) vol. I, plate opposite p. 193. Old Hall’s current appearance reflects a thorough restoration campaign overseen by John Simpson from 1924 - 1928, which aimed to reassert the aesthetic of the Hall’s Tudor origins.

Old Hall also served as a location for sessions of the Court of Chancery. This reflected the evolution of legal processes associated with Chancery, as from the mid sixteenth century the Master of the Rolls exercised judicial functions as an effective deputy, or ‘vice chancellor’ beneath the Lord Chancellor. Outside the legal terms, the custom for Chancery to sit in Old Hall appears to have been established in 1733, when Charles, 1st Baron Talbot, occasionally sat there. Three years later, under his successor in office, Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, the adjacent buttery was refurbished as a Judges’ Withdrawing Room. A sign that such sittings were an accepted custom is clear when in 1770, the floor was repaired and the place where the Lord Chancellor sat was raised to distinguish it. Accommodation was subsequently found for the Court’s six clerks’ office in the recently completed Stone Buildings (not to be confused with The Stone Building at the Palace of Westminster). Chancery continued to sit here during the construction of Soane’s New Law Courts.

Drawings Note:-
The earliest survey is recorded fleetingly in a Day Book entry for 3 August 1821, where both Arthur Mee and Charles Papendiek were involved, as with the earliest survey of Clerkenwell Sessions House, this may have been a training exercise for the latter. There is no surviving evidence that this early survey was extensive, though interest in the temporary arrangements at Lincoln’s Inn was rekindled at the end of September 1823 into the following month. There are no corresponding entries in the Day Books to firmly attribute these drawings with any one draughtsman. The handwriting is clearly not that of Arthur Mee, who undertook extensive surveys of the then extant Law Courts at Westminster.



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation. This catalogue of Soane’s designs for the New Law Courts was generously funded by The Worshipful Company of Mercers and The Pilgrim Trust.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).  

Contents of Lincoln's Inn, Westminster, 1821-23 (4)