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Lincoln’s Inn, London: unexecuted competition designs for new buildings (later known as Stone Buildings), commissioned by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, 1771-74 (9)

1771-74
Being one of four Inns of Court, Lincoln’s Inn was founded in the fourteenth century on land gifted by Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. The Earl’s heraldic lion rampant appears in the arms of the Society of Lincoln’s Inn which can be seen on two of its gated entrances. The complex was built gradually over the centuries. The earliest surviving element is the Old Hall, built in 1489-92. The Old Buildings were constructed in c1490-1520; the chapel was begun in 1619; New Square was built in 1682-93; and more recently the New Hall and Library were built in 1843-5.

In 1771, the Society of Lincoln’s Inn established a competition to design a building for a plot between Chancery Lane and Lincoln’s Inn Fields, incorporating the existing seventeenth-century chapel. Rival designs were submitted by Robert Adam, Matthew Brettingham the younger (1725-1803), James Paine (1717-89), and Sir Robert Taylor (1714-88). Adam’s designs survive at Sir John Soane’s Museum. Those by Brettingham, Paine and Taylor were previously thought to have been lost, but were rediscovered in a cellar furniture store beneath Lincoln’s Inn in 1988. The successful competition design was that submitted by Taylor. His design was partly executed in 1774-80, and came to be known as Stone Buildings as the principal (west) front is clad in stone. The south end of the west wing was completed in 1842-45 by Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) to a slightly modified design.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, 'Lincoln's Inn and the fields', Architectural Review, June 1917, pp. 111-115; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 41; B. Weinreb and C. Hibbert, The London Encyclopaedia, 1983, p. 471; A.A. Tait, Robert Adam: the creative mind: from the sketch to the finished drawing, 1996, p. 39; B. Cherry & N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 4: North, 1998, pp. 284-87; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 33-38, 57; A. Rowan, "Bob the Roman’"Heroic antiquity & the architecture of Robert Adam, 2003, pp. 30-32; R. Hradsky, ‘The 1771 competition for rebuilding Lincoln’s Inn’, The Georgian Group Journal, 2009, pp. 95-106

I am grateful to Guy Holborn, Librarian at Lincoln’s Inn for information regarding the extant drawings by Brettingham, Paine and Taylor.

Frances Sands, 2014
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