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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Gray’s Inn Estate

Estates in Bloomsbury

1 Duke of Bedford
2 City of London Corporation
3 Capper Mortimer
4 Fitzroy (Duke of Grafton)
5 Somers
6 Skinners' (Tonbridge)
7 Battle Bridge
8 Lucas
9 Harrison
10 Foundling Hospital
11 Rugby
12 Bedford Charity (Harpur)
13 Doughty
14 Gray's Inn
15 Bainbridge–Dyott (Rookeries)

Area between the Foundling and Harrison estates: Church land

Grey areas: fragmented ownership and haphazard development; already built up by 1800

About the Gray’s Inn Estate

Gray’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London, which control admission to the Bar for lawyers in England and Wales

Its estate in the south-east corner of Bloomsbury is on the edge of the legal district of London and has its origins in the manor house of Purpoole (www.graysinn.info)

The Inn developed and prospered in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not only as a place of training for lawyers, but also as a place of entertainment and celebration (www.graysinn.info)

It was a residential place of training akin to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, with a Hall, Chapel, Library, accommodation, and extensive gardens, all arranged around Squares

As an Inn of Court it was also extra-parochial, or outside the boundaries of local parishes, and exempt from their taxes

It continues to operate as a place of legal training and a base for barristers’ chambers

Bishop’s Head Court

Also known as Bishop’s Court

It was a tiny alleyway leading off the west side of Gray’s Inn Road, just above its junction at the south with High Holborn

It appears (as Bishop’s Court) on Rocque’s map of 1746

Horwood’s map of 1819 shows ten houses: on the west side, consecutive numbers from 1 to 5, running from south to north; and on the east side, consecutive numbers from 6 to 10, running from north to south

Although it is in the general area of Gray’s Inn, it may not have been part of the actual estate

The 1841 census shows occupants to have been those of a typical crowded mews: labourers, boot and shoemakers, carpenters, plumbers, painters, porters, stablemen, and their wives and children, the wives sometimes also working as bookfolders

It is still marked (but not named) on Stanford’s map of 1897

In the twentieth century, its buildings were all destroyed and no trace of it remains

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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