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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

Fulwood’s Rents

Also known as Fullwood Row/Fuller’s Rents/Fullwood’s Rents/Fulwood Place

It is a short passageway from High Holborn into Gray’s Inn, although it may not be part of the latter’s estate

It was already developed by the end of the seventeenth century, when there was a Catholic club frequented by conspirators there (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Titus Oates)

Strype describes it as a thriving centre of entertainment and refreshment: “...a Place of a good Resort, and taken up by Coffee Houses, Ale Houses, and Houses of Entertainment, by reason of its vicinity to Gray's Inn. On the East side is an handsome open Place, with a Freestone Pavement, and better built and inhabited by private Housekeepers. At the upper end of this Court, is a passage into the Castle Tavern, a House of a considerable Trade. As is the Golden Griffin Tavern, on the West side, which also hath a passage into Fulwood's Rents” (John Strype, Stow’s Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, Corrected, Improved and Very Much Enlarged, 1720)

William Hillyer’s soup shop moved here in 1797, sure of a good trade among the poor

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


Bloomsbury Project - University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT - Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 3134 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

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