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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

South Square

Also known as Holborn Court

It is in the south-east of Bloomsbury, forming part of Gray’s Inn

It was built during the mid-eighteenth century; no. 1, which survived Second World War bombing, is dated 1759

It was, unsurprisingly, designed for laywers; no. 7 held the practice of lawyer William Vizard (associate of powerful Whig lawyers Henry Brougham and Samuel Romilly) from 1797, by which time another Whig lawyer, Thomas Creevey, was already established in the same building (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for William Vizard)

The new library of Gray’s Inn, built here in the eighteenth century, was extended further in 1840 (The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, www.graysinn.info)

The chemist Francis Thirkill Conington lodged with his brother at no. 11 while studying chemistry at University College around 1855–1857 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The library of Gray’s Inn was extended again in 1880

No. 4 was the office of Henry Hilberyand Son, founded by this City of London solicitor in the 1880s (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Sir Malcolm Hilbery)

The Middlesex County Magistrate Albert Beetham had as his address in the 1880s no. 11 South Square (Charles Dickens (jr), Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888: An Unconventional Handbook, 1888)

The library of Gray’s Inn was destroyed in the Second World War; it was later rebuilt in Gray’s Inn Place

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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