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Lincoln's Inn Fields

Lincoln's Inn Fields

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Lincoln's Inn Fields is the largest public square in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, UK. It was laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder and contractor William Newton, "the first in a long series of entrepreneurs who took a hand in developing London", as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner
Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE, FBA was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture...

 observes. The original plan for "laying out and planting" these fields, drawn by the hand of Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

, was said still to be seen in Lord Pembroke's collection at Wilton House
Wilton House
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years....

 in the 19th century, but is untraced. The grounds, which had remained private property, were acquired by London County Council
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

 in 1895. It is today managed by the London Borough of Camden
London Borough of Camden
In 1801, the civil parishes that form the modern borough were already developed and had a total population of 96,795. This continued to rise swiftly throughout the 19th century, as the district became built up; reaching 270,197 in the middle of the century...

 and forms part of the southern boundary of that borough with the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
The City of Westminster is a London borough occupying much of the central area of London, England, including most of the West End. It is located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary...

.

Lincoln's Inn Fields takes its name from the adjacent Lincoln's Inn
Lincoln's Inn
The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. The other three are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. Although Lincoln's Inn is able to trace its official records beyond...

, of which the private gardens are separated from the Fields by a perimeter wall and a large gatehouse.

The grassed area in the centre of the Fields contains a court for tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 and netball
Netball
Netball is a ball sport played between two teams of seven players. Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960 international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women's Basketball ...

 and a bandstand. It was previously used for corporate events, but these are no longer permitted. Cricket and other sports are thought to have been played here in the 18th century.

History


When originally laid out, Lincoln's Inn Fields was part of fashionable London. The completion of the houses that surrounded it proceeded at a leisurely pace, interrupted by the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

: In 1659 James Cooper, Robert Henley, and Francis Finch and other owners of "certain parcels of ground in the fields, commonly called Lincoln's Inn Fields", were exempted from all forfeitures and penalties which they might incur in regard to any new buildings they might erect on three sides of the same fields, previously to the 1st of October in that year, provided that they paid for the public service one year's full value for every such house within one month of its erection; and provided that they should convey the 'residue of the said fields' to the Society of Lincoln's Inn, for laying the same into walks for common use and benefit, whereby the annoyances which formerly have been in the same fields will be taken away, and passengers there for the future better secured." The oldest building from this early period is Lindsey House, 59-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, which was built in 1640 and has been attributed to Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

. The builder may have been David Cunningham, 1st Baronet of Auchinhervie, a friend of the mason-sculptor Nicholas Stone
Nicholas Stone
Nicholas Stone was an English sculptor and architect. In 1619 he was appointed master-mason to James I, and in 1626 to Charles I....

, who also supervised the rebuilding of Berkhamsted Place
Berkhamsted Place
Berkhamsted Place was an English country house which was erected sometime around 1580 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. It was built by Sir Edward Carey, the keeper of the Jewels to Queen Elizabeth I from stones removed from Berkhamsted Castle...

 for Charles I. It derives its name from a period of ownership in the 18th century by the earls of Lindsey.


Another seventeenth century survival is now 66 Lincoln's Inn Fields, which was built for Lord Powis and known as Powis House
Powis House
Powis House was an 18th century mansion in London, England. It stood on the northern side of Great Ormond Street, not far from Queen Square....

. The charter of the Bank of England
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world...

 was sealed there on 27 July 1694. It was in 1705 acquired by the Duke of Newcastle
Duke of Newcastle
Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a title which has been created three times in British history while the title of Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne has been created once. The title was created for the first time in the Peerage of England in 1664 when William Cavendish, 1st Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne...

 (whereupon it became known as Newcastle House
Newcastle House
Newcastle House is a mansion in Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London, England. It was one of the two largest houses built in London's largest square during its development in the 17th century, the other being Lindsey House. It is the northernmost house on the western side of the square.The house...

) who had it remodelled by Sir John Vanbrugh
John Vanbrugh
Sir John Vanbrugh  – 26 March 1726) was an English architect and dramatist, perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. He wrote two argumentative and outspoken Restoration comedies, The Relapse and The Provoked Wife , which have become enduring stage favourites...

 (following earlier work by Sir Christopher Wren
Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren FRS is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history.He used to be accorded responsibility for rebuilding 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710...

 after a fire in 1684). It remains substantially in its circa 1700 form, although a remodelling in 1930 by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Edwin Lutyens
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA was a British architect who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era...

 gives it a curiously pastiche appearance.

As London fashion moved west, Lincoln's Inn Fields was left to rich lawyers who were attracted by its proximity to the Inns of Court
Inns of Court
The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. All such barristers must belong to one such association. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional...

. Thus, the former Newcastle House became in 1790 the premises of the solicitors Farrer & Co who are still there: their clients include much of the landed gentry
Landed gentry
Landed gentry is a traditional British social class, consisting of land owners who could live entirely off rental income. Often they worked only in an administrative capacity looking after the management of their own lands....

 and also Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

.

The Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre was located in the Fields from 1661 to 1848 when it was demolished. Originally called the Duke's Theatre, it was created by converting Lisle's Tennis Court
Lisle's Tennis Court
Lisle's Tennis Court was a building off Portugal Street in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. Originally built as a real tennis court, it was used as a playhouse during two periods, 1661–1674 and 1695–1705. During the early period, the theatre was called "the Duke's Playhouse", or "the...

, to become the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in 1695. The theatre presented the first paid public performances of Purcell's
Henry Purcell
Henry Purcell – 21 November 1695), was an English organist and Baroque composer of secular and sacred music. Although Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, his legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music...

 Dido and Aeneas
Dido and Aeneas
Dido and Aeneas is an opera in a prologue and three acts by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell to a libretto by Nahum Tate. The first known performance was at Josias Priest's girls' school in London no later than the summer of 1688. The story is based on Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid...

in 1700, John Gay
John Gay
John Gay was an English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. He is best remembered for The Beggar's Opera , set to music by Johann Christoph Pepusch...

's The Beggar's Opera
The Beggar's Opera
The Beggar's Opera is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today...

in January 1728, and Handel
HANDEL
HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

's final two operas in 1740 and 1741.

Lincoln's Inn Fields was the site, in 1683, of the public beheading of Lord William Russell
William Russell, Lord Russell
William Russell, Lord Russell was an English politician. He was a leading member of the Country Party, forerunners of the Whigs, who opposed the succession of James II during the reign of Charles II, ultimately resulting in his execution for treason.-Early life and marriage:Russell was the third...

, son of the first Duke of Bedford, following his implication in the Rye House Plot
Rye House Plot
The Rye House Plot of 1683 was a plan to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother James, Duke of York. Historians vary in their assessment of the degree to which details of the conspiracy were finalized....

 for the attempted assassination of King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

. The executioner was Jack Ketch
Jack Ketch
John Ketch was an infamous English executioner employed by King Charles II. An immigrant of Irish extraction, he became famous through the way he performed his duties during the tumults of the 1680s, when he was often mentioned in broadsheet accounts that circulated throughout the Kingdom of...

 who made such a poor job of it that four axe blows were required before the head was separated from the body and, after the first stroke, Russell looked up and said to him "You dog, did I give you 10 guineas to use me so inhumanely?".

From 1750-1992, the solicitors Frere Cholmeley were in premises on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, after which their buildings were taken over by a leading set of commercial barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

s' chambers, known as Essex Court Chambers
Essex Court Chambers
Essex Court Chambers is a leading set of commerclal barristers in Lincoln's Inn Fields, central London. The set is named after their former premises at 4 Essex Court in the Temple. It has 71 tenants, of whom 35 are Silks. With a turnover of £43.6 million, it is part of the Magic Circle and offers...

 after their own former premises at 4 Essex Court in the Temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

. Essex Court Chambers now occupy five buildings, nos. 24-28 Lincoln's Inn Fields. Other barristers' chambers have since then also set up in Lincoln's Inn Fields, although solicitors' firms still outnumber them there.

In Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

' novel Bleak House
Bleak House
Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon...

, the sinister solicitor to the aristocracy Mr Tulkinghorn has his offices in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and one of its most dramatic scenes is set there. The description of his building corresponds most closely to Lindsey House. After a spell as a patent agents, Lindsey House, together with the neighbouring building at 57-58, which includes some features designed by Sir John Soane, including a geometric staircase, has become home to the leading civil liberties barristers' chambers, Garden Court Chambers
Garden Court Chambers
Garden Court Chambers is a barristers' chambers based in Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn in London. It was set up in the 1970's to reflect the need for the disadvantaged to find committed and specialist legal representation...

.

Since 2007, Lincolns Inn Fields is also home to the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen Mary, University of London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

.

The London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 has recently moved onto the square, taking ownership of 50 Lincoln's Inn Fields, on the corner of Sardinia Street in 2003, where the School's Global Governance research centre is based. At the end of 2008, Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh officially opened in Lincoln's Inn Fields a new £71 million state-of-the-art building housing the LSE's Departments of Law and Management, being the first time that LSE has re-located one of its major academic departments to actual frontage on the park. In 2009, the institution also took over ownership of Sardinia House, and in 2010, the Land Registry Building on the Square.

Notable premises


Aside from Linsey House and Powis House, at number 13, on the north side of the square, is Sir John Soane's Museum, home of the architect. On the same side, at number 7, is Thomas More Chambers, led by Mr Geoffrey Cox
Geoffrey Cox
Charles Geoffrey Cox, QC, MP , is a British politician and barrister. A member of the Conservative Party, he is currently a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Torridge and West Devon.-Early life:...

 QC MP. Organisations with premises on the south side of the square include Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer...

's London Research Institute
London Research Institute
The Cancer Research UK London Research Institute is a biological research facility whose aim is to conduct research into the basic biology of cancer...

 and the Royal College of Surgeons
Royal College of Surgeons of England
The Royal College of Surgeons of England is an independent professional body and registered charity committed to promoting and advancing the highest standards of surgical care for patients, regulating surgery, including dentistry, in England and Wales...

 (including the Hunterian Museum exhibiting the intriguing medical collections of John Hunter
John Hunter (surgeon)
John Hunter FRS was a Scottish surgeon regarded as one of the most distinguished scientists and surgeons of his day. He was an early advocate of careful observation and scientific method in medicine. The Hunterian Society of London was named in his honour...

. There is a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 marking the home of the surgeon William Marsden
William Marsden (surgeon)
William Marsden was an English surgeon whose main achievements are the founding of two presently well-known hospitals, the Royal Free Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital ....

 at number 65. On the west side, the London School of Economics and Political Science
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 has new premises at Stuart House, which opened in September 2008, as well as offices and a medical centre at Queen's House. It has also recently purchased the Land Registry Building at 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields for academic purposes. There is a statue by Barry Flanagan
Barry Flanagan
Barry Flanagan RA OBE was a Welsh sculptor, best known for his bronze statues of hares.-Biography:Barry Flanagan was born in Prestatyn, North Wales. He studied at Birmingham College of Art and Crafts before going on to St. Martin's School of Art in London in 1964. Flanagan graduated in 1966 and...

, an abstract called Camdonian, in the North East corner of the square. Also located at 67-69 is the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, the commercial law research and teaching centre of Queen Mary, University of London .

Homeless people


In the 1980s, Lincoln's Inn Fields attracted many homeless people who slept there overnight. In 1992, they were cleared out, fences were raised, and since the re-opening of Lincoln's Inn Fields with its new railings in 1993, gates have been locked every night at dusk. However, although no homeless people now reside, a vestige of their presence is the soup-vans which continue to visit Lincoln's Inn Fields nightly, along the east side adjacent to Lincoln's Inn, providing free food to queues of homeless people who assemble at dark to collect the food and then disappear. The vans are operated by a variety of religious organisations: some Christian, some from eastern religions.

During the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 holy month of Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

, Muslims attend the Fields at sunset to feed the local homeless.

Nearest stations


The nearest London Underground stations are Holborn
Holborn tube station
Holborn is a station of the London Underground in Holborn in London, located at the junction of High Holborn and Kingsway. Situated on the Piccadilly Line and on the Central Line , it is the only station common to the two lines, although the two lines cross each other three times elsewhere...

 and Chancery Lane
Chancery Lane tube station
Chancery Lane is a London Underground station in central London. It is on the Central Line between St. Paul's and Holborn stations. The station is located at the junction of High Holborn, Hatton Garden and Gray's Inn Road with subway entrances giving access to the ticket office under the roadway...

.

Further reading

  • Chancellor, Edwin Beresford, The Romance of Lincoln's Inn Fields, London: Richards, 1932 (2nd edition)
  • Plantamura, Carol, ‘’The Opera Lover's Guide to Europe’’, New York: Citadel Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8065-1842-1
  • Lincoln's Inn Fields, Old and New London: Volume 3 (1878), pp. 44–50
  • Manzoor, Sarfraz. "How Muslim flashmobs can feed homeless people", The Guardian, September 22, 2008.

External links