The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.516257, -0.116594


This text was copied from Wikipedia on 13 July 2024 at 6:10AM.

51°30′58″N 0°07′00″W / 51.5161°N 0.1166°W / 51.5161; -0.1166

Street sign
Lincoln's Inn Fields in spring 2006

Lincoln's Inn Fields is the largest public square in London. 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 observes.[1] The original plan for "laying out and planting" these fields, drawn by the hand of Inigo Jones, was said still to be seen in Lord Pembroke's collection at Wilton House in the 19th century,[2] but its location is now unknown.[3] The grounds, which had remained private property, were acquired by London County Council in 1895 and opened to the public by its chairman, Sir John Hutton, the same year.[4] The square is today managed by the London Borough of Camden and forms part of the southern boundary of that borough with the City of Westminster.[5]

Lincoln's Inn Fields takes its name from the adjacent Lincoln's Inn, 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 and netball, and a bandstand. It was previously used for corporate events, which are no longer permitted. Cricket and other sports are thought to have been played here in the 18th century.

Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1889 from Charles Booth, Life and Labour of the People in London: red areas are "middle-class, well-to-do"; blue areas are "Intermittent or casual earnings", and black areas are the "lowest class...occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals".


Lindsey House, 59–60 Lincoln's Inn Fields

Lincoln's Inn was situated in the county of Middlesex. Up to the 17th century cattle were grazed upon the fields, which were part of the Holborn grassland named Pursefield and belonged to St Giles Hospital. In the report of excavations of 64 Lincoln's Inn Fields,[6] it is noted that one Katherine Smyth, the owner of the White Hart Inn on Drury Lane, leased the land from 1520. It then reverted to the Crown, and was used as pasture and occasionally for an execution.

The use of the pastures meant that turnstiles were placed around the square to enable pedestrians to enter without the animals escaping. Shops and other businesses developed along these footpaths, and some of these alleys still exist – the Great and Little Turnstile.[7]

Schemes for redevelopment of the fields by Inigo Jones and Charles Cornwallis in 1613 and 1618 were unsuccessful. William Newton gained permission, however, to erect 32 houses in what became known as Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1638 for an annual fee of £5 6s 8d. However, the building licence was only given if the central area remained an outdoor space open to the public. Quarry pits were discovered in the excavations at No. 64 (see above), probably for building materials, in particular, gravel. In the fill of one was a fragment of a 'fuddling cup', a drinking vessel which made it deliberately difficult to drink from without spillage.

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. 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 1 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."[8] 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.[9] The builder may have been David Cunningham, 1st Baronet of Auchinhervie, a friend of the mason-sculptor Nicholas Stone, who also supervised the rebuilding of Berkhamsted Place for Charles I.[10] It derives its name from a period of ownership in the 18th century by the earls of Lindsey.[11]

Newcastle House in 1754

Another seventeenth-century survival is now 66 Lincoln's Inn Fields, which was built for Lord Powis and known as Powis House. The charter of the Bank of England was sealed there on 27 July 1694. It was in 1705 acquired by the Duke of Newcastle (whereupon it became known as Newcastle House) who had it remodelled by Sir John Vanbrugh (following earlier work by Christopher Wren after a fire in 1684). It remains substantially in its form of c. 1700, although a remodelling in 1930 by Edwin Lutyens 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. In this way the former Newcastle House became in 1790 the premises of the firm of solicitors Farrer & Co, which is still there: their clients include Queen Elizabeth II.

The Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre was located in the Fields from 1661 to 1848, when it was demolished. This, originally called the Duke's Theatre, was created by converting Lisle's Tennis Court in 1695. The theatre presented the first paid public performances of Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in 1700, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera in January 1728, and George Frideric Handel'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, son of the first Duke of Bedford, following his implication in the Rye House Plot for the attempted assassination of King Charles II. The executioner was Jack Ketch, who made such a poor job of it that four axe blows were required before the head was separated from the body; after the first stroke, Russell looked up and said to him "You dog, did I give you 10 guineas to use me so inhumanely?".

Sometime after 1735 the Fields were enclosed within an iron railing, on account of the then Master of the Rolls, Sir Joseph Jekyll, being ridden over by a horse. An alternative version of the story claims that Jekyll was attacked for his support of an Act of Parliament raising the price of gin.[12]

From 1750 to 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 barristers' chambers, known as Essex Court Chambers after their own former premises at 4 Essex Court in the Temple. Essex Court Chambers now occupy five buildings, nos. 24–28 Lincoln's Inn Fields. Other barristers' chambers, including leading family law chambers 1GC Family Law, have since then also set up in Lincoln's Inn Fields, but solicitors' firms still outnumber them there.

57–58 Lincoln's Inn Fields

In Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House, 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 of being occupied by a firm of patent agents, Lindsey House has become home to the leading civil liberties barristers' chambers, Garden Court Chambers, together with the neighbouring building at 57–58, which includes some features designed by Sir John Soane, including a geometric staircase.[13]

The London School of Economics and Political Science moved onto the square in 2003, taking the leasehold of 50 Lincoln's Inn Fields, on the corner of Sardinia Street. At the end of 2008, a new £71 million state-of-the-art building housing the LSE's Departments of Law and Management (54 Lincoln's Inn Fields) was opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Since then it has taken ownership of Sardinia House (2009), the former Land Registry building at 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields (2010), 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields (previously the home of Cancer Research), 5 Lincoln's Inn Fields (2016) and Nuffield House (2017), to expand to seven its portfolio of buildings on the square.

Notable premises

Royal College of Surgeons of England in 38-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields
Sir Arthur Lewis Building, formerly Land Registry in 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields

Aside from Lindsey House and Powis House, the north side of the square features Sir John Soane's Museum, home of the architect, at numbers 12, 13 and 14. On the same side, at number 7, is Thomas More Chambers, led by Geoffrey Cox QC MP.[14] Organisations with premises on the south side of the square include the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Royal College of Surgeons (including the Hunterian Museum, in which are exhibited the intriguing medical collections of John Hunter). There is a blue plaque marking the home of the surgeon William Marsden at number 65. On the west side the Royal College of Radiologists has premises at 63 Lincoln's Inn Fields, and the London School of Economics and Political Science owns a number of buildings. Aside from the Royal College of Surgeons, the School will then own the entire south side of the square. There is a statue by Barry Flanagan, 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.


During the 1980s Lincoln's Inn Fields attracted many homeless people, who slept there overnight. In 1992, they were cleared out and 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.[15]

During the 2008 Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Muslims attended the Fields at sunset to feed the homeless.[16]

Nearest stations

The nearest London Underground stations are Holborn, Chancery Lane and Temple.


  1. ^ Pevsner, London: The Cities of London and Westminster, vol. I (The Buildings of England), (1957) 1962:55.
  2. ^ "Lincoln's Inn Fields", Old and New London: Volume 3 (1878), pp. 44–50. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  3. ^ It is not mentioned in the modern literature on Inigo Jones.
  4. ^ "Opening of Lincoln's Inn Fields by Sir John Hutton, Chairman of the Council, on Saturday, 23rd February, 1895, at 2.30 p.m." Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Lincoln's Inn, Camden/Westminster". Hidden London. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  6. ^ Brederova, Barbora, "Post-Medieval urbanisation in Holborn: excavations at 64 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2". London Archaeologist, spring 2019, pp. 224–229
  7. ^ Cunningham, Peter (1850), Handbook of London: Past and Present, vol. 1, J. Murray, p. 513
  8. ^ Charles Knight, History of London, quoted in Survey of London
  9. ^ Colen Campbell reported this tradition in Vitruvius Britannicus, I, p. 5, and illustrated it in plates 49, 50.
  10. ^ Colvin, Howard, Essays, ix (1999): NAS GD237/25/1/7
  11. ^ Lincoln's Inn Fields: Nos. 59 and 60 (Lindsey House), Survey of London: volume 3: St Giles-in-the-Fields, pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields (1912), pp. 96–103]. Retrieved 22 May 2008.
  12. ^ Timbs, John (1855). Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis. D. Bogue. p. 528.
  13. ^ Garden Court Chambers
  14. ^ Thomas More Chambers
  15. ^ History of Lincoln's Inn Fields – Camden Council Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor: How Muslim flashmobs can feed homeless people | The Guardian

Further reading

External links

21 Annotations

First Reading

Stuart Woodward  •  Link

Lincoln's Inn Fields

"Thanks to a decree dating from the 1640s, the green area was preserved for generations of Londoners. The Society of Lincoln's Inn and adjoining parishes objected to a proposal in 1613 for a license to build on the fields, and a petition was launched 'to restrayne and forbid building" for general commoditie and health for walks in the same manner as Morefieldes'."

Wow! How enlightened!…

Edwin Shaw  •  Link

Just off Lincoln's Inn is, or was, Clare Market, an area now occupied by the distinctly Pepysian London School of Economics. Has anybody got anything on Clare Market in the 17th century?-it was a picaresque place, given, amongst other things, to some of the private diversions that so absorbed Mr P...

Brian  •  Link

The Rocque map shows the Lincoln's Inn Fields very clearly. The area seems to have grown over the years with an 'old' square, a 'new' square, and the Fields.…

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

No 59-60 Lincoln Inn appears to be a survivor from the works of Indigo Jones

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Lincoln's Inn Fields

"At the beginning of the C 17 Lincoln's Inn Fields was some leftover fields surrounded by small property of no quality. William Newton, the developer of houses in Great Queen Street just to the west, bought the Fields in 1629 and in 1638 and, against the wishes of the gentlemen of Lincoln's Inn, who wanted them to be a public open space like Moorfields, obtained a licence to build thirty two houses. By 1658 there were houses on the west, north and south sides. ... The earlier survivors are on the west side ...."

"Lindsey House, Nos. 59 - 60. The name comes from the Earl of Lindsey's occupation in the early C 18th. This is the only one surviving early original house ... built in 1639-41 as a speculation by Sir David Cunningham. Colen Campbell illustrated it in Virtuvius Britannicus [1715-25] and attributed the design to Inigo Jones., but the only further evidence known which might point to this is that Cunningham was a friend of Nicholas Stone. The house is well set back, in a forecourt defined by rustic brick piers. When built it formed a tall centerpiece on the west side, with a balustraded parapet instead of the eves cornices of its neighbors. A broad front of five bays, with rusticated ground floor and six ionic pilasters above. Built of red brick with pilasters stuccoed to look like stone (the walls have later stucco now, 1998, painted red) Summerson [Georgian London, 1945, rev. 1988] found it 'pioneering roughness and course craftsmanship;' Pevsnner argued that the broad proportions and emphatic detail - the wreathed capitals and the boldly pedimented first-floor windows, the central pediment open and segmented --- added character. Whether or not by Jones, this design with piano nobile and pilasters is a rare early survival of the type of regular classically detailed street elevation that Jones had promoted at Covent Garden, and which was beginning to appear elsewhere in the 1630's. The Virtuvius Britannicus plan shows a double-pile plan with further rooms to the rear of a small well light. The house was altered inside when subdivided in 1751-2, possibly by Isaac Ware. The lowered first floor windows may date from this time. (Inside some C 17 joinery remains, and an alcove attributed to Ware)"

Buildings Of England, London 4: North, 1998, pp 306, 307 - 8.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech/British 1607-1677)

Prospect of Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1641-1653
View of square with buildings on three sides and low railing around; troops drilling behind tent in the middle; cavalry moving to right carrying banner preceded by two trumpeters.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Lincoln's Inn Fields, a noble square, immediately west of Lincoln's Inn. In the reign of Elizabeth and the early years of James I. the site was an open waste, the haunt of beggars and idle persons, and the occasional scene of military exercises and of public executions. Babington and his thirteen associates in the conspiracy which bears his name were executed here on September 20 and 21, 1586, seven on the first day and seven on the second. In George Whetstone's contemporary narrative (1587) the place is described as "a field at the upper ende of Holborne, harde by the high waye side to S. Giles." The Lords of the Privy Council wrote to the County Justices in September 1613 to restrain certain proposed buildings in Lincoln's Inn Fields. James I. having resolved to have it "laid out in walks like Moorfields," by a patent of November 16, 1618, appointed Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor, and others, a commission "to reduce Lincoln's Inn Fields into walks." The commissioners called Inigo Jones to their aid, and he, it is said, reduced the fields to the exact dimensions of the base of one of the pyramids of Egypt—but the great pyramid occupies 13 1/2 acres, while this square contains only 12 acres. The west side, all that Inigo lived to build upon, was called The Arch Row; here he designed Ancaster House, afterwards called Lindsay House; the east side was bounded by the wall of Lincoln's Inn Gardens (as it now is by the hall of that Inn); the south side was known as Portugal Row, and the north as Holborn Row, but in the 18th century it was more commonly called Newman's Row. The laying out of the walks did not check the concourse of idlers, and it stimulated the passion for building, much to the annoyance of the members of Lincoln's Inn, till Oliver Cromwell put a peremptory stop to it by a Proclamation, dated Whitehall, August 11, 1656.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sandwich joins the fashionable set:…
Wednesday 20 January 1663/64

"Up and by coach to my Lord Sandwich’s, ... My Lord did also seal a lease for the house he is now taking in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which stands him in 250 per annum rent."

The house is now nos 57-8, Lincoln's Inn Fields (built c. 1640; rebuilt c. 1710).…...

For comparison, Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon paid £400 p.a. in rent for Worcester House; Sir George Carteret's official residence in Broad Street cost £70 p.a.; the Navy Commissioners, displaced from their official residences in 1674 and 1686, were each allowed £80 p.a. (L&M)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In 1666 John, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby lived in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was married to his third wife, Anne Paulet, daughter of the Marquis of Winchester.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin, visited Lincoln's Inn Fields on Sunday, 25 April, 1669.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected the scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs. Sometimes I got confused making the N.S./O.S. date conversions, so I apologize if they are wrong:

After dinner he went out in his carriage to see the city, going as far as Lincoln's Inn Fields, one of the largest and handsomest squares in London, both in respect to the uniformity and the size of its buildings.

Its form is quadrangular, and three sides of it are composed of very beautiful houses; before each of these is a court, or square, enclosed by a low wall, which, besides taking away the view from the ground-floor, spoils the prospect, and makes the circumference of the square appear less than it is.

On the other side is a college, lately built, which takes its name from the square. It contains within its enclosure spacious gardens for walking, in hot weather.



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

After the Great Fire, there "was now a refugee crisis: thousands of homeless Londoners were living in tents on Lincolns Inn Fields, Hatton Gardens and the piazza at Covent Garden: the design for the new metropolis would be governed by urgent and pragmatic compromises."

Read more at…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

We seem to have three different subjects on this page:
1 Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court, which is celebrating its 600 year anniversary.
2 Then homes were built around a adjacent square, which were called Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Sandwich leased his fabulous house.
3 Finally, one of Pepys' favorite theaters was built here.

This post is just about the Lincoln's Inn, one of the Inns of Court: On Tuesday mornings at 11am there are tours, which lasted about an hour,
Photography is allowed throughout, with plenty of time in each room to take photos and soak up the atmosphere.

Although the estate and the chapel are open to the public, the rest of the buildings are not, and if you like visiting grand buildings, this somewhat hidden enclave in the heart of London is worth a look around.

For a preview, see…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Starting in December, 1422 a long series of administrative records were compiled by Lincoln’s Inn staff, and are known as the Black Books.
From these we can form an impression of daily life at Lincoln’s Inn through the centuries.

The ‘fellows’ of the society were divided into benchers, barristers and students. All took an oath of obedience to the governors, and paid fees for lodging and food. Beneath them in the hierarchy were clerks (new members of the society who aspired to fellowship), and then servants.

By the mid-15th century, the society had leased the London residence of the Bishop of Chichester. This property and its gardens were outside the London walls, west of a street running between Holborn and Fleet Street. Here, they was close to the other Inns of Court and Chancery and had easy access to Westminster Hall, seat of the royal courts.

Meals were served to the entire membership of the society in the hall. These were eaten in sittings, with the quantity and quality of the food determined by seniority.

Accommodation varied in similar fashion.

During the legal terms, the fellows spent a great deal of time at Westminster Hall, involved in or observing the different courts that operated concurrently within its vast interior.

Breaking up the legal year were a series of festivals involving feasts and revels, lectures (called ‘readings’) in a format like university practicem and t practice court proceedings to debate points of law, which were called ‘moots’.

For moots, the hall was converted into a courtroom, a resembling the use of great halls in castles and houses across the nation for legal proceedings.
Benchers sat on the dais in front of those more junior lawyers involved in the debate.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


They continued to enlarge the Inn accommodations, taking in more lawyers.
Consequently, the hall was lengthened by the addition of two oriel windows giving the interior an odd shape which was reorganized in 1624, when a large and ornate screen and gallery designed by Robert Lynton was inserted into the building.
Lynton may also have worked on a comparable screen at Crewe Hall, Cheshire, for Sir Randolph Crewe, a Bencher of the Inn.

In January 1618, the Benchers consulted Inigo Jones about building a Chapel. In November, the mason John Clark presented a model for the new building and received the commission.
Clark’s chapel was 3 bays long and was over an open, vaulted undercroft. It’s unclear why this unusual arrangement was adopted; it open up the courtyard and allowed for direct internal connection with the first-floor council chamber.
An external staircase to the chapel with more vaults was demolished in the 1880s, when the building was restored and extended to its present form.

Notes taken from 2 articles with pictures at…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sir Randolph Crewe MP had an "interesting" career, courtesy of James VI and I:

Our John Crewe MP (whose father, Sir Thomas Crewe MP, was Speaker of the House of Commons) was returned sometime in May 1624 for the newly enfranchised borough of Amersham, where his uncle, Lord Chief Justice Sir Ranolph Crewe MP had recently acted as an arbitrator in a land sale.

Everything was family business in those days. The families promoted their own.

Peter Johnson  •  Link

…. Apart from the mistaken direction in the first line, of course….

Peter Johnson  •  Link

Now corrected “ east from Kingsway”, as it should b

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"The area seems to have grown over the years with an 'old' square, a 'new' square, and the Fields."

On my recent visit my tour guide pointed out that the 'old' square is newer than the 'new' square. Barristers are not confused by this!

On my recent visit I was unable to book for the Tuesday tour, but turned up anyways hoping someone would be a no-show. What I found is that some enterprising members of the cleaning crew stay late knowing that disappointed people will be there, and they give spontaneous tours. Not much history, but you see the Great Hall, the magnificent library, the chapel, etc. So just go and ask around should the booking site not work for you, and read the notes above. We've got the history here.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.





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  • Jun
  • Aug
  • Sep