Sir Edward Maufe
- Original design
- Sir Edward Maufe, 1560
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in July.
The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn has occupied its present site for 700 years and is one of the four Inns of Court responsible for the education of student and post-call barristers. The Inns have the exclusive right to ‘call’ students to the ‘bar’ and pronounce them ‘barristers’. All barrister students must belong to one of the four Inns of Court, the others being Lincoln’s Inn, Inner and Middle Temple.
The general style and layout of the buildings reflect significant Georgian influence following rebuilding after fires in the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries. Unfortunately Gray’s Inn was badly damaged by bombs in 1941, but by the end of the 1950s it was largely as it is today. The architect responsible for the post war rebuild was Edward Maufe, probably best known for his design of Guildford Cathedral. 10 South Square was added in 1972 and the Atkins building in 1987.
Gray’s Inn's gardens are known as The Walks and were originally designed in 1606 by the then Treasurer, Sir Francis Bacon, whose statue can be seen in the South Square.
The Walks remain among the largest private gardens in London: five acres of perfectly maintained park entered through a pair of impressive iron gates probably dating from 1723. The park provides a peaceful oasis amidst the busy streets of Central London and is available throughout the year.
The life of Gray’s Inn is focused on the Hall, and so it has been throughout our long history; more so perhaps in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when the students resided in the Inn and attendance at Dinner (lunch) and Supper in Hall was compulsory, as also were the sessions of teaching and practical exercises.
The Hall has been its present size and shape since it was “re-edified” in 1556-8, except that it then had no screen. Even the grievous war damage of 1941 did not wholly destroy those sixteenth century walls, and the glass, pictures and Treasurers’ shields which had been removed to a place of safety, were able to be replaced on the reconstructed walls.
The Screen at the west end of the Hall is the most interesting possession of Gray’s Inn. Tradition claimed that it or part of it was made from the wood of a captured Spanish galleon, and that the wood was the gift of Queen Elizabeth I.
Some of the stained glass in the windows dates back to the sixteenth century. The earliest commemoration is dated 1462, which can be seen in the top left hand side of the north side oriel window. In the centre of that window at the top are the great arms of the Duke of Albermarle (General Monck) who led King Charles II’s army into London at the Restoration. The Accounts Ledger for 1660 records that the Benchers, no doubt wishing to exhibit their loyalty, paid 10 shillings for a carriage to take them to greet General Monck as he marched into London.
There is no doubt that our present Chapel is on the same site (except for the chancel) as the Chapel provided for John le Grey in 1315. In 1539 Pension (the governing body of Gray’s Inn) ordered that in consideration of the wishes of the King (Henry VIII) the image of Thomas a’ Becket should be removed from one of the windows.
Our records show that in 1570 there were chambers over the Chapel, for in that year the tenants were ordered to quit. Rebuilding took place in 1689, without any chambers. In 1893 the building was restored and remained until it was destroyed by enemy action in 1941. From 1941 to 1960 a room in the Common Room building was used for Divine Service.
The present chapel was built in the years following the Second World War to the designs of Sir Edward Maufe to replace a building which had suffered extensive war damage. The damaged building was in the form of an extensive restoration carried out in 1893 in a late gothic style, which in its turn replaced an amalgam of eighteenth century and earlier work.
When rebuilding took place the Chapel was enlarged and the original stained glass windows, which had been removed for safety, were replaced.The east window, originally erected in 1895, commemorates four archbishops who were either members or preachers of Gray’s Inn: they are Whitgift, Juxon, Wake and Laud, and the centre panel depicts Thomas a’ Becket.
This bright and airy formal banqueting room is located on the first floor and is reached by an impressive sweeping oak staircase. It features a series of ornate chandeliers and a magnificent marble fireplace. The Large Pension Room is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies and other functions.
Also a banqueting room, with oak panelled walls and a striking mahogany table. The ceiling provides a distinctive feature, adorned with ornate moulds of red roses that surround the large seal of the Duchy of Lancaster.