At Old Holborn, which connected Tyburn (the gallows at Marble Arch) to the Newgate Prison (now the Old Bailey) is situated the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. Its antecedants are as old as the Temple itself but it started with the de Gray family on the site of whose manor the Inn is now situated. This ‘certain Inn at Portepole’ is recorded in 1570 and had gradually expanded to include the lawyers.
The hall was re-edified in the sixteenth century though it has been the focal point of the society’s life for a much longer period. Although the roof was gutted by incendiaries during the Blitz, it and the hall were faithfully restored through the genorosity of the American Bar Association.
John Evelyn mentions the revels in the hall: ‘which had relation neither to virtue nor policy’. It is said that Shakespeare’s ‘A Comedy of Errors’ was first performed here on Holy Innocents’ Day in 1594. The screen at the west end of the Hall is the most interesting possesion of Gray’s Inn and was probably taken from a Spanish galleon in 1588.
A place of worship has stood on the site of the present chapel since 1315. The court of Augmentations investigated the duties of the chapel’s priest (provided for by John le Grey in 1315). They held ‘that for tyme out of mynde’ he had been required to ‘synge and saye masse for the studyente gentilmen
& felaws of the house of Gray’s Inn’
The chapel has a history of being rebuilt - most recently after being destroyed by enemy action in 1941.
The Walks are the gardens within Gray's Inn, and have existed since at least 1597, when records show that Francis Bacon was to be paid £7 for "planting of trees in the walkes". This is the only spot in London to enjoy the attention of the three great essayists-
‘Still the best gardens in London’ - Lamb.
‘To touch on nature’s tresses is my blessing’ - Addison.
‘Very well pleased with the sight of a fine lady walking’ - Pepys