This time Lincoln’s Inn.
Across the way from the Temple, in High Holborn, just off Chancery Lane, sits Lincoln’s Inn. The oldest of the four Inns, Lincoln’s Inn can trace its paper records back to 1422!! While it is fairly self-explanatory where Middle and Inner Temple derive their names from, (Temple Church) - the history of this Inn’s name is rather more complex. In fact there are two competing narratives! 1) Henry de Lacy, the third Earl of Lincoln, owned property in the surrounding neighbourhood, and it is thought he was a patron of the Inn. 2) Thomas de Lincoln, a sergeant at law at the Inn during the fourteenth century, who founded a small Inn (Lincoln’s Inn, near Chancery Lane.
The Inn has a fascinating Coat of Arms (pictured below). The purple lion, which is clearly visible in the insignia, derives from the coat of arms of the Earl of Lincoln. Adjacent to the wild animal are numerous mill rinds - used in corn mills during the feudalist period. These have their origins in the coat of arms of Richard Kingsmill - a former bencher of high standing at the Inn.
Aspiring barristers, students of the Bar and lovers of literature will be intrigued to learn that Lincoln’s Inn played host to a rather famous (and infamous) fictional hearing. The notorious case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce heard in the Court of Chancery, witheringly described by Charles Dickens in Bleak House. It has long been considered that the setting of this court was the Old Hall in Lincoln’s Inn, which hosted the Lord Chancellor, until the Royal Courts of Justice opened in 1882. Dickens, notable for his contempt of barristers and the workings of the chancery system in his day, famously described the situation in the following way: “honourable man among its practitioners say Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!”. Reflecting on the seemingly endless litigation Dickens commented: "The parties to it understand it least; no two lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. The little plaintiff or defendant, who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled, has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world” !! The misgivings which Dickens had with the development of equity in the 19th century are clear for us all to see!
In 1983 the BBC filmed their series dramatisation of Bleak House in the grounds of Lincoln’s Inn!