The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
As an inn of court, is next in rank to the Temple, which it equals in the number of eminent lawyers it has produced. Of these it may be sufficient to mention sir John Fortescue, of the fathers of English law, who held the great seal under Henry the ; that virtuous chancellor, sir Thomas More; the learned antiquary, sir Henry Spelman; sir Matthew Hale; lord chancellor Egerton, &c.; Prynne, the memorable victim of Star Chamber tyranny, who was also a member of this society. For an alleged libel in the , he was condemned by that infamous court, to pay a fine of , to lose his ears in the pillory, and to be imprisoned for life: nor did the odious verdict terminate here, for the chamber, assuming a jurisdiction co-equal with its vindictiveness, ordered Prynne to be expelled from the university of Oxford, and the society of .
At what time students were admitted at seems doubtful. Mr. Malcolm, on the authority of an heraldic MS. which terms ,
is situated on the west side of ; a portion of its site was anciently occupied by the church and house of a body of preaching friars, who came to England in the year . These friars, who were in number, and had for their prior, Gilbert de Fraxineto, met with much encouragement in England, Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, who died in , and was buried in their church, left them his house in , which was nothing less than the ancient , or York house. The friars sold it to the archbishop of York, who left it to his successor in the see. Hence it was called York house, or , until the year , when Henry VIII. took it from cardinal Wolsey, and gave it the name of . In the year . the friars of this order had a grand convocation at their house, to the number of ; and having no possessions of their own, they entreated maintenance by alms. On the day of their meeting, Henry III. attended their chapter, and participated in a dinner which he had provided. Afterwards the queen did the same; and the royal example was followed by the bishops of London, the abbots of , St. Alban's, Waltham, and others. Here the friars preachers continued until the year , when Gregory Rokeslie, the mayor, and the barons of London, gave them a piece of ground near Baynard's-castle, and the ruins of Mountfichet, to build a new church, which was afterwards known by the name of Black-friars. The principal property of the old friar house belonged to William
|de Haverhall, who was treasurer to king Henry III.; but on his attainder for high treason, his mansion and lands devolved on that monarch, who gave a plot of ground to Ralph de Neville, lord chancellor, and bishop of Chichester, who built a large house, and lived in it, until his death, in . It next became the residence of Richard de Wilts, and afterwards fell to Henry Lacy, earl of Lincoln, to whom Edward the presented the Old Friar house. The earl of Lincoln made it his residence, and hence it was called his inn, or , according to the literal meaning of the word and the usage of the period, when an inn meant a lodging, or house in general.|
This earl of Lincoln is said to have introduced students here in ; but as he died in that year, it is probable that students had been admitted before that period.
By some means, which none of our historians explain, the bishops of Chester again became the proprietors of , and continued so until the beginning of the century; when Robert Sherborn, bishop of that see, conveyed it to a student of the house, of the name of William Sulyard, or Syliard, for a term of years. This grant was confirmed in , by a subsequent bishop of Chester, in a deed which conveyed the house and lands to the said William Sulyard and his brother Eustace. In , the surviving son of Eustace conveyed the whole to Richard Kingsmill and the rest of the benchers, for the sum of
forms a great quadrangle, composed of the gatehouse, the hall on the west side, the chapel on the north, and several chambers on the south.
The principal gate just mentioned, is flanked by square projections, or towers; but, as almost all the windows have been modernized, the venerable character of the structure is greatly injured. Over the gateway are shields of arms in square compartments, The are the arms of Lacy, earl of Lincoln, the middle the royal arms, and the the arms of sir Thomas Lovell, knt. the builder of the gate. Beneath the arms is
This piece of sculpture was repaired and re-gilt in . The hall, as seen through the arch from , has the appearance of a monastic building, occasioned by the buttresses and pointed windows. It was erected in the reign of Henry VII. and is feet in length, and in breadth.
The side walls are divided by buttresses into divisions, occupied by windows, with obtusely arched heads, and divided by millions; at each extremity of both sides are oriels; this hall being singular in possessing of such appendages; over of the west windows is a shield held by an angel. On the roof is a modern lantern. The interior is much modernized; it is covered with a modern coved ceiling of plaster; the oriels have internally obtuse arches, the mouldings resting on angels. At the north or upper end is a canopy over the lord chancellor's seat,
| and at the opposite end a screen and music gallery; it is curiously carved and reaches to the present ceiling; it is made in height into stories, the lower divided into compartments by termini with human heads; the upper story has terminal columns; the whole is surmounted by a pannel containing a dial, and decorated with Ionic pilasters: there are entrances in the lower story, the former openings to the gallery are now filled with paintings of the following shields of arms and inscriptions :--. His royal highness, James, duke of York ; . the right honourable lord Newport; . the right honourable the earl of Bath; . his majesty Charles-- II.; . the right honourable earl of Manchester; . the right honourable lord Henry Howard; . his serene highness prince Rupert of the Rhine. All are dated . The screen is painted of a light wainscot colour, and groined. Against the north wall is the famous painting of |
by Hogarth; placed there about , in consequence of a legacy by Mr. Wyndham; on the frame the following arms, viz. millrinds , , , and on a canton, or. a lion rampant On each side of this painting is an old portrait of a judge. This hall is now, by permission of the benchers; used for the sittings of the lord high chancellor.
The chapel is situated north of the hall, and is elevated on an open crypt of arches, separated by buttresses of gradations, with large windows filled by painted glass. of the cloisters are richly covered by tracery, quaterfoils, and geometrical figures, in the manner of Henry the VIIth's chapel; and are correct imitations of our ancient florid style.
The chapel was designed by Inigo Jones; but, unfortunately, this celebrated architect was incapable of producing a complete specimen of faithful imitation: a flash of genius now and then appears, but it has a disproportion or a deformity to counterbalance the effect. Mountain, bishop of London, consecrated this chapel on the feast of the Ascension, in . The windows abound with multitudes of emblazoned arms, in painted glass, of noblemen and treasurers, to the present period, mingled with fine figures of the prophets and apostles. In , the chapel underwent considerable repairs, under the superintendance of the late J. Wyatt, esq., when it received a new roof and a window at the west end.
Henry Colfer, esq. in , founded a sermon, preached in this chapel on the Wednesday of every month. The preacher receives per annum; and he left for charitable purposes.
Dr. Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, who was preacher to the society, founded a lecture in , to be pronounced on the Sunday after Michaelmas term, and the before and after Hilary term, annually, for proving the truth of the Christian religion from the completion of the prophecies in the Old and New Testament.
The Society appoint a preacher and chaplain; and divine service is celebrated on Sundays and holydays.
The ground under the cloisters was the burial-place of the society; but, since , it has been reserved for the benchers only. Few men of much eminence have been buried in this chapel; but a plain stone in the cloisters under the chapel is inscribed
Stone-buildings, so termed because they are composed of that material, are situate parallel with the west side of ; their east front, and the east side of the Clerks and Registrar's office, whose principal front is in , formed an oblong court. But those buildings are only part of a vast range, projected by the society, and designed by sir Robert Taylor. The garden front consists at present of a rustic basement, with arcades and windows, at the north end of which is a wing, consisting of Corinthian pillars, which support an entablature and pediment. The cornice of the wing is continued through the whole length of the front, which terminates in a ballustrade; but the ranges of windows are entirely plain. It will be perceived from this that the facade is not of the most superb description; but when viewed through the foliage of the garden, and the long line thus broken by the intervention of trees, it has a very pleasing effect, particularly from Serle's-court.
The chambers within Stone-buildings are magnificent, and sell or let at very high prices. The leases commenced in , for years, and lives named at the time, with power to nominate a at the decease of the last survivor. They are transferable for a fine of . Those in the ancient buildings are held on single lives, and are transferable for on the ground floor, and less for the upper stories, except the floor.
The site of Serle's-court, or , was originally called Fichett's-field, or Little Lincoln's-inn-field. It appeared that Henry Serle and a person named Clerk, had some claims, which were settled by an agreement, dated in the year of Charles II. between them and the benchers of the society. That fixing the specific property of the parties, Mr. Serle was permitted to build on the field. The chambers in this square are freehold, but subject to certain restrictions inserted in the agreement between the benchers and Serle. The whole of the chambers within the jurisdiction of the society entitle the holders to a vote for members of parliament for Middlesex and .
The sides of are occupied exclusively by barristers and respectable solicitors; the side is open to the garden, which is tastefully laid out, and very extensive.
The wall and terrace which separate this garden from Lincoln's-inn-fields, were raised about the year , at an expense of In the early part of the last century, a Mr. Wheedon proposed to erect a beautiful range of buildings on the east side of the gardens. The plan was, that they should be only story high, and be without chimneys, but it did not meet with encouragement.
In the centre of the new square, Lincoln's-inn, there was for merely a fountain, consisting of a Corinthian column by Inigo Jones; but among the changes that take place an the course of time, the fountain has been converted into a gas-light column.
The council-chamber of Lincoln's-inn is a very handsome apartment. The library, on the ground floor of Stone-buildings, contains above volumes, deposited in rooms; to increase which, each master of the bench contributes guineas; and every student, when called to the bar, ; the master of the library, (a bencher, elected annually,) purchases such books relating to jurisprudence as are not commonly found in libraries. It is open every day from o'clock till , for the use of the members of the society. There are several landscapes, by Brughal, on copper; and a marble bust of Cicero. Besides which, the walls are adorned with portraits of lord chief justice sir Richard Rainsford; sir John Franklin, a master in chancery; judge Hales, who gave his manuscripts to the society; and lord chief justice Mansfield; with many pictures by Italian masters, and some drawings.
The ARMS of LINCOLN'S-INN are or, a lion rampant.
 Percy Hist. vol. ii. p. 162.
 Lane's Guide to Lincoln's-inn, 1808.