London Parks & Gardens Trust

A Walk through Bloomsbury

Gray's Inn South Square

Gray's Inn South Square

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Directions

Begin the walk at Chancery Lane underground station. Leaving the station, follow the signs for Exit 1 and Gray's Inn Road, which take you out into High Holborn. Gray's Inn Road is behind you, and the Reed Employment Agency is on your right.

Walk up High Holborn, past Holland and Barrett, towards the Cittie of Yorke pub. Just before the pub, turn right into Gray's Inn.

If you are doing the walk at a weekend, when Gray's Inn is not open, continue on and turn right into Brownlow Street. Turn left at the end, then right into Bedford Row and left into Princeton Street, which takes you to Red Lion Square.

Go through the arch straight ahead into South Square. Turn right and walk around the square, where No. 1 is immediately on your right. Continue around the square.

On your right is the Hall. Beyond the Hall is Gray's Inn Square.

If you are visiting this garden on Open Garden Squares Weekend, be careful to check the opening times.

Description

Gray's Inn is one of the four remaining Inns of Court, founded in 1370 as a place for lawyers to live and study. The Inn is named after Reginald de Grey, Chief Justice of Chester, whose London house was where the Inn began.

No. 1 South Square is where Victorian author and journalist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) once worked as an office boy. Gray's Inn provided a setting for parts of the action in several of Dickens' novels, including Martin Chuzzlewit and David Copperfield.

At the end of the square is a statue of essayist, historian and statesman Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who lived at the Inn from 1576 until his death in 1626. As Lord Chancellor he has been credited with bringing greater fairness and impartiality to the English legal system. However, he was himself convicted of taking bribes, for which he was fined £40,000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

On your right is the Hall, which dates from 1560. It was the venue for the first performance of Shakespeare's play, A Comedy of Errors in 1594. The Hall was badly damaged in the Second World War, but has since been restored.

Beyond the Hall is Gray's Inn Square. Both this and South Square have 20th century garden layouts.