London Parks & Gardens Trust

A Walk through Bloomsbury

Gray's Inn Gardens

Gray's Inn Gardens

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Directions

Between South Square and Gray's Inn Square, level with the Hall is a passage into Field Court. Go through here and the entrance to Gray's Inn Gardens is on the right.

There are gravel paths in the gardens, which may be difficult for wheelchairs. For a paved route, continue past the gates and follow signs for Atkin Building and Raymond Buildings. This will bring you to the exit on Theobald's Road.

To walk through the gardens, go through the gates. From here you either can walk along the main central path ahead of you and up a flight of steps at the end, or, for a route which avoids steps, bear left and walk along the parapet overlooking the gardens.

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

Description

Gray's Inn Gardens were originally laid out by Sir Francis Bacon in the early 1600s with cherry, birch and groves of elms. There was a mount with a pavilion on the terrace to the west, a bowling green and a kitchen garden. The design was simplified in the mid-1700s by a 'Mr Brown' - probably Capability Brown.

The poet Shelley (1792-1822), who was severely in debt, used to meet his future wife Mary Godwin (1797-1851) here in secret on Sundays, which was the only day of the week when debtors could not be arrested.

The buildings on the west side of the garden date from the early 1800s. The dark grey buildings are Raymond Buildings, where Charles Dickens also worked as a solicitor's clerk, earning 15 shillings a week. Utterly bored, he amused himself by dropping cherry stones on the heads of passers-by.