The Armada, Shakespeare and Blitz devastation: as experienced by the Inns of Court.
1. The creation of the Inns
Gray’s Inn must have one of the oldest timelines on Facebook. If you scroll down far enough you journey all the way back to 1388, when the first records appear of members of Gray’s Inn, Middle Temple and Inner Temple graduating as “Serjeants-at-law”. Note, in the 14th Century Inns of Court scene below, the urban giving way to countryside around Kings Cross, before extending into the verdant rural hills of Highgate and Hampstead.
2. Plundering the Armada
When Gray’s Inn member Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham defeated the Spanish Armada he lugged back some wood from one of the losing galleons and had it fashioned into the “Armada Screen” (pictured) — which still stands at the end of Gray’s Inn hall.
3. Work of up-and-coming playwright aired
The first performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’ took place in Gray’s Inn Hall in 1594.
4. The original law school re-brand
In 1600 Gray’s Inn ditched its underwhelming original logo (pictured below) for an exciting new griffin logo in order to attract more visitors to the shows and plays in its hall.
5. Couldn’t they have settled it in court?
In 1701 a man was killed in a duel in Gray’s Inn’s gardens, which, incidentally, had been by laid out a hundred years previously by Sir Francis Bacon. The victor, Captain Greenwood, was subsequently convicted of manslaughter.
6. World class Inns of Court dinner schmoozing
Future world leaders Sir Winston Churchill (then Minister of Munitions) first met Franklin Roosevelt (then Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy) in Gray’s Inn Hall in 1918.
7. World War Two Devastation
Two decades later and Gray’s Inn got levelled during the Blitz. Having been previously removed in case of a strike, the stained windows were undamaged. The Armada Screen was also saved.
8. Phoenix from the ashes
Happily, the hall was quickly re-built. In 1956 a young Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed law student Christmas revels in the hall.
9. Chris Gray’s Inn.
The granting of honorary bencher status to the first ever Lord Chancellor hasn’t actually appeared on Gray’s Inn’s Facebook timeline yet…It happened at a ceremony on 11 December 2012.