Gray's Inn, London

Gray's Inn, London

Gray's Inn is one of the Inns of Court – historic societies that educate and train barristers. In order to practice as a barrister in England and Wales, individuals must be affiliated with one of these inns, which also include Lincoln's Inn, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple. The governance of Gray's Inn is overseen by a council called "Pension", made up of the Masters of the Bench (or "benchers") and led by the Treasurer, who is elected for a one-year term. The Inn is renowned for its gardens, ("the "Walks"), which date back at least to 1597.

Law clerks and their apprentices have been present on the current site since at least 1370. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, Gray's Inn expanded in size, reaching its peak during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Inn served as the residence of many prominent barristers and politicians, including Francis Bacon, and even had Queen Elizabeth herself as a patron. Due to the efforts of its distinguished members, Gray's Inn became the largest of the four Inns in terms of membership, with over 200 barristers. During this era, the Inn hosted masques and revels, with Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" believed to have had its initial performance in Gray's Inn Hall.

Charles Dickens briefly played with the idea of pursuing a legal career and, in May 1827, started working as a junior clerk of Ellis and Blackmore which had offices at Gray's Inn. Whilst here, he learned the Gurney system of shorthand in his spare time, a skill that later proved invaluable to him as a reporter and writer. Dickens remained at Gray's Inn until November 1828 when he transitioned to become a parliamentary reporter and subsequently penned "Sketches by Boz" (his journalistic pen name) and "The Pickwick Papers", the two works that propelled him to fame in 1836. He made reference to the Inn in several of his novels, including "David Copperfield" and the aforementioned "The Pickwick Papers".

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Gray's Inn on Map

Sight Name: Gray's Inn
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in London, England

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