Gray's Inn

Venue Type & Location

Inn of Court

Site Name: Gray's Inn
Location: near London
County: Middlesex
Location Type: Town - near town at determined location

Performance Spaces


Located on the most northerly site of the 4 Inns, the main entrance to Gray's Inn is now on the W side of Gray's Inn Road (formerly Portpoole). The 16th c. range includes the gabled hall and chapel on the N side of the S square. Later buildings lie to the N around a second larger square or around the gardens.

Performance History

A notable account of the Gray's Inn Christmas Revels mentions a performance of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors in 1594--5. One early 17th c. record indicates the appearance of the trumpeters of the lords of the Council at Gray's Inn.

Current Status

Still in use for its original purpose.

History of the Venue

14th c. Society of Gray's Inn occupied the Purpoole manor house of the de Grey family.

early 16th c. Medieval chapel renovated, with chambers above.

1556--60 Hall rebuilt in red brick with stone dressings. Some earlier fabric incorporated, including 2 entrance doorways.

1593 Land acquired to give access to Holborn. Timber gatehouse built.

1619--24 Chapel enlarged.

early 17th c. Garden walks designed by Sir Francis Bacon.

late 17th c. Most chambers rebuilt and N square created.

1688 Gateway to Gray's Inn Road built; original gatehouse to Holborn may have been rebuilt.

1698--9 Chapel rebuilt, without chambers above.

1826 Stucco added to building facades; battlements added to the hall.

1890s Stucco removed from exterior brick of the hall.

1941 Badly damaged during World War II bombing raid. Only the walls of the hall were left standing.

1950s Extensive rebuilding and restoration. S bay added to the hall; roof reconstructed according to original design.

1965--6 Gatehouse leading to Holborn rebuilt after the original timber structure collapsed.

1970--2 Neo-Gothic buttery added at low (W) end of the hall.

Record Source

REED Inns of Court 1.229, 397

Bibliographic Sources

  • Bellot, Hugh H.L. Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1925.
  • Burkhart, Robert E. ‘The Playing Space in the Halls of the Inns of Court.' South Atlantic Review 56.4 (1991): 1–5.
  • Burkhart, Robert E. 'The Surviving Shakespearean Playhouses: The Halls of the Inns of Court and the Excavation of the Rose.' Theatre History Studies 12 (1992): 173–96.
  • Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 4: North. The Buildings of England. London: Penguin Books, 1998.
  • Douthwaite, W.R. 'Notes on Gray's Inn.' Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 4 (1875): 419–24.
  • Douthwaite, William Ralph. Gray's Inn: its History & Associations. London: Reeves and Turner, 1886.
  • Girouard, Mark. 'The halls of the Elizabethan and early Stuart Inns of Court' . The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court. Archer, Jayne Elisabeth, Elizabeth Goldring and Sarah Knight. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2011.
  • Herbert, W. Antiquities of the Inns of Court and Chancery. London: npub, 1804.
  • Ireland, Samuel. Picturesque Views, with an Historical Account of the Inns of Court, in London and Westminster. London: R. Faulder and J. Egerton, 1800.
  • Knapp, Margaret, and Michal Kobialka. 'Shakespeare and the Prince of Purpoole: The 1594 Production of The Comedy of Errors at Gray's Inn Hall.' Theatre History Studies 4 (1984): 70–81.
  • Royal Commission on Historical Monuments England. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London. 5 vols. London: HMSO, 1924–30.