Garden Walks in the City of London : Gardens, Inns and Alleyways

Meet At Chancery Lane Tube Station, Exit 3
Fridays at 12.00 Noon (accept Good Friday 29 March 2013).

A walk through London’s historic legal quarter, exploring glorious hidden gardens, distinguished and ancient buildings and hidden alleyways. Venture into a private world where few walkers stray – unless they have need of a lawyer!.
This walk includes steps and ends at the river near to Temple Tube Station.” [Source]

Staple Inn Garden

Staple Inn Courtyard Garden

This was our choice of activity when I met my sister in London on Friday. Eight of us, including three French women, turned up at Chancery Lane Tube Station at noon just as the rain was stopping and the skies were brightening. We met Jackie who was to lead the tour and she took us just behind the station and into Staple Inn garden.

Staple Inn

“Staple Inn was originally attached to Gray’s Inn, which is one of the four Inns of Court. The Inns of Chancery fell into decay in the 19th century. All of them were dissolved, and most were demolished. Staple Inn is the only one which survives largely intact. It dates from 1585.” [Source]

The name Staple Inn comes from the fact that the building (dating from 1585) was originally the wool staple where wool was taxed and weighed.

Grays Inn notice

There’s a lot of building work going on here so we didn’t tarry, just had a quick look round and then headed straight over Holborn and into our second garden that of Gray’s Inn.  “The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597.” [Source]

Bacon and Holker Library

Statue of Francis Bacon (1912) and The Holker Library

All of the gardens visited are havens of peace and tranquility and are just steps from the busy City of London streets. Gray’s Inn gardens are no exception. Dickens worked as a clerk here in 1828, and it features in several of his books including ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations’. There is a statue of Francis Bacon outside the Holker Library and through another arch and in another part of the gardens is an armillary – a form of sundial.

Peaceful Grays Inn

Peaceful Gray’s Inn Garden

Armillary consisting of hoops or rings

The Armillary

Grays Inn

The Gray’s Inn Walk

Back on the south side of Holborn is Lincoln’s Inn. Beautiful gardens surrounded by beautiful ancient buildings. On entering from Chancery Lane we came across a tiny ornate building which Jackie explained was the smallest City Grade 1 Listed building which had originally been built in 1860 for the man attending to law students’ horses while they worked : The Ostler’s Hut.

Lincolns Inn Ostler's Hut

The Ostler’s Hut, Lincoln’s Inn

Lincoln's inn

Lincoln’s Inn Chimney Pots

Lincoln's Inn rose

The Last Rose of Summer? Lincoln’s Inn

In Lincoln’s Inn we were able to go in the Chapel where the windows show the crests of the Treasurers from 1680 to the present day. The Treasurer is the head of the Inn and changes annually.

Lincoln's Inn Chapel

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel

L Inn Chapel window

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel Window

Lincolns Inn dry garden

Lincoln’s Inn tiny ‘dry’ courtyard Garden

Lincolns Inn herb plan

Lincolns Inn herbs

Lincoln’s Inn Herb Garden

LI looking back at herbs

Leaving Lincoln’s Inn

Leaving Lincoln’s Inn through Bell Yard we crossed Fleet Street and arrived at The Temple. It’s another fabulous place for a quiet picnic on a fine day although watch out for limited opening hours of some of the gardens.

Hare Court, within the Inner Temple, is home to several Chambers and some very comfortable benches.

Hare Court IT

Quiet Comfort in Hare Court

Hare Court Inner Temple Chambers

Inner Temple

IT gardens

Inner Temple garden

Inner t garden

Inner Temple Gardens

It was at this garden, almost on the banks of the River Thames, that our City Gardens Walk ended. What lovely and still colourful, despite the autumnal weather, tranquil oases for further discovery and appreciation. Just our kind of “Quiet London“. So it was back to the bustle of Fleet Street and off to find somewhere for a late lunch.


8 comments on “Garden Walks in the City of London : Gardens, Inns and Alleyways

  1. Hello, Just wanted to let you know how much I have been enjoying your recent posts and today’s entry on Lincoln’s Inn area, especially. Wonderfully detailed photos~ illustrating so much more than you often get from reading a description or the few , less imaginatively shot photos that accompany a text. I have only been subscribed a short time to your blog. but always look forward to seeing your latest posts arrive in my email. Thank you for sharing.

    • Welcome, Valkrye, and thank you for commenting. I’m very pleased to hear that you enjoy my little posts. I guess I just take pictures of what I fancy and what catches my eye.

  2. Lovely post – and just what I need! Younger Daughter, having moved to London, has instructed me to work out ‘routes’ for my visits (because, surprisingly, I remembered how to find my away around the Underground). On my first visit to see her we went round part of the V&A, Hyde Park and a picnic by the Serpentine, Camden Lock Market, and Chalk Farm to see the road where my grandfather lived in 1911, but we were a bit disorganised… We’ve earmarked the Inns of Court and the John Soane Museum for a future trip, so can I steal your route please?

    • Well, you managed an awful lot on a one day visit, Christine. Of course you can ‘steal’ the route – it’s not mine anyway! The John Soane Museum is in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, next door to the Lincoln’s Inn where we were – a much busier and well-known garden.

  3. Fran says:

    When work took me to London and daily pram pushing I used to hunt out green spaces. I remember finding Lincoln’s Inn, a real escape form the busy streets surrounding. Easy to miss the Grade I building!

    • Happy memories revived, Fran – work with a baby in tow! The Grade 1 building is within the gardens of Lincoln’s Inn rather than in Lincoln’s Inn Fields right next door.

  4. visitinghousesandgardens says:

    How lovely. I could have given you the tour (and taken you for lunch in one of the Inns) – I used to live in Lincoln’s Inn. Reminds me not to take what I have on my doorstep for granted and I must get out with my camera next summer (and make it to the Sir John Soane Museum more often). Happy walking.

    • Oh if only I had known! That would have made the tour even more interesting. A friend mentioned to me that she once worked in the LI library after she read this post and saw my chimney stacks picture.

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