GRAY’S HISTORY

 

Gray’s Inn has been home to lawyers since before 1388 AD and is today one of the four Inns of Court responsible for the education and training of barristers before and after their Call to the Bar.

 

The Inn originally formed part of the Manor of Purpoole belonging to the de Grey family who probably leased the Manor House to a society of lawyers who housed in their ‘chambers’ apprentice lawyers. The students used the Hall of the Manor as an ‘Inn’ in which to dine and hold their legal debates and ‘moots’ which formed part of their training.

 

The sixteenth century was known as the “Golden Age” of the Inn, when Queen Elizabeth I herself was the Inn’s Patron. In this period the Inn was renowned for its “Shows” and there can be little doubt that William Shakespeare played in Gray’s Inn Hall, where his patron, Lord Southampton was also a member.

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GRAY’S HISTORY

 

Tradition claims that the Great Screen was built from the timbers of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario, the flagship of the Andalucian Squadron of the Spanish Armada in 1588.  Following its capture by the English it was broken up at Chatham and may have been the gift of Queen Elizabeth I or the Lord High Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Howard, a member of the Inn.  Diagonal rope marks can be seen on the third pillar from the left.  The screen was rescued from the Blitz in 1941 which destroyed the Hall roof.

 

The stained glass within the Hall had luckily also been moved to safety earlier on during the Second World War and was thus preserved.  Some of the exquisite stained glass windows in the Hall date back to 1462.  The South Oriel window contains the Coats of Arms of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and of Master the Prince of Wales.

 

Master Sir Winston Churchill and Mr Franklin Roosevelt (then Minister of Munitions and Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy, respectively) first met in 1918 at the high table within Gray’s Inn Hall.

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