Antiqua Print Gallery Inns of Chancery
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Inns of Chancery

The Inns of Chancery were buildings which housed associations of lawyers in London from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. The origins of the Inns of Chancery are obscure, but initially they may have been used by clerks in the chancery, as the Lord Chancellor's office was known. Later they were used by attorneys and solicitors. They were smaller and less prestigious than the Inns of Court, whose membership has always consisted primarily of barristers, and entirely so since the late 18th century.
The Inns of Chancery are believed to have evolved in the 15th century, and by 1470, when the first surviving mention of them was made by Sir John Fortescue, there were ten of them, though the number later fell to eight. Initially they provided early training for young lawyers before they entered an Inn of Court, but they later lost that role, ultimately becoming merely social associations. The Inns of Court appointed readers to supervise legal education at the Inns of Chancery, and in some cases acquired the freeholds of their buildings.
The Inns of Chancery fell into disuse in the 19th century as the solicitors' profession modernised, and was reorganised around the Law Society, which was founded in 1825. As the premises of the Inns of Chancery were often owned by the Inns of Court, and the former were supervised by the latter to some degree, by abandoning inns for new arrangements created by themselves, the solicitors asserted their independence from the barristers, and the dignity of their profession. The premises of most of the Inns of Chancery were completely demolished by 1900, and only Staple Inn survives largely intact, with its hall and chambers arranged around two small courtyards. The hall and library of Barnard's Inn and the gatehouse of Clifford's Inn also survive.

Attached to the Inner Temple:


Clifford's Inn


Lyon's Inn


Clement's Inn


Attached to the Middle Temple:


Strand Inn


New Inn


Attached to Lincoln's Inn:


Furnival's Inn


Thavies Inn


Attached to Gray's Inn:


Staple Inn


Barnard's Inn


(Source Wikipedia)