For centuries Westminster Hall had been the home of English justice, but by the middle of the nineteenth century, although new courts were added to the hall, reforms to the legal system and the appointment of more judges meant that the hall was still inadequate. New courts were consequently set up half a mile to the east, in the hall of Lincoln’s Inn, which must have been much more convenient for the barristers with their chambers in the Inns of Court. In December 1858 Sir George Gilbert Scott was commissioned to produce a design, which he said would cost approximately £52,000, showing a new courtroom building on the site of some old chambers in the middle of the Old Square of Lincoln’s Inn. The design appeared in the Parliamentary Papers on 18 April 1859. Manners was the First Commissioner of Works at the time and Scott was probably involved in this proposal because of Manners liking for Scott’s High Victorian style. However, the move to confront Parliament with a highly sophisticated and worked out scheme by the country’s foremost Gothic exponent, suggests the hand of the devious Grimthorpe, who was a leading member of the Inn. Scott proposed to demolish some decayed seventeenth century chambers on the west side of the chapel and attach a building, in his personal style, to both the late Gothic chapel of 1623 and the Old Hall of 1492. But his design was an ungainly affair with two courtrooms and their offices separated from a third courtroom across a carriage court. It is not surprising that his Lincoln’s Inn Law Courts was not one of Scott’s best efforts. It was produced at the time that he was frantically trying to complete his detailed drawings for the Foreign Office for Manners before the Government fell. But in July 1859, both Manners and his Lincoln’s Inn scheme disappeared from the scene with the fall of Derby’s Government, like his hopes for a Gothic Foreign Office.
Brownlee, D. B., The Law Courts, The Architecture of George Edmund Street (M.I.T. Press, Cambridge Mass. and London, 1984), pp. 51, 64.
Lincoln’s Inn, Black Book V, p. 75.
House of Lords Session Papers, 1859, Sess 1, Vol III, p. 119.
Ferriday, P., Lord Grimthorpe 1816-1905 (John Murray, London, 1957), pp. 69, 128.
Cunningham, P., Handbook for London (Murray, 1849), p. 482.
Royal Commission for Historic Monuments (East), London West (1925), p. 48.