Ancient Monuments

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Barnard's Inn Hall (Mercers' School)

A Scheduled Monument in Farringdon Without, City of London

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Latitude: 51.5176 / 51°31'3"N

Longitude: -0.1098 / 0°6'35"W

OS Eastings: 531250.494562

OS Northings: 181541.478

OS Grid: TQ312815

Mapcode National: GBR MB.H5

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.13TZ

Entry Name: Barnard's Inn Hall (Mercers' School)

Scheduled Date: 19 February 1951

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002064

English Heritage Legacy ID: LO 18

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Farringdon Without

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: St Bride Fleet Street

Church of England Diocese: London


Barnard’s Inn medieval hall, 30m WSW of Buchanon House

Source: Historic England


This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 March 2015.

The monument includes a late 14th century hall, originally part of a great house or mansion, surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains, incorporated into a later building. It is situated between Furnival Street and Fetter Lane on the south side of Holborn.

The hall was known as Mackworth’s Inn and later as Barnard’s Inn. It is a single storey building, orientated east to west, and is about 11m long by 7m wide. The original walls, of brick and timber framing, have been refaced in red brick. The end walls (east and west) are not visible externally, other structures having been built up against them. The windows are nearly continuous on the side walls. Each bay originally contained six plain square-headed lights, separated by wood mullions (now restored). The roof is tiled and includes a medieval timber octagonal lantern or louvre covered with lead but no longer open to the roof. Each face of the lantern has a small opening with trefoiled head, and it is finished with a Gothic moulded cornice and an ogee-shaped roof carrying a ball and vane. The interior of the hall includes 16th century panelling and 17th century stained glass in the windows. A later wing with an arched passage is attached to the east and an early 19th century single storey wing is to the south. A partial excavation in 1988 recorded medieval walling in the basement of the hall.

The hall was originally part of the London mansion of John Mackworth (1375-1450), Dean of Lincoln. He left the property to the Dean and Chapter and they leased the premises first to Lionel Barnard. In his time it was occupied by law students, becoming an Inn of Chancery attached to Gray’s Inn. In 1892, Barnard’s Inn was purchased by the Mercers' Company to house their School, which occupied the site from 1894 to 1959. The hall was altered in the 16th century, 19th century, 1932 and 1991. It is now used as part of Gresham College. It is described in chapter 21 of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. It is listed at Grade II*.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Barnard’s Inn medieval hall originally formed part of a great house or mansion. Medieval great houses were the residences of high-status non-Royal households. They had domestic rather than military functions and show little or no sign of fortification, even of a purely cosmetic nature. Great houses usually consist of a group of buildings, including a great hall, service rooms, one or more kitchens, several suites of chambers for the owners, the household and its guests, and a gatehouse. Other ancillary buildings are known to have been present but very rarely survive. Earlier examples typically comprised a collection of separate buildings, but through the 14th and 15th century there was increasing integration of the buildings into a few larger buildings. By the later medieval period, such complexes were commonly laid out around one or more formal courtyards; in the 16th century this would occasionally be contrived so that the elevations were symmetrical.

Despite later alterations and additions, Barnard’s Inn medieval hall, 30m WSW of Buchanon House, survives well and includes some significant medieval masonry and architectural details. It has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the hall. It is of historic interest as part of the house of John Mackworth, 15th century Dean of Lincoln, and as a later inn mentioned in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.

Source: Historic England


NMR TQ38SW846, TQ38SW2264. PastScape 405369, 1408018. LBS 199296.

Source: Historic England

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