|Serjeants' Inn Courtyard||City of London|
This is the former site of one of the Serjeants' Inns used by the Serjeants-at-Law, a superior order of barristers dating back to at least the C12th. The Inn here appears to have been occupied from 1424-42 and then from c.1498-1730 after which it ceased to be used by the Serjeants, the building subsequently demolished. The Fleet Street site retained the name although following destruction by WWII bombing post-war buildings of 1951-58 were for commercial rather than legal use. A Neo-Georgian central block with 2 wings enclosed the cobbled Serjeants' Inn Courtyard, which had a fountain and some planting of small trees and shrubs but was otherwise largely used for parking. An archway leads to Inner Temple precincts. Nos.1-2 Serjeants' Inn are being developed as a 4-star hotel, due to open 2012, which will retain the central courtyard. No. 3 Sergeants' Inn has been barristers' chambers since 1986.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2010
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Serjeants' Inn Courtyard, November 2002. Photo: S Williams
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This is the former site of one of the Serjeants' Inns, which accommodated the Serjeants-at-Law, a superior order of barristers dating back to at least the C12th. There appear to have been three Inns to serve the Serjeants, Scroope's Inn in Holborn, which was in use until 1498, the Inn on Fleet Street, used by the Serjeants from 1424-42 and then from the early C16th to 1730, and a third Inn in Chancery Lane, occupied from the C15th to 1877. By 1500 there were two societies of Serjeants-at-Law but they merged in c.1730 when the lease of the Inn on Fleet Street was not renewed. This building, which had become the principal Inn of the society in the early C16th, was rented from the Deans and Chapter of York and Canterbury, who had acquired the freehold in 1409. It was rebuilt in 1670 having burnt down in the Fire of London, and after it ceased to be used for the Sergeants' Inn, the building remained in the ownership of the Deans and Chapter of York and Canterbury until 1838. It was then sold to The Amicable Society, a life insurance office established in 1706 by John Hartley, a Fleet Street bookseller. In 1866 this Society amalgamated with the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society, but retained the freehold of the Inn building until 1881. In 1911 Nos. 49 and 50 Fleet Street were built for Norwich Union, the architect Jack McMullen Brooks, with an archway into Serjeants' Inn.
When the Serjeants' Inn in Chancery Lane was sold in 1877, the assets of the Serjeants-at-Law were distributed amongst surviving members, although the order was not formally dissolved. The order ceased to exist on the death in 1921 of the last Serjeant-at-Law, Lord Lindley, the second son of botanist John Lindley. The Fleet Street site retained the name although, following destruction by WWII bombing in 1941, the post-war buildings of 1951-58 were developed for commercial office use. Designed by architects Devereux and Davies for Norwich Union, who had repurchased the site in 1954, a Neo-Georgian central block with 2 wings enclosed the cobbled Serjeants' Inn Courtyard, which had a fountain and some planting of small trees and shrubs but was otherwise largely used for parking. An archway from the courtyard leads to Fleet Street and another to Mitre Court in Inner Temple (q.v.). No. 3 Serjeants' Inn has been a barristers' chambers since 1986. In 2001 the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple acquired the freehold with the intention of using the buildings for barristers' chambers. However, the costs of rebuilding and refurbishment proved to be financially unviable and in March 2008 the Society granted a long lease to Apex Hotels Ltd for hotel development of Nos. 1-2 Serjeants' Inn.
The Apex Temple Court Hotel is due to open in 2012, a 4-star hotel designed by Ian Springford Architects. The reception area will open onto the central courtyard, which will become an integral part of the hotel, with the public spaces arranged around it.
Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); 'History of 3 Serjeants' Inn' on website www.3serjeantsinn.com; Wikipedia