Chancery Lane is a one-way road situated partly in the Ward of Farringdon Without in the City of London. It has formed the western boundary of the City since 1994. The route originated as a ‘new lane’ created by the Knights Templars from their original ‘old Temple’ on the site of the present Southampton Buildings on Holborn, in order access to their newly acquired property to the south of Fleet Street now the Temple sometime before 1161. Chancery, or Chancellor’s, Lane, as it was first called, must have been a mere quagmire, or carttrack, in the reign of Edward I., for Strype tells us that at that period it had become so impassable to knight, monk, and citizen, that John Breton, Custos of London, had it barred up, to “hinder any harm,” and the Bishop of Chichester, whose house was there (now Chichester Rents), kept up the bar ten years; at the end of that time, on an inquisition of the annoyances of London, the bishop was proscribed at an inquest for setting up two staples and a bar, “whereby men with carts and other carriages could not pass.” The bishop pleaded John Breton’s order, and the sheriff was then commanded to remove the annoyance, and the hooded men with their carts once more cracked their whips and whistled to their horses up and down the long disused lane.
Chancery Lane takes its name from the historic High Court of Chancery which started its association with the area when Robert de Chesney, the Bishop of Lincoln, acquired the ‘old Temple’ in 1161.
Historically, the street was associated with the legal profession an association which continues to the present day; however, consulting firms, ancillary businesses and the Maughan Library of King’s College, London (where I am a visiting fellow of its Centre of European Law) also occupy the street. Lincoln’s Inn (of which Gregory Jones is a member) occupies most of the western side north of Carey Street.
The Chancery Lane Association (CLA) was set up in 2006 to provide an important voice in the evolution of Chancery Lane and the immediate area. The CLA comprises local owners, occupiers, institutions and interest groups. Meeting two times per year the CLA is an important conduit for all involved to express their vision for the improvement and the long term promotion of the area. I have been delighted to support the work of the CLA and was honoured to be invited to address the CLA at its annual drinks party last Christmas.
Tim Bacon of the CLA says: I am proud to be associated with the Chancery Lane Association Limited (CLA), an organisation I set up 10 years ago. We are the mouthpiece for Chancery Lane, which can stake a claim to being the epicentre of London, given how it sits on the boundary of the City of London, Camden and Westminster. It’s a street that has significantly figured in the capital’s history being as it is home to Lincoln’s Inn, The Law Society and King’s College Maughan Library which, of course, started life as the Public Record Office, known in its time as ‘the strong box of the Empire’. But Chancery Lane is as much about looking forward as it is to the past and we are now fortunate to be party to, and in some small measure stewards of, the resurgence of the street. Thanks to over 300,000 sq ft of new prime office space, delivered by such prestigious developers as Derwent London and Viridis, the lane is now recognised as a choice location for companies to relocate, already attracting iconic businesses such as Saatchi & Saatchi who we look forward to welcoming to the street soon.