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The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers and judges) in London. To be called to the bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road in Central London, the inn is both a professional body and a provider of office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "pension", made up of the masters of the bench (or "benchers"), and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The inn is known for its gardens, or walks, which have existed since at least 1597.

Gray's Inn does not claim a specific foundation date; there is a tradition that none of the Inns of Court claims to be any older than the others. Law clerks and their apprentices have been established on the present site since at least 1370, with records dating from 1381. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the inn grew steadily with great prestige, reaching its pinnacle during the reign of Elizabeth I. The inn was home to many important barristers and politicians, most notably Francis Bacon, and counted Queen Elizabeth herself as a patron. Thanks to the efforts of prominent members such as William Cecil and Gilbert Gerard, Gray's Inn became the largest of the four by number, with over 200 barristers recorded as members. During this period, the inn became noted for the masques and revels that it threw, and William Shakespeare is believed to have first performed The Comedy of Errors there.

The inn continued to prosper during the reign of James I (1603–1625) and the beginning of that of Charles I, when over 100 students per year were recorded as joining. The outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642 during the reign of Charles I disrupted the systems of legal education and governance at the Inns of Court, shutting down all calls to the bar and new admissions, and Gray's Inn never fully recovered. Fortunes continued to decline after the English Restoration, which saw the end of the traditional method of legal education. Although now more prosperous, Gray's Inn is today the smallest of the Inns of Court.
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Gray's Inn Reviews

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  • Nice area especially the garden. The garden originally laid out by sir Francis Bacon in the 1600,s,and completed by Capability Brown.  more »
  • This area has a lovely half-timbered (exterior walls with the exposed wood beams) structure that meets you as you approach Holborn heading south on Grays Inn Road. There is a nice coffee place at...  more »

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