The plummy discourse of a gaggle of trainee barristers rang out through the open ground floor window of somebody’s chambers as we stood on the corner, marvelling at the gorgeous architecture of Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
We paused to read the notices at the chapel in the middle of the square which is the biggest in London, at 11 acres.
Moving on, we set down our picnic basket on the lawn and Wilkins continued my education:
“There has been a Lincoln’s Inn Fields since the 1600’s, but it wasn’t always on this site. Nowadays, in addition to Temple, it is where the great minds of English debate and refine the system that keeps us all on the straight and narrow.”
Enjoying the sun, we tucked into our cucumber sandwiches and ginger beer as Wilkins went on.
“You know, all around here there are businesses supporting the lawyers and barristers. It’s a whole cottage industry. There are legal document production firms, legal bookshops and even wig-makers!
See that building over there? The rather ugly 1970’s office block? That’s Pitman Training on High Holborn.
I bet half the young women on this lawn have taken a legal secretarial course there Apparently they’ve been going since the 1800’s.”
Lunch over, we recommenced our tour, walking through the Inn down past the Old Curiosity Shoppe from the Dickens novel, snaking our way through the narrow streets to Waterstones on Portugal Street with its gorgeous miniature statue of an elephant and a giant penguin, heading south until we got to Temple, another hidden gem of historic buildings and manicured lawns.
We doubled back on ourselves and passed the world famous London School of Economics where the bright young leaders of tomorrow stood, chatting and smoking like young people everywhere.
Then on to Kingsway where Wilkins claimed there was a whole underground sports and social club, abandoned when they gave up on the tram system, many years ago.
Surprising warmed by the summer sun by now, we dived into The Cittie Of York on Holborn for a warm pint of cooling bitter under the ancient tuns slung under the rafters.
We ended the tour with a quick spin around Hatton Garden where a mouth watering selection of expensive jewellery is traded and then onto the Hammersmith & City line at Farringdon for the journey back to the hotel.
I’m surprised that so few tourists know the area I visited as it is one of the most fascinating areas of the ancient City Of London.