Quality Court, WC2A

Courtyard in/near Chancery Lane, existing between the 1700s and now

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Courtyard · Chancery Lane · WC2A ·
October
20
2018
Quality Court is a courtyard, built around 1700.


A wonderful labyrinth of alleys and courts used to straggle between Chancery Lane and Fetter Lane, but sadly, of these dozens of minute burrows, only a handful now remain. Quality Court, as we might devise from its name, was one of the more ‘classy’ addresses in the district. It was built about 1700, although not specifically with the view of attracting the upper crust of society to its confines, but with its stylish houses and spacious accommodation that is just what happened. When the properties went up for sale they came in droves, but, of course, the dwellings were few and so the speculators made their offers to the highest bidders.

John Strype, writing up his survey in 1720 says this is ‘a very handsome, large and airy Court, lately built, with very handsome brick houses…’ It was then called New Court but resulting from the life style of the new inhabitants was commonly known as Quality Court – much in the same way as we now refer to selected roads where the supremely wealthy reside, as ‘Millionaires Row’. Strype continues ‘for the goodness of the houses, and the inhabitants, is by some called Quality Court.’

Quality Court is still rich in quality with its old stone flag paving and potted shrubbery dotted here and there. Situated at the far end of the Court, at number 45, is the Patent Office, from where patents are issued and where the Patent Roll, recording the patents issued in the United Kingdom within any year, is kept. There is no doubting that this is Quality Court – its name is boldly displayed in wrought iron letters over its covered access in Chancery Lane.

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Citations and sources

Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations
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Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane originated as a 'new lane' created by the Knights Templar 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 (the present Temple) sometime before 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 also occupy the street. Lincoln's Inn occupies most of the western side north of Carey Street.

The principal building of the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales, is at No. 113. Ede and Ravenscroft, the oldest tailors in London, have their main (and historic) outlet and offices at No. 93, which is also their outlet for legal dress. The London Silver Vaults are located at the northern end of Chancery Lane.

Note that the marker shows the location of the tube station rather than the street.

Chancery Lane tube station lies at the junction of Holborn and Gray's Inn Road, a short distance from Chancery Lane's northern end.

The station was opened by the Central London Railway (CLR) on 30 July 1900. The original, disused station building is on the north side of High Holborn at nos. 31–33, approximately 400 feet to the west, closer to High Holborn's junction with Chancery Lane. Originally, provided with four lifts between ground and platform levels, the station was rebuilt in the early 1930s to operate with escalators. It was not possible to construct the inclined escalator shaft between the platforms and the existing entrance and so a new sub-surface ticket hall was constructed below the road junction. The old entrance building became redundant and, in recognition of the location of the new entrance, the station was renamed Chancery Lane (Gray's Inn), although the suffix subsequently fell out of use.

It is one of eight London Underground stations which has a deep-level air-raid shelter underneath it. After World War II this was turned into Kingsway telephone exchange. Access to the shelter was via the original station building and lift shaft as well as subsidiary entrances in Furnival Street and Took's Court.
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