Gray’s Inn

“Gray’s Inn, on the north side of Holborn, and to the west of Gray’s Inn Lane, is the fourth Inn of Court in importance and size. It derives its name from the noble family of Gray of Wilton, whose residence it originally was. Edmund, Lord Gray of Wilton, in August, 1505, by indenture of bargain and sale, transferred to Hugh Denny, Esq., “the manor of Portpoole, otherwise called ‘Gray’s Inn,’ four messuages, four gardens, the site of a windmill, eight acres of land, ten shillings of free rent, and the advowson of the Chauntry of Portpoole.”

From Denny’s hands the manor passed into the possession of the Prior and Convent of East Sheen, in Surrey, an ecclesiastical establishment celebrated as having been the nursery of Cardinal Pole, and many other distinguished churchmen, in the sixteenth century. By the Convent the mansion of Portpoole was leased to certain students of law, who paid, by way of rent, £6 13s. 4d. per annum. This arrangement held good till that lively time when Henry VIII. seized all the monastic property he could lay hands on. The benchers of Gray’s Inn were thenceforth entered in the king’s books as the fee-farm tenants of the Crown, and paid annually into the Exchequer the same rent as was formerly due to the monks of Sheen. The domain of the society extends over a large tract of ground between Holborn and King’s Road.

The name of Portpoole still survives in Portpool Lane, which runs from the east side of Gray’s Inn Lane into Leather Lane; and Windmill Hill still exists to point out the site of the windmill mentioned in the deed of transfer we have just quoted.”

From Vol II of Walter Thornbury’s Old and New London (1878).