Stately, windswept, and with a certain timeworn grandeur, join historian and broadcaster Dr Matthew Green for an immersive whirlwind tour of London’s largest and most fascinating square, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, home to Sir John Soane’s Museum. Experience how two ‘waste common fields’ where students jousted and hangmen castrated traitors coalesced, from the 1630s, into the very meridian of fashion, a parade of gorgeous brick-built houses for the cream of Stuart and Georgian society, yet with its vast inner space ‘forever open and unbuilt’, its riddled doxies, crooked link-boys and fake beggars a foil to those who swirled about them in sedan chairs. See the square’s sole-surviving original house, built by Inigo Jones in 1640, perhaps the oldest shop in England from 1657, Sir Charles Barry’s Royal College of Surgeons (1835), the labyrinthine turnstile streets which once prevented livestock darting out, and the fictional address of Bleak House’s sinister lawyer, Mr Tulkinghorn, where lawyers lay ‘in shrunken fragments of greatness…like maggots in nuts.’ Feel how these peculiar and unsettling juxtapositions somehow linger in the air like residual smoke from its seacoal-smeared terraces. Discover how this extraordinary quadrangle, along with its sister squares further west, precipitated the West End revolution, replacing tumbledown Tudor sprawls with elegant neo-classical terraces designed to inculcate politeness and civility, and making the urban urbane for the first time since the classical era.
The tour will end back at Sir John Soane’s Museum where Matthew will sign copies of his books.
Dr Matthew Green is a historian, writer and broadcaster with a doctorate from Oxford University. He has appeared in documentaries on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and has written historical features for the Guardian and Financial Times. Passionate about bringing history to life a range of mediums, he is the founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive tours of London as live events and podcasts, and writes historical libretto. He is the author of London: A Travel Guide Through Time (Penguin) and the critically-acclaimed Times top 10 bestseller Shadowlands: A Journey Through Lost Britain (Faber). Follow Matthew on Twitter: @drmatthewgreen
This event is part of the public programme complementing Neighbours in Space and Time: Grafton Architects at the Soane Museum, which runs from 18 October 2022 to 8 January 2023.
The tour will go ahead unless there are extreme weather conditions which prevent travel to/from the Museum – please dress appropriately.
Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.
Tickets are refundable up to 7 days before the event, after which point they are non-refundable or exchangeable.
Images: Elevation along Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Grafton Architects/Dr Matthew Green by Alexander McCutcheon