Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.
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In January, 1896, the London County Council, on the motion of Sir John Lubbock (now Lord Avebury), directed the General Purposes Committee to consider and report what course the Council should adopt in the case of the contemplated destruction of any building of historic or architectural interest. As a preliminary it was deemed essential that a list, as complete as possible, should be obtained of all such buildings in the county, and the Council accordingly communicated with certain architectural, archaeological and kindred societies with a view to obtaining the materials necessary for drawing up such a list. A conference was accordingly held in December, 1896, with representatives of these societies in order to decide upon the procedure most likely to obtain the desired result. Resolutions were passed at this conference expressing the opinion that it was desirable that a register should be made of buildings of historic or architectural interest in London; that the Committee for the Survey of the Old Memorials of Greater London, having already made a register of buildings in the east end of London, should be requested to continue its work; and that the Council should print portions of the register from time to time.
The Council generally endorsed the views expressed at the conference, and in July, 1897, and March, 1902, authorised the printing of Volume I. of the Register, i.e., the section dealing with the parish of Bromley-by-Bow. The materials for this were provided by the Survey Committee.
In continuance of this policy the Council in 1898 obtained, in section 60 of its General Powers Act, authority to purchase by agreement buildings and places of historic or architectural interest or works of art, or to contribute towards the cost of preserving, maintaining and managing any such buildings and places, and to erect and maintain or contribute towards the provision, erection and maintenance of works of art in London. The Council has also secured the insertion in several Acts of Parliament relating to railway, etc., works of provisions to secure that objects of archæological interest excavated by the undertakers shall be handed over to the Council.
Under the agreement come to with the Survey Committee in 1897, the Council bore the expense of printing (securing the copyright for reproduction purposes, but leaving the actual documents in the hands of the Survey Committee), and supplied the Survey Committee, free of cost, with 500 copies for distribution among their members. The arrangement did not, however, prove entirely satisfactory, and fell into abeyance. No further portions of the register were published by the Council, but the Survey Committee issued in 1909, at their own expense, a volume relating to the parish of Chelsea.
A large amount of material, suitable for publication, continued nevertheless to be collected both by the Council and by the Survey Committee, and it was felt that, having regard to the rapidly changing character of London, the continuation of the work should be no longer delayed, but that it should be proceeded with under the supervision of the Council. As the result of prolonged negotiations, an amended arrangement for five years was come to in 1909 between the Council and the Survey Committee. The agreement, the conclusion of which was due in no small measure to the untiring efforts of the late Mr. Clement Young Sturge, then Chairman of the Records and Museums Sub-Committee of the Local Government, Records and Museums Committee of the Council, provided that the materials collected should be published from time to time in the joint names of the Council and the Survey Committee, that the Council should retain full financial control and should bear the cost of production and take the proceeds of sale; but that, in return for the assistance rendered, the Council should supply the Survey Committee, free of charge, with such number of copies (not exceeding 250) as would enable each active member and each member of the Survey Committee subscribing not less than £1 1s. a year to the Survey Committee's funds, to be furnished with a copy of the volume.
It was agreed that the volume relating to the parish of Chelsea, already issued by the Survey Committee, should form Volume II. of the series, and that the third volume should deal with the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. This parish is so rich in buildings of interest that it was thought desirable that the volume should be issued in two parts: Part I. dealing with Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Part II. with the rest of the parish. Before the passing of the London Government Act, 1899, all the houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields were situated in the parish, but as a result of that Act the parish boundary on the south side of the Fields was altered in 1900, so that the houses on that side are now situated in the parish of St. Clement Danes. In order, however, that the whole of Lincoln's Inn Fields might be dealt with together in one publication, it was thought convenient, as well as appropriate in other respects, in preparing this volume to have regard to the boundary of the parish as it existed for centuries before 1900.
It is desired to take this opportunity of thanking those owners and occupiers of houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields who have kindly granted permission to the Council to make surveys of the interior of their premises, and to take photographs for reproduction in this volume. It may be stated that not only have requests for such facilities been in every instance most courteously acceded to, but much valuable information has been willingly imparted. The thanks of the Council are also due to the Westminster City Council, and the Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council, for the facilities given to the Council's officers for the examination of the parish ratebooks.
It has fallen to Mr. W. W. Braines, B.A.(Lond.), the officer in charge of the Library and Records Branch of my Department, to do all the research work for the historical part of the volume, and to recover, for one of London's most interesting sites, the true history, which had long been obscured by writers who had failed to get to the original authorities. Mr. Braines and his assistants have been unwearied, and I cannot speak too highly of the skill and ability with which he has helped me to unravel some by no means easy problems.