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January 17, 2012

5RB’s secret history unearthed

Category: News

Chambers on site of Sir Francis Bacon's summer house


5RB’s chambers address is on the site of Sir Francis Bacon’s 17th century summer house. So Professor Lisa Jardine, of Queen Mary College, London, revealed in a broadcast for BBC Radio 4’s A Point of View on Friday 13 January.

Prof Jardine referred to 5RB‘s media practice and said "I can’t help feeling Bacon would have rather liked the conceit that his memorial mount’s location today is marked by the chambers of a set of barristers which, had it been in existence in the 17th Century, might well have represented the Earl of Somerset and his wife."

Prof Jardine recalled that Sir Francis, Lord Chancellor to King James I of England, and Father of Modern Science, "was a lifelong enthusiastic gardener" , one of whose cherished projects was the creation of the Gray’s Inn Walks, which survive to this day. Work on the Walks began in 1597. In 1609, after the death of his great friend Jeremy Betterton, Bacon created on the Jockey’s Fields side of the Walks an artificial hill or "mount" , and on its top built a summer house with an inscription dedicated to Betterton.

All of this was swept away in the 18th Century, and within a couple of decades the barristers’ chambers called Raymond Buildings were built on the site.

Bacon spent his own money on the summer house project, and in 1613 spent £2,000 on a spectacular Masque of Flowers to be performed in the outdoor Banqueting House in the grounds of Whitehall Palace, on Twelfth Night 1613, by the "gentlemen of Gray’s Inn."