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The Chapel predates the Inn itself; a document of 1314/15 records the assumption by the Prior and Convent of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield of responsibility for the provision of a priest to serve the chapel of the manor of Portpoole, the property of John de Grey (of the Greys of Wilton), which later became the premises of Gray’s Inn. 

The present Chapel sits on the same site (except for the chancel, a post-war addition) as the chapel of 1315. 

The Chapel has gone through many changes during its time, both in respect of the building and ecclesiastical matters. In 1539, it was ordered that, in line with the wishes of King Henry VIII, the image of Thomas à Becket should be removed from one of the windows and a representation of our Lord praying in the mount set up in its place. In the 1690’s, the building was found to be ruinous and reconstructed; later, in 1893, the building was restored in a late Gothic style but was sadly destroyed by enemy action in 1941. 

From 1941 to 1960, a room in the Common Room building was used for Divine Service. The present chapel was built in the years following the Second World War and designed by Master Sir Edward Maufe, the architect of Guildford Cathedral and the Inn’s Library. It was larger than before, and the original stained-glass windows, which had been removed for safety during the war, were reinstalled. 

The east window, installed in the years 1893–1899, commemorates four archbishops who were Members and Preachers of Gray’s Inn: Whitgift, Juxon, Wake, and Laud. The centre panel depicts Thomas à Becket. 

The windows on the south wall (one of which can be seen to the left of the header image above) date from the late 15th century (although they are commonly, but wrongly, referred to as “Tudor mullions”). They were walled up during building alterations in the 1840s and rediscovered during the restoration of 1893. 

The present Chapel also contains the remains of a mediaeval holy water stoup by its north door, the oldest remaining part of the hapel. 


The document of 1314/15 referred to above pinpoints the beginning of the post of the Chaplain, later known as the Chapel Reader. In 1574, the Inn also appointed a Preacher, in recognition, no doubt, of the increased importance ascribed by the reformed church to preaching. 

The role of Chaplain and Preacher created a two-tier staff structure that continued until 1919, when the preachership was vacated and the post was not filled; the Chaplin at the time, Revd. Dr. Walter Matthews, was given the title of Preacher and the posts amalgamated. 

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