Staple Inn review (Nov 2015)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
This is not the kind of place that you'll bother with as a tourist because it's not good enough to visit on its own, but if you have nothing better to do on a rainy afternoon, and you fancy a walk down Holborn, then you'll be treated to one of the best buildings in The City.
When you first clap eyes on it you'll think to yourself: 'There is no way that this is real'. You'll think that it's a Disney reconstruction or something like that; but believe it or not this is a genuine Tudor house that dates all the way back to the mid 16th-century.
This place saw the English Civil War and the Great Fire of London. It lived through the Restoration, the Napoleonic wars and the Blitz. 450 years of fire and bombs can't knock this thing down.
This is how London used to look -- all black and white beams with crooked floors and wonky windows. This is the London of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare -- the London of fairytales and Victorian Christmas cards. Now it has a mobile phone shop in the middle of it. Obviously it got spruced up a bit by the Victorians (they liked sprucing things up), but this is pretty much how it looked in the 1580s.
Don't just stand in the street and stare at it from the front, because you'll be missing out on two lovely little courtyards behind. If you look in the middle of the building then there's an ornate gateway that you can walk through. This will take you into a secluded square with red brick buildings and shady trees. The next arch beyond that will take you into a little garden that Dickens described in his novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
I'm not going to mention the modern-day monstrosity that blots one whole side of that scene (too late, I just did). I'm making a list of all the architects who should be arrested for crimes against London -- and the guy who built that is No.8.
I’ve been here before…
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