Serjeants’ Inn takes its name from its previous premises: 50 Fleet Street. This is one of the City of London’s important historic sites. It is said that during the 16th and 17th centuries the Inn formed the legal centre of England. The freehold of the Inn was given to the Deans and Chapter of York and Canterbury in 1409 and they held it until 1838 when it was sold to The Amicable Society to relieve financial difficulties caused by a calamitous fire in York Minster.
In 1516 the Judges and Serjeants commenced their long occupation. The “Serjeants” were a “superior order of barristers” from among whom Common Law Judges were chosen. On 4th September 1666 the Inn was completely destroyed by the Great Fire of London.
Subsequently, John Hartley, a book seller in Fleet Street, formed the very first life insurance office, The Amicable Society, in 1706, and the Society purchased 50 Fleet Street for occupation in 1838. In 1866 The Amicable Society was amalgamated with the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society and in 1881 the Society’s freehold interest in the Inn was sold. In 1954 Norwich Union repurchased the site and rebuilt the Inn in its present form after having been gutted by incendiary bombs in 1941.
In 1912 the former Amicable premises 50 Fleet Street were affected by road widening and as a result the Society purchased nos. 48, 49 and 51 Fleet Street prior to demolishing and rebuilding the present building. The gates of the previous building were removed during rebuilding works and then lost for many years until discovered in a scrap yard in 1937. They were then taken to Norwich and built into an extension to the Norwich Union head office, before being returned to Fleet Street in 1959, where they were initially sited in the wrong place until 1970, when they were sited in their present position.
In 1986 the barristers’ chambers in Carpmael Building, Temple, relocated to 49 Fleet Street and became 3 Serjeants’ Inn chambers. We were the first common law set of chambers to move out of the Inns of Court and into commercial accommodation, which was completely refurbished for our occupation. In 1999 we adopted 50 Fleet Street and completed the entire refurbishment of the old Norwich Union site.
In 2013 Serjeants’ Inn Chambers moved from 50 Fleet Street to the iconic Lutyens building at 85 Fleet Street and changed its name from 3 Serjeants’ Inn.