King’s Inns is one of the most important examples of Ireland’s Georgian architectural heritage. The eminent architect James Gandon, who had earlier designed the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin, was commissioned by the benchers in 1800 to design a new building for the Society on Henrietta Street. This followed the decline of the original premises that belonged to the Inns on the site of the present Four Courts.
On 1 August 1800, the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Clare laid the first stone of the hall and library. By 1804 the structure of the hall was almost complete.
In 1813 it was agreed that the unfurnished library wing should be sold to the Office of Public Works for use as a record office. Francis Johnston, architect, supervised this work and also completed the cupola (to Gandon’s design). It was he who designed and erected the entrance archway from Henrietta Street.
The Library Building, also in Henrietta Street, was erected between 1826 and 1832 to a design by Frederick Darley. This building is a good example of Greek revival architecture. It contains a magnificent reading room with a splendid balcony.
The Society also owns one of the fine Georgian houses on Henrietta Street and within the parkland there are seven cottages, six of which have been refurbished for rental purposes.
The benchers’ properties are listed buildings. Great care is taken to ensure that they are conserved in accordance with the standards laid down by architectural historians, conservationists and other professional advisers.
For more information on the architecture of King’s Inns, please read “A Favourite Study’ Building the King’s Inns” by Patricia McCarthy. Gill and Macmillan, 2006. Currently out of print.