Radcliffe Chambers was formed on 5th June 2006 on the merger of the Chambers of Malcolm Waters QC at 11 Old Square and the Chambers of Hedley Marten at 11 New Square. Keith Rowley QC was elected as head of chambers in 2012.
The constituent sets have distinguished histories, which can be traced back to the 19th century, and have produced many notable Chancery practitioners and judges. Former members include:
Lord Browne-Wilkinson of Camden
Lord Scott of Foscote
Lord Justice Buckley
Lord Justice Jonathan Parker
Lord Justice Lloyd
Mr Justice Vinelott
Mr Justice Knox
Mr Justice Rattee
Mrs Justice Proudman DBE
His Honour Judge Micklem
His Honour Judge Cooke
His Honour Judge Weeks QC
His Honour Judge Gilliland QC
His Honour Judge Simpkiss
Judge Patrick Powell (Judge of the Upper Tribunal)
Chief Master Winegarten (Chief Chancery Master)
John Mills OBE QC
Carol Ellis CBE QC
Edward Davidson QC
Radcliffe Chambers is named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe KC, GBE, 1st Viscount Radcliffe (1899-1977). Lord Radcliffe was an eminent Chancery silk and was created a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1949 as Baron Radcliffe of Werneth in the County of Lancashire, enjoying the unusual distinction of appointment directly from the Bar. He was elevated to the Viscountcy in 1962.
The current building at 11 New Square is the third to be built on this site. The original ‘11 Serle’s Court’ was built in accordance with the scheme of Henry Serle, between 1691 and 1693. No. 11 was the only part of the development to have been built on land belonging to the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn.
The development was governed by an agreement made between Serle and Lincoln’s Inn in 1682. Serle was to have the right to sell all the Chambers built on his land, but only limited rights in those built on the Inn’s land. These Chambers were to be for the use of members of Lincoln’s Inn only, and to be regulated by the rules of the Society. The freehold title to Serle’s land was to remain with him.
Disputes soon broke out about boundaries and these were not resolved before Serle’s death. The eventual result was recorded in Latin on a stone tablet fixed in the east wall of No. 11, which was subsequently re-fixed in the wall of the current building and is still visible today. It reads:
‘Solum super quad haec structura erigitur, ab australi parte hujus saxi 54 pedes cum pollice septentrionem versus continens, pertinet ad Societatem hanc. Ac eciam tota terrae portio ab hoc saxo orientem versus usque ad limitem veteris structurae horto culinari proximum’,
or, in English:
‘The soil on which this building is erected, measuring 54 feet or thereabouts from the southern edge of this stone to the North, belongs to this Society. So too does the whole parcel of land from this stone to the East as far as the boundary of the old building next to the kitchen garden’.
In 1752 Nos 10 and 11 were destroyed by a fire and the re-building of the latter was not completed until 1787. An early tenant of the new building was Sir John Scott, the Solicitor-General, who took a lease of chambers here in 1794.
The difficulties of managing and keeping in repair the common roofs, staircases, entrances and areas of the buildings still officially known as Serle’s Court, but popularly known as New Square, led to the passing of the Lincoln’s Inn Act 1860. The Act vested all the Chambers built on land which had belonged to Henry Serle in the persons who owned them in 1860, subject to rent charges in favour of the Inn, and vested the garden and the rest of the square in the Inn.
The building, by then known as 11 New Square, was again destroyed during the Second World War, suffering a direct hit by an incendiary bomb. It was rebuilt in 1951. The plaque on the outside wall above the main entrance — marked with the letter ‘S’ under the letter ‘T’ with the date — indicates that this work was completed during the Treasurership of Viscount Simonds. The panelling and doors at the entrance were a gift of the Canadian Bar Association.