History

History

3 Paper Buildings, Temple

Our Chambers has been practising from 3 Paper Buildings in the Temple for 119 years – since Christmas Day 1892. Originally having just a handful of rooms in this large and prestigious building, 3PB has gradually expanded so that now we are the only set of Chambers established there. We also have centres in Bournemouth, Bristol, Oxford, and Winchester linked together by a wide area computer network.

The magnolia tree flowers outside 3 Paper Buildings

Former distinguished occupants of our Chambers include Lord Justice Montague Smith, Mr Justice Deane, Sir Frederick Bosanquet and Sir Walter Monckton. In a room on the first floor of the London Chambers the author of the 'Forsyte Saga' and Nobel Prize winning novelist John Galsworthy passed his time waiting for briefs in writing his first novel.

The first building on this site, which was formerly part of the Temple gardens, was Heyward's Buildings of 1610. The present name, in use by the 1650s, described the timber, lath and plaster construction then known as 'paper work' - hence 'Paper Buildings.' In 1685, following the Great Fire, the building was rebuilt in brick, and on the north end were painted frescoes of the Virtues, still to be seen in Charles Lamb's time. In 1838 those buildings were also destroyed by a fire, which contemporaries attributed to the carelessness of William Maule QC (later Mr Justice Maule) in leaving a lighted candle by his bedside. They were immediately rebuilt in the stone you see today.

The first telephone

In 1907 Scobell Armstrong joined Chambers. In his autobiography (Yesterday - published 1955) he described an early example of our use of Information Technology. At that time there were only three members of Chambers. On agreeing to join them, Armstrong discovered there was no telephone:

...those three dear old gentlemen put their heads together and said that they would put in a telephone, at their own expense, if I would give my solemn undertaking that they would never be required to attend to it or use it themselves. I gave this undertaking with a light heart for, as they had two clerks, such an event was not a probable one. But luck was against me. On the day after the telephone had been installed one of the two clerks was away ill, and the other had without my knowing it, been sent on an errand. I went across at the usual time for my lunch at the Inner Temple Hall. On my return, Raymond opened the door to me and said reproachfully: 'while you were out that horrid thing went off. I hope I did rightly. I took the mouth-and-ear piece from the hook and on holding the thing to my ear I distinctly heard a voice saying "Are you Debenham and Freebody's?" [a department store of the time] I answered clearly and loudly into the mouthpiece: "No, this is a lawyer's office and if you ask any questions you will have to pay two guineas." '