London’s Smallest Listed Building?

Where can you find London’s smallest listed building?

It seems a simple enough question but the trouble with finite statements about London’s historic buildings is that they always come with a caveat (and healthy room for debate!)

It’s with this in mind that I present you with London’s smallest listed building (maybe…)

Ostler’s House, Lincoln’s Inn

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

London’s Smallest Listed Building can be found within the fairytale surrounding of Lincoln’s Inn, a legal institution with at least 600 years of recorded history.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

For an historic overview of the Inn and its beautiful chapel (built in 1623) you can read my blog post here.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

The subject of this blog isn’t quite as old as the chapel, built in 1852 according to the inscription on the south side.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

Historic England calls it a porter’s lodge but Lincoln’s Inn members know it as the Ostler’s Hut.

An ostler was someone who looked after horses so this little space provided a small slice of respite for the working man to have a seat, cup of tea and sit by the fire between jobs.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

On the side of the hut you can see a lion rampant (standing on its hind legs) which is an element of the Coat of Arms of Lincoln’s Inn. The lion was adopted from the arms of Henry De Lacy, Earl of Lincoln.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

The full arms of the inn have the lion in the top left corner with a collection of crosses on the rest of the shield.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

Well, they look like crosses. These are actually mill rinds, iron fixings on millstones which are derived from Richard Kingsmill, a bencher who helped the Inn acquire land here in the 16th century.

The hut has recently been restored by Fairhurst and looks wonderful.

London's Smallest Listed Building? | Ostler's Hut | Look Up London

So, is it London’s smallest listed building?

The other major contender, as far as I’m aware, is London’s “smallest police station”. The one in Trafalgar Square that was never an actual police station but more of a look out post.

See Ian’s excellent article for a full overview here.

In order for you, dear reader, to make an assessment I present you with an entirely scientific method of comparison with yours truly in both frames.

While the hut is definitely shorter, it’s much wider than the police look out.

So which is the smaller? Let me know what you think!

Another very worthy addition to this competition is the K2 telephone boxes, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1926. The original prototype can be found tucked in the porch of Burlington House and is definitely smaller however, I don’t think it quite qualifies as a “building”.

The Telephone Box

Told you these kind of London questions never have a simple answer!


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London's Oldest Street Signs | Look Up London

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