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The Legal Charities Garden Party (LCGP) was six years in the planning and was largely the brainchild of Dennis Gordon, the principal founder of the Holborn Law Society. It was set up with the express aim of raising funds for charities which provide financial support for lawyers (and their dependents) who find themselves in need. Dennis Gordon, together with Allan Judd (who had been Mayor of Holborn and the third President of the Holborn Law Society) considered possible venues and the first Garden party was held in Gray's Inn on 6 June 1968. The following month, the Law Society Gazette reported that: “The [Holborn Law] Society held a highly successful garden party on the lawns of Gray’s Inn. The proceeds of the party, which was organised in aid of the Solicitors’ Benevolent Association, amounted to nearly £350”. There followed a full page of photographs.
It was decided to repeat the occasion the following year, but to change the venue to Lincoln's Inn, which was more central. The LCGP has taken place in Lincoln's Inn every year since then.
Mishaps have been few. Rain could be a disaster, save for the benchers of Lincoln’s Inn generously putting both the Great Hall and the Old Hall at the disposal of the event; that said, we have generally been lucky with the weather over the years and, only on a tiny number of occasions, has the party had to adjourn indoors. In 1972 there occurred another kind of mishap. H.R.H. Princess Margaret was the chief guest. That year marked the centenary of the Barristers’ Benevolent Association, of which she was Patron, as well as being an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln's Inn. In order that money should not be seen to be changing hands in the presence of Royalty, the cost of unlimited champagne was added to the price of the ticket. Perhaps, inevitably, the champagne ran out!
The pattern of the party has changed – but only modestly - over the years. Originally, tickets were bought solely by individuals. Since the early "noughties", however, more and more firms and chambers have recognised the opportunity for their own entertaining and "corporate supporters" (who are permitted to set up their own tables at the edge of the lawn ) are now actively encouraged.