History

The heritage of our firm stretches back to the first half of the eighteenth century.

Latest news:

Penningtons Solicitors LLP combined with Manches LLP in 2013 to create Penningtons Manches LLP, one of the dominant legal players in London and the South East. The move opened an exciting new chapter in the 300 year history of our practice.

While Manches was founded in 1936, the previous Penningtons’ merger with Dawsons LLP in May 2011 brought together two firms with roots tracing back to the eighteenth century. The origins of the Penningtons firm go back to John Fallowfield Scott, who set up his practice in 1791, 62 years after Edward Woodcock registered the firm that would become Dawsons in 1729.

If you had been strolling through Lincoln’s Inn in 1801, you would have passed Mr Woodcock’s premises at 2 New Square next door to Mr Scott’s firm at numbers 3 and 6 but it would be over two centuries before these two businesses were under the same roof in Gutter Lane, Cheapside.

By 1855, Mr Woodcock’s practice was thriving with an additional office in Chancery Lane. The first member of the Dawson dynasty, William Hill Dawson, joined as a partner that year and the line of Dawson partners continued until the death of Colin Aufrere Dawson in 1958.

The firm first became known as Dawson & Co in 1918 and did not adopt the name by which it became generally known – Dawsons – until 2002. In May 2007 Dawsons converted its status to a limited liability partnership (LLP).

A long line of Penningtons partners

In 1855, Richard Pennington was admitted to Mr Scott’s firm, Cookson, Wainewright and Co, and, after ten years as managing clerk, he became a partner.

By 1893 he had become the President of the Law Society and the firm, now called Pennington & Son, moved to 64 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Following Richard’s death in 1910, his son, Herbert, ran the practice until he retired in 1921 but the line of Penningtons continued with a further 20 partners throughout the 20th century.

Lewis & Lewis joins forces with Pennington & Son

In 1964, another firm with a long and illustrious history joined forces with Pennington & Son to form Penningtons and Lewis & Lewis. The latter was founded in 1834 by two brothers, James Graham Lewis and George Coleman Hamilton Lewis. James’ son, George Henry Lewis was one of the most famous solicitors in the history of the profession. He was a partner from 1858 to 1909, knighted in 1893 and made a baronet in 1902.

Until Lewis & Lewis merged with Pennington & Son, 14 descendants of the Lewis family, including the second and third baronets, were partners in the practice.

Manches set up by pioneering husband and wife partnership

Manches was founded in 1936 by Sidney Manches in a single room in what is now Broadgate. He and his wife Judith were the first husband and wife to practise in partnership. In 1956 they moved to Wigmore Street and in 1990 the firm's London office moved to Aldwych House.

Peter Angel opened the Oxford office in 1982 and the Reading office was opened in May 2008 to create a strong Thames Valley presence for the firm.

Sidney and Judith's son, Louis Manches, trained at Manches and became head of real estate and then senior partner in the London office while their daughter, Jane Simpson, was chair of the firm until her retirement in 2011.

Expanding out of London

Penningtons sold its lease in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1971 and moved to 99 Aldwych. In 1972 part of the firm moved out of London to Godalming where we built our own office in 1984. A merger with Ward Bowie in 1986 brought with it more ‘out of London’ offices in Newbury, Bournemouth and Basingstoke.

Following mergers with Lincoln’s Inn firm Gamlens and city firm Birkbeck Montague in 1991, we moved to Dashwood House but the offices were destroyed by the Bishopsgate bomb in 1993 which caused £350 million of damage, killed a News of the World photographer and injured 44 people.

In 1996 we moved to Bucklersbury House where we stayed until moving our London headquarters to Abacus House in Gutter Lane, Cheapside in 2007.

Into the 21st century

The new century started with a major rebrand and the introduction of the P logo as the core distinctive element of the Penningtons corporate identity.

In 2005, after centuries of being an unlimited liability partnership, the firm converted to a limited liability partnership (LLP) in step with many other professional practices. The next major change followed in 2007 when we brought in the concept of three divisions based on practice areas instead of a location-specific operating structure with office managing partners.

Since then, we have welcomed colleagues from Dawsons and Wedlake Saint in 2011 and boosted our practice further through the opening of offices in Cambridge and Guildford in 2012.

The acquisition of Manches LLP in October 2013 reflected both firms' strategic aims and the need to respond to the ever-changing legal environment by creating a £58 million firm with 600 staff operating out of seven locations in London, the South East and Thames Valley.

In 2014, the growth of our international capability was underlined by the opening of an office in San Francisco, building on the activities of our well-established North America group.

There was further expansion in the UK in 2015 as we consolidated our Surrey presence in new premises in Guildford and moved our London team to 125 Wood Street, bringing our City partners and staff under one roof for the first time since Penningtons and Manches joined forces.

  Read more about Penningtons Manches

 

In this section

Timeline

1729

The founder of Dawsons, Edward Woodcock, registers the firm that would eventually become Dawsons.

1791

The founder of Penningtons, John Fallowfield Scott, sets up his practice with offices in New Square.

1855

Richard Pennington admitted to Cookson, Wainewright and Co and establishes the dynasty of Pennington partners.

1865

Richard Pennington becomes a partner of Cookson, Wainewright and Co.

1893

Richard Pennington moves Pennington & Son to 64 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

1908

Edward Woodcock’s firm adopts the name of Dawson & Co.

1910

Richard Pennington dies and his son Herbert Pennington runs the firm until his retirement in 1921.

1936

Manches is founded by Sidney Manches and his wife Judith in a single room in Broadgate.

1956

Manches moves to Wigmore Street where it would remain until relocating to Aldwych House in 1990.

1958

Colin Aufrere Dawson, the last of the line of Dawsons partners dies.

1964

Pennington & Son merges with Lewis & Lewis, a firm founded in 1834 by two brothers.

1972

Part of Penningtons moves out to Godalming and builds its own office in 1984.

1974

Penningtons and Lewis & Lewis changes name to Penningtons.

1982

Manches opens Oxford office.

1986

Penningtons merges with Ward Bowie with its offices in Newbury, Bournemouth and Basingstoke.

1991

Penningtons merges with Gamlens and Birkbeck Montague and moves to Dashwood House in the City.

1993

Penningtons’ London office destroyed by the IRA’s Bishopsgate bomb.

1996

London office moves to Bucklersbury House.

2000

Penningtons merges with Walker Martineau. Corporate rebranding and introduction of the P logo.

2005

Conversion of the firm’s legal status to limited liability partnership (LLP).

2008

David Raine appointed as new Penningtons chief executive. Manches opens Reading office.

2011

Penningtons merges with Wedlake Saint Solicitors and Dawsons LLP.

2012

New offices opened in Cambridge and Guildford.

2013

Penningtons joins forces with Manches LLP to create Penningtons Manches LLP.

2014

Penningtons Manches launches office in San Francisco’s Financial District.

2015

As a result of ongoing expansion, the firm moves to new premises in both London and Guildford.

Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP