It was originally attached to Gray's Inn, which is one of the four Inns of Court. The Inns of Chancery fell into decay in the 19th century. All of them were dissolved, and most were demolished. Staple Inn is the only one which survives largely intact. It was an extra-parochial area until 1858 and then a civil parish. It became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn in 1900 and was abolished in 1930.
It was the model for the fictitious Inn of Court "Bacon's Inn" in Arthur Moore's 1904 novel 'Archers of the Long Bow'. The ancient switch-tailed double pump referred to was replaced in 1937 by a mock single pump, to mark the site. 
The historic interiors include a great hall, used by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. The ground floor street frontage is let to shops and restaurants, required to use plainer signage than they do on less sensitive buildings. This building will be familiar with those that smoke "Old Holborn" tobacco, as formerly it featured on tins and pouches of this product, this logo is no longer in use.