It has spanned reigns of 19 monarchs, the rise and fall of an empire, two world wars and one English World Cup victory.
And now Thomson, Snell and Passmore has entered the Guinness book of records as the oldest continuously operating law firm in existence.
Some of the documents still retained by the institution are so unique, they have even appeared on the set of ITV drama Downton Abbey in order to give the set the air of authenticity.
The new world record accolade supports the firm’s reputation as ‘legal advisers of choice to generations of families and businesses’.
Chief executive Simon Slater said: “This amplifies what we exist to be, which is the legal advisor of choice for generations of families and businesses.”
Established in 1570, Thomson Snell and Passmore – now based in Lonsdale Gardens, Tunbridge Wells – was launched by Nicholas Hooper, a curate of the Tonbridge Parish Church.
He sought to take advantage of the expansion in mercantile activity which came to define the Elizabethan era, epitomised by the establishment of the Royal Exchange in the City of London the same year.
Announcing himself as ‘scrivener and drafter of documents’, Mr Hooper realised he could use his mastery of writing and his methodical recoding to supplement his modest ecclesiastical stipend.
Records of his work include a will which he drew up on behalf of a certain Thomas Lamparde, a ‘yeoman’ of Tonbridge as well as a bond for a property in nearby Hadlow, dated 1593.
A further two generations of Hoopers continued to run the practice until 1759 when George Hooper passed away without anyone else to carry on the firm.
It was taken over by former Tonbridge School pupil Thomas Scoones, who also became Steward of the Manors of Frant, Southborough and Rusthall, giving him control of the Pantiles.
After further changes of ownership and name came about during the 19th century and by the mid-20th century a series of complex mergers led to the creation of Thomson Snell & Passmore.
By 1998, the firm was solely focussed on the South East and centred on its office in Tunbridge Wells.
Reflecting on the age of the firm and its future, James Partridge, senior partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore, said: “This is wonderful recognition of the firm’s achievements so far. We are at an exciting place in our history, and as the firm looks ahead – with its extensive experience and heritage – we will continue to grow by prioritising the needs of our clients and adapting our approach to the changing legal landscape.”
Mr Slater added: “It is tremendous to be named an official Guinness World Record holder. This is an acknowledgement of the firm’s unique longevity and a testament to our resilience as a law firm.
“This recognition underpins our promise to our clients that we will always be here to provide legal support.”