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Designs and finished drawings for a Neo-Gothic scheme for Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, London, May 1824 (4)


On the 16 March 1824 the Commissioners, probably at the behest of the Vestrymen, asked Soane to produce a Gothic design for Holy Trinity, Marylebone. The budget was £20,000, and the church was still to seat 2,000 people. In May, Soane produced these four designs. Three more are in the V&A collection, deposited there by Charles James Richardson in the 1850's (Du Prey, 1985, pp. 73-4 cat. Nos': 225, 232, 235).

In form, the designs are essentially his Classical model with 'Gothic' emendations: crocketed finials, flying buttresses, crenellations, and tri and quatrefoil windows. This is not to say they were lazily produced, indeed the side elevations especially are very well drawn by Richardson (who against convention put his name on the sheet).

The Neo-Gothic style had been around since the early 1800s' and Soane had worked in the style previously, as at Lord Buckingham's library at Stowe House (1805-1807), in order to store his 'Anglo-Saxon' manuscripts. Soane admired the Gothic style and stated this in his RA lecture V. Soane's problem was with the whimsical nature, and misappropriation of principles that the Neo-Gothic style elicited.

Furthermore, the Neo-Gothic was being championed as a new 'national' style of architecture. Soane already faced the wrath of the Neo-Gothic lobby in 1824, when a select committee of MPs' decided his Palladian façade for the New Law Courts at Westminster had to be changed to a Neo-Gothic version.

Fortunately for Soane, the Neo-Gothic church design was not pursued. He was able to persuade the commissioners by arguing his plans for the Classical church had been 'misunderstood' and the cost and time elements were against the new project.

Additionally, Soane had also been asked to produce designs for an 'Anglo-Norman' (Romanesque) church. These drawings are also part of the V&A collection and once in Richardson's possession (Du Prey 1985, pp. 72-4 cat Nos': 222-4, 231, 233-4, 237). The narrative behind this version is unclear, but the drawings show another essentially Classical church, with 'Romanesque' overlay. It is possible this was rejected on the same grounds as for the Gothic.



If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Designs and finished drawings for a Neo-Gothic scheme for Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, London, May 1824 (4)