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Preliminary designs for the interior of a room at Hulne Priory, c1778, unexecuted (2)


Three miles from Alnwick Castle, and once the earliest Carmelite Priory in Britain founded in 1242, Hulne Abbey was built on land gifted to the monks by William De Vescy, Baron of Alnwick, and using local stone from the Alnwick moors. The barony had been sold by the Bishop of Durham to the Percy family in 1309, and it was the 4th Earl of Northumberland who fortified the building for the protection of the local people, and built the tower at Hulne in memory of his wife Maud in 1488. The tower served as a shooting and hunting lodge from that time. The priory church itself was demolished following the Dissolution, reverting to the crown, and was reacquired by the 1st Duke in 1755. In imitation of the 4th Earl, the Duke of Northumberland commissioned work to refit the tower at Hulne as a hunting lodge in memory of his wife Elizabeth who had died in 1776. In 1777 Robert Adam was commissioned to build a gateway on the east boundary of the Priory; then he was possibly responsible for a summerhouse on the site of the old Prior’s Tower, and last he made unexecuted designs to fit up a saloon-cum-dining room on the first storey of the Lord’s Tower, removing the second floor to give greater ceiling height. The interior of this room in the Lord’s Tower is the only element of Adam’s work at Hulne Priory for which there are surviving drawings at the Soane Museum. The surviving Gothic revival interior at Hulne has been the subject of some debate, with some scholars attributing it to Adam, and others claiming that it is the work of an earlier architect.



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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 Preliminary designs for the interior of a room at Hulne Priory, c1778, unexecuted (2)