- Published Work: Soane/Baroque/Adam/other architects
Adam installed a large apse opposite the front door, behind which are three lobbies giving access to the saloon beyond, and the staircases to either side. To further enliven the space, a lavish scheme of plaster ornamentation – unprecedented at Nostell – was designed for the room. This was incomplete on the 5th Baronet’s death in 1785. The 1806 and 1818 inventories of the house record that the room was used for storage, rather than as an entrance hall. The plasterwork scheme was completed in the 1820s for Charles Winn, when it became a formal entrance-cum-music room, hosing a magnificent organ for which there are nineteenth-century drawings at the West Yorkshire Archive Service, and which is now in Wragby Church.
Adam volumes 11/229 and 11/230 comprise variant designs for the hall ceiling, which was executed in accordance with Adam volume 11/230 and survives in situ. Adam volume 52/92 shows the ornamentation to the semi-dome in the apse-head, again as executed, and surviving in situ.
The chimneypiece in the top hall was executed in accordance with Adam’s design, in stone by Christopher Theakston of Doncaster. Theakston had submitted an estimate of £36.17s in May 1773. There is an Adam office design for the chimneypiece, albeit without any of its ornamental details, dated 12 May 1773, and a working drawing of the same date within the National Trust drawings collection at Nostell.
There are two extant drawings datable to 1766-72 for the walls of the top hall, giving the ornamental decoration to a close variant of what was executed. One is a preliminary design in Robert Adam’s hand within the National Trust drawings collection at Nostell Priory, and the other is a finished drawing in an Adam office hand within the private drawings collection of Lord St Oswald. There are also three working drawings showing the walls as executed, in an Adam office hand, and dated 1772 within the National Trust drawings collection. There is a record drawing duplicate of Adam volume 11/230 in an Adam office hand, and dated 1 June 1772, as well as 24 executed working drawings for the plasterwork in the top hall, all dated 1 June 1772 within the National Trust drawings collection. Sixteen of these working drawings are for parts of the ceiling, two for the walls, two for the capitals and bases, one for the entablature, four for door architraves and overdoors, and one is for mouldings. There are also working drawings for the floor joists dated 22 April 1772, and the door architraves dated 13 July 1773; and a design for the front door datable to 1772-74, also within the National Trust drawings collection.
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 and finished drawings for a ceiling and niche head for the top hall, c1766-72, Adam volumes 52/92 and 11/230 as executed (3)
-  Alternative finished drawing for the ceiling for the hall, 1771, unexecuted
-  Preliminary design for the niche head in the hall, c1771-72, as executed
-  Record drawing for the ceiling for the hall, 1772, as executed