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Captain Pitts: unexecuted designs for a house, 1783 (5)


Captain Pitts is unknown. Rowan has noted that ‘A captain in the Royal Navy might seem a likely person to employ an expensive architect like Robert Adam, but there is no record of any Captain Pitts in the navy lists for this period. Adam’s client may possibly be identified as Matthew Pitts, appointed a captain in the Corps of Engineers on 7 May 1779 and entered as a captain-lieutenant in the Plymouth Division in the warrant list of 1784. If the villa were designed for him, he may have intended it as a place of retirement, as in 1788 he applied for and obtained a vacant captaincy in the Invalid Corps of the Royal Engineers which he held until 1797. The Invalid Corps, established in 1784, was a body of seven semi-retired officers and was intended for men who, through age or infirmity, were no longer fit for action in their profession. They entered the Corps with the rank and pay they held at the time of retirement, a privilege which Captain Pitts was to enjoy for nine years.’

The intended location for this design is unknown. The design shows a small house, appearing to be the home of a bachelor, flanked by arcaded links connecting to pavilions. It is an unusual design as the arcaded links are open, despite their giving access to the patron’s ‘Study or Book room’. These designs are not thought to have been executed.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 57, 84, pp. 57, 84; A. Rowan, Designs for castles and country villas by Robert & James Adam, 1985, pp. 36-37; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 79, 81, 136

Frances Sands, 2015



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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 Captain Pitts: unexecuted designs for a house, 1783 (5)