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image SM 53/6/1

Reference number

SM 53/6/1


[489] Drawing for publication, Wesminster Hall, New Law Courts & Record Building, 14 February 1829


Plan of the north end of Westminster Hall with the main (ground) floor of the Court of King's Bench and adjacent offices to the west and a Record Building containing the Duchy Court of Lancaster to the east, with annotations, unexecuted


bar scale of 1/18 inch to 1 foot


Copy (red ink) Design No. 1. (x 2) / John Soane Arch[itec]t. / Plan of the Ground Floor, of / A Design for providing the Additional Accommodation required for / the Court of King’s Bench, together with a building corresponding therewith / on the South East Side of Westminster Hall to contain the Duchy Court of Lancaster, / the Exchequer, and Record Offices, &c. - the whole of the exterior of the buildings / combining in character with the North Front of Westminster Hall. / Leaving the Area of New Palace Yard as capacious as in the Reign / of Queen Elizabeth. No 1 – 6 / East Wing / This building contains the arrangements for the Duchy Court / of Lancaster, - the Exchequer Bill Offices and for the Records now / in Westminster Hall, excepting those belonging to the Court of / Common Pleas. - / The Estimate of the probable expense of completing these / works will be about Twenty one Thousand Pounds - - The East Wing / This building contains the Arrangements / for the Duchy Court of Lancaster &c &c / (see above). West Wing / The estimated expense of this building amounts to about £13,000. / This design obviates all the objections taken to the Court of Kings Bench as it / contains rooms for the reception of the Records &c belonging to the Court of Common / Pleas it also provides all the accommodations required for the use of the Court of / Kings Bench and likewise shews how theat Court may be made at least one / fourth ^or even one third part larger than it now is. - / In stating the estimated expense of this design at £13,000, it must be / noticed that only about three thousand pounds ^ only will be required, there being / about ten thousand pounds remaining of the original estimate agreed to for / building and completing the New Law Courts. - / I have now to notice an erroneous statement in a widely circulated anonymous / publication entitled “Hints and Observations respecting the Parks and Palaces &c. &c.” / ‘Mr Soane takes Courts of Justice, and the Public Offices ........ :- The new / “The New Courts of Law were found to be so small and inconvenient that my Lords the / “Judges complained most bitterly ….. These Courts are now all altered at the trifling / “expense of about £30,000, and the Judges breathe once more”. – This assertion is most / untrue:- it can be proved that not even five hundred pounds have been expended / in all the alterations of the New Law Courts at Westminster from the commence- / -ment to the completion – present time. / J[ohn]. S[oane]. / L[incoln’s]. I[nn]. F[ields]. / 20 Feb[ruar]y 1829 The West Wing; see rough Paper. / Plan of the Court of Kings Bench with / the additional accommodation required:- / This design, so far as regards the / Court of Kings Bench, might be completed / without any inconvenience to the Public / interruption to the Judicial / proceedings of the Court, leaving the area / of New Palace Yard as capacious as in / the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. Saint Stephen’s Court. / Entrance in Saint Stephen’s Court. / Duchy of Lancaster, / Exchequer Office, & / Records. &c. / Porch / W[ater]. C[loset]. (x 2) / Staircase (x 2) / Part of Westminster Hall. / Northern Entrance into Westminster Hall / Entrance from Westminster Hall into the Court of King’s Bench / Tribunal / The Bail Court. / The Court of / Equity. / Vestibule (x 3) / Entrance for the Public / Entrance for / Barristers / Entrance into / the Coffee Rooms &c. (x 2) / Entrance for / King’s Counsel / Entrance for / the Judges / Entrance into / the Court of King’s / Bench. / Attendants / to the / Judges / Retiring Room / for the / Judges / Ante Room / or / Waiting Room / area (x 2) / area / area to admit Light to Basement. / Saint Margaret’s Street / Scale of Feet

Signed and dated

  • 14/02/1829
    14 Feb[ruary]: 1829

Medium and dimensions

Pen, red pen, wash, coloured washes of pink and yellow, pricked for transfer on laid paper (468 x 228)


Sir John Soane (1753 - 1837), architect
George Bailey (1792 - 1860), draughtsman
The Day Book entry for 14 February 1829 notes that George Bailey was About Drawings of the Record Office, / Duchy Court of Lancaster, Court of / King's Bench &c.




One paragraph of the lengthy inscription is struck through in Soane's hand. The plan agrees, except for some very minor details, with that shown in SM P264, save that it is cropped on a line running through the centre of the penultimate bay of Westminster Hall. The accompanying annotations are not replicated on the latter drawing.



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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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