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  • image SM 53/2/32

Reference number

SM 53/2/32


[256] Presentation drawing, New Law Courts, before 5 March 1823


Plan of the main (ground) floor of the New Law Courts, showing the area bordered by Westminster Hall, New Palace Yard, St Margaret's Street and The Stone Building, with some ceilings shown in dashed line, not as executed


bar scale of 1/4 inch to 1 foot


Plan of part of the New Law Courts at Westminster. / Part of Westminster Hall. / The Bail Court / Part of new Palace Yard. / The Court of Kings Bench. / Reverse this Court (x 2) / The Court of Common Pleas. / The Retiring Room for / the Judges. / March 5: 1823 / Exhibited to the / Lord Chief Baron / & approved /. AB dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • before 05/03/1825
    March 5: 1823

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, wash, coloured washes of buff, pink and blue, pen, pink pen, within single ruled border pricked for transfer on wove paper (957 x 642)


Sir John Soane (1753 - 1837), architect
Soane Office, draughtsman


The drawing has been annotated in Soane's hand, recording the approval of the Lord Chief Baron when the latter was shown this plan on 5 March 1823. The two Court rooms which are annotated for reversal can be taken to be the Courts of Equity and Exchequer. This substitution was followed and remained constant throughout subsequent variations of the plan. It appears that the external walls of the Judge’s Chamber behind the Court of Common Pleas were to be retained. There are numerous faint pencil annotations and slight sketches for alternative treatments of respective rooms, but the plan demonstrates Soane's original conception of Courtrooms positioned independently of one other, between highly articulated circulation corridors. An interest in the use of skylights may partly explain why five ceiling domes are shown. Of particular note is the sizable vestibule leading to the Court of King's Bench from Westminster Hall, and that leading from the latter to what is either the Court of Equity or Exchequer. The repeated use of extendrae within the ancillary accommodation in the return range of The Stone Building shown also be noted; these were curtailed in execution, no doubt for practial reasons of accommodation. The corridor along the New Palace Yard side of the Court of King's Bench, with its triple openings, is also of significnce.


Sawyer, 1999: p. 561, footnote 1651



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation. This catalogue of Soane’s designs for the New Law Courts was generously funded by The Worshipful Company of Mercers and The Pilgrim Trust.

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.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).