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Presentation drawings, 31 May 1822 (3)


Purney Sillitoe wrote to Soane on 22 May 1822 that he thought the proposed designs 'are too extensive for the situation of the place as well as for the rank of the intended occupant, and I think we shall do right to reduce it' (Priv.Corr.VII.B.1.4). Two days later, Soane invited Sillitoe and his wife, along with Miss Davies and Miss Hibblethwaite to tea, wherein they 'finally settled the plan for Market Drayton' (SNB 171). As Sillitoe had suggested in his letter, the men agreed that the building costs (excluding the washhouse, brewhouse, other out-offices and the stables) would not exceed £10,000 (SNB 171).

In the following two weeks, Soane worked on plans for the house and met with the Sillitoes (and ladies) on several occasions in London: he had tea at the Sillitoes' on the 28th of May, and they dined with him in Chelsea, presumably in Soane's House at the Royal Hospital on the 1st of June (SB 171). Probably at this point these presentation drawings were reviewed and the pencil alterations and room labels added in Soane's hand. The designs clearly had not been simplified as per Sillitoe's earlier request. The plan measures 70 feet by 52 feet 1½ inches - only one foot smaller than the preliminary design - and the layout is largely unaltered.

As in the earlier designs (drawings 1 to 4), the house has a bombé front on the north face, a three-part entrance front and a wide corridor on the main axis. The communications between the rooms has changed. On the ground floor, the eating room has been moved to the north side of the house and a bed chamber suite (raised a quarter-storey) replaces it.

The drawing room occupies the bowed centre bay and is flanked by the library and eating room, all with a view of Market Drayton in the valley below. A large doorway leads from the library into the drawing room. The ceiling has segmental panels. Pencil additions show a staircase (beyond the drawing room) an external garden stair in two flights on a segmental plan.

On the east entrance front, a portico in antis leads inside to the main corridor, up steps and towards the principal staircase. As in earlier plans (drawings 1 and 2) columns and arches divide the corridor into a series of bays along the main axis, framing a direct view from the entrance to a window on the opposite end of the building. The south side of the building (left-hand side of drawing) is occupied by Mr Sillitoe's study at the front corner and a bed chamber and dressing room at the south-west (a departure from the early designs). The bed chamber suite is accessed from a quarter-landing on the best staircase. This raised floor allows for a higher ceiling in the kitchen below while also providing a private area for Mr Sillitoe, apart from the ladies' rooms occupying the entire first floor.

The main stairwell is rectilinear, overlooked by a 'gallery' on the first floor. Alternative lanterns have been included in pencil on drawing 8: one situated over the half-landing of the staircase and the other over the hall. Flues have also been added in pencil and the doorways have been moved. Every room on the ground and chamber floors has a chimney-piece and the main stairwell has a stove.

In the basement, the secondary stair opens into a corridor with a door on the south side leading to the proposed offices. The kitchen also has a door to the proposed wing. Pencil alterations have been made to the plan in Soane's hand.

Soane made his second visit to the site in June 1822, leaving London on Thursday the 13th to arrive at Ternhill (near Pell Wall) that Saturday. He stayed a week, leaving for London on Sunday the 23rd. Upon his visit, Soane discovered that the ground levels varied by 5 feet, not 2 feet 9 inches as the builder John Carline had recorded. Soane reported this to Sillitoe in a letter dated 29 June: 'the best thing to do is to change the site to more level ground, as otherwise a considerable amount of earth would have to be removed, and a carriage would have great difficulty in stopping at the hall door'. Drawing 7 has a note by Soane about the ground level problem: 'NB it is proposed to dress the earth up towards the house about 18 inches' but it is not known whether the note was made before or after Soane's discovery of the miscalculation.

Soane's pupils, Charles Papendiek, Arthur Mee and David Mocatta, worked on plans for the house on the 30th and 31st of May, and therefore these drawings are attributed to them.


D. Jenkins, The History of Pell Wall: its estate and its owners, Pell Wall Preservation Trust, 2003.



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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 Presentation drawings, 31 May 1822 (3)