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Design and working drawings for adding a hot wall and sheds to the existing kitchen garden, 20 April 1827 (3)


Drawings 24 to 26 show Soane's use of contemporary innovations in gardening technology. Heated glasshouses were found to provide an agreeable climate for exotic plants, vines and vegetables, and for the ripening of fruits. Heat and sunlight could be intensified not only by the angled glass roof (as in section on drawing 24) but by a 'hot wall' on the northern exposure. The hollow wall contains hot air and smoke generated by a furnace buried below the ground. As J.C. Loudon's Encyclopedia of gardening (published in 1822 and 1835) prescribes: 'A length of 40 ft., and from 10 to 15 ft high, may be heated by one fire, the furnace of which, being placed 1 or 2 ft below the surface of the ground' (Loudon, p.576). Greenhouses already existed in England in the 17th century, but in the 18th century the designs were improved with the use of glass roofs. In the early 19th century, new inventions and enthusiasm arose 'to produce the patent hot-houses of Stewart and Jorden, and other less known improvements' (Loudon, p. 581). The hot wall at Pell Wall is apparently a later addition, built after the kitchen garden walls were completed, as the drawings show the design beside a 'present wall'. The hot wall spans the chimney brick pedestals marked 'A' in the drawing, covering not only the length of the fruit room but the adjacent sheds, whose 'entrance [was] to be determined by the garden & hot wall'.

A letter dated 11 April 1827 from Morby, Son & Bothwell, bricklayers, provides an estimate for the hot wall, stating that they would execute the brickwork of the wall, sheds etc. for 58 shilings per rod, plus £6 per man sent for coach hire, time and expenses, and £0.5.6 per day and lodging for bricklayers in day work (j/19/3). The tradesmen were based in Chelsea.



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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 Design and working drawings for adding a hot wall and sheds to the existing kitchen garden, 20 April 1827 (3)