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Record drawings of the interior, September 1828 (6)


The painting and glazing of the house's interiors cost £996.17.9 and was executed in 1827 and 1828 by painter/glazier William Watson (j/22/1). On 17 August 1827, Soane paid him £9.8.2 for his journey to Pell Wall (DB/23). Watson's measuring book, dated 14 April 1828 (j/14/1), is a detailed account of his work, arranged by room. The Dining Room walls are painted a 'bright vermillion' and the shutters are varnished. The drawing room has a 'light grey' ceiling and a 'rich yellow' and 'crome yellow' cornice, with a 'varnished yellow' dado. The walls of Mr Sillitoe's study are varnished. Upstairs, the ceiling of a south-east room is painted a 'light blue verditer' with a 'fawn colour' on the 'window front'. The room at the 'south-east end' has a 'light blue' ceiling, as do some of the other chambers, including Mrs Sillitoe's bedroom. The room over the entrance hall (a dressing room) has a 'blue' ceiling. A cupboard is painted 'light green' on its interior. The 'lobby' to Mrs Sillitoe's room (probably drawing 56) has 'light green' ceilings and walls, with a 'new orange glass' and a fanlight over the door. Many of the lobbies on both floors have 'fawn' walls.

On 25 August 1828 Purney Sillitoe writes to Soane that he and the ladies had moved into their new house and that, as the furniture is placed, the proportions of every apartment appear to expand, and the whole begins to wear an appearance of some magnitude, and, he hopes, comfort. They are all very pleased, and are grateful for the anxiety J.S. has always shown for the comfort of them all (Priv. Corr. VII.B.1.31).

The views of the interiors in drawings 51 to 56 show a partly-furnished house, with pictures yet to be hung, furniture to be arranged, and some carpets not yet put down (G. Worsley). The drawings are dated September 1828, but they show the house before it was occupied, suggesting either that they were initially drawn on site in August but finished in the office in September 1828, or that the house was not completely furnished in September despite the Sillitoes having moved in at the end of August.

Drawings 51 to 56 are attributed to C.J. Richardson, but there is a possibility that they were made by Gandy, as Gandy accompanied Soane on a visit to Pelwall in September 1828 (SNB 196). Stylistically, however, the drawings appear to be in Richardson's hand. Furthermore, Richardson is mentioned in Soane's notebooks during his visit on September 18th: 'Richard[so]n to make fair draw'g of Pelwall House' (SNB 196), although Richardson's presence at the house is not confirmed. The Day Books show that Richardson was absent from the office for the beginning of the month and returned to commence work on 'drawing of house at Market Drayton' on September 22nd, spending nearly three weeks on the drawings (DB/24).

A second set of Pell Wall interior views were kept by Richardson and are now at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The drawings have been catalogued by Pierre du Prey. They show the interior of the hall and staircase (du Prey, cat. 92), a view through the drawing room similar to drawing 51 (du Prey, cat. 93), a view of the ladies' dressing room similar to drawing 55 (du Prey, cat. 94) and a view similar to drawing 56 (du Prey, cat. 95). The V&A also has two elevations and a perspective of the house's exterior, a perspective of the stables and a perspective of the Stone Lodge. The presence of a second set of drawings at the V&A further supports the attribution to Richardson, as (just as in drawings 44 to 47) it appears that Richardson kept copies of those drawings that he made while in Soane's office.

A statement from Thomas Grundy, marble mason, describes the chimney pieces in the house: Mrs Sillitoe's dressing room has a vein marble chimney-piece; the dining room has a black and gold chimney-piece; a statuary chimney-piece with quarter columns is in the small drawing room; a carved statuary chimney-piece with Gothic moulding is in the large drawing room (costing £140); and a statuary chimney-piece with metal bead is in Mrs Sillitoe's room (j/1/9).

Drawing 54 is only partly complete, with pencil showing the handrail on the staircase and the arched doorways set in recessed arches. A gallery on the east wall overlooks the stairwell. Visible through the window is the clock tower of the stables, aligned on axis with the domestic offices so as to be seen through the arched kitchen flue. An octagonal lantern is above the stairwell.


P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 91-99, p. 51; G. Worsley, 'Pell Wall Hall, Staffordshire', Country Life, April 7 1988, pp. 134-7.



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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 Record drawings of the interior, September 1828 (6)