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Designs for a hothouse, 1792 (5)


Soane's design for a hothouse shows his use of contemporary innovations in gardening technology (drawing 1).

Soane's office made a similar design for a hothouse at Bentley Priory on 23 August 1792, the same month as drawing 1 (q.v. drawing 116 in Bentley Priory scheme).

This design was not used for Wimpole but re-used later for the Duke of Leeds.

Drawings 3 to 5 show a hothouse design in section. Drawing 3 is a preliminary drawing, showing a design similar to drawing 1. Drawing 4 is a copy, with slight pencil alterations that are executed in the more finished drawing 5.

The design provides three systems for heating the room to a suitable temperature for growing pineapples. The planting bed at the centre of the room is warmed by the decaying bark packed within it (see drawing 1). Also providing heat are the triple-glazed lean-to roof and south-facing walls. Lastly, flues filled with hot air surround the room behind thin brick walls. Circulation around the room is provided by a passage measuring 2 feet 3 inches wide (altered to 2 feet).

The office Daybook of 1792 records that Thomas Chawner and Frederick Meyer were 'drawing sections of Hot house at Wimp[o]le' on 15 August 1792. Soane delivered to Lord Hardwicke a design for the hothouse the next day; the drawings included 'parts at large', probably drawing 2 and a fair copy of drawing 5. More design drawings for hothouses were made in the following week and working drawings were not made until May of the next year, indicating that Lord Hardwicke was not satisfied with this proposal. On 7 September Chawner went to Bentley Priory to draw a plan and section of the hothouse and send it to Wimpole, perhaps as a reference for improved designs.



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).  

Contents of Designs for a hothouse, 1792 (5)