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Presentation drawing for a hen house, 5 July 1794

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Soane presented his design for the hen house to the client on 4 July 1794, along with a drawing of the farmyard (drawing 37) and five designs for a dairy.

The hen house is made of timber. It is ornamented with a classical composition of mouldings 'mitred round angles' and its five ranges are arranged into a symmetrical composition. In Georgian model farms, John Martin Robinson writes: 'It is symptomatic of the seriousness with which farm buildings were treated in the late eighteenth century that the august architect of the Bank of England did not consider the design of nesting boxes for hens beneath his attention.' (J.M. Robinson, p.103)

The nesting boxes are covered by a system of two flaps, with one attached to hinges high on the back wall and extending forward to form a lean-to, and the others hung on hings on top of the boxes and lying flat. Each box has a round-headed window with double sliding doors perforated with air holes. Inside is a shelf to the keep eggs after they have been removed from the nests. The floors are raised on 'bearers'. The boxes vary between 1 feet 8 inches and 2 feet deep.

The key refers to a 'garnet', a hinge in the shape of a side-ways T, 'the upright part being nailed to the support, and the horizontal to the door, shutter' (Oxford English Dictionary).

Made of timber, the hen house has not been preserved.

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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).