- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
The Lord Chancellor was the senior judge over the Court of Chancery, and as such had accommodation directly adjoining that Court room (see the relevant note for the latter Court).
There are no surviving drawings which specifically record the evolution of this room’s design in terms of elevations. However, the implication that it would take the form of a top-lit tripartite space with projecting piers rising into arches can be deduced from general plans of the site (discussed above). This remains almost constant throughout the minor revisions to this part of the Law Courts site. Located between the Court of Chancery and a corridor leading from the designated Chancery entrance on St Margaret’s Street, it appears that it was always intended to serve as the most elaborately-realised ancillary rooms. Its length, and the incorporation of a room for the Lord Chancellor’s attendants to the west, was a logical response to the rhythm dictated by the buttresses of Westminster Hall. From the outset, the design was clearly intended to reflect the status of the Lord Chancellor, and in architectural terms the room stands as an adjunct to the adjacent Court of Chancery.
Given its enclosed position, lighting was provided by means of lantern lights over the domed compartments (SM 53/2/60; 53/4/79). The earliest section (SM 53/2/60) dates from before 18 October 1822, and construction was underway from summer - autumn 1823. The highly worked up record of the design as realised (SM 53/2/59) demonstrating how little the design was altered or revised during execution. The vertical emphasis of a high panelled dado (here expressed in paraphrase of rusticated bands) rising to plain surfaces, with ornament concentrated upon ceilings and around lantern lights, reflects the same treatment which unified the interiors of the Courts themselves.
There are few specific references in the Day Books to the surviving drawings, and as such the direct association with the latter to specific hands is difficult. It is plausible that the concise entries may frequently conflate the Lord Chancellor’s Room with the Court of Chancery, though one exception is the record of Arthur Mee specifically working on a plan and section of the former on 30 November 1822.
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 Lord Chancellor's Robing Room, 1822-29 (11)
- Design drawings, 1822-23 (3)
- Intermediate drawings, 1822-23 (5)
- Survey drawings on completion, 1824-29 (3)