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Gothic Flanking Range, April 1824-September 1826 (4)


Architectural Note:-
This alternative proposal numbered 16 can be dated to 12 April 1824, and comprises two perspective views and two elevations. It is alone amongst the variant proposals for reconsidering the entire curtilage of Westminster Hall and proposing a wholesale reconstruction of all existing buildings on the south and east sides of New Palace Yard. Two sides of the latter are enclosed by castellated ranges of six bays, rising through three storeys, their fenestration uniformly square-headed under hood mouldings. Two arches give access to St Stephen’s Court in the southern range, and the adjacent eastern range contains a prominent gateway beneath an oriel. More radical is the reduction of the Law Court buildings to the west. These have been replaced by the addition of an aisle to the Hall, built out as far as the buttresses, from which rise two towers, slightly higher than the Hall’s parapet.

The rationale of this variant is difficult to grasp, and even without plans it appears highly impractical. However the elevations demonstrate a clear correspondence to the additional buildings constructed by James Wyatt on the east side of Old Palace Yard. They also suggest that Soane had some knowledge of Wyatt’s unexecuted 1803 scheme for the wider Palace site, and that this group served as an exercise in working out implications of the latter in terms of appearance, rather than their practical application. It is possible that this was an attempt to give visual form to the Select Committee’s own solutions, and it should be recalled that its members were aware of Wyatt’s earlier scheme. It is highly unlikely that any of these drawings were intended to be viewed by the Select Committee.

Drawings Note:-
The perspective views (SM 53/6/15 and SM 53/8/58) are hastily executed and lack any characteristics which can be associated with an individual hand. The palette for the former is subtly more modulated with the use of raw sienna, contrasting with the grey-blue washes used elsewhere in the drawing to focus the eye upon the mid-distance. The use of sepia wash to shadow the foreground is a common compositional feature. SM 53/8/58 is the only dated drawing, executed the same day Soane attended the Select Committee. The corresponding Day Book entries for this date record that George Bailey, Stephen Burchell and Charles Richardson were involved. However their descriptions are too generic for direct correlations with these drawings to be made.



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation. This catalogue of Soane’s designs for the New Law Courts was generously funded by The Worshipful Company of Mercers and The Pilgrim Trust.

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 Gothic Flanking Range, April 1824-September 1826 (4)