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Further designs for alterations and additions, 1791-2, 1795 (3)


Drawing 20 is in plan form (and presentation) close to drawings 16 and 17. It includes the 'pavilions' to south-east and south-west that are removed in drawings 21-22 as well as in the published plan and (with drawing 21) it retains the use of curved screen walls to hide the domestic offices. Drawing 22, dated 1795, with the published design of 1793 integrates the curved walls so that there are rooms rather than courts behind them. The offices now (drawing 22) include three school rooms and a pharmacy. All three drawings omit the portico on the south side and though the published design (1793) includes it, the text has a note that 'The portico in the front of the gallery formed a part of the original plan, but has been taken away to make the centre part of the gallery more chearful' (sic). Drawing 22 is signed by Robert Woodgate and dated December 1795 which suggests that it represents the built design. While most of the plan is defined by a sepia wash, the main house has a black wash perhaps to indicate that it was still being built. Woodgate's drawing is close to Soane's published design though this last is somewhat 'idealized' so that, for example, the drawing room has a bowed west side and the eating room an apsidal end while the family rooms are labelled and some of the service rooms are not.

Robert Woodgate, a carpenter by trade, was employed by Soane to be trained in 'the business of an architect in all its branches' from 30 June 1788 until October 1791. He was paid £25 in the first year, £30 in the second and 18 shillings a week in the third year. Soane then arranged for Woodgate to supervise the building works at Barons Court for a wage of £100 a year together with travelling expenses. 'Woodgate took with him to Barons / No. 7 drawings viz / 1 drawg of the Princp:' Floor as it now / is / 1 of do with the propo:[ed] add: 1 of the 1 Pair Floor do / 1 Elevation of intended entrance / front / 2 plans for cottage, 1 of ground / 1 of first floors 1 Elevation ...'. (entry in Soane's office 'Journal No.2' for 4 October 1791).

Woodgate was at Barons Court when a disastrous fire destroyed the south block with its family rooms. On 15 December 1796 Lord Abercorn's agent wrote to tell him that 'a fire was discovered in the attic storage of the new house fronting the lake. It had unfortunately got so great a head as to render fruitless every endeavour to save the centre of the building .... All communications of the flame to the wings was intercepted by means of immense batteries of sods wet and built stoutly up. It is to Woodgate the safety of the wings is in great measure indebted.' (quoted, H.Dixon, op. cit. p.4). For the next two years, Woodgate stayed to oversee the dismantling of the burnt-out shell of the main house and was responsible for the alterations of what remained. He was also, at that time, working for Lord Abercorn on plans for a 'New Town' at Strabane (Irish Dictionary of Architects). By 1799 Woodgate had moved to Dublin and set up his own architectural practice.



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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 Further designs for alterations and additions, 1791-2, 1795 (3)