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Presentation drawings and design drawing showing two alternative designs for the ground floor and west entrance front, 1797 (4)


Soane presented the alternative designs to Pitt over breakfast on the 12th September 1798 and Pitt approved plan No 1, on drawing 13 (Journal 3, p.184). Design No 1 is developed in later drawings 17 to 24.

It is likely that drawings 13 to 16 were originally made for an intended meeting on 12 December 1797 but were reused once Soane could manage an appointment with Pitt in September 1798. After surveys were made of the house in September (drawings 11 and 12), Soane's office was busy making drawings for Holwood House. Soane took his proposed drawings to see Mr Pitt in December 1797 but because of unknown circumstances Pitt could not meet with Soane. From December 1797 to September 1798, the Soane office was not occupied with Holwood drawings, thus indicating that Soane held on to his original drawings for their delayed presentation. The drawings have rough pencil alterations in the style of those made by Soane during consultation with a client, suggesting that they were at one point presented.

The drawings show two alternative designs for additions to the house, having new offices to the north and an eating room at the north-east corner, with both the new and old rooms all arranged around a central courtyard. Drawing 14 is not a presentation drawing but an earlier design, with its alterations in brown pen included in drawing 15 as design ‘No. 2’.

The alternative designs are labelled as No 1’ and ‘No 2’, with No 2' shown in drawings 14 and 15, and the lower half of drawing 16, and design No 1 in drawing 13 and the upper half of drawing 16. Both designs involve razing the office wing (drawings 11 and 12) and relocating the entrance to the west front. The existing house is largely retained and its plan is made into a more compact and symmetrical rectangle by the addition of a north range on the central court. The eating room renders the east front symmetrical.

Variations between the two designs occur in the treatment of the entrance front, the arrangement of the domestic offices and the size of the centre courtyard. Design No 2 shows the kitchen as detached from the house and linked to the other offices via a covered passage.

Drawings 13 and 15 have rough pencil alterations to the plans. The proposed entry hall has been altered in drawing 15 to show the outline of the room's existing hearth, indicating the existing chimney that may potentially obstruct the proposed entrance hall. Alterations also show a larder near the kitchen offices. Drawing 13 has fewer pencil alterations, with 'Q[uer]y' inscribed in the doorway between the library and proposed eating room.



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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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 Presentation drawings and design drawing showing two alternative designs for the ground floor and west entrance front, 1797 (4)