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image SM volume 42/123 recto and verso

Reference number

SM volume 42/123 recto and verso


Preliminary design for the south wall


Perspectival elevation (with part-plan and sketchy indication of ceiling treatment) showing alternative designs for windows:one with a Gothic four-centred arch and spandrels and the other with Gothic tabernacle work and between the windows, an alcove with a lancet arch; (verso) rough detail of spandrel


(verso) some dimensions and calculations given

Signed and dated

  • datable to c. 1806

Medium and dimensions

Sepia, light red and blue washes, pencil (verso) pen on laid paper (292 x 215)




The library at Stowe was the only instance of Soane's use of Gothic for a domestic interior. The first dated designs were made in January 1805 and the library with its vestibule and staircase to the floor above was completed in the following year. McCarthy dates the drawing catalogued here to about 1806 and comments that 'it is rather a surprise to find at this date the decoration of the south or window wall of the room had not yet been decided upon.' (op.cit., p.141) As executed, the alcoves for statues were omited and dummy bookcase fronts were placed between the three windows which more or less relate to the left-hand design though with trefoil-arched heads, and with glazed rather than solid bottom panels.
See SM 33/3/B1-61 for designs for the library at Stowe and see also Concise Catalogue


M. McCarthy, 'Soane's "Saxon" Room at Stowe', Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, XLIV, No.2, 1985, pp.129-46; D.Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 2nd ed., 1996, pp.191-3



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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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