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  • image SM 45/1/19

Reference number

SM 45/1/19


Alternative designs for a chapel partly enclosed by a ? college building in the form of a Crescent


Two elevations: above, an elevation with a Greek Doric order, and small (feint pencil) plan and below an elevation with an Ionic order. Both with Pantheon-type domes; in both designs the chapel is placed in the centre of a Crescent finishing with twin cube-like entrances with (top, pencil) large obelisks added. The Crescent is continuous with a colonnaded front and a plain one-and-half-storey back and, above a continuous entablature; a parapet conceals the roof


to a scale


(very feint pencil, mostly illegible, on left-hand side) Chapel / Do Plan and Elevn / C- - - - - P - - - for the (?) College / - - - - ; and (G.Bailey, curator 1837-60) A Design for a Mausoleum 1779

Medium and dimensions

Pen, warm sepia washes, pencil, shaded within single ruled border on laid paper (473 x 690)




J Whatman, fleur-de-lis within crowned cartouche with GR below


The identification of the drawing as a design for a chapel largely depends on Soane's feint pencil note. George Bailey, Soane Museum curator 1837-60, titled the drawing A Design for a Mausoleum 1779 but he has mis-labelled other of Soane's mausoleum-like designs. It is difficult to establish the purpose of the Crescent. Of 36 bays and on an approximately three-quarter elliptical plan, it finishes with a square entrance at each end. The inscription (if it is correct) of 'College' suggests a collegiate function.
The Greek Doric chapel, fronted by a low stair, has a distyle portico in antis with apsidal ends fronted by columns. Pencil alterations to the dome make it larger and add sculpted figures around the oculus. The design is quite close to the elevations (drawings 7 and 14) seen in 'Designs for the so-called "Chatham mausoleum"' (q.v.). Soane added a feint pencil plan (below the top elevation and to the left) that is basically a circle with the four corners of a square projecting through at four points. This resembles the outline plan for the 'Castello d'acqua' (q.v.) with its circular terrace pierced at four points by the corner of a pavilion though here colonnades are added to the periphery.
The Ionic chapel sits on a wide stepped base that includes the square (cuboid) entrances to the Crescent and is an alternative design with, for example, the porticos on the long axis and colonnades on a semicircular plan on the short axis.
There is a plan inscribed 'for Monumental Chapel' among the Soane drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum; it is to a scale of 1/7 inch to 1 foot. P. du Prey (Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 44) describes this plan as 'an oval with hemicyclical rows of freestanding columns along the exterior .. and [with] distyle porticoes project[ing] beyond the short axis of the oval'. It corresponds with the Ionic rather than the Doric elevation though there are differences. For example, on the long axis there are four rather than six columns and no door. The plan indicates a gallery which relates to the two storeys of the Ionic design.

Jill Lever, August 2005


P. du Prey, John Soane’s architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.138-9 (associated with the Chatham mausoleum designs)



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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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