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  • image Image 1 for SM (1) 63/7/2 (2) 63/7/1
  • image Image 2 for SM (1) 63/7/2 (2) 63/7/1
  • image Image 1 for SM (1) 63/7/2 (2) 63/7/1
  • image Image 2 for SM (1) 63/7/2 (2) 63/7/1

Reference number

SM (1) 63/7/2 (2) 63/7/1


Record drawings for the vault, 1816 (2)


1 Site plan of Part of the Burial Ground, Plan of the Vault, The West front or entrance, from East to West Section, from North to South Section with north point (see Notes below) 2 Ground plan showing vault and additional plot and pathway with pencil additions (by Soane) showing an early idea for the canopy, aedicule and enclosure: rough plan (relates to drawing 7), an elevation and a detail of balustrade with Doric columns


(1) bar scale of 1/13 inch to 1 foot (2) bar Scale of feet - 1/3 inch to 1 foot (approximately)


1 as above, labelled Strong Clay commencing, Vein of these Strong clay, Strong blue clay, (site plan) Sewer, drain, pathway, boundary wall and "The Family Vault of John Soane Esqr in the burial / Ground of the Parish of St Giles in the fields, situate in / the Parish of St Pancras. 1st December 1815 and This Sketch of part of the Burial Ground is from a plan in the possession / of Mr Mawley, and his Sections of the drainage describe the drain marked as / commencing at a white spot mark[e]d upon the boundary wall at a. and / falling westward at a depth of about 15 feet below the surface, but he is / most sure it lies quite so deep, that he says it is deep enough to drain / the Vault should that ever become necessary, of which however there does / not appear the least necessity. // A is the main Vault. / B is ground purchased to secure a commodious entrance to the main Vault / and which at any time may be made use of for burial if required, it is / cover[e]d by a flat Stone on brick footings about a foot in depth. 2 pencil (Soane) dimensions of 3 (three times) and 6 feet

Signed and dated

  • see Notes below

Medium and dimensions

(1) Pen, brown madder, pink, yellow ochre, sepia and blue washes on thin wove paper with double ruled and grey wash border (583 x 341) (2) pen, pink and yellow ochre washes, pencil additions on laid secretary paper (316 x 199)


1-2 attributed to Thomas Poynder junior, bricklayer and partly copied from 'a plan in the possession of Mr Mawley' (see Notes below)


(1) Iping 1814 (2) Britannia holding lance, shield and olive branch within crowned oval


Mrs Soane died in the early hours of 22 November 1815 and the date of 1 December 1815 (drawing 1) is the day on which she was buried. For an account of Mrs Soane's illness, death and funeral see S. Palmer, The Soanes at home: domestic life at Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1997, pp.70-80.
Summerson's account (op.cit., above) suggests that 'she was buried ... in the burial ground of St Giles-in-the Fields ... [and] we must assume that the coffin was transferred [to the vault] in due course'. Bowdler and Woodward (op.cit., above) suggest that the vault was constructed 'in the days before the funeral' and internment in that vault took place on 1 December 1815.
A bricklayer's bill from Thomas Poynder & Son (16/17/1) dated '1816 / Feby 26 / to / April 28' gives a list of work done and of materials supplied. It begins: 'Digging out ground building wall round vault / making drain filling in and levelling ground / pointing & bricking up end of vault' and ends: 'Received June 11th 1816 of John Soane Esqre / One hundred & Seven Pounds seventeen / shillings & 4½ in full for Bricklayers / work done in St Giles Burying Ground / for Father & Self / Thoss Poynder'.
The site for vault and monument was chosen because the Soanes' home at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields was within the parish of St Giles in the Fields, Holborn. After the churchyard of St Giles (re-built by Henry Flitcroft, 1731-3) became overfull a new burial ground was opened in 1802 or 1803 next to but separate from the newly enlarged graveyard of St Pancras Old Church. In 1877 the St Giles burial ground and part of the Old St Pancras churchyard were turned into a public garden (St Pancras Gardens).
Drawings 1 and 2 both show the extra ground purchased by Soane for £37.16.0 paid to Mr D. Bugden on 19 February 1816 (Journal 6 -200) which added an area of 4 x 9 feet to the plot of 7 x 9 feet 6 inches already agreed.

The site plan (drawing 1) has a north point which does not tally with the orientation of the built monument that lies with the entrance to the south while the drawing shows the entrance to the vault as to the west. So that either drawing 1 is inaccurate or the site was changed.


J. Summerson, 'Sir John Soane and the furniture of death', p. 135, The Unromantic castle and other essays, 1990; B. Cherry and N. Pevsner, London 4: North, 1998, p.348; R. Bowdler and C. Woodward, '"An Ornamental Structure and Very Likely to be Damaged... ": Sir John Soane's tomb in St Pancras Gardens, London', p. 248, Architectural History, 42, 1999



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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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