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image Image 1 for SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59
image Image 2 for SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59
  • image Image 1 for SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59
  • image Image 2 for SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59

Reference number

SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59

Purpose

Site plans with plan and revised plan for the new Infirmary located opposite the Great West Court, 29 August 1809 (2)

Aspect

15 Block plan of the west part of the Hospital, with plan of Infirmary with detached wings on three sides 16 Block plan of the west part of the Hospital, with revised plan of Infirmary with detached wings on three sides

Scale

(15-16) bar scale

Inscribed

15 labelled Copy, no. 4 / The old Buildings are coloured Brown / The Red Colour represents New / Buildings, River Thames, Lower Terrace, Creek, Canal, Drying Ground, Grass flat (twice), Great Gravel walk, Coal Yard, Whitster, Wash / house, Cleansing Ground, Bake / House, Matron, Great West Court / of / Chelsea Hospital, Road, Open airing Ground / Rather more than 1 acre, Infirmary, Airing Ground, rather more than 1¼ acre, Guard house, Surgeon, etc, Public Walk (twice), Burtons Court, Stable Yard, Artificers, Stables etc, Store Yard, Clerk of / the Works, Paradise Row Chelsea, Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 8th June 1809 16 labelled no. 5 / The old Buildings are coloured Brown / The Red Colour represents new Buildings, River Thames, Creek, Hospital Garden, Canal, Grass Flat (twice), Great Gravel Walk, L[ieutenan]t. Gov[erno]r. / Hitchen, Surgeon, Matron, Gardener, Barber, Coal Yard, Cleansing / Ground, Drying Ground / rather less than ¾ acre, Planted airing Ground / rather more than ¾ acre, Infirmary, Open airing Ground / rather more than 1 acre, Great West Court / of / Chelsea Hospital, Road, Guard, Baker, Public Walk (twice), Burtons Court, Stables (twice), Stable Yard, Whitster, Artificers, Store / Yard, Clerk of / the Works, Paradise Row Chelsea and Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 8th June 1809

Signed and dated

(15-16) August 29th 1809

Hand

Soane office

Notes

Drawings 15 and 16 appear in printed form in Papers, presented to the House of Commons, relating to the Building of a New Infirmary, and the Leasing of Ground at Chelsea Hospital, alongside a paper by G. Saunders. This suggests the replacement of the buildings opposite Wren's West Court with the new Infirmary, as the writer believed an Infirmary facing the river was not beneficial to the health of patients. Saunders writes (on 31 May 1809) that 'all the buildings round this court are of an inferior kind' and 'On that supposition, I recommend that the whole of the side of the quadrangle where the surgeon's residence now is, should be devoted to the infirmary'. The plan shown in drawing 15 accompanies this suggestion. The plan shown in drawing 16, however, is slightly altered and supports a revised paper submitted by Saunders on 5 June 1809, suggests the conversion of one of the Wren wings into accomodation for the Surgeon and Matron, which would reduce the length of the detached wings on the Infirmary side and allows for a coal yard in between.

George Saunders (1762-1839) was an architect listed in H.Colvin, Biographical dictionary of British architects. Saunders is also mentioned in connection with Soane in A. T. Bolton, The Works of Sir John Soane, 1924, in which there is a footnote (p. 151) - 'But dining with my friend Saunders this day, both our indignations were roused ...' It is possible that Soane put Saunders up to writing this paper or Saunders may have submitted his suggestions independently of Soane. C.G.T. Dean states that George Saunders was 'an architect whose advice was also sought, [who] regarded Walpole House as quite unsuitable, and endorsed Soane's opinion that the proposed infirmary should be built on the best available site, which was that intended for Colonel Gordon's house, overlooking the river'. His proposal in plans 15 and 16 faces the west court however. This would have meant further demolition of existing Wren buildings, to which Soane objected, stating that 'to destroy any more of the original buildings must be matter of very serious regret'.

Literature

A. T. Bolton, The Works of Sir John Soane, 1924; ; C.G.T. Dean, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, 1950, p.258; H.Colvin, Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840, 4th ed., 2008

Level

Drawing

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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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