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  • image SM, volume 110/14

Reference number

SM, volume 110/14


[4] Preparatory design for the south (Privy Garden) range of the new Privy Court


Half-elevation, including central pavilion, with part-plan of façade at first-floor level


About 10 feet to 1 inch


In graphite by Hawksmoor with a few figured dimensions; in ink by Dance at top right, GD, and to right in C19 hand, (14)

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable March-May 1689

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing; some under-scoring; some grey wash Laid paper, laid down, except for 75 mm fold on left side of sheet which is linen-backed. Originally folded on right centre. Light, pinkish-brown staining across bottom half of sheet, indicating that this was at the top of the volume at first, with the staining in matching patterns either side of original fold; 280 x 484






Measuring 319 feet, this elevation is only three feet longer than the near-final elevation for the Privy Garden front (section 4, 6;110/9). It relates most closely to the elevation of the Privy Garden range in Grand Project 2 (section 2, 2; 110/7), even though the latter is much shorter (260 feet). In both elevations, a portico of four giant Corinthian columns is applied to the central pavilion. In this design, however, the columns are 35 feet rather than 38 feet high. The elevation appears to represent an initial scheme for an extended Privy Garden front, following the decision in April or early May 1689 to build just two principal frontages rather than a completely new Privy Court. The overall plan of the façade, with deeply projecting four-bay outer pavilions, follows the disposition of the inked-in Privy Garden frontage on the second survey plan at All Souls (Geraghty 2007, No. 205; AS IV.5), although the latter scales shorter at about 310 feet. The absence of room divisions and any indication of how the frontage would link with the existing fabric behind the range suggests that this was a study elevation rather than part of a fully developed scheme.
The elevation itself is a skilful response to the problem posed by the reduction in the main floor from 18 feet in Grand Project 2 (section 2, 2; 110/7) to 13 feet 6 inches (inscribed on the right-hand side of the elevation as 12 feet 6 inches plus 1 foot for the string course). This is still 1 foot more than the executed first-floor height of 12 feet 6 inches. The tall arch-headed openings in the ground-floor loggia of 110/7 have been compressed into short, flat headed openings, with channelled lintels carried on dwarf pilasters. The first-floor order remains 20 feet high, but the sills of the first-floor windows have been dropped to floor level, to create more space for the Corinthian capitals in the upper part of the wall.


Wren Society, IV, pl. 16



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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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