Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [3] Sketch plan for a revision to the layout of the southern half of the Privy Garden, fronting the Thames
  • image Image 1 for SM, volume 110/2
  • image Image 2 for SM, volume 110/2
  • image Image 1 for SM, volume 110/2
  • image Image 2 for SM, volume 110/2

Reference number

SM, volume 110/2


[3] Sketch plan for a revision to the layout of the southern half of the Privy Garden, fronting the Thames


Plan, with some vertical features shown in elevation


100 feet to 1 inch


In ink by Dance at top right, Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (3)

Signed and dated

  • Undated but datable March-April 1689

Medium and dimensions

Graphite over some incised compass lines; on laid paper, laid down, with small window in backing paper to reveal sketch on verso; 355 x 226




Small sketch in graphite in upper centre of sheet, 35 x 60 mm, showing the elevation of a five-bay, two-storey elevation, subdivided by vertical piers (possibly buttresses) with a horizontal string course, and with a triangular-headed central door and an arch-headed window above. To the left of the central opening is a vertical feature in close parallel lines which bends to the right above the door and resembles a drain pipe. This is probably a sketch of an existing Tudor wall elevation at Hampton Court.


Countermark: DI


Not previously published except as an inset to the plate illustrating the plan of Grand Project 2 (section 2, 1; 110/4) in Wren Society volume IV in 1927, this sketch plan is an unexecuted proposal for a revision to the layout of the southern part of the Privy Garden to accommodate the new and longer Privy Garden range in the scheme represented by 1 and 2 above (110/22 and 110/5).The existing Privy Garden was about 260 feet wide between its east and west walls and it defined the extent of the new Privy Court along this axis in Schemes 1 and 2 (see Thurley 2003, pp.101, 137, 224). The walls were raised on embankments and thus constituted a major obstacle to the enlargement of south range facing the Privy Garden. Although this sheet has been heavily trimmed on all four sides, enough remains of the design of the garden on the north side to allow us to place the design in context and indicate its purpose. At the north end a broad earth terrace with sloping banks incorporates rectangular projections and two flights of steps. This terrace would have extended a quarter of the length of Privy Garden in Grand Project 2 (110/4). The terrace would have provided a link between the Privy Garden range and the lower ground level of the Privy Garden itself, such that the original Privy Garden walls and embankments could have been retained. The western of the two flights of steps is one the central axis of the Privy Garden and would have aligned with the centre line of the enlarged front. The retained walls of the Tudor Privy Garden are drawn in paired ruled lines and scale at 260 feet apart. Either side, west and east, are are single ruled lines set about 25 feet further out which continue as dotted lines on the north-south axis across the raised terrace. They indicate a wider garden area beyond the walls and embankment about 310 feet across aligned with the ends of the Privy Garden range. The width of the Privy Garden front on drawing 110/22 is 307 feet, whereas on 110/14 (4, below) it is 319 feet. Drawing 110/22 has a wide central pavilion nearly 70 feet broad at ground level, a dimension is equivalent to the width of the perron of the steps on the central axis of the Privy Garden, whereas 110/14 and the executed frontage have narrow, three-bay central pavilions and are close to 320 feet in length. It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that this design was intended for 110/22. The proposal revises the layout of the Privy Garden in Grand Project 2 (110/4) in the direction of the design eventually executed, for it develops the southern of the two fountain basins into a prime focal point. The central fountain is set within an oval path and four lesser fountains occupy quadrants between the inner and outer oval paths. A circular basin near this position became, within five years, the terminal feature in the first phase of the lay out of the Privy Garden. It appears on a plan of Hampton Court Gardens datable 1694-98 and attributed to William Talman (Thurley 2003, fig. 210). By this time the terrace in front of the Privy Garden range had been reduced in depth from the 200 feet suggested by this design to about 60 feet. The earliest version of the executed design for the Privy Garden is Hawksmoor’s first survey plan (Geraghty 2007, No. 204; AS IV.4), where he has also added lines for the terminal wall on the across the south side of the basin, to indicate the area to be laid out first.On AS IV.4 a square-shaped Banqueting House is retained along the river front in the adjoining ‘Pond Yard’ area. In the present design, however, all existing garden structures are swept away and an attempt is made to reconfigure the tripartite division of Grand Project 2 (110/4) to accommodate the wider Privy Garden enclosure on the west side. There are now three nearly equal enclosure, each with a central fountain at its north end. The middle enclosure terminates at the river end in a cruciform structure or enclosure which marks an entry point in the southern boundary wall. A similar structure stands at the terminus of the central axis of the Privy Garden. The broad terrace of steps at the north end of the middle garden would have aligned with an axis of the palace, but it is far from clear which axis this would have been, as this point is too far west to align with the Great Hall but not far enough west to align with the centre of the Base Court. Given the absence of any existing structures in the gardens to the south of the Palace, it is possible that this sketch proposal was for an unknown additional proposal for the complete rebuilding of the palace along the lines of Grand Project 1.


Wren Society, IV, pl. 4 (inset)



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).