- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
Drawings 63 and 64 show a square aperture set into the apex of the arch of the side-bay barrel vault (which can also be seen on the far right of drawing 70). This must have been an entry hatch for the workmen to access the roof. The topmost central point of the barrel-vault was the only position that an opening could be made (practically and structurally), as it acted in the position of a key stone. Once the other side vaults were completed, this would have been the only point at which it would be practical to erect scaffolding for the workmen to climb up (the central oculus was higher). Building materials must have been winched up through the central opening however. The later preliminary presentation drawings (drawings 84 and 85) do not show this opening, suggesting it was then filled in and plastered over, when work on the roof was complete.
As they are undated, drawings 62 to 64 could be of either the later south or south-east Transfer Office.
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).