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image SM volume 109/39

Reference number

SM volume 109/39


[12/12] Preparatory design for the detailing of the main floor and clerestory windows of the south elevation of the Chapel




Not indicated, but 7 feet to 1 inch


In pen and brown ink by James, beneath window, South front of Chapel; and with dimensions of openings and wall surfaces; and at top right in C19 hand, 39

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable 1735

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with additions in graphite; on laid paper, laid down; 322 x 207


John James


No watermark


The laying of the 'foundation of the Pavilion in the East Colonnade' (the future Queen Mary's Court), and work on the 'foundations of the Dormitories on the East side of that Court' was ordered on 28 January 1702, just six weeks before the death of King William III (Wren Society, VI, p. 43). In the 'Abstract of the Estimate for finishing Greenwich Hospital' presented on 27 April 1704 to the new Commission appointed by Queen Anne, a sum of over £23,000 is given for the cost of erecting 'the Building opposite to the Hall upon ye foundation now laid' (ibid., p. 46). However, no further work was done on Queen Mary's Court until the early summer of 1735, when the foundations were reopened and work commenced on Ripley's revised designs.

John James had been joint Clerk of Works with Hawksmoor since 1718. He had sole charge as Clerk when Hawksmoor relinquished his post in 1735. This drawing and [12/13] bear James's handwriting (for example the 'f' with a long descender and counter-clockwise loop), his style of dimensioning with colons or dots between the numbers, and his paralleled ruled scale bar (see also his annotations on [10/1], a record elevation of the King Charles II Building). On the evidence of these two working drawings, it would be reasonable to attribute the design of the courtyard elevation of the chapel to James.

This design for the detailing of the upper wall elevations is likely to date shortly before the start of work on the chapel. The drawing provides dimensions for the main elements of the upper two storeys that would have informed an overall estimate of building costs, and dimensions for the openings and for a nearly square panel within the principal window. The windows at main-floor level are Palladian-style versions of the round-arched windows at this level on the south side of the hall range. For the upper windows James simply copied Hawksmoor's on the south side.



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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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