- English Baroque Drawings: architecture, sculpture and garden design
The two sides of the oval court were probably intended to function as infirmaries, the wards being the long, wedge-shaped rooms on the diagonal axes, but now heated with large hearths and subdivided into cabins by thin wooden partitions. Two curved ranges, two rooms deep, along the outer perimeter would have provided doctors' accommodation and staircases to the upper floors; only the southern of these is drawn in. Radial corridors behind the wards give access to curve-ended link blocks, behind which are square-sided rear pavilions with three rooms on each floor. These may have been for doctors, surgeons, apothecaries and others (the functions inscribed on Hawskmoor's plan of the infirmary at the RIBA, former E5/11, Bold 2000, fig. 144). These outer square pavilions are aligned on the cardinal axes of the plan and connect with the outer enclosing walls of the south court. At the north-west corner the wall is curved on a quarter circle at the approach to a walled avenue that leads up, via a turret, to the northern of two west-east tunnels beneath the court (Pausilippo). As the RIBA master plan shows, this is connected via a sunken path (marked on this plan Fosse Sec) to a southern tunnel on the line of the existing Deptford to Woolwich Road running between the two halves of the Queen's House. The Fosse Sec, or dry ditch, passes beneath a bridge that lies on the west-east axis of the chapel.
Only part of the western quarter-circle wall is drawn, but the RIBA block plan shows how this wall connects via a short straight section with the southern of the two long ranges of officers' accommodation. These ranges are drawn separately at [8/7 and 8] (109/55-57), although without the connecting walls.The chapel is drawn in elevation on [8/2 and 3], and as a south elevation with its dome in a drawing at Castle Howard (reprd., Wren Society, XVII, pl. 51; redrawn in Downes 1979, fig. 7).
The chapel is drawn on a separate sheet of paper, which is pasted into a gap in the main sheet. The addition of this sheet results in two further pieces being added to the composite sheet, along the top and side edges. This suggests that there may have been a scheme for a smaller chapel of rectangular plan on the site of the cruciform chapel. The design for an octastyle Doric temple with 60-feet-high columns, associated with the revised first enlargement scheme, could have fitted the site at this point, although it does not have a link with a colonnade [7/1].
The plan of the chapel has the peristyle of the dome superimposed on the western half of the crossing. The elevation at Castle Howard, redrawn by Downes, shows this feature to be out of scale with the giant-order columns below and it is perhaps significant that on the two elevations in this volume [8/2 and 3], the upper part of the design is omitted, as if this feature were meant to be considered separately. The plan of the lower part of the dome peristyle is drawn in full at [8/5]. This drawing is probably in the hand of John James. Drawing [8/4] is a quarter-plan by Hawksmoor of the lower and upper parts of the dome peristyle, and drawing [8/6] (probably by John James) is a full plan of the upper part of the dome peristyle, which was probably redrawn from the quarter-plan at [8/4].
The Pausilippo idea appears for the first time in this drawing. This origin of this obscure Latin word is unclear, but it may derive from the word 'pauxillisper', meaning 'by little bits' or 'by degrees', which may suggest a road that very gradually slopes down towards a tunnel. It is not known where Hawksmoor derived the extraordinary concept of running the road beneath the front of the chapel, but he may have had in mind the brick-vaulted structure completed in 1710 as the arched support for the western steps at St Paul's Cathedral (see Geraghty 2007, no. 110). This consists of a line of parallel arch-vaulted tunnels running east to west beneath the lower flight of steps, with a narrow passage running beneath the top half of the uppermost flight, immediately in front of the columns of the portico. The northern of Hawksmoor's two proposed tunnels runs beneath a link bay that connects the southern side of the oval court with the central three bays of the portico. At this point in the plan the front part of the north elevation, comprising the six-column portico and the flanking towers, is detached from the chapel and moved forward to become the centrepiece of the south side of the oval court, with the towers set slightly on an angle, to align with the curving walls of the court. The angled positions of the towers on the plan is the reason for the slight perspective in their rendering in elevation [8/3].
The setting up of the elevational drawing [8/3] is clearly visible in the pencilled lines and lettering along the dashed base line of the oval court. These are preparatory for a pencilled drawing at the same scale on the verso of [7/6] and at double this scale (10 feet to 1 inch) for the elevation [8/3].
Other sketch markings in graphite include the provision of steps up to the vaulted narthex behind the portico on the south side of the courtyard, and the suggestion of an arch (?) to bear up the dome of the chapel between the square corner bastions. Extra columns are added to the west side of the portico to reinforce the effect of a series of apse-ended spaces on the main west-to-east route into the chapel.
At the north end of the plan, at the bottom of the sheet, is the link with the southern side of the colonnade of the south dormitory. This part of the plan is drawn in dashed lines to indicate that the structure is below the principal level of the arcaded colonnade of the main court. The curved wall at the lower end of the colonnade is shown in elevation on [8/3]. It was meant to rise as high as the band course at the level of the bases of the arched colonnade. The central part of the north end of the plan appears to represent a passage running alongside a retaining wall that marks the transition of level from the colonnades of the main hospital blocks and the ground level of the main court. This retaining wall is shown in elevation on [8/3].
Neither the plan nor the elevation indicate how the transition would be made between the lower level at the southern end of the main hospital and the higher level at the entrance to the chapel. The elevation appears to show a blank retaining wall beneath the chapel steps. This retaining wall appears to be on the rear side of the cross-path marked with dashed lines at the bottom centre of the plan. On the elevation, a cast shadow suggests that this wall lies next to the southern end of the oval court. The elevation also shows a line of four steps in front of the wall which are not shown on the plan. Many more steps would have been needed to make the transition from lower to upper levels, for on the long west elevation at [7/2] there is a step up of half a storey between the south end of the south dormitory and the north end of the infirmary range.
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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