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Reference number

SM (114) volume 90/3 (115) volume 90/4

Purpose

Record drawings made for publication, 1835 (2)

Aspect

114 Five site plans of the Bank of England and the New Bank Buildings on Princes Street 115 Elevation and perspectives of the New Bank Buildings

Inscribed

114 labelled: No 1, Plan made by the / Architect to the Bank 1800, The Bank, No 2, City Plan 1802, Coleman Street, Old Jewry, Princes Street, The Bank, The / Royal / Exchange, Cornhill, No 5, Plan for improving the entrance to Coleman Street from / Lothbury submitted by the Architect of the Bank 1825, Coleman Street, Lothbury, New Bank Buildings, Old Jewry, National / Debt Office, Part of the / Bank of / England, Princes Street, Grocers Hall, No 3, Coleman Street, Old Jewry, National / Debt / Redemption / Office, "New Bank Buildings", Princes Street, Plan of "New Bank Buildings" &c / as built in 1807, No 4, Coleman Street, Lothbury, Present line of / Building, Old Jewry, Princes Street, Saml Acton / Sewers Office / Guildhall, Mr Actons & Mr Mountagues Plan 115 labelled: City Architecture / The Second Stage of Improvement by Messrs Acton & Co, To be written to / in this style but / as small as / practicable, City Architecture / The First Stage of Improvement of New Bank Buildings by Messrs Acton & Co Architects, View of New Bank Buildings in Princes Street as completed in 1810 / John Soane Architect

Medium and dimensions

(114) Pen, sepia, pink, yellow, green and blue washes on laid paper (328 x 244) (115) pen, sepia, raw umber and burnt Sienna washes on three sheets of wove paper (64 x 160, 80 x 160, 69 x 160) affixed to a sheet of laid paper with two fold marks (327 x 238) (114, 115) bound into volume 90 between leaves 34 and 35

Hand

(114, 115) ?C. J. Richardson

Watermark

(114, 115) fleur-de-lis above cartouche with bar and below, ornate CA

Notes

Drawings 114 and 115 are the original drawings made for the proof copy of Soane's Memoirs of the Professional Life of an Architect, privately published in 1835. The drawings accompany Soane's account of the enlargement of the Bank of England and improvements to the surrounding streets (pp. 31-35), and are smaller copies of drawings made for Soane's comments on the proposals submitted to the Bank of England in April 1825 (Bank of England Archives, M5/623). Plan No. 1 shows Soane's design for extending the Bank to the northwest, as executed between 1800 and 1801. No. 2 shows a plan made in 1802 by George Dance for improvements for the Corporation of the City of London, the key element of which was the straightening of Princes Street to join Lothbury opposite the end of Coleman Street. The failure to create a new road parallel to Coleman Street and an increase in traffic had by 1825, however, created a problem. Plan No. 4 shows the proposal submitted by Samuel Acton of the Sewers' Office to remedy this problem, a suggestion that included the demolition of a substantial part of the New Bank Buildings. Soane, labelling Acton's solution as 'preposterous' (Memoirs, p. 33), offered his own alternative in which the 'very dilapidated, ordinary houses' at the corner of Coleman Street would be demolished instead (Plan No. 5), at a much lower cost. Acton's proposal was rejected, as was a later, similar proposal by Mr. W. Mountague of the City Committee of Finance.
The three perspectives of the New Bank Buildings (drawing 115) show the damage that would have been caused by Acton's plan. As Soane wrote, 'if the furious charge made by the Surveyor to the Commissioners of Sewers on the New Bank Buildings had succeeded, it would have taken from that pile all its symmetry, proportion, and architectural character; nor would Mr. Mountague's plan be much less destructive' (Memoirs, p. 34).

Level

Drawing

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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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