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Reference number

SM (8) 41/6/1B


Letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury


8 Letter


To make the Subject still clearer I must beg your Lordship's permission / to restate the Remarks made by the Surveyor General of His Royal Highness / The Prince of Wales, with some observations on them, as follows. // First. It appears to be proposed, according to Mr Soane's Plan to take / off some of the Rooms of the House by laying them open to the / present Office of the Dutchy of Cornwal (sic) as additional Apartments / for the Pipe Office and this upon looking on the plan only, without / a personal View of the House itself, will be supposed to allot for / the Dutchy Apartments of equal Dimensions, and Convenience / with those it now occupies, but it will not be difficult to shew / that, under such an Arrangement, the Dutchy of Cornwal would / be far worse accommodated than at present. // I must beg to submit to your Lordships that on a / Reconsideration of the Premises, I can only think the / annexed Plans are not fully understood. // Secondly. The vast thickness of the Walls projecting from the House / as a Center to that side of the Square renders the front extremely / dark and gloomy, which defect operates in an increased degree / with respect to the Apartments under Ground, and those of the / lower Basement Story have further to peculiar disadvantage / of being separated by a Public Passage. The Plan comprising (page 2) only two Floors does not describe the latter circumstance nor that a / part of the second floor is already divided off, and is occupied by the / Dutchy of Lancaster. // The thickness of the Front Wall will make the Hall not quite so chearful / (but as a Hall perhaps it will not be of much consequence) the thickness will also / operate upon the under Ground Apartments more as to Chearfulness than in the want / of light. The Public Passage in the Basement Story will not affect the Dutchy as / without the Rooms in the South side of the said Passage the Dutchy will have as much / accommodation as at present. The Dutchy of Lancaster takes a Room on the 2d floor / in one front but another of larger dimensions next the Square supplies its place. // Thirdly. The partitioning off a part of the Hall, as suggested by the plan / to give a Room in the place of that proposed to be taken from the / Ground Floor, would leave a Passage with no other light than what / it might receive through the small Window over the Door, which, / from the thickness of the front Wall must be very insufficient, but in / its present state the Hall might be advantageously fitted up with / Presses like the one now belonging to the Dutchy Office. // As the Dutchy of Cornwall have on each Story at least as / many Rooms and as much space as at present without / dividing the Hall, there is no positive Occasion for this / alteration, it was suggested as an idea that probably / might produce some convenience. // Fourthly. By removing the Partition at the back part of the principal / Floor the Council Room will be exactly of the same width as at / present, though seven inches shorter, and I conceive it would / be more commodious if the corresponding Partition on the Ground / Floor was also removed. // It is proposed to remove the Partition on the Principal / floor, which may also be done on the Ground Floor. (page 3) Fifthly. The whole range of the present Dutchy Office from the first Basement / Story to the Garrets, being applicable to the reception of Records, the / Rooms proposed to be taken from the adjoining House do not appear to / be requisite for the due accommodation of the Pipe Office, and the Lord / Treasurer's Remembrancer's Office, while the Apartments of the Dutchy of / Cornwal, were with the allotment of the whole House, will not be / superior to those it now occupies, it is true they will be altogether / somewhat larger & the Entrance from the Square will be an improvement / but these are advantages that can hardly compensate for the inconvenience / of the Public Passage, and the darkness of the Rooms in front. / Some consideration too should be had to the great trouble & confusion / always attending Removals and on this I must observe that the / Dutchy of Cornwal will have peculiar difficulties to encounter as / I believe it is intended to make the present Presses & other Fixtures / answer to the new Apartments. The interruption this must / occasion in the interval while the necessary Alterations are making / and the House fitting up is readily conceived in an Office / containing so many Records, Books and Papers, but I have further / to apprize the Council that the Records of the Pipe and Lord / Treasurers Remembrancers Offices, which now occupy several of / the Rooms in the adjoining House must of necessity be removed previous / to those Rooms being fitted up and the House painted. If no / intermediate accomodation (sic) has been thought of and it will indeed / be desirable to avoid a double removal of Records so important / it follows that they must be deposited in the present Dutchy / Office before any thing can be thence removed, and I need not / suggest that this is a circumstance that will be attended (page 4) with the greatest inconvenience, and the most embarrassing / Confusion. // The Pipe Office and the Lord Treasurers Remembrancer's / Office wish to have all the Rooms appropriated to them / in the annexed Plans and the Dutchy of Cornwall will / have as before stated as many Rooms on each floor as at / present and in my Judgement some considerable advantages in addition / thereto, the trouble of moving will I hope be materially overbalanced by / the change of situation. // The Records of the Pipe Office & Lord Treasurers Remembrancers Office / are now deposited in bags on the floors of the Center house & must in any / arrangement be removed, it was suggested & admitted before any Plans were / submitted to your Lordships that some Rooms in the Basement Story / (formerly intended, I believe, for their permanent reception) would serve as / a temporary accommodation----; (drawing labelled): Proposed Dutchy, Present Dutchy, The Great Quadrangle, A (3 times), B (twice), The Strand, The Dotted Line A shews the Way to the / Premises now belonging to the Dutchy of Cornwall / The Dotted Line B explains the Way to the / Apartments proposed for the Dutchy of Cornwall, All which is humbly submitted

Medium and dimensions

Pen, sepia and blue washes on laid paper (377 x 483)


Soane office


J Whatman, fleur-de-lis within crowned cartouche and below, ornate W


Soane's letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury takes the form of a detailed, point-by-point response to several observations made by the Surveyor General of the Duchy of Cornwall. At the end of the letter is a small drawing showing that the proposed Duchy offices have better access than the present offices - one of the 'considerable advantages' identified by Soane in the letter.



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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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