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Costs of transport, 1778-80


Soane's Royal Academy Travelling Studentship gave him £60 a year, paid quarterly, for his expenses with an extra initial £30 and a final £30. A travelling companion for part of his trip (John Patteson, a young Norfolk merchant) reckoned that £500 a year allowed for 'travel on a most respectable footing' (C.Cubitt et al., op.cit. p.249), including 'two horses for my chaise and one to ride alternatively for my man [servant] and myself' (op.cit. p.147). Though Soane occasionally travelled in the carriages of his friends or patrons, he was generally on horseback or in a public 'voiturin' or stage coach. This was a considerable expense for Soane who noted, for example: 'agreed with a Voiturin for 3 Sequins to Verona [from Padua, 18 miles] / Buono Mano & Eatg included - 1.11.6 [sterling]'. Again, 'Voiturins from Milan to Como / 24 Miles, very bad roads, but delightful Country well cultivated & woody / [cost] 2 Sequins & [with] dinner ... [£]1.2.0'. This journey took eight hours. And another entry, 'agreed with a Voiturin / for 3 Sequins and half buona Mano to / take me [from Milan] to Genoa abt 100 miles / in 2½ days' at a rate of 40 miles a day and cost of £1.11.6d. Depending on the state of the roads, the average length of Soane's journeys may have been 24 to 30 miles a day. Soane noted that Velletri, where he stayed overnight, was '24 Miles, 3 posts / from Rome'. The system of posting was in the hands of postmaster, driver and postillion, and involved hiring horses which were changed at post-houses sited along the main routes at intervals of about every eight miles. While a wealthy traveller might bring his own carriage or hire one for the whole or part of a tour, the public voiturin or stage-coach was the cheaper alternative. Soane's journey out of Italy to Switzerland was by boat and then on horseback, with another for baggage. There are several references in the sketch/notebooks to the costs of the 'carriage of the Roba' or trunk which went separately. For example, 'Carriage of Trunk from Parma to Milan [£]0.18.0', 'Carriage of Roba to Mantua - [£]0.6.0' and 'my share of the Carriage of the Roba to Coira [£]0.15.9'. Soane also sent some acquisitions back in the luggage of his friends, as with Giannnone's many volumed political history of the Kingdom of Naples and Stern's sermons which were 'Sent to England in Mr [Rowland] Burdon's Box' in August 1779. These seem to have arrived safely, since inscribed editions of the correct date are in Soane's library.



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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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