Frances Pulteney’s estates were principally confined to London and Bath, and it was in Bath that William Pulteney sought the most development. In 1769 he acquired a Private Act of Parliament to build a bridge across the River Avon between the old city on the west bank, and the 600-acre Bathwick estate on the east bank. Pulteney’s fellow Scot, Robert Adam, was commissioned to made designs for this bridge – later known as Pulteney Bridge – as well as a new town development for Bathwick.
Rowan has noted that as Pulteney had been a lawyer in Edinburgh, he would have been familiar with the Edinburgh North Bridge, which was built to connect the old town and land to the north of Bath on which the New Town was to be built. The Pulteney Bridge and new town scheme were an emulation of this, allowing Pulteney to develop his wife’s estate at Bathwick as part of the city. Pulteney Bridge was nearing completion in 1773 and at the same time Adam produced his first scheme for the New Town. Alternative schemes followed in 1777 and 1782, for which there are extant drawings, but none of these were executed.
In 1782 Frances Pulteney died, leaving their only child, Henrietta Laura as her sole heir. William Pulteney managed the estates on his daughter’s behalf, using his influence to have her created Baroness Bath in 1792, and Countess of Bath in 1803. Pulteney himself succeeded his brother, Sir James Johnstone, in 1794, becoming 5th Baronet and inheriting Westerhall in Dumfries. He married again in 1804, Margaret Stirling, the widow of his friend Andrew Stuart of Craigthorn, Lanark, and died a year later, being buried next to Frances in Westminster Abbey.
Adam’s unexecuted scheme for the Bath New Town were his last designs for Pulteney, although he later designed the Johnston family funerary monument for Westkirk, Dumfries and Galloway (Adam volume 34/75-78) in 1790 for Pulteney’s brother Sir James Johnston. The New Town at Bathwick was finally begun in 1788 to designs by Thomas Baldwin (c1750-1820) and later by John Pinch (1769-1827). The houses are elevated on vaults, and work continued until c1820, but even so, only a small portion of the intended scheme was actually built.
See also: Pulteney Bridge; Bath Prison.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 3, 84; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume 2, p. 76; A. Rowan, Vaulting Ambition: the Adam brothers, contractors to the metropolis in the reign of George III, 2007, pp. 68-69; A. Foyle, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Somerset, North and Bristol, 2011, p. 173; ‘Pulteney, William (1729-1805), of Westerhall, Dumfries and The Castle, Shrewsbury’, History of Parliament online; ‘Pulteney [formerly Johnston], Sir William, 5th baronet (1729-1805)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography online
Frances Sands, 2015
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of New Town, Bath, Somerset: unexecuted street scheme commissioned by William Pulteney, 1777-82 (9)
- Preliminary designs and designs for the New Town, 1777-1782, unexecuted (8)
- Finished drawing for a crescent on the riverfront, c1773-82, unexecuted (1)