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Seven-block scheme, 1695


[3] Seven-block scheme, 1695

Signed and dated

  • 1695
    Main Year


As noted under [2], the seven-block scheme was probably prepared as an alternative to the central domed scheme at around the time of the second Grand Committee meeting in September 1695. It maintains the avenue between the Queen's House and the river but assumes the granting to the Hospital of the Tiltyard, the Queen's Garden, the Queen's House and the royal park.The plan is known from a large drawing at All Souls College (Geraghty 2007, no. 194). From this it is clear that Wren intended the Queen's House as an entrance to the hospital from the royal park on the south side. An additional principal staircase is added in the south range of the Queen's House, opposite the existing South Stair. This enhanced access to the hospital over the Deptford to Woolwich road.

Access to the long colonnades that llink the seven blocks would have been possible either from the north courtyard facing the river, or through the open, southern ends of the two colonnades adjoining the Queen's House. The seven-block scheme would have provided far more bed accommodation than any of the previous schemes, and was probably prepared soon after the meeting of thee Grand Committee on 21 May 1695, to illustrate how it would be possible 'to make provision for a much greater number' of seamen'. In the All Souls plan (Geraghty 2007, no. 194) each ward has 108 'cabins' (partitioned bed areas) per floor, producing a total of 324 cabins for each three-storey ward and 3,888 for the 12 wards that lie south of the hall and chapel ranges. This compares with the 2376 marked as the total accommodation in the 'side-step scheme' [1], and half this figure, 1944, for the number of cabins in the later four-block scheme [4] (a reduction of the seven-block scheme by 6 out the 12 wards). More cabins could have been provided in the seven-block scheme in the base blocks of the King Charles Court and its pendant, bringing the total to well over 4,000. This is approaching the 5000 men that were said to be accommodated at Les Invalides.

Wren and Hawksmoor relied heavily on engravings in Le Jeune de Boullencourt's Description Generale de l'Hostel Royale des Invalides (Paris, 1683) for the design of the dome and ward blocks. The dome has an attenuated version of the Invalides lantern and adopts its unusual configuration of piers and consoles rather bays on the cardinal axes (although here with 16 rather than 12 bays). The high-sided, double-pitched mansard roofs and stone-banded wall elevations resemble those of the Invalides ward ranges.



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Contents of [3] Seven-block scheme, 1695