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Revised executed design and first enlargement scheme, 1698-1711


[6] Revised executed design and first enlargement scheme, 1698-1711

Signed and dated

  • 1698
    Main Year
  • 1699-1711
    Other Years


The 'Block plan of Greenwich Hospital', [6/1], is crucial for understanding the revised version of the executed design which Hawksmoor developed with Wren's involvement in the latter part of 1698. This is the first 'master-plan' in Hawksmoor's hand for the hospital in the context of the royal park. It is the first to show the enlargement of the hospital beyond the grant of land after the start of work in June 1696, and the first to provide infirmary ranges to the west and a monumental church in the royal park to the south.

The initial pen drawing on this sheet is preparatory for the engraved plan of the three-block scheme, 100 copies of which were printed in September 1699 (Wren Society, VI, p. 83). Hawksmoor was finishing this engraved plan in June that year. However, his revisions to the drawing are at least six months earlier, as they predate the three-part wooden model, completed by January 1699. The surviving central part of this model, corresponding to the grant of land in 1694, is displayed at the Old Royal Naval College Visitor Centre at Greenwich (see Bold 2000, fig. 142). Missing since the eighteenth century are the west part showing the infirmary and the south part showing extensions into the park, including the monumental church.

In his pen-and-wash revisions to the inital pen drawing in [6/1], Hawksmoor changed the three-block courts to U-shaped courts by deleting all but the end portions of the central blocks and joining these to the link blocks each side to create new side dormitories whose central pavilions now become the entrances to the upper courts from the west and east sides.

Other revisions show the central portico of the West Dormitory conceived as the entry to the hospital as a whole. A large western esplanade, centred on this portico, is approached from the west across a broad, tree-lined avenue, framed on the north and south sides by the infirmary and service courtyards. This was a radical reworking of the entire hospital plan. It created a whole new area of development on the western side and shifted the centre of gravity southwards from the two riverside courts to the two upper courts.

In the surviving part of the model, this concept was developed further by giving the central pavilions of the new side dormitories giant-order porticoes and by the addition of officers' pavilions at the centres of the colonnades on the inner sides of the courts. Never built, these pavilions would have articulated a cross-route through the hospital on the west-east axis.

The creation of giant order porticoes on the cross-axis of the upper courts was contemporary with the reorientation of the entrance to the great hall from the north side, facing King Charles II Building, to the east side, facing the avenue. Drawing [6/2] incorporates Hawksmoor's unexecuted scheme for a giant-order portico on the east front of the hall. Drawing [6/3] is a previously unpublished plan which shows the genesis of the design of the West Dormitory. It indicates that the range was initially designed to be entered from the courtyard side, between pairs of giant-order pilasters. Drawings [6/4] to [6/7] are part-designs for elements of the revised executed design.



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Contents of [6] Revised executed design and first enlargement scheme, 1698-1711