The plan is a shallow segment with a central, two-storey, high-arched entrance and pavilion ends. It was published in Soane's book of designs of 1788 along with a plan and elevation for Burn Hall. The house was not built because the owner had meanwhile purchased Piercefield in Monmouthshire (which Soane was to rebuild in 1785-93) but the cow house was constructed and still exists though converted in 1986-7 for monastic use. The raised roofs of the end pavilions that deviate from Soane's drawings were presumably carried out by George Smith's builder in order to better ventilate the haylofts.
The design is related to the earlier farmyard that Soane designed (while in Henry Holland's office) at Cadland, Hampshire (q.v.). Both having in common: lunette windows, high-arched entrances, pavilion ends, covered passages as well as a progressive approach to the design of farm buildings.
Drawings 3 and 4 are close copies to a reduced scale drawn into a vellum-bound volume entitled on cover 'PRECEDENTS / In Architecture / 1784' that was compiled as a record book in the early years of Soane's practice, 1783-8 by his articled pupils. The first of these was John Sanders, articled 1 September 1784 to 1790.
George Smith was a banker who, with John Curre, founded the Monmouthshire Bank, Gwent in 1788. As well as Burn Hall and Piercefield, he also owned Marlesford Hall in Suffolk and a house in London. Soane's Office Ledger has entries for 19 June 1783 'A Journey from Norwich to Marlesford / & drawings of Cowhouse .... 6.6.0' and 21 July 1783 'A Journey to Burnhall & took plans / of Premises & returned with Mr Smith / to Cambridge ... Expences ...5.5.0'. It is not clear whether these drawings were for a cow house at Marlesford or at Burn Hall. D. Stroud (Sir John Soane, architect, 2nd ed., 1996, p.241) writes of a cowhouse at Marlesford that was similar to the one at Burn Hall.
J.Soane, Plans, elevations and sections of buildings ..., 1788, pl. XXXVI; P.du Prey, 'Oblivion for Soane's cow barn?', Country Life, 1976, CLIX, p.84; P.du Prey, John Soane; the making of an architect, 1982, pp.9-10; P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, catalogue of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985, pp.42-3 (design for the house); D. Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 2nd ed. 1996, pp.54, 241; P.Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p.168; M.Richardson and M.Stevens (eds), John Soane architect: master of space and light, 1999, p.120
Jill Lever, May 2007
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).