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Gardener's House, c.1816 - July 1818 (13)

Signed and dated

  • Main Year: 0

Notes

By 1817 the Secretary’s staff at Chelsea Hospital had increased in number to such an extent that they requested an increase in office space. This was granted by the Board of Commissioners, who ordered Soane to set about the conversion of Wren’s old Gardener’s House, on the east side of the hospital, for that purpose. At the same time, Soane designed and built a new house for the Hospital gardener, at a cost of £843.2.2, this time on the west side of the hospital, to the south of Soane’s Bakehouse.

Soane made plans for a plain one-storey house, but also for a grander house of two storeys and a recessed porch (drawings 192-197) though the exact design varies across this latter group. The more humble design was that eventually employed, perhaps partly because it symmetrically balanced the Bakehouse, further up the West Road. Indeed, the design, proportions and even floor plans are remarkably similar for each building. As a drawing in The National Archives (PRO) Work 31/230 shows, the Gardener’s House had both a basement and an attic, a set of stairs leading to each in a corner room. The Bakehouse appears only to have a basement but also has similar proportions and window spacing. Margaret Richardson suggests that both buildings ‘share the almost primitive style of the stables and are built of commonplace yellow stock brick of one storey with four windows and slate roofs with central chimney stacks’ (p.49). Soane was obviously trying for a unity and symmetry on the west side of the hospital, the side most dominated by his own architecture.

The SM Archive also holds three drawings for the Gardener's House - one plan and two elevations with some verso details (Priv.Corr.IX.J.32-34).

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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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Contents of Gardener's House, c.1816 - July 1818 (13)