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House for the Whitster and Gordon House (designed by Thomas Leverton), April 1809 - February 1818 (14)

Signed and dated

  • Main Year: 0

Notes

As has been mentioned in the note to the previous scheme, in 1809 Colonel Gordon acquired an 80-year lease of what had been a part of Yarborough House grounds, on which he was to build himself a villa. The lease was a mere formality at £52 14s 0d per annum but he obtained it on the understanding that he spend £3,500 on building his villa. Very eager to start work, Gordon commissioned Thomas Leverton to draw up designs (even before the lease was granted on 11 March) and set about pulling down an existing pavilion that projected into his land in preparation.

Unfortunately, Gordon’s over-eager demolition left the Whitster’s residence, which was attached to the pavilion, exposed to the effects of the weather. (A Whitster was a washerwoman or man, particularly involved with bleaching). Soane himself reported the damage and its likely effects to the Board on 13 April 1809 (as recorded in the meeting minutes). Alongside his report, Soane presented watercolour views to show the state of the buildings (drawings 19 to 24). The Whitster’s residence was at this point adjacent to the laundry and airing grounds, but part of the Yarborough House gardens.

Despite the damage caused to the Whitster’s residence, a new house was not built until1821 (adjoined to the Surgeon’s new house).

The remainder of the drawings in this group (drawings 25-30) show Colonel Gordon’s House and must be copies, made by a Soane pupil, of Thomas Leverton’s originals. Under pressure from Soane, Gordon did alter his plans for a villa slightly, but not enough to make a substantial impact on the fate of Soane’s new Infirmary.

The lease of Colonel Gordon’s villa ran out in 1889, at which point it was let for the Royal Military and Naval Exhibitions and two years later converted into a residence for the Infirmary nurses. Gordon House is now much altered but still provides accommodation for staff.

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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 House for the Whitster and Gordon House (designed by Thomas Leverton), April 1809 - February 1818 (14)