- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
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Soane presented his design for the north-east extension in September 1797. It was approved in October, after some discussion and compromise. The Court was completed at various stages between 1798 and 1803. The east side of Lothbury Court must have been built in 1798, as working drawings for the door and mouldings were executed in August 1798. In January 1800 Soane reported that the offices north of the Bullion Yard were about to be pulled down (Acres). The offices were probably finished in 1802, when the Chief Cashier's Office was decorated. Construction was delayed because the Directors realized that more expansions would be necessary as the National Debt continued to increase and efforts were made to secure properties to the north-west (see phase 3). A contemporary news article reports that the Bullion Arch was incomplete in July 1803 (European Magazine), although the Coade Stone sculptures for the Arch were intalled in August 1801.
The entrance court from Lothbury, Lothbury Court, was a grandiose composition resembling an imperial Roman forum. The north side of the Court was not embellished, having been built as part of the screen wall in 1796. The west and east sides had grand Corinthian colonnades surmounted by entablatures and Coade stone urns. The centrepiece was the Bullion Arch, a triumphal arch on the south side fronted by four Corinthian columns modelled on the orders at the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. The attic of the Bullion Arch was decorated with caryatids and statues (also in Coade stone) representing the four Continents. Between the columns were two bas-relief medallions entitled 'Night' and 'Morning', allegories of the rising and setting of the sun and moon sculpted by Thomas Banks and copied from the Arch of Constantine.
Soane skilly fully arranged the offices within the irregular plot. The axes of the existing buildings did not correspond with the angle of Lothbury Street, resulting in odd angled rooms and corridors at the junctions between old and new. To mask these irregular shapes, Soane rounded the corners of his offices. The resulting oddly shaped 'left over' spaces were used for stairs and small courts.
In 1817 Soane lectured on the ‘indiscriminate imitation or copying of Roman triumphal arches’ and, in a passage crossed out and probably never delivered, he criticised his own misuse of the motif at Lothbury because it was ‘not for heroes to pass under but for waggons loaded with gold and silver’ (SM AL Soane Case 155, Lecture 1, 1817, fols. 22-23). The triumphal arch motif was copied at Pitzhanger Manor (1800-1801), Soane's private home built from 1801.
Lothbury Court was demolished in the 1920s and 30s, for the new Bank by Sir Herbert Baker. The statues of the Continents were moved to the roof.
There is one drawing for Lothbury Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum, showing a view of the Court largely as built.
Literature. European Magazine, 1803 (part 2), p. 416; W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from within, 1931. p.394-399; P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 164; A. Kelly, Mrs Coade's Stone, 1990, p. 86; D. Watkin, Sir John Soane: englightenment thought and the Royal Academy lectures, 1996, p. 299; D. Abramson, Money's architecture: the building of the Bank of England, 1731-1833, Doctoral thesis for the Department of Fine Arts, Harvard University, 1993. pp. 353-370; D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England, 2005.
Madeleine Helmer, 2010
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).
Contents of Lothbury Court and surrounding offices, 1797-1801 (109)
- Alternative designs for the Court and surrounding offices, September and October 1797 (2)
- Preliminary alternative designs for the south and east sides, October 1797 (8)
- Designs and a presentation drawing for the east side of Lothbury Court, showing alternative designs for the attic, September to November 1797 (3)
- Working drawing for Lothbury Court, 22 November 1797
- Preliminary alternative designs for the Bullion Arch, November 1797 (5)
- Alternative designs for the Bullion Arch, 15 November 1797 (3)
- Record drawings of alternative designs for the Bullion Arch, October 1797 (4)
- Alternative designs for the east side of the Court and the vestibule immediately behind its colonnade, November and December 1797 (5)
- Record drawings of alternative designs for the east side of Lothbury Court, late November and December 1797 (4)
- Designs for passages on the east side of the Court, November 1797 (2)
- Survey drawing of the existing site, for the construction of new offices, December 1797
- Record drawings showing variations of a second design for the Bullion Arch (4)
- Presentation drawings showing variations of a projecting arch framed by single columns and fronted by lion sculptures on cylindrical plinths, May and October 1798 (9)
- Working drawings for passage on the east side of the Court, March 1798 and revised August 1798 (2)
- Record drawings of the Court with colonnades on east and west sides and a triumphal arch motif to the south, one dated 1 June 1798 (3)
- Design for the semicircular vestibule leading from Lothbury Court to the Consols Transfer Office, August 1798
- Site progress record drawings, by J.M. Gandy on site, October 1798 (4)
- Variant designs for a screen on the west side (2)
- Design for attic on the east side of Lothbury Court, dated 1799
- Preliminary variant designs of a fourth design for the Bullion Arch, partly in Soane's hand, February 1799 (3)
- Design of the offices between Lothbury Court and the Bullion Court, 21 February 1799
- Record drawings showing variant designs for the Bullion Arch, April 1799 (2)
- Record drawing of the Bullion Arch, 23 November 1799
- Record drawings of Lothbury Court and adjoining corridors and interiors, September and October 1799 (2)
- Variant designs and a record drawing for the Bullion Arch, November 1799 (7)
- Working drawing, designs and a record drawing for the Bullion Arch attic, November 1799 (5)
- Drawings of Lothbury Court, possibly for exhibition at the Royal Academy (2)
- Record drawing of Lothbury Court and adjoining offices, dated by Bailey November 1799
- Record and working drawings for the west side, December 1799 and January 1800 (4)
- Record drawing of the south and west sides of the Court, February 1800
- Working drawing for the south side of Lothbury Court, December 1799
- Working drawings and record drawing for the Bullion Arch as executed, two dated February 1800 (3)
- Design for the Porter's Lodge fronted by four columns, 26 July 1800
- Working drawing for the basement of the north-east offices, and for the passage leading from Lothbury Court to the Bullion Court, one dated December 1800 (2)
- Rough design for ornament, in Soane's hand, for unidentified office(s), October and December 1799
- Rough design drawing for entablature detail with lion mask, in Soane's hand, 15 August 1801
- Design for temporarily moving the Income Office and Land Tax Office to the south-west wing, 20 March 1801
- Working drawing for the Interior Office, November 1802
- Working drawing for the new offices beside the existing offices, as built, 8 January 1803
- Surveys of the existing Bank, January and April 1803 (3)