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Entrance building, September 1789 (8)

Signed and dated

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The entrance building was designed and built by George Sampson as part of the original Bank, 1732-34. It was subsequently altered by both Robert Taylor and John Soane. The functions of the original building were expressed on its street front. The ground floor had a rusticated front with a triple-arched entrance and contained areas of utility including staff accommodation. The first (principal) storey had two lavishly decorated transfer offices and a lobby that looked onto Threadneedle Street through large windows framed by an Ionic colonnade. Examples of such stratification in mercantile buildings can be found in Bramante's Palazzo Caprini (c. 1512), later developed in Palladio's Palazzo Iseppo Porto (1540s) and shown in the fifth book of Serlio's Tutte l'opere d'architettura (1619).

Robert Taylor's east wing extension housed the new transfer halls, rendering those inside the entrance building redundant. Thus the first floor of the entrance building was converted into two separate residential apartments, for the Chief Accountant and the Gate Porter. A second stair was installed to provide private access to the second apartment.

Soane carried out building works on the entrance building as well. He added a third residential apartment, to be occupied by one of the Parlour Door Keepers. He was also asked by the directors to lower the chamber floor and windows and install garrets in the roof, but it is unclear whether these orders were completed. He also included an office for himself and his Clerk of Works, Walter Payne. Payne served as Soane's representative at the Bank from 1788 until 1833, though it is unclear whether his office remained in this building for the duration.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010



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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.

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 Entrance building, September 1789 (8)