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First phase of north-west extension: Waiting Room Court, Accountants Office and Doric Vestibule, 1801-1804 (111)

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The north-west extension, covering over an acre of newly acquired land, was built in two phases. The first phase, built between 1804 and 1805, covered the southern half of the wing. Situated to the north and west sides of the new Waiting Room Court, the first phase included an Accountants Office, Doric Vestibule, Inspector's Office, Porter's Lodge, and a corridor that connected the new wing with the Secretary's and Chief Cashier's Offices to the east.

Preliminary designs for the extension were first presented in April 1802. Soane presented more designs on January 19th and 25th 1803, eventually receiving approval for a general plan. The approved design shows the essential layout of the wing, organized around an east-west corridor that runs between a Princes Street entrance and the pre-existing Chief Cashier's Office. A court to the south of the corridor (Waiting Room Court, or Governor's Court) is overlooked by offices, including the pre-existing Directors' parlours on its south side. An Accountants Office is situated to the north of the corridor and on an east-west axis. A long courtyard lies along the west side of the offices. The Princes Street entrance (Doric Vestibule) joins the offices and Princes Street. Also included in the presentation drawings are alterations to a few of the existing offices, including the Bullion Vault and several rooms adjacent to the Pay Hall.

After the basic general plan was approved, Soane refined the design until July, focusing on the layout of the Accountants Office, loggia, Doric Vestibule and flanking offices. The Doric Vestibule was enlarged from the January design, forming a domed hall on a cruciform plan. To its north and south were included small passages linking to stair wells and (to the north) a Porter's Lodge. The corridor extending east from the Doric Vestibule passed through a loggia on the north side of the Waiting Room Court. The loggia was a symbolic bridge between the Doric Vestibule and the private banking offices to the east, articulated with a design resembling Soane's own Triumphal Bridge design of 1777. As late as September 1803, designs for the loggia have a screen of Ionic columns. The final design (October) has the columns exchanged for piers, with a sequence of arches on the interior. The Waiting Room Court was simultaneously developing, with the final design having Corinthian columns in antis raised on rusticated arches.

The Waiting Room Court was built in 1805 and the offices to the west of the court were built in 1805. The Accountants Office was built simultaneously (see separate scheme 3:7) as was the Doric Vestibule (3:6) and the Screen Wall on Princes Street (3:4). The second phase of the north-west extension is shown in scheme 3:9.

Three drawings for the Waiting Room Court are among a collection of Soane's drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The drawings are views of the Court from the north and south, showing variant designs for the attic and loggia.

Literature: P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 206-208.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010



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Contents of First phase of north-west extension: Waiting Room Court, Accountants Office and Doric Vestibule, 1801-1804 (111)