Being active in political life the 3rd Duke of Portland mainly resided in London, either at his wife's family townhouse, Devonshire House, or that of his own family which was located at Whitehall. This plot had been leased from the crown by the Portland family since 1696, as their apartments within the palace had been severely damaged by the fire in 1691. Repairs and alterations were made to the house in 1754-54 by Stiff Leadbetter (d1766) for the 2nd Duke of Portland, but this work must have been inadequate as the 3rd Duke commissioned Adam to make designs for a grand palace on a site on New Cavendish Street, facing Mansfield Street. This was presumably intended to emphasis his political position.
Mansfield Street had been laid out by the Adam brothers in c1770, and it was following this that Adam made designs to replace Portland's meagre house at Whitehall with the new palace on New Cavendish Street. Nothing of Adam's designs for Portland House was executed, most likely as the Duke could not afford the construction works. His fortune was severely limited by his mother's portion, and his electoral campaigns were costly. Indeed, on his death the 3rd Duke was £500,000 in debt. The plot on New Cavendish Street was abandoned by the end of 1776 when a pair of terraced houses were built there to designs by John Johnson (1732-1814) for William Udney and Sir Charles Bampfylde. Portland even surrendered the lease of his plot at Whitehall to the Crown in 1805 and the house was demolished.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, p. 94, Index pp. 42, 84; Survey of London, Volume XIII, 1930, pp. 185-88; B. Weinreb, and C. Hibbert, The London encyclopaedia, 1983, p. 633; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy 1701-1800, 1997, p. 944; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 129
Frances Sands, 2012
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 Portland House, New Cavendish Street, London: unexecuted designs for a house, a gateway, and a chimneypiece for the 3rd Duke of Portland, c1770-76 (8)
- Finished drawings for a new house, c1770-76, unexecuted (4)
- Preliminary design and design for a screen wall and gateway, c1770-76, unexecuted (2)
- Record drawings for chimneypieces, 1776, unexecuted (2)