- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
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A description of the Bank from 1814 remarks that the Vestibule has the 'impressive and solemn character of a Mausoleum'(Britton). The Vestibule was cruciform in plan, with a domed central space lit by clerestory lunettes. The vestibule was on three levels, managing the 6' 8¼" difference in floor level between Princes Street and the Bank's offices. Each level had paired Doric columns, without bases, framing the entrances, which resulted in columns of three different proportions. The interior had a full entablature, with a large domed ceiling over the centre bay.
The stairs in the Vestibule managed the floor levels between the new offices and Princes Street. As the Vestibule had three different floor levels, the Doric columns were of three heights. The emphasis of the design, however, was on the hall's east-west axis, leading straight from the entrance to a long corridor running towards the Chief Cashier's Office. The Princes Street gate was operated by a windlass (pulley-system) in an adjoining closet.
See drawings 1 to 7 in scheme 3:6 for preliminary designs of the Doric Vestibule, as presented to the Committee of Building in January 1803. Preliminary designs show the Princes Street entrance included on a plan in April 1801, with the pencil inscription 'Qy Entry' and the entrance aligned with the Chief Cashier's Office to the east. It continued to be located at this site. Early drawings show the entrance flanked by alcoves and leading to a vestibule on a semicircular-ended plan. Paired columns were included in the design as early as January 1803, and the design continued to develope as shown in the drawings within this scheme. Early drawings show stairs ascending to the side arms (north and south recesses), with Doric columns framing both arms. The stairs were subsequently removed to these side arms but the columniation remained. Paired columns were then introduced to all four sides of the hall in April 1803. A second pair of columns was then introduced to the east end of the Vestibule, resulting in four columns at the top of the stair. The drawings show different designs for the alcoves and recesses, and the nearby offices and stairwells were also altered and re-arranged.
The composition of the plan was similar to Soane's proposed design for an entrance vestibule in the Front Court (see SM 10/7/11, drawing 3 in 3:1). The 1801 proposal was not approved, and Soane used a similar cruciform vestibule for the new north-west extension.
See SM P84 (drawing 3 in 5:5) for a drawing showing the interior of the Doric Vestibule. There are also two models at the Soane Museum (M 224 and M 226) for sections of the Doric Vestibule. The Victoria and Albert Museum has ten drawings for the Doric Vestibule, catalogued by Pierre du Prey in 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum' as cited below. The drawings at the V&A consist of a preliminary design, five decorative details for the pendentives, and four interior views. Two of the latter are dated April 1803, and one is dated February 1804.
Literature: P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 151-160.
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 Doric Vestibule, 1803-1805 (70)
- Preliminary variant designs for Vestibule with paired columns in north and south recesses, 29, 30 and 31 March 1803 (3)
- Preliminary design for a vestibule with paired Doric columns, and stairs ascending to the north and south recesses
- Preliminary design for a vestibule with paired Doric columns and stairs ascending to the north and south recesses
- Variant design for a Vestibule with paired Doric columns and stairs ascending to the north and south recesses, 30 March 1804 (2)
- Variant design for vestibule with paired Doric columns and stairs ascending to the north and south recesses, 31 March 1803 (2)
- Design for a vestibule with recesses level to the central bay, 1 April 1803 (2)
- Variant designs for a vestibule with recesses level to the central bay, 2 April 1803 (2)
- Variant designs for a vestibule with paired columns at all four entrances, 8 and 9 April 1803 (4)
- Record drawings showing early designs for the Vestibule, one dated April 1803 (2)
- Variant designs for a Vestibule with paired columns at all four entrances, one dated 8 April 1803 (2)
- Record drawing and design drawings for a Vestibule with alcoves in the recesses, paired columns at all entrances and an additional pair of attached columns at the east entrance, one dated 19 April 1803 (3)
- Design for the recess north of the Vestibule
- Variant designs for vestibule with paired columns in north and south recesses and four columns in the east arm, showing alternative designs for the adjacent loggia, 24 and 25 April 1803 (2)
- Working drawing for a Doric capital, 24 April 1803
- Variant designs for alternative columniation at the east end of the vestibule, 25 and 29 April 1803 (2)
- Variant designs for the recesses and clerestory windows in a vestibule with twin columns at both recesses and at the east arm, 26 April 1803 (2)
- Variant designs for a Vestibule with an alternative stair in the centre bay (2)
- Working drawing for a vestibule with four columns in both the north and south recesses, 5 May 1803
- Designs for the vestibule, showing variant designs for the ajoining stair and offices, one dated 1 May 1803 (2)
- Design for the vestibule with windows in the recesses, May 1803
- Designs for the Doric Vestibule showing a rampart walk and a higher screen wall, 6 and 10 May 1803 (2)
- Working drawings for mouldings, July and September 1803 (2)
- Design for the dome of the Doric Vestibule and the exterior facing Princes Street, June and July 1803
- Presentation drawings for the interior of the Doric Vestibule, July 1803 (2)
- Record drawings (2)
- Alternative design for an expanded clerestory, 22 November 1803
- Design for the vestibule, showing an open oculus at the top of the dome
- Design for the Vestibule showing an expanded clerestory, modified in December 1803
- Presentation drawings of variant designs for the Doric Vestibule, including the executed design, one dated 4 February 1804 (3)
- Working drawing for the masonry of the archivolt, 9 February 1804
- Record drawings of a design for the ornamentation of the dome, 10 and 15 February 1804 (4)
- Variant design for the ornamentation of the domed ceiling (2)
- Preliminary design for the ornamentation of the domed ceiling, 18 March 1804
- Design drawing and record drawing of a design for the ornamentation of the domed ceiling (2)
- Working drawing and record drawing of a design for soffit of the barrel vault in the Vestibule, one copied 31 March 1804 (2)
- Design drawing, working drawing and record drawing for the archivolts, one dated 23 March 1804 (3)
- Working drawings for the soffits (2)