- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
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Soane proposed to alter the Front Court in January 1801 and then later again in January 1807. The latter was a less intrusive design but was also turned down. His 1801 design was a vestibule with some seating around the edges, allowing the public to congregate before entering the various parts of the Bank. In 1807 he proposed a simple corridor passing through the Front Court, combined with drastic alterations to the Bank's Rotunda, south transfer office and Rotunda vestibule. In 1806 the vaults beneath the Bank were altered as the Bullion Office was rebuilt (see Bullion Office scheme 3:12).
Soane managed the layout of the busy Pay Hall. In 1806 the offices directly north were partly integrated with the Pay Hall to provide more public banking space. In 1810, 1829 and 1831 Soane arranged and rearranged the Pay Hall desks, providing separate areas for the tellers, public drawing office clerks, bill office clerks, as well as the space for the necessary ledgers. An inspector and cashier took a prominent surveillance position in the centre of the Hall. In 1831 a gallery floor was built over half the Pay Hall, further extending the working space. The Pay Hall was in many ways the symbolic centre of the Bank. A German tourist recounted his visit there in 1853: 'it makes not a disagreeable impression as our German offices do where everything is official and officious, oppressive, and calculated to put people down. On the contrary, there's a vast deal of good society in this office: at least a hundred officials and members of the public. The officials have no official importance whatever; they are simple mortals, and do their business and serve their customers as if they were mere shopboys in a grocery shop. [...] And the public too! Was such a thing ever heard of in a public office? Men, women, and boys, with their hats on! walking arm in arm as if they were in the park.'(Schlessinger)
Madeleine Helmer, 2011
Literature: M. Schlessinger, Saunterings in and about London, London, 1853, p. 218.
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 Front Court and Pay Hall, 1799-1801 and 1806-1810 (24)
- Surveys of the existing Front Court with a preliminary design for a vestibule, 26 April 1799 (2)
- Preliminary design for an entrance vestibule, 6 January 1801
- Presentation drawing for an entrance vestibule on a cruciform plan, 8 January 1801
- Survey of the Pay Hall and adjacent offices, as built, April 1806
- Designs for altering the Front Court, Threadneedle Street façade, south-east transfer halls and Rotunda, 10 December 1805 (2)
- Two presentation drawings, a survey and a variant plan for altering the Front Court and entrance building, December 1806 and January 1807 (4)
- Design for altering the Pay Hall and adjacent offices, January 1807 (3)
- Presentation drawing for three doors on the north wall of the Pay Hall, April 1807
- Presentation drawings for desks in the Pay Hall, two dated January and May 1810 (3)
- Presentation drawing with alternative designs for the stove in the Pay Hall, September 1811
- Design for re-arranging the offices in the Pay Hall, 1 June 1829
- Designs for rearranging the desks in the Pay Hall and adjacent office, May 1831 (3)
- Design for skylights in the roof of the Pay Hall, May 1831