Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  Façades proposals, 1814-1816 (14)


Façades proposals, 1814-1816 (14)

Signed and dated

  • Main Year: 0


In December 1814, Soane urged the Building Committee to rebuild Robert Taylor's screen walls. His letter to them stated that 'having carefully watched the progress of the dilapidated state of parts of the outside of the Bank buildings [...] and having repaired the said parts of the Bank buildings from time to time, to the best of my abilities in a temporary manner, [I] must now bring the attention of the Committee to the subject' (Committee of Building minutes, December 1814, Bank of England Archives M5/262-6). He reported the poor condition of Taylor's eastern screen wall, which reached from the entrance building to the middle of the Bartholomew Lane façade. This wall had been constructed in 1765 (by Taylor) to enclose his extension of public banking halls (consisting of the Rotunda and four transfer halls). The screen wall to the west of the Entrance Building was not in such a bad state, having been constructed by Taylor in the 1780s. Soane proposed rebuilding the south-east corner on its old foundations, 'which spread sufficiently to receive an additional thickness of superstructure more correspondent with the original center building' (Committee of Building minutes, op cit). As for the west side, Soane stated that it would be necessary to take down and rebuild the entire balustrade and entablature over the columns. Accompanying his proposals, Soane presented some drawings to the Committee.

Upon hearing Soane's proposals, and probably to verify his claims, the Committee resolved to call in an independent firm of surveyors, by the name of Alexander and Sanders. The surveyors examined the condition of the east, south and west fronts and reported that, generally, the façade was in a poor state but did not demand a complete reconstruction. The ornament needed replacement, the balustrades and cornices were mostly decayed, but the columns and stone work were in a good state and no failures were found in the foundation. The surveyors' main concern was the wall thickness within the external recesses between the columns. Those niches in Robert Taylor's façades were found to be only 5 to 8 inches thick, 'insufficient, to our opinion, for the security of such a fabric' (Committee minutes, op. cit.).

On 8 March 1815, the Building Committee did not reach a conclusion: 'on account of the purpose of other business, the consideration of the Report [...] was postponed'. Although the Committee lost interest, Soane continued to work on designs for the new walls, as designs dated 1816 exist. Soane reported on the exterior again in May 1823, finally receiving the Bank's approval.

Madeleine Helmer, 2011



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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 Façades proposals, 1814-1816 (14)