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Castle Hill, Devon: (executed) alterations to house and offices, 1786- c.1788, and record drawing, 1807, for 1st Earl Fortescue (5)

Signed and dated

  • 1786
    Main Year
  • Other Years: country houses etc


Soane made drawings for various alterations at Castle Hill but he only oversaw some of the building works. Work on the house included new outbuildings, refitted office wings, a rebuilt north front, and altered principal rooms. Soane charged the client £238.6.3 ½ for his designs and for ‘making the several drawings for the workmen & directing the same from time to time’ (Journal No 1). Dorothy Stroud writes that this large sum reflects a substantial set of alterations to the house (Stroud, p.134). Despite the extent of work, however, relatively few drawings exist in Soane’s collection; this is probably due to Soane’s lack of involvement in the building programme.

Soane first visited Castle Hill in late April 1786. The late Tudor house was on a shallow H-shaped plan with long single-storey office ranges extending to the east and west. It had been considerably altered and expanded by Roger Morris c. 1730. Soane sent Lord Fortescue drawings for proposed alterations in May and June but he did not hear back from the client until late January 1788, when Lord Fortescue called upon him to check on the building works and offer further designs (G. Darley, p.85). Soane visited promptly, and in February he made drawings for the library and offices. A design for the offices must have been finalised by March 1788, when Soane sent working drawings to the site. In August, designs for a poultry court were sent to Castle Hill. Drawings were sent to the client in 1788 and 1789, including designs for a china closet, library, library table and farm yard. Further designs for the library were made in 1802.

Drawings show that the wash house and brew house were demolished and the offices refitted. Alterations to the eating room, library and drawing room are also apparent in the plans.

The central section of the house was burnt out and rebuilt in 1934 but Soane's domestic offices were not affected.

Literature: D. Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 2nd ed., 1996, p. 134; P. Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p. 175; G. Darley, John Soane, an accidental romantic, 1999, pp. 85, 88.

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.

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Contents of Castle Hill, Devon: (executed) alterations to house and offices, 1786- c.1788, and record drawing, 1807, for 1st Earl Fortescue (5)