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Skelton Castle, Yorkshire North Riding (now Cleveland): (executed) stables and alterations to the offices for John Wharton, 1790-1791 (10)

Signed and dated

  • 1790
    Main Year


The original commission was for substantial alterations and additions to the existing Skelton Castle for which Soane began making drawings from July 1787 (Ledger B, p.121). On 5 November 1787 '10 fair plans and 10 fair Elevations containing / several different designs for the Improvement / of the House on fourteen Sheets of Paper [at £] 42..0..0' were sent via the Edinburgh mail. An entry for 7 March 1789 (sic) notes a posting of ' a drawing of the approved design / for the digging and also a plan of the / foundations for the Stone Masons'. Then follows a note in red pen that explains 'All the working drawings and particulars / for the improvement and Additions to the / House were made by Mr W's desire three / years ago, but the Works being postponed / those drawings &c were not dilivered (sic) & / therefore no charge is made for the trouble / and expences incurred on this Head'.

None of the drawings for the 'Mansion House' for John Wharton have survived but Soane's Plans, elevations and sections of buildings, 1788 (1789) has three plates (28-30) that show three alternative designs with a ground floor plan and a front elevation for each of them. 'Dark teints shew the old parts' and 'light teints shew the improvements' and successive schemes become larger and more elaborate. In each design, the front is re-faced and the building is extended on the right-hand side. Plate 28 shows a 66 feet wide, three-storey, five-bay building with a pair of coupled Doric columns for the porch; plate 29 shows an 88 feet wide, two-storey, seven-bay building with a four-column, giant Ionic portico; plate 30 shows a 90 feet wide, two-storey, five-bay building with a four-column, giant Ionic portico supporting a pediment. None of these designs was executed.

Other entries in Soane's Ledger B (pp.122-4) relate to 'alterations & additions to Offices' which were executed. There is also a reference to 'Lodges' (19 February 1789) when 'two fair designs' (not executed) were made. Soane's design for the stables was carried out and is described by Ptolemy Dean (op.cit) as 'one of his most handsome stable blocks ... what distinguishes these buildings is their carefully broken-down massing, the control of symmetry and the remarkable articulation of live and blind arches in crisply cut ashlar. Quite properly listed Grade I.'

Literature. P.Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p.177

Jill Lever, August 2011



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

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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 Skelton Castle, Yorkshire North Riding (now Cleveland): (executed) stables and alterations to the offices for John Wharton, 1790-1791 (10)