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Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London: (possibly executed) stables, (executed) drawing room wing, offices, and (unexecuted) alterations, for the Countess of Pembroke, 1788 (17)

Signed and dated

  • 1788
    Main Year

Notes

Pembroke Lodge, also known as Hill Lodge, was altered by Soane in three phases: a wing containing a drawing room and library was built from 1788 to 90; a new library, porch and office range was built from 1792 to 93; and a general overhaul of the drains was carried out in 1798. The first wing cost £668:18:2 and work on the drains came to £53:15:3½ (Bill Books 4 and A).

Soane's client at Pembroke Lodge was Elizabeth, Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery (1737-1831). Her husband, the tenth earl of Pembroke and seventh earl of Montgomery, was often abroad with the military and so Lady Pembroke was left in control of the alterations and additions to the cottage in Richmond Park. She later commissioned Soane for alterations to her house in Grosvenor Square.

Soane's Order Book 1 records minor alterations to Pembroke Lodge in 1787, including plaster mouldings for an anteroom. In 1788, designs were made for a more significant set of alterations and additions. In July and August 1788, Soane and his pupil John Sanders (pupil 1784-90) presented to Lady Pembroke eight variant designs. Cost was clearly a concern for the client, as a preliminary estimation of £800 was 'considerably more than she wished’ (Journal No 1) and revised estimates were frequently requested. The chosen design, completed in 1790, was for a north-west addition with a drawing room and anteroom on the ground floor and bedrooms overhead. The drawing room is the most distinctive feature of Soane’s design, having an irregular plan and tent-like ceiling, with wallpaper decorated with an intricate pattern resembling the wire enclosure of an aviary.

A range of domestic offices was built in 1792. Drawings were presented in August and construction began in September. In 1793 Soane made designs for a library and anteroom. A letter in Soane’s archives from August 1793 reports that Lady Pembroke gave his plans to Henry Holland (Letter Book 1793-97). The construction of the library and anteroom is not documented by Soane, indicating that he indeed was stripped of the commission. The works survive today, designed by Soane but perhaps finished by Holland.

One drawing for Pembroke Lodge may be attributed to Henry Holland (drawing 11). The office plan includes rough inscriptions by Soane that are clearly made in a convivial setting: Soane has labelled parts of the offices in a facetious manner, such as ‘Staircase to a safe under the well for the first 183 / designs of this Building / NB Spring guns & man traps / are placed in the cupboards’, The Streights of Thermophylae’, ‘My Lady's / Privy’.

Pembroke Lodge is one of the four principal lodges in Richmond Park. It served as a private residence to Lady Pembroke until her death in 1831, after which it was occupied by the Earl of Errol. Much of Soane's exteriors remain but the interiors are mostly altered.

Literature: JM Crook, The History of the King's Works, vol. VI, 1973, pp. 354-55; D. Stroud, Sir John Soane Architect, 1984, p. 138; P. Dean, Sir John Soane and London, 2006, pp. 181-2; L.H. Jackson, 'Elizabeth Herbert', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online, (accessed November 2011).

Madeleine Helmer, 2011.

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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 Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London: (possibly executed) stables, (executed) drawing room wing, offices, and (unexecuted) alterations, for the Countess of Pembroke, 1788 (17)