Tyringham House was an important, and enjoyable, commission for Soane. In his ‘Memoirs of the professional life of an architect' (1835), Soane described his work there: 'This Villa with its numerous offices, greenhouses, hot houses and extensive stabling, the great bridge and the lodge, was completed and occupied in the year 1797, after having engaged a large portion of six of the most happy years of my life.’ Soane was provided the freedom and means to erect a building that showcased his capabilities: ‘the design for this building having been duly considered and the possessor feeling full confidence in the architect, there being no committee of taste with a ‘superintending or controlling power’, the whole structure was completed in all its parts without any deviation whatever from the original plans’. Soane brought his mentor George Dance (1741-1825) to see the building in June 1796 and, acknowledging the design's successes, in 1802 Dance wrote to Soane: 'You would do me a great favour and a great service if you would let me look at your plan of Mr Praed's house (Tyringham). I want to steal from it. I should have been with you if it had been possible, but I am over head and ears and I have got a house to build in the country which plagues me to death, though I am excessively eager about it, but cannot do anything to please myself’. Dance was referring to Coleorton, Leicestershire, which he built for Sir George Beaumont, from 1802 to 1808. In 1808 Soane's pupils made numerous fair copies of Tyringham's buildings.
Soane met William Praed through the Marquess of Buckingham (of Buckingham House, 1790, q.v.) who took Soane to visit Tyringham in August 1792. Praed (1747-1833) was a politician and banker and the chairman of the Grand Junction Canal Company, a venture to link the existing Oxford Canal with London. He had married Elizabeth Tyringham in 1778, shortly after she inherited the family estate at Tyringham. The house they occupied was an Elizabethan building, long and low with gabled wings. Soane surveyed the house in September 1792 and made variant designs for its alterations (including a gothic design) and a new stables block, presenting various sets to the client from December 1792 to March 1793. On 8 June 1793, the client agreed to construct a completely new house and soon thereafter, on 20 June, Soane delivered to Mr Praed 6 fair drawings showing variant designs for a proposed house. More presentation drawings followed. A bridge across the river Ouse was built in late 1793, its site and design chosen after consultation with John Haverfield the younger (c.1741-1820), chief gardener at Richmond and Kew. The bridge is a low-lying single arch spanning the river, with wing walls that curve outwards at each end and solid partitions. An entrance screen was built in late 1795, a restrained Doric design that Nikolaus Pevsner has deemed to be 'a monument of European importance... it is entirely independent of period precedent, a sign of daring only matched at that moment by what Ledoux was designing in France and Gilly in Germany' (Pevsner and Williamson, p. 703).
The design for the house developed over several years and Soane visited the site often. Many of the existing drawings are devoted to the building’s entrance hall and tribune. This part of the building developed slowly and drawings were still being made in late 1796, more than a year after construction began on the house itself. The finished design consisted of a groin-vaulted entrance hall anchored by four Greek Doric columns supporting full entablatures, with steps leading up to a top-lit cross-passage overlooked by the first floor corridor, labelled on the plans as the ‘tribune’. Soane also altered the design over time to include a billiard room in the north-east corner, acheiving this by relocating Praed’s dressing and sitting rooms into the attached office block. The offices were designed in 1796 and consisted of two raised ranges connected by lean-to roofed wings to surround a court.
The house was occupied in 1797. Soane’s draughtsman Joseph Michael Gandy visited the estate for 9 days in July 1798 to make views of the house, bridge and entrance screen. A view of the entrance hall was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798. Soane proudly mentions in his ‘Memoirs’ of 1837 that the house was successfully warmed by steam, ‘and so substantially and perfectly was the apparatus constructed that after having been in constant use for upwards of twenty years, the works were as perfect as on the day on which they were finished, although the original expense did not exceed two hundred pounds'.
The catalogue of drawings for Tyringham includes numerous record copies (that is, drawings made by pupils for their own education), some showing earlier variant designs that, though made in 1808, have been sequenced here to show the building’s design development.
The Victoria & Albert Museum collection has 13 of Soane's drawings for Tyringham. These include four alternative designs for the south entrance front, including a presentation drawing that corresponds to a preliminary ground floor plan in this catalogue (drawing 24). Sections showing variant designs for the entrance hall are also in the V&A collection, as are views by Joseph Michael Gandy of the entrance screen and bridge, which are part of a set with drawings 151 to 157 in this catalogue (P. du Prey, pp. 59-61.). Soane also made designs for a chapel at Tyringham, drawings for which are in the Soane Museum drawings collection.
Tyringham House is a residence today. Its interiors have been altered and its central tribune built over on the first floor, but the house retains some original features, including Soane chimney-pieces and the central lantern. The exterior is as built by Soane, though a domed roof has been added and the offices are altered and raised. The stables and workshops exist, though the stables have been converted to flats.
A. Bolton, The Works of Sir John Soane, 1924, p. 19; Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 126-138, pp. 59-61; N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, Buckinghamshire, 1994, p.703; G. Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic, 1999, pp. 106-110;P. Dean, Sir John Soane and London, 2006, p. 185; K.R. Fairclough, 'Praed, William Mackworth (1747-1833)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, June 2008, accessed April 2012.
Madeleine Helmer, 2012.
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 Tyringham House, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire: entrance screen, bridge, house, offices, greenhouses and stables for William Mackworth Praed, 1792-1801, record drawings 1808 (169)
- Surveys of the old house, 13-14 September 1792 (4)
- Record drawings of survey drawings 1 to 4, February - March 1808 (6)
- Presentation drawing of the old house, July 1798 (1)
- Design for alterations to the house in a Gothic style (1)
- Presentation drawings of a stables design, 18 December 1792 (2)
- Presentation drawings of an alternative stables design, one dated 18 December 1792 (3)
- Design for the stables, with running dimensions, February 1793 (3)
- Record drawing of the stables as in drawings 15 to 20, 26 February 1808 (1)
- Design for the grounds, 21 June 1793 (1)
- Presentation drawings of three alternative preliminary designs for the house, one dated 29 June 1793 (4)
- Presentation drawing showing a variant design with a segmental portico (1)
- Presentation drawing of a variant design for the house, 30 June 1793 (1)
- Design for the house with offices attached, 20 September 1793 (1)
- Presentation drawings of three variant designs for the entrance front, 20 September 1793 (3)
- Working drawing and record copies of a variant design for the bridge, July 1793 and February 1808 (2)
- Working drawing and record copies of the bridge, October 1793 and February 1808 (4)
- Presentation drawings of a variant design for the house, one dated December 1793 (4)
- Record drawings of a variant design for the house (2)
- Design for an entrance screen, April 1794 (3)
- Presentation drawings and record copy of variant designs for the entrance screen, one dated February 1808 (4)
- Working drawing for the iron gate of the entrance screen, as executed (1)
- Design for the house (3)
- Presentation drawings of the house with alternative rustication, March 1795 (4)
- Presentation drawing showing the house with a solid parapet (1)
- Working drawings for the balustraded parapet, pilasters and Ionic portico, March to April 1795 (6)
- Working drawings for the roof timbers, 30 April 1795 (8)
- Presentation drawing of the basement (1)
- Survey drawing of the attic storey and parapet (1)
- Presentation drawings showing two alternative designs for the house and office court, January 1796 (3)
- Variant design for the office court and house, January 1796 (6)
- Design for the exterior of the office court, July 1796 (2)
- Working drawings for finishings to the offices (3)
- Record drawings showing alternative designs for the entrance hall ceiling, November 1795 (6)
- Preliminary and presentation drawing of the entrance hall, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798 (2)
- Variant designs for alterations to the tribune, one dated February 1796 (3)
- Designs for finishings to the entrance hall, 12-16 June 1796 (3)
- Working drawing for finishings to the tribune, 3 August 1796 (1)
- Working drawings for finishings to the entrance hall, September and October 1796 (2)
- Designs for the tribune, datable to August or September 1796 (2)
- Working drawing for finishings to the ground floor of the tribune, 8 October 1796 (1)
- Design for alterations to the tribune on the first floor (1)
- Record drawings of entrance hall and tribune, one dated February 1808 (4)
- Record drawing of the entrance hall (1)
- Presentation drawings for the best staircase, 30 October 1796 (4)
- Record drawings of the house, October 1796 (2)
- Working drawings and record drawings for finishings to the drawing room, August and September 1797 (4)
- Record drawings of finishings to the music and breakfast room, c. 1798 (2)
- Presentation drawings and working copies of variant designs for a peachery, vinery and greenhouse, some by John Haverfield, March 1795 (5)
- Record copies of drawings 129 to 133 and record drawings of two alternative greenhouse designs, March 1808 (6)
- Record drawing of finishings to the eating room (1)
- Design for the south-west bedroom (1)
- Variant designs for the organ case in the music and breakfast room, and earlier preliminary design for drawing room ceiling, October 1799 (2)
- Surveys of the house, showing tribune as executed, March 1798 (2)
- Record drawings of the house, November and December 1807 (5)
- Views of the house, bridge and entrance lodge by Joseph Michael Gandy, July 1798 (7)
- Presentation drawings of the house and bridge, August 1798 (4)
- Framed view of Tyringham House (1)
- Design for the grounds by John Haverfield (1)
- Design for the brew house, 26 June 1799 (1)
- Design for the stables, June-July 1799 (3)
- Design for sheds near the stable block, 30 October 1800 (1)
- Working drawing for drawing room chimney-piece, 26 June 1801 (1)