- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
Soane's scheme was submitted to the King with the endorsement of Lord Liverpool and Sir Charles Long and approved in April 1822 at an estimated cost of £8,000. Over the following months the plan was altered and designs were made for turning the Prince's Chamber, old House of Lords and Painted Chamber into a Royal Gallery 'to be decorated with paintings, bassi-relievi and statues to perpetuate the glorious achievements of British valour' (SM 71/2/84). In September a porte-cochère was added to the Royal Entrance at the request of the King. Having commenced on 10 August, work was completed by 5 February 1823 at a total cost of £7232 1s 2d.
The Royal Entrance itself was designed by Soane in a Gothic style matching the medieval exteriors of the Palace of Westminster and James Wyatt's much-derided additions to the House of Lords (1806-12). The Scala Regia, though, was built in a richly-ornamented, Soanean style, with domed and vaulted ceilings, top-lighting and Neoclassical motifs, largely derived from engravings in Desgodetz's Les Édifices Antiques de Rome,1682 (see SM 71/2/44). According to Arthur Bolton (curator, 1917-45), 'The Scala Regia was, perhaps, the best of all Soane's designs, and even if it was possibly somewhat gaudy in detail... it is undoubtedly a fine and characteristic composition', although Sir John Summerson was of the opinion that this - and the Royal Gallery - were 'no advance on his very earliest studies'. In his project of 1794-96, Soane had also made designs for a Scala Regia, although it bore little resemblance to the executed staircase.
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 Royal Entrance and Scala Regia, 1822-23 (68)
- Cover sheet
- Survey drawings of the existing Royal Entrance, February 1822
- Designs for a new Royal Entrance and Scala Regia, February-July 1822
- Designs for the Royal Entrance, Scala Regia and Royal Gallery, July 1822
- Survey drawing of part of the old buildings, 14 August 1822
- Survey drawing of the existing Royal Entrance (copy), 20 August 1822
- Designs for the Scala Regia, August 1822
- Sections through the Scala Regia, August 1822
- Designs for the ceiling of the Scala Regia, August 1822
- Survey drawing of the State Carriage, 11 September 1822
- Working drawings for the Royal Entrance, October 1822
- Design for a porte-cochere, 3 October 1822
- Copy of a design for a porte-cochère, October 1822
- Design for the entrance to the Scala Regia, 4 October 1822
- Further designs for the Royal Entrance, November 1822
- Survey drawing of the Scala Regia as executed, December 1822
- Presentation drawings for the Royal Galleries and Scala Regia, December 1822
- Record drawings of the Royal Entrance, January-May 1823
- Details, January 1823
- Preparatory sketch for a presentation drawing of the porte-cochère, c.1824
- Record (line) drawing of the porte-cochere
- Finished drawing of the approach to the Scala Regia from the Royal Entrance
- Exhibition drawing of the Scala Regia as executed, exhibited 1823