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New committee rooms and library, 1824-27 (56)


A select committee called in July 1824 for a new committee room and record room to be built between the Painted Chamber and the Scala Regia. The work was approved in November but little progress was made before July 1825, only £1,700 having been expended between October 1824 and April 1825. In July 1825 another select committee reported that:

"The new committee room which was directed to be built, and is now in progress, will be more conveniently appropriated to the purpose of keeping the journals and other books belonging to the House; that the plan now submitted to them by Mr. Soane will afford two committee rooms of large dimensions, and a third of a smaller size; and that the upper and lower stories of the same building will provide sufficient space for the placing and safe keeping of the increasing mass of records, papers, and writings, which cannot now for want of room be deposited in the Parliament Office, and at the same time, for the necessary accommodation of some of the officers and servants of the House" (King's Works, VI, 1973, p. 523).

Work resumed during the summer recess, with more than £9,000 being spent on the newly-designated library and adjoining offices up to March 1826. At this stage the library was only fitted up with temporary fittings. A view of the interior of the Lords' library can be seen in Soane's Designs for Public Improvements, 1827, pl. 28. In May the Lords approved a design for new committee rooms towards the river with an estimate of £14,000. These were designed in a Gothic style to match the Painted Chamber, House of Commons' library and the Speaker's House on that side of the Palace. It was a smaller building of three storeys that was approved. This was finished during the summer recess of 1827. It was the last major work done at the House of Lords by Soane.


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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 New committee rooms and library, 1824-27 (56)