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Designs for a new entrance to the House of Lords, unexecuted, 1828 (12)


Between February and March 1828 Soane made designs for a new Royal Entrance incorporating a porte-cochère, scala regia and a gallery to replace the existing entrance - and James Wyatt's much-maligned offices - in Old Palace Yard. Alternative designs were made for the exterior, one in a Classical and one in a Gothic style. According to an entry in Soane's Note Books, on Tuesday 4 March 1828 Soane "called by app[ointment] on Lord Farn[borough] with 7 drawings on 1/2 sheets of the proposed approach to the House of Lords". Charles Long, Lord Farnborough, was a connoisseur of the arts and an artistic adviser to the King. There is a suggestion that one of the reasons for replacing the offices next to the Lords was to avert the risk of fire that was posed by Wyatt's lathe-and-plaster façade (see SM 16/7/4). In 1828 Soane had noted the Lords' "want of security from fire" and had asked "in such an extensive assemblage of combustible materials, should a fire happen, what would become of the Painted Chamber, the House of Commons & Westminster Hall? Where would the progress of the fire be arrested?" (C. Shenton, The Day Parliament Burned Down, 2012, pp. 56-7). The new Royal Entrance was never executed, but a drawing of the Gothic version of the design was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828.


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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 Designs for a new entrance to the House of Lords, unexecuted, 1828 (12)