Soane provide eight alternative designs for Dunninald in a Classical style labelling them: 'A No,1'. 'A No.2', 'B No.1', 'B No. 2', 'C', 'D', 'E' and one unlabelled, possibly F. The plans for the Classical designs are for the ground floor only and are compact with three reception rooms plus library and dressing room. Common to all of them (though not always shown on the elevations) are the low wings on each side for the domestic offices though 'B No.1' and 'D' have the library and drawing room in the right-hand wing. All of the designs save for 'E' (which has Doric) have an Ionic order and all have banded rustication. The designs for the elevation (all of them front elevations) are mostly formal but especially 'A No.1' and F which have a giant order of six columns, bosses or roundels and (F) eight statues, four on the skyline and four in niches. Design 'E' is the most modest design with a Doric portico and little embellishment.
Soane next turned to making designs for Dunninald in a Castle style. He had some direct knowedge of castle building through his work on the square Norman keep of Norwich Castle, a prison from the thirteenth century onwards to which Soane made alterations and additions, 1788-92. However his work was heavily criticized by William Wilkins (of Norwich) who described the Castle as being 'grossly mutilated ... [and] now bereaved of its ancient beauty' (see Soane Museum online drawings catalogue: Norwich, Norfolk: Norwich Castle Gaol).
'Sham castles' had been built from the fifteenth century onwards, for example Herstmonceux in 1441 and the early seventeenth century saw some examples such as Bolsover,1612. Vanbrugh's 'toy castles' of the early eighteenth century continued the theme on a decorative scale. It is said that more than ten per cent of Robert Adam's projects were in the 'castle style', most of them designed in the 1770s and 1780s and located in Scotland. Soane bought the surviving drawings of the Adam practice in 1833.
Soane's designs for Dunninald in a Castle style are labelled 'K' and 'L' and are more fully detailed than his Classical designs with floor plans for basement, ground floor, first floor and attic, and elevations for the front, back and side. Except for the addition of turrets ,the ground floor plans do not greatly vary from the Classical plans so that, for example, the plan 'K/L' is, except for the entrance hall, almost the same as plan 'D'. It seems that while Soane when required could respond to Gothic architecture, he was not much stirred by the Castle style. The meagre list of his works in that manner includes: the embattled domestic offices at Skelton Castle, 1790-1 (q.v.) and the embattled stables at Port Eliot, 1804.
A comparison of Soane's several designs with Playfair's single design for Dunninald house shows that the Scottish architect chose something simpler. On a generous site with provision for paddocks, kitchen garden, rick yard, stables and farm offices, poultry yard and post road, well furnished with trees, Playfair designed a house with offices on a courtyard plan. On each side a large arch gave entrance to the courtyard. The two-storey house with basement was nine bays wide and plain except for the end bays with paired pilasters on two sides. A small drawing with a bird's eye view of Dinnald shows it in an idyllic countryside setting. Interestingly, Playfair also made a design for a model village at nearby Buddon for David Scott.
Most of the Soane drawings were made by one or other of his pupils: Frederick Meyer (1775-?), pupil April 1791-1796; Thomas Jeans (c.1775-1866), pupil August 1792-25 August 1797; Henry Hake Seward (1778- 1848), pupil and assistant May 1794- September 1808; Henry Joseph Good (1775- 1857), pupil January 1795-January 1799.
Literature. P.du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 69, pp.44-45
Jill Lever, October 2014
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 Dunninald House, Craig, Angus: unexecuted designs for David Scott, 1795 (43)
- Alternative designs in a Classical style
- Variant designs in a Castle style (19)
- Record rawings made by pupils (10)