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Surveys and designs for houses in Old Palace Yard, June 1826 (5)


The "stone-faced and severely Palladian" 6/7 Old Palace Yard was built to the designs of Isaac Ware in 1754-6 (Pevsner). The two houses were for the Clerk Assistant and the Clerk of the Parliaments, the most senior official in the House of Lords. Soane completed renovations to both houses in 1793 and much of this work survives. In 1823 more than £900 was spent on the two houses (HKW, p. 527).

The five drawings catalogued here relate to work undertaken in 1826. No. 6, the house in the western side of the building, is identified as "Mr Cooper's" house. Henry Cowper (sic) (c.1753-1840) served as Clerk Assistant for 41 years from 1785 until February 1826. Upon his retirement the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, moved that "there was no instance of an individual having discharged his duty with more diligence, assiduity, and integrity, than Mr Cowper had done" (Hansard, 7 Feb 1826). SM 37/1/36, 35 and 32 are surveys of Mr Cowper's house. The other half of the building containing No. 7 Old Palace Yard was occupied by George Henry Rose (1770-1855), who served as Clerk of the Parliaments between 1818 and 1855.

The two design drawings, SM 37/1/33-34, are for an outbuilding to the south of 6/7 Old Palace Yard and linked to a house fronting onto Abingdon Street, one of the constituents of the "long terrace of shabby Georgian houses... largely inhabited by Members of Parliament" described by Harold Clunn in 1932 (http://www.britainexpress.com/London/Abingdon-Street.htm). The purpose of the new outbuilding - 25 by 29 feet with two storeys and a connected water closet - is unknown, but as a guess it might have been built for the storage of records. The nearby Jewel Tower to the south west of 6/7 Old Palace Yard was used for the storage of the records of the House of Lords from at least 1600 until 1864 (see also SM 37/1/38).

The buildings adjacent to the Jewel Tower on Abingdon Street and at the rear of 6/7 Old Palace Yard were demolished in 1954. 6/7 Old Palace Yard itself remains part of the Parliamentary Estate and today contains offices. It is currently (November 2014) undergoing restoration.

Tom Drysdale, November 2014



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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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 Surveys and designs for houses in Old Palace Yard, June 1826 (5)