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The 'Pantheon' Schemes, 1732-33 (9)


In March 1733 it was reported in The Gentleman's Magazine that 'The Earl of Burlington has projected a Plan for building two new Houses of Parliament, and a Public Library between them, to be finish'd against the next Session, and to cost the Public about £30,000.' The associated surviving designs show a Palladian building with a colonnade (40 feet high) and a Pantheon-like dome sitting behind a pediment (drawing [1]). In plan the building began as a rectangle (drawing [2]) before developing into more of a square shape (drawings [3-4]), and contained three primary rooms on the piano nobile - the Houses of Lords and Commons and the Cottonian Library. The Cottonian Library consisted of the books, records and manuscripts collected by Sir Robert Cotton (1571-1631) and passed to the nation by his grandson, Sir John Cotton, in 1702. This catalogue includes the only two known designs for the interior of the library (drawings [8-9]). For unknown reasons the 'Pantheon' scheme did not progress.

Drawings [1] and [6-9] are to be found within a bound volume purchased by Arthur Bolton, the Curator of the Soane Museum, from a member of the Society of Antiquaries for £1.0.0 on 17 October 1930. The volume includes a note in Kent's hand that reads:

'Estimate on the Area or Ground / Plan of the Cottonion (sic) Library and / the records &c adjoyning extending / in Front to the River 210 feet in / depth 90 feet according to my Design / 197 sqr on ye Area being abt 90 feet in / hight (sic) including ye composite portico / the whole front the pillars 40 feet high / with the inside fineshing (sic) & embellisments (sic) / taken at abt £300 pr sqr // £59100'.

(Salmon, pp. 329-337)



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.

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 The 'Pantheon' Schemes, 1732-33 (9)