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Stowe, Buckinghamshire: design for library for 1st Marquis of Buckingham, 1805-6 and later unexecuted designs (80)

Soane had carried out work for the the first Marquis of Buckingham when he rebuilt Buckingham House, 91 Pall Mall, London from 1790 (q.v.). Lord Buckingham's country house was Stowe in Buckinghamshire, re-designed by Robert Adam and Thomas Pitt, Lord Camelford, from 1770 in a neo-classical style. The piano nobile already had a two-storey library but it was decided that a new library would be built underneath to house Lord Buckingham's collection of Saxon manuscripts received from Thomas Astle (died 1803) together with a collection of early Irish manuscripts from another source.

The decision to build the new library in a Gothic style cannot be securely attributed to either Lord Buckingham or to Soane. Soane's site visit to Stowe in January 1805 was followed by his assistant Henry Hake Seward making drawings of the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey and this became a key influence in the design of the library, as for example, in the design of the ceiling and the bookcase doors. The idea of a lobby to the library can be safely attributed to Lord Buckingham.

The library at Stowe as an exercise in Gothic design is unique among Soane's works.

Literature

There is (in the Soane Museum) a copy of Michael McCarthys typescript 'Catalogue of drawings for the library, lobbby and staircase of Stowe House, Bucks' compiled in 1983. The first section follows the sequence of the bound set of drawings (1-61). The present (on-line) catalogue covers the same drawings but divides and sub-divides them by subject, for example: Library, Lobby, Staircase etc and this determines the sequence and numbering.

Dr McCarthy also catalogued 46 related drawings in addition to those catalogued on line here. The source for these further drawings is the Soane office archive which awaits publication.
Drawings filed with documents (BOX P SET 19) Section B (62-71)
Drawings mixed with documents (BOX 2 SET 22(c) Section C (72-103)
Other drawings in Soane Museum (104-107)
Drawings in locations other than Soane Museum (108-109)

Michael McCarthy also published an article on: 'Soane's ''Saxon'' Room at Stowe', Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, XLIV, No 2 May 1985, pp.129-146.

A report by Purcell Miller Tritton, architects, was prepared in 2008 for the Stowe Trust. A copy is kept in the Green Box files at the Soane Museum and (pages 38-41 cover the Gothic Library and include some photographs).
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