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London: House of Commons, Palace of Westminster: designs and executed design for library and committee rooms, 1825-1830 (53)

The need for more committee rooms was urgent. In 1824 'a select committee on committee rooms and printed papers heard evidence from Soane and others... the situation was deteriorating: on one occasion four public and 30 private bill committees had met on the same day, 19 being appointed to meet in the same room. ... Ten more rooms were needed urgently. The library too, was inadequate, and could not take the sessional papers of another two sessions.' ( J.M.Crook and M.H.Port, The History of the King's Works, Volume VI, p.527)

Soane's designs for a building housing a library and committee rooms (drawings 1-20) made in 1825 came to nothing. His reduced design (drawings 21-34) of 1826 was built. By 1830 designs were made for enlarging the library (37-42) but not executed. Drawings 43-53 relate to the Stone Building and adaptation of some of its rooms as committee rooms to replace those given over to the House of Commons library.

Soane's were not the only designs. Mr Ley, Clerk of the House of Commons made a sketch design that was given to Soane on 9 August 1825 which contained some invaluable suggestions and also left his own house intact (drawing 35 and see King's Works, VI pp.528-9). Soane took notice of Ley's recommendations and his 1826 design was shaped by some of Mr Ley's proposals.

Adam Lee, Labourer in Trust, had made his own designs in 1821 (SM 51/4/2-8). He had an apartment within the Palace of Westminster and drawing 23 has labels for both Mr Ley's house and a large ground floor room under the Long Gallery that is inscribed 'Mr Lee Labourer in Trust'.

Jill Lever, February 2014
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