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Downhill, County Derry, Northern Ireland: (unexecuted) alternative designs for a doghouse for Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol, 1778-1779 and later (4)

1778
Soane’s alternative designs for a doghouse for the pack of foxhounds belonging to the son of the Bishop of Derry were made in late December 1778 or early in 1779. Soane produced two designs both with a triangular plan with one in a Neo-Classical style and the other in a Classical style. Nothing came from this casual request for ‘some idea of a classical dog-kennel’ and the only surviving early drawing is a copy of the Neo-Classical design (No.1). In 1781 Soane exhibited a ‘Design for a doghouse’ at the Royal Academy; it is not known which of the alternative designs was exhibited. In 1811 or after, record drawings were made of the Classical design (Nos 3-4). Soane’s Designs for Public and Private Buildings (1828, plate xxxiv ***) illustrates a‘design for a residence for a canine family in modern times’ and the same ‘… for a canine family in ancient times’. That is, a Neo-Classical design (design A, elevation and plan after No.1) and a Classical design (design B, elevation after No.4). For his unpublished ‘Memoirs of the professional life of an architect between the years 1768 and 1835’, Soane chose the Neo-Classical design (No.2) as an illustration.

In fact, allowing for the elaborate sculptural programme, heavy rustication, drum, and a greater number of (free-standing) columns, the designs are not dissimilar - design A, a stripped down, simpler version of B with both having a three-part plan with concave sides and a (Pantheon-type) domed centre. Both designs loosely belong to a family of ideal projects made while in Italy, for example, ‘Castello d’acqua’, Chatham mausoleum, Unidentified mausoleum on an X-plan and, in particular the triangular Unidentified design for a bath (q.q.q.q.v).

The (Earl-)Bishop apparently maintained his interest in building a doghouse. An unexecuted design signed by James Malton (1765-1803), inscribed ‘Proposal for a triangular building’, dated 1792 and with staffage that includes the Bishop is described by Desmond Guinness (see below).

Literature. P.du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.159-62: P.du Prey, '"Je n'oublieray jamais": John Soane and Downhill', Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society, XXI, Nos 3&4, 1978, pp.19-20; D.Guinness, ‘An unpublished watercolour by James Malton from the collection of Desmond Guinness', Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, VI, 2003, pp.226-37


Jill Lever, January 2006
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