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Survey drawings and views of the existing Pitzhanger Manor, September - November 1800 (18)

Except for the wing added by George Dance in 1768, Soane had little respect for the original Pitzhanger Manor, which is recorded in the survey drawings within this scheme. Indeed, he described it in his 1833 publication Elevations, and Perspective Views, of Pitzhanger Manor-House, as ‘an incongruous mass of buildings, but sufficiently capacious for the reception of a large establishment. The whole had been erected without any general plan: the exterior, composed of lofty brick walls, three stories high, with perforations for the admission of light, and for ingress and egress, was deficient in symmetry and character, so necessary to distinguish the work of an artist from that of a speculative builder.’ The survey drawings record the old house as Soane described, as it was under the Gurnell family ownership.

The two-storey Dance wing is recorded attached to a plain haphazard building, arranged over three floors with a cellar; Soane was to demolish the pre-1768 house but eventually decided to preserve the Dance wing. In the interests of economy Soane attempted to reuse much of the building material from the old house.

Some of the survey drawings carry revisions and alterations for Soane’s intended house, possibly added at a later date than that of the original record drawing. Interestingly, there are a few drawings that post-date the demolition process at Pitzhanger. It is probable that these are copies or worked up drawings from earlier sketches made by a pupil for practise or for Soane’s own records.

Virginia Brilliant's TS Catalogue of Pitzhanger has been instrumental to the creation of this catalogue.

Matilda Burn 2010
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