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More fully realised designs for Pitzhanger Manor, December 1800 - October 1801 (50)

By the end of 1800 Soane had decided to retain the Dance wing and construct an attached new villa to the north of it. This decision greatly dictated both the layout and appearance of Soane’s compact two-storey, three-bay villa. The designs date from of a period of about 15 months, from August 1800 to October 1801. Demolition began in October 1800, when Walter Payne (Soane’s Clerk of Works) moved onto the site (Soane notes in his diary for 6 October 1800 ‘Payne began pulling down at Ealing’). The December 1800 date of the first plan would suggest that construction did not start until at least that point. The initial interior designs for the Vestibule, Library and Breakfast Room are mostly dated from July 1801 onwards (although a few are dated earlier) - the main structure of the house was probably completed by the time it came to planning the interior decorative schemes. However, the interiors evidently took longer to finish, and it wasn't until 29 April 1804 that Mrs Soane wrote in her diary that they had ‘dined at Ealing on a hot dinner for the first time’.

Generally, the ground floor is most focused on in terms of plans, consisting of the Library, Breakfast Room and small Drawing Room – although the function or allotment of these rooms may vary from plan to plan, and occasionally a small room such as ‘dressing room’ is indicated. The basement is shown in drawings 106 to 109 and 135 as a series of service rooms including a kitchen, butler’s pantry and housekeeper’s room (although these all shift in position as well). It is known from later descriptions of Pitzhanger, however, that the majority of the basement was in fact taken up by a ‘Monk’s Dining Room’ – a precursor to the ‘Monk’s Parlour’ at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Along with this room, there would eventually be a room for plaster casts and sculptures within Soane’s collection – many objects were supposedly ‘found’ in the ruins adjacent to the house.

In terms of exterior design, the lawn front has a conservatory added and a variety of alternative ornaments. The materials are fixed - yellow London stock brick with Coade stone dressings - by this point. The entrance front has Coade stone figurative sculptures surmounting Ionic columns which are based on the Erechtheion Caryatids in Athens. Ptolemy Dean points out that the columned entrance front’s ‘effect was to convey a tremendous sense of scale in a relatively modest-sized building’. (p.93) The perspectives and designs for the entrance facade also show a variety of relief sculpture including the wreathed eagle relief and, on the later designs, Medici lion roundels.

Also of importance are the garden layout designs. In some designs a melon grove is mentioned along with kitchen gardens and a walnut tree (as well as many other labelled trees and plants etc). John Haverfield must have had an input in most of these designs, even if the hand is most often Soane.

Finally, there are also six surveys relating to the northern strip of land which Soane wished to purchase in order to regularise his land, dating from around August 1800 to May 1802.

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

Matilda Burn 2010
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