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Albury Park, Guildford, Surrey: alterations and additions for Samuel Thornton, 1800-10 (61)

Albury Park was originally a Tudor, half-timbered house but it was almost rebuilt in the seventeenth century and the grounds were laid out by John Evelyn. In 1761 it hosted the coronation banquet of George III. Soane was commissioned to make alterations by Samuel Thornton (1754-1838), son of John Thornton and a Director of the Bank of England for 53 years (and Governor, 1799-1801) as well as a merchant. Soane's work from 1800 to 1803 included substantial alterations to the interior of the house and new outbuildings totalling £8,448.4.7, as well as works to the church and hot bath in 1808 and new stables in 1810 (£1,195.15.1). Thornton was eventually forced to sell Albury due to a combination of wartime trade difficulties and domestic bank failures. Samuel was the closest of the Thornton family to Soane and became one of the first trustees of his museum in 1833. Soane also undertook work for Samuel Thornton at 4 New Street, Westminster (survey), 22 St James's Square, Westminster (survey and alterations) and 6 Grafton Street, Westminster (alterations), as well as other members of the Thornton family including Moggerhanger and Everton, Bedfordshire.

The 61 drawings catalogued here include early designs for minor alterations and a bridge, followed by a substantial number of designs and working drawings for the new two-storey offices that were built as a separate block connected to the house by three link passages. The plan of the offices is unusual, being a square block with cut-off corners and two projecting, D-shaped extensions for the larder and dairy. Following these are further designs for more substantial alterations to the house, including the new library and staircase, and finally drawings for a Doric portico, a verandah, new stables and an unidentified building - possibly a coach house.

Albury Park was altered by Hakewill and then by Pugin from 1846 to 1852, and more recently has been converted into 11 luxury apartments by Michael Wilson Restorations. Soane's cantilevered staircase survives, as do two drawing rooms. According to John Harris, two Coade stone capitals in the gardens come from Soane's portico (Pevsner, p. 94).

Literature:
I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Surrey, 2nd ed., 1971, pp. 93-94; G. Darley, John Soane: An Accidental Romantic, 1999, pp. 177 & 214; P. Dean, Sir John Soane and the Country Estate, 1999, pp. 188-89; <www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-288274-albury-park- albury-surrey>

Tom Drysdale, February 2015
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