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London: 12 Stratton Streeet, new house for Colonel Thomas Graham, later 1st Lord Lynedoch, 1797-8 (39)

Thomas Graham (1748-1843) lived a long and adventurous life. In 1793 he raised, in Perthshire, the first battalion of the 90th Regiment of Foot and as their lieutenant-colonel led them in Egypt, Malta, Canada and France. In 1814 Graham was made Baron Lynedoch of Balgowan and in 1821 became a full general. He was also Member of Parliament for Perthshire from 1794 to 1807 and it must have been convenient and pleasurable to walk to the House of Commons across Green Park and St James's Park from his London house in Stratton Street. On drawing [5] there is mention of an 'old wall' and this must date from 1684 when Stratton Street was 'laid out ... across the W strip of the gardens of old Berkeley House, predecessor of Devonshire House'. (S.Bradley and N. Pevsner, London 6: Westminster, 22203, p.576). On plan the house is 22 feet wide and 82 feet from front to back. The elevation is plain and varied little in execution though a bow was considered and then dropped. The layout varies from that shown in the plans and that becomes evident with the working drawings for the timbers that are inscribed '... to be reversed' so that, for example the principal stair is now on the left-hand side of the house instead of on the right and the back stair projection is on the right-hand side and not to the left. These changes become evident in the working drawings for the individual rooms. P.Dean ( SirJohn Soane and London, 2006, p.232) rightly comments that the drawings compose 'an unusually thorough set' though it is curious that the general plans as well as those for the timber structure were not re-drawn when 'reversed'. Dean also notes that this 'is a rare example of Soane building a completely new town-house'. The costs came to £3437.19.1½. The house was demolished c.1911.

See also Pitmurthly, Perthshire: working drawings for a farmhouse and out buildings for Colonel Graham, 1797-8 (by Soane). It is likely that Soane's connection with Colonel Graham was through the Scottish architect James Playfair (1755-94). After Playfair's early death, Soane bought some of his drawings and assisted his widow. Playfair had also carried out work for Graham at Pitmurthley.

Biographical information: www.historyofparliamentonline.org and en.Wikipedia.org

Jill Lever
January 2015
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