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  • image Image 1 for SM volume 57/4
  • image Image 2 for SM volume 57/4
  • image Image 1 for SM volume 57/4
  • image Image 2 for SM volume 57/4

Reference number

SM volume 57/4


[5] Record drawing of a design for a doorcase, January 1787


Plan and elevation of a doorcase in a Greek Doric style


bar scale of 11/16 of an inch to 1 foot


no inscription

Signed and dated

  • datable to January 1787 (see Notes below)

Medium and dimensions

Pen, grey and sepia washes, shaded, on laid paper (365 x 281)


John McDonnell (pupil February 1786-91)




The opening of the doorcase is approximately three and a half feet. The total height of the pilasters is approximately eight and a half feet, of which the upper fluted part is five feet and the lower plain part is three and a half feet. This is closer to a half and half division than the traditional two-thirds one-third ratio.

The bill book for the period records the cost of ‘A key’d mitred and dovetailed pedestal on frontispiece with cover to do and molding round the same’ (SM Bill Book No 1 1786-88, p. 5), a description consistent with the pedestal on the doorcase in SM volume 57/4.

'Frontispiece' was by the eighteenth century a somewhat unusual and archaic way to refer to an external door. However the inscription 'A case of Lead' on SM voume 57/5 also infers that this was to be an external doorcase.

The record in the bill book implies that the doorcase was built, but it is not known which door the 'frontispiece' surrounded. Soane's bill books make no reference to external work to the principal side of the building, where it would be expected to find a 'frontispiece.' A topographical print of Nackington published in 1795 (British Library shelf-mark Ktop XVIII, 45; SM green box file Me-O, as attached) does show a simplified pedimented doorcase on the east front but it does not appear to correspond to that SM volume 57/4.


P. Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p.176



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).