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Surveys of Bentley Priory and surrounding properties, 1788 (3)


Soane sent John Sanders (pupil 1784-1790) and Robert Woodgate (clerk 1788-1791) to the newly-acquired property on 28 August 1788 to make surveys of the house. The pupil and clerk drew up the the plans from 29 August to 1 September.

The existing house is a modest five-bay Georgian building. Symmetrical curved screen walls, one concealing an office wing, are positioned to either side of the north entrance front. Soane's pencil amendments to drawing 2 show alterations to the offices. The rooms of the house, with their dimensions, are noted in feint pencil on the drawing. A list in the upper right-hand corner of the sheet on drawing 2 notes prices of building materials, including lime, sand, scaffolding and slab.

Drawing 3 includes preliminary rough designs for the additions, shown in feint pencil on the front elevation and attic plan. Already Soane determines that the new building will be 3 feet 6 inches taller than the existing structure. Preliminary pencil alterations to the plan show a staircase added on the east side of the house (as in later designs, drawings 10 and 13), with the room to its south enlarged and a closet added.



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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.

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Contents of Surveys of Bentley Priory and surrounding properties, 1788 (3)