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  • image SM 54/6/12

Reference number

SM 54/6/12


[21] Design for the vault, St Peter's, Walworth, London, May 1823


Plan of the vault of the church. The exterior fenestration is lit by individual segmental light wells. There are four stepped entrances, each at the cardinal points on each side. The short side entrances lead to a vestibule and then to the vaults, whilst the side entrances lead into them directly. The vaults consist of a central nave flanked by aisles, and divided by columns. The plan has been divided into a grid pattern of 4 x 10 with letters on the sides demarcating some, but not all of the grid lines, and they are centred from the middle of each bay window. Broken lines denote the arrangement of the groined arches. To the bottom right of the sheet there is a faded pencil drawing, perhaps of some wooden ceiling work


bar scale of 1/5 inch to 1 foot


Newington Church / (St Peters Walworth) / Plan showing the Foundations &c. / Ma[cropped] / Water Closet / Rainwater / flue / Foundations of Steps to Vaults / Door / Drain to convey the water from the roof. and some dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • May 1823
    May 1823

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen, red pen, coloured washes of pink, blue and stone, pricked for transfer on wove paper (740 x 550)


Probably Mocatta, David Alfred (1806--1882), draughtsman
Soane Office Day Book for 15th May 1823 records both Mocatta and Burchell as drawing plans showing the foundations for Newington Church
Probably Stephen Burchell (1806 - c.1843), draughtsman
Office Day Book for 15th May 1823 records both Mocatta and Burchell as drawing plans showing the foundations for Newington Church




This remains the only surviving plan specifically for the vaults of St Peter's. The vaults would be used for burials, and although it is not explicitly stated on the plan, the coffins would be interred within the arches of the vaults. In a review of the church by E. J. Carlos in 1826, he praised the vaults as being 'occupied by spacious and well ventilated catacombs', and indeed, the inscription on the drawing refers to rainwater flues and drainage from the roof. This situation changed in 1857 due to the London Burial Act, when burials in churches were banned as being unhealthy. It is notable the enlarged site at St Peter's, when compared with Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone allowed Soane to construct two sets of steps to lead down into the vaults from each side of the church (e.g. SM 54/6/13; SM 54/6/16), whereas at Holy Trinity Church, a winch to lower coffins into the crypt had to be devised (see SM 54/4/29).


Carlos, 1896, p. 203
John, 2003, p. 84



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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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