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  • image SM volume 109/28

Reference number

SM volume 109/28


[12/2] Presentation design of the complete north elevation of Greenwich Hospital, c.1731, including elevation of the Queen's House with a modified front facade and a proposed new lodge at the east end of the north front




13 ½ feet to 1 inch


In graphite by Ripley, Hakewill [Hakwell ? Hakwill?] to Copy this Elevation beginning it near the end so as to get in / the whole of the Queens Lodge [it is not clear whether the first four words were struck through deliberately or not]; and with numbered scale bar; and in pen on left edge and pencil at top right, in C19 hand, 28

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable c.1731; amended 1734-35 (see Notes)

Medium and dimensions

Pen and grey ink over graphite under-drawing, with grey wash and black ink ruled border on laid paper, laid down, comprising two complete sheets and one part sheet (on left), pasted together and backed (in C19), the part sheet being itself in three sections, pasted together and partly overlapping the middle sheet (see Notes); two old tears along fold in centre of middle sheet. 1520 x 480.


Unidentified hand in office of Thomas Ripley, possibly that of 'Hakewill'


Both large sheets have Strasbourg Lily/4, and IV (cf Heawood 1830); no WM on part sheet


This complete north elevation relates to Thomas Ripley's decision in 1731 to remove the single turret that had been built over the central arched bay on the north front of King Charles Building in 1715-18, substituting 'ornaments' for it (Bold 2000, p. 157). The drawing was probably first prepared in 1731, when Ripley (appointed after Campbell's death in 1729) produced a set of proposals for completing the Hospital. It was amended later to include the proposal on the part-sheet attached on the left, which shows the elevation of a Palladian-style lodge at the north-east corner of the rear walled garden area of Queen Anne's Court. This scheme first appears on a complete ground-plan datable 1734-35, [12/6].

The new building on the left side is a five-bay Palladian villa with a rusticated podium, two main storeys and an attic surmounted by a balustrade. It is linked to the main building by a wall with ball finial decoration and a rusticated door. This wall continues on a projecting strip of paper that overlaps the main sheet to join neatly with the left edge of the Queen Anne Court base block.

Above the central arched bays of the two north ranges are groups of figures supporting globes: on the left, Neptune and Britannia with Atlas; on the right two female figures with Atlas. The elevations of the Hall and Chapel are shown with staircase platforms, with steps down each side. These staircase platforms are not shown consistently on drawings from the 1728-35 period. They appear in this form on [12/1], [12/8] and [12/24], and on a pre-1735 plan of Queen Mary's Court at the National Maritime Museum (Wren Society, pl. 30, bottom).

The Hakewill referred to in the pencilled note is a draughtsman. He may have been a forebear of George and Henry Hakewill (born 1771 and 1788), whose father was John Hakewill, a painter and decorator (see Colvin 2008). Ripley's authorship of the note is established from comparison with his hand on [12/9] (SM 109/12*; especially the upper-case 'E'). The drawing requested does not appear to survive. The next drawing, [12/3], is in the same hand as this one and shows the right side of the elevation, but does not include the Queen's House, as requested by Ripley.

Although many features on the drawing point to a date around 1731, the treatment of the colonnade suggests that the main part of the drawing could originate in the 1713-15 period. This has an additional set of columns in front of the entrance to the hall, and an upper order of columns above these, as in the front elevation of Greenwich Hospital published in Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus (vol. I, 1715, pp. 84-85).

A curious feature of the drawing is the positioning of the Queen's House too high in relation to the front elevation of the hall range (compare a half north elevation in the Courtauld Institute Collections, D.1961.XX.2.5, reprd. Wren Society, VI, p. 93, bottom, where the base of the terrace of the Queen's House is level with the ground in front of the hall). This hypothetical Queen's House has also had all its first-floor windows redesigned. All are now the same. The outer pairs of windows have balustraded stone balconies, like the central one, and the arched head of the central window has been changed to straight. The overall aim was to impose Palladian unformity on the entire north elevation facing the river.


Wren Society, VI, p. Wren Society, VI, pl. 42



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