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  • image SM volume 109/ 62 and 61 (verso)

Reference number

SM volume 109/ 62 and 61 (verso)


[5/1] Incomplete working drawing of the executed design, begun in June 1696, showing the upper mezzanine (second-floor) plan of the King Charles II Building and its base wing, and the plan of the Great Hall at a similar level


Plan, outlines only, with only some window openings indicated, and the central portion of the base wing not drawn in


20 feet to 1 inch


In pen and brown ink over graphite by Hawksmoor at top centre (right centre in volume), Fig. v., and with letters A to S on the rooms of the plan of the King Charles Building and base building, in ink, but with three letters, L and F and N also in graphite; and in graphite in C19 hand (possibly Tatham's), on plan of hall, ye Gt. Hall.; and at bottom below plan of north elevation, 2d. upper story of King Charles 2d. Buildings; and in C19 hand at top centre (right side in volume), 61. (upside down), and at right centre (bottom centre in volume), 62.

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable 1696

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with many divider prick-marks from the plan at ground-floor level; on laid paper, with central vertical fold (repaired at bottom, caused by folding into the volume), joined by Hawksmoor to a second sheet at the bottom (left side in volume), over which he pasted a third sheet on the new recto of the composite sheet. This sheet, SM vol. 109/61 recto, was used in 1705 for a preliminary plan for Blenheim Palace. See Designs for other buildings.../ Blenheim Palace [1/4]; 740 X 498 (trimmed to 470 on right half)




The verso of the sheet was reused for the right half of an elevational design of 1711 for a new south court and chapel (109/61)


Strasbourg Lily 4/WR; IHS / IVILLEDARY


This incomplete plan is our earliest evidence for the executed design. It is a revision of the plan approved by royal warrant on 29 April 1696 (NMM ART/4/1-8; Wren Society, VI, pls 2-9; Bold, Greenwich, figs 152-55). The plan is a preparatory drawing for an upper mezzanine floor that was inserted above the first floor in the conversion of the King Charles II Building between June 1696 and November 1699. This additional floor is at the level of the attic rooms of the end pavilions and the pediment of the main range, and is shown in its final executed form as 'The Mezzanine Floor' on a drawing of c.1728, [11/7].

The central section of the base wing is at roof level and is not fully drawn in. Unlike the corresponding warrant design plan (NMM ART/4/3), it shows the spine walls continued through the roof void The main changes from the warrant design were to the width of the base wing. The central range of the base wing has been widened from 38 to 42 feet, and the end pavilions from 42 to 45 feet. The windows of these pavilions are now more closely set, and their corner piers are broader, and lacking the projecting banded pilasters of the warrant design. The design is shown in a larger-scale cross-section at All Souls (G. 199). At mezzanine level in the King Charles II Building (now the Jerwood Library of Trinity College of Music), a partition wall has been added south side of the centre line; another is marked in pencil on the line of the inner wall of the north pavilion. The square corner projections in the inner angles of the courtyard elevation have been deleted at this level.

All these changes were made in the fabric itself, along with further changes to the positions of chimney breasts (see [11/7]). The plan is therefore unlikely to date long after the start of work in June 1696.The drawing has been extensively pricked through from the now lost plan of the building of ground-floor level. This crude transfer technique appears to confirm that the drawing belongs to an early stage in the working out of the detail of the design. The markings include square bases, each 3 feet wide, for two columns in front of the central door on the west side, a feature not known to have been built in this position. It is possible that a columned entry portal was intended in this position in 1696-97, but was abandoned when a grand portal was designed for the centre of the West Dormitory in late 1698 (see [6/1] and [6/3]).

The Great Hall in this plan is the same width as executed (63 feet) but is 10 feet longer (210 feet compared with 200 feet). The extra length places the colonnade 8-10 feet into the central avenue. The hall is also is set about 5 feet further north from the King Charles II Building than in the fabric (54 feet compared with 49 feet). These mistakes point to the provisional nature of the design of the upper courts when work began on the lower courts in 1696. They also explain the survival of this particular drawing. As a rejected sheet, it would been kept for re-use on its verso. The reverse of [5/1] (SM 109/62) was used in 1705 for a preliminary design for Blenheim Palace (SM 109/61; see Designs for other buildings.../ Blenheim Palace [1/4]).

The drawing provides firm evidence that the approved design for the King Charles II Court and its base wing was part of a three-block scheme, although at this stage the hall was not linked at its west end to the middle range, as in the engraved plan of 1699 and the block plan of 1698-99, [6/1]. This arrangement corresponds to that in Hawksmoor's early block plan in the Lambeth Palace Library (MS 933/99; Bold 2000, fig. 140), a drawing datable to the latter part of 1698. The square-plan structure at the east end of the hall was probably intended as the base for a dome.


Not in Wren Society



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