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Reference number

SM 4/3/10


Designs for a house, 19 August 1788


Plan of the ground floor and elevation of the entrance front of design No 2; (verso) two ground floor plans of alternative designs; and rough part-plans


bar scale of 1/6 inch to 1 foot, approximately


John Lewis Iselin Esqr, Withdrawing Room / 20 feet by 17 feet, 5 feet / by / 5 feet, Closet / for great / coats / sticks &c, Eating Room / 20 feet / 24'7"½ long, Mr Iselin's Dressing / Room, Wardrobe (twice), Arcade, 4'6", Kitchen / 20'9" by 15'6", Cleaning Shoes / &c / 7'9" by 5'6", Scullery / 8' by 6', Pantry / 8 feet by 6 feet; (verso) Coals, Scull[er]y (pencil) Laundry / over / Office, D, AA, Scullery, lower, AA, dimensions and calculations in pen and pencil

Signed and dated

  • Copy Welbeck Street Augst 19 1788 (verso) Sepr 29 1790

Medium and dimensions

Pen and grey and black washes, pencil, on laid paper (464 x 591)


Soane office and Soane


J Whatman and fleur-de-lis over cartouche with W below


Soane's office made drawings for Hethersett in August 1788. Soane visited the house in Norfolk at the end of the month, taking with him drawings for three different designs, with each sheet including a plan and elevation as in this drawing. Two days later, on 28 August, Soane went to Hethersett to examine the site. On 20 November he sent drawings for another design (Journal No 1). This was the last design and presumably the one chosen. Soane charged Iselin £26 5s 0d (Ledger C fol. 287). It unknown whether the house was built. It was probably intended as a speculative property, as Iselin invested in various properties in Hethersett during the 1780s and 90s.

John Luke Iselin (c.1746-1816) was a prosperous woolstapler in Norwich, where he worked in a business partnership with Soane's good friend and early patron John Patteson. Soane worked for Iselin in the 1780s, supplying furniture and then altering the firm's warehouse on Cloak Lane, Norwich in January 1782 (G. Darley). Aside from his business in wool and textiles, Iselin also invested in property in the nearby village of Hethersett. He acquired land in 1785 and a cottage in 1791, and he also built a speculative property called Hethersett Hall. This design for a small house was probably intended as a speculative property rather than the client's residence.
The present drawing is design 'No 2' of the three proposed designs shown to the client in August 1788. The drawing shows a house three bays by three storeys, the ground floor having a central staircase and entrance vestibule between two principal rooms. In its arrangement this design 'No 2' resembles Soane's design for Hockerill, a timber house built for Ralph Winter in 1786 (q.v.). As in Hockerill, a large eating room is to the right of the entrance hall and a drawing room is to the left and adjoining rear-facing rooms behind. At Hethersett, a dressing room and closets fit in behind the drawing room (in place of the dairy and store at Hockerill). Also as in Hockerill, a two-storey office range is attached to the rear via a covered passage.

The verso has alternative plans for an office wing of an existing house. The house has an asymmetrical three-bay front elevation. An aedicule is added, as a proposal no doubt, in pencil. According to the pencil inscriptions, the right-hand range is occupied by a room measuring 18 feet 6 inches wide; the left-hand room is 15 feet 6 inches. What resembles a spine corridor fits behind these principal rooms and separates the front and back of the building. The rear elevation has two projecting ranges linked in the centre by a covered passage; these rooms are presumably the former offices, which Soane proposes relocating to the new wing attached at one end. His rough pencil part-plans show alternative arrangements for the transition between old and new wing, labelled 'AA' on the plan.

Iselin was a native of Basel, Switzerland who came to England in the 1770s and applied for naturalisation in 1772. A black marble monument to him is stands at the local Hethersett church of St. Regimius.


T. Campbell, et al. New Monthly Magazine, vol. 5, 1816, p. 83; 'Hethersett Web' community website, www.hethersett.org.uk, accessed November 2011; Hethersett archive catalogue online, reference HA/A/1/7, http://www.hethersettarchive.org.uk, accessed November 2011; Evans-Lombe collection, Norfolk record office; G. Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic, 1999, pp. 47, 68.



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