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  • image SM volume 9/65

Reference number

SM volume 9/65


Three study elevations on a single sheet, for the west (top) and east elevations of the church, above an incomplete elevation at the bottom, and with a faint pencil sketch for the capital and entablature at top left.




20 ft to 1 inch


Inscribed Hawksmoor in brown ink with dimensions in feet and inches, and with letters P, q, R and B in the central windows and bays of the middle elevation, and U in the right two lower windows of the upper elevation.

Signed and dated

  • c.1711

Medium and dimensions

Laid paper, pasted down in volume; 322 x 198


Nicholas Hawksmoor


No watermark visible


These are the earliest known designs for the new church of St Alphege (1712-26), which was the first designed and begun under the Commission for the Rebuilding of Fifty New Churches in London and Westminster, established in September 1711 as a direct consequence of the partial collapse of St Alphege in a storm in November 1710. They probably date soon after Hawksmoor was appointed a co-surveyor to the Commission (with William Dickinson) in October 1711 and given St Alphege as one of the churches to rebuild. The final design for execution was approved on 6 August 1712 (see Terry Friedman, The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 360-61 and 394-96).

The incomplete lower elevation on the sheet shows the column spacings of the 5-bay portico but sets a continuous entablature beneath a pediment, which is only marked faintly in pencil (its outer lines also indicated by dotted ink lines at right angles). This provides a 'temple-form' for the two elevations above.
The scheme for the west (entry) elevation at the top is modelled on Wren's upper transept fronts at St Paul's Cathedral, which Hawksmoor had worked on as a draughtsman from c.1685. The St Paul's transepts in turn were based on the transept fronts of Wren's Great Model (1673-74), the distinctive features of the latter being the broken lower entablature of the pediment within which an arch rises into the tympanum, and outward stepping the flanking bays, likewise carried into the tympanum.
The scheme for the east facade in the middle sets a window within the central bay of the portico and removes window openings from the outer bays. The triglyphs and metopes of the entablature are continued across both bays of the entablature on each side, whereas on the west elevation they are restricted to the outer bays. However, the window surrounds are now more simply treated, lacking keyblocks at lower level and triglyph apron dressings above. This elevation was drawn at double the scale in 2 (drawer 43/9/8).

An engraving by Jan Kip in 1714 shows that the east elevation was built with windows in the outer bays, dressed with architraves, key blocks and aprons, as in the upper elevations. The outer windows at the east end were removed at a later date.



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