- Sir John Soane office drawings: the drawings of Sir John Soane and the office of Sir John Soane
George IV inherited Windsor Castle on his father's death in 1820. Several improvements had been made for George III by James Wyatt in 1800-14 but his alterations quickly fell out of fashion. Further repairs were carried out by Robert Smirke until the King deemed that more substantial alterations were necessary. Soane was summoned by Sir Charles Long, George IV's adviser on the arts, to discuss these improvements on 23 November 1823. Soon after the decision was made to hold a competition, for which Long drew up lengthy guidelines on the nature and the character of the work to be undertaken. Soane and Smirke were invited to submit designs, together with John Nash and Jeffry Wyatt. Although several survey drawings were made for Soane between 5 January and 10 February 1824, he does not appear to have submitted any designs - perhaps, as suggested by M. H. Port, he was too preoccupied with the rebuilding of the Royal Entrance to the House of Lords and the ongoing argument over the style of the Westminster Law Courts (King's Works, VI, p. 384). The competition was won by Wyatt (who subsequently became 'Wyattville'). The drawings catalogued here, therefore, provide an important record of the Castle prior to the alterations carried out by George IV.
Drawings - appear to be Office of Works drawings given to Soane for him to make copies. These pre-date James Wyatt's alterations. Drawings  and  are copies of two of these. The rest, also potentially copies, were made in Soane's Office. The Soane Office Day Books record drawings for Windsor Castle being made by David Mocatta and Stephen Burchell. It is unclear why, then, drawings  and  are signed by Charles James Richardson, who did not in fact become a pupil of Soane until February 1824. Similarly the inscription of 'Bank of England' at the bottom of several of the drawings is unexplained.
M. H. Port, 'Windsor Castle and Lodges', in J. M. Crook and M. H. Port (eds), The History of the King's Works, VI, 1973, pp. 373-84; G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Berkshire, 2010, pp. 616-75.
Tom Drysdale, February 2015
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Windsor, Berkshire: Windsor Castle: survey drawings, 1824 (15)
-  Survey of the ground floor of the Upper Ward, c.1790
-  Survey of the principal floor of part of the north range, c.1790
-  Survey of the attic floor of part of the north range, c. 1790
-  Survey of the ground floor of the Upper Ward (copy), 1824
-  Survey of the principal floor of the Upper Ward (copy), 5 January 1824
-  Survey of the Vice Chamberlain's Apartments, 29 January 1824
-  Survey of Horn Court, 30 January 1824
-  Survey of an unidentified elevation, 30 January 1824
-  Surveys of the Devil's Tower (Edward III Tower), 31 January 1824
-  Survey of St George's Hall, 2 February 1824
-  Survey of part of the ground floor of the east range, 4 February 1824
-  Survey of part of the principal floor of the east range, 4 February 1824
-  Survey of the ground floor of the buildings surrounding Brick Court, 6 February 1824
-  Survey of the principal floor of the north range, 9 February 1824
-  Survey of Horn Court and the Middle Undercroft, 10 February 1824