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Windsor, Berkshire: Windsor Castle: survey drawings, 1824 (15)


As a building with a more than 900-year history, the architecture of Windsor Castle is, naturally, very complex. It can best be understood by consulting Tyack, Bradley and Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Berkshire, pp. 616-95.

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 [1]-[3] appear to be Office of Works drawings given to Soane for him to make copies. These pre-date James Wyatt's alterations. Drawings [4] and [5] 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 [4] and [5] 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



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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)