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John Vardy (1717/18-65): Westminster, London: designs for the New Stone Building, c.1751 (12)


A new building to house the records of the Court of King's Bench first appears in one of Kent's designs for a new Parliament House [36/2/4]. The drawings catalogued here show the continuation of this idea and its development by John Vardy (1717/18-65), Clerk of the Works at Whitehall, Westminster and St James's Palaces, 1746-54. Vardy himself had drawn some of Kent's designs for the Parliament House. Originally proposed in 1739, then again in 1749, it was not until June 1751 that instructions were received from the Treasury to prepare plans for a new building. The drawings in Sir John Soane's Museum, consisting of originals by Vardy and copies by the Soane Office, show how the building was originally envisaged as being parallel to Westminster Hall but was later changed to better follow the line of St Margaret's Lane. A phased construction was proposed, beginning with the middle section (built 1755-60), to be followed by the southern part (built 1766-69; the south west pavilion and return were built 1768-70) and finally the northern block (built 1821, by Soane). The estimate for the entire building, which was to be faced in Portland stone, was £11,952. No original elevation drawings survive but later survey drawings by the Soane Office show a Palladian building with a projecting centre block with pediment, thermal and serlian windows. The 'New Stone Building' was eventually completed with the erection of the northern block by Soane when he was occupied with the Law Courts in the 1820s.

Tom Drysdale, January 2015



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

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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.

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Contents of John Vardy (1717/18-65): Westminster, London: designs for the New Stone Building, c.1751 (12)