9. 'Downhill' 1780-1, (SM volume 80) no photos for 22e-24v and 47v-42v - is this intentional?
Downhill (and other subjects including Castle Eden) note/sketchbook with rough list of builders' work and some sketch designs, 1780-1 Label on front cover inscribed DOWNHILL / 1780 / SAT. JULY 27 TO / SEPT.2 (by an early curator) with 47 leaves (ff.25-41 are blank) of laid paper watermarked Honig (cut) . Stitched into stout, buff coloured, paper covers (183 x 118). The medium is pen except where pencil is stated. The leaves were numbered 1-47 by a recent curator.
The note/sketchbook includes: a design for a compact four-part casino or villa (f.4); some details relating to Castle Eden, Co. Durham (ff.19 verso - 20 verso, dated 6 October 1780); it was later used from the other end for lists of things to do, addresses, costs and expenses (f.47 verso - f.42 verso, dated 1 December 1780 to 2 May 1781). The most important entries are those for Downhill in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland (ff.1-18 verso, f.24). These relate to Soane's design proposals, the poor planning and bad workmanship found at Downhill and the falling out between client and architect. Soane had met Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and (from 22 December 1779) 4th Earl of Bristol in Italy and was persuaded to cut short his tour abroad and go to Downhill. Soane arrived there on 27 July 1780 and the first site meeting seems to have been on 2 August when the Earl-Bishop outlined his proposals for a new entrance to the north through a colonnade. Soane objected on the grounds of expense and the unsuitability of passing through two courtyards, one of them a stable yard. There were discussions on 6 and 7 August that included Soane’s proposal for an entrance on the south front to which the Earl-Bishop objected. A week later, agreement was given for an entrance to be made on the south front and for a re-arrangement of a bedroom. On the morning of 14 August, Soane wrote out his ‘observations’ on various practical problems and their solutions including smoky chimneys, lack of water closets and of fresh water, sound-proofing and defective joinery. These were shown to the Earl-Bishop in the evening who agreed to Soane’s proposals except that concerned with the smoky chimneys. Away in Armagh from 18 to 23 August ‘to see about Joiners’, on his return Soane ‘prepare[d] sketches &c’ that included a proposal for a west gallery 60 feet long (f.11) and an alternative 36 by 24 foot room in a new west wing (ff. 11verso, 12). Soane listed the remedial works needed: the south and other fronts to be rendered, stables roughcast, new steps to the south front, all the doors, windows and shutters to be re-fitted, new shelves, soundproofing, and new dressing rooms. Soane and his patron met on the evening of 28 August and Soane presented a plan in which the stable courtyard was sacrificed for a new gallery-library to the west, a new entrance was made in the east front, a new brewhouse was added and other offices enlarged. However, the Earl-Bishop changed Soane’s 36 by 24 foot room into a 40 by 20 gallery to which Soane objected as he did to the idea of columns fronting the house, countering with his own proposal – which was ‘approved’. But the next day (29 August) ‘every thing entirely changed’. The last entries were concerned with Soane’s projected route from Downhill to London via Northumberland and County Durham and with his initial travel expenses – he left on 2 September. Later, Soane calculated his total Downhill expenses at £400 of which only £50 was received. The chilly response to a letter addressed to Lady Bristol, was ‘I could do nothing for you and his [the Earl-Bishop's] only answer was you had dismissed yourself from his service and protection’ (SM Correspondence II/XIII, part 1, B(5), item 1).
Except for the east wing, Downhill was gutted by fire in 1851, rebuilt in 1876 and dismantled after 1918. It is now a gaunt ruin in a landscape park with a mausoleum and other buildings administered by the National Trust.
Literature. E.E.R.Green, ‘Downhill Castle, County Derry, Northern Ireland’, Country Life, CVII, 1950, pp.34-8; Brinsley Ford, ‘The Earl-Bishop’: an eccentric and capricious patron of the arts’, Apollo, new series volume 99, 1974, pp.426-434; P. Rankin, ‘Downhill, Co. Derry', Country Life, CL, 1971, pp.94-7, 154-7; P. du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.139-44; P. du Prey, ' Je n'oublieray jamais: John Soane and Downhill,' Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society, XXI, Nos 3 & 4, 1978, pp.17-40; P. du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.110-11, 114-118 See also (in Drawings catalogue): Soane's early works ...: Downhill, County Derry, Northern Ireland: Unexecuted designs for a summer dining room, and for alterations and additions, for Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol, 1778-80 (11) See also (in Drawings catalogue): Soane's early works...: Downhill, County Derry, Northern Ireland: unexecuted alternative designs for a doghouse for Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol, 1778-1835 or after (4) See also (in Drawings catalogue): Soane's early works ...: Downhill, County Derry, Northern Ireland: Preliminary design for a mausoleum for Lord George Hervey (died 1775) for Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol, 1779