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Posts Tagged ‘John Soane’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Campbell 1st Baron Cawdor
1753 – 1 June 1821

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John Campbell

John Campbell 1st Baron Cawdor was the son of Pryse Campbell of Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, and Sarah (née Bacon). His siblings were Sarah, George, Alexander and Charles Campbell. He was sent to board at Eton College, Berkshire (1763–67). Afterwards he studied at Cambridge University (Clare College) (1772).

His father died in 1768, so when his grandfather died in 1777 John inherited Stackpole Court and his grandfather’s estates in Pembrokeshire and Nairn, and a mineral-producing estate in Cardiganshire; these lands and mines made him a rich man. From 1777 to 1780 he was Member of Parliament for Nairnshire. He became Member of Parliament for Cardigan Boroughs from a by-election in June 1780 until he stood down at the British general election, 1796. From 1780 he was Governor of Milford Haven.

Between 1783 and 1788 Campbell visited Italy and Sicily, where he bought antiquities from Fr. John Thorpe, Henry Tresham, James Durno and Thomas Jenkins, commissioned paintings of archaeological sites in Naples and Sicily from Xavier della Gatta, Tito Lusieri, Henry Tresham and Louis Ducros, and bought sculptures from the young Canova. In 1788 Campbell bought from Giovanni Volpato the celebrated Lante Vase [now at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire]. He also began a collection of ‘Etruscan’ (i.e. ancient Greek) vases from Nola and other southern Italian sites, and had further examples sent to him after his return to Britain, including the ‘Campbell Crater’ excavated at Lecce in 1790. He also continued to acquire architectural and sculptural fragments and casts.

Campbell established a Museum in his house in Oxford Street, London, which had an art-historical rather than decorative intention, and was hailed by the sculptor, John Flaxman, as ‘excellent news for the arts’.

In 1789 on 28 July John Campbell married Isabella Caroline Howard – daughter of Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle and Margaret Caroline Leveson-Gower. They had two children:

  • John Frederick Campbell, 1st Earl Cawdor (1790–1860), married Elizabeth Thynne, daughter of 2nd marquis of Bath
  • Rear-Admiral Hon. George Pryse Campbell (1793–12 August 1858), married on 13 October 1821 Charlotte Gascoyne, daughter of Isaac Gascoyne.

In 1794 Campbell became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1795 a Fellow of the Royal Society.

As a Parliamentarian, Campbell was at first a Whig and a supporter of Lord North. In debates on the North Atlantic slave trade he supported the abolitionists. He became a supporter of the younger Pitt’s war policy. On 21 June 1796 Campbell was made a peer with the title of ‘Baron Cawdor’ of Castlemartin in the County of Pembroke. As a landowner he was an active improver – draining the Castlemartin Corse and creating Bosherton lakes. His generosity to the poor was proverbial.

In 1797 he was the commander of the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, who defeated Napoleon’s troops in the Last invasion of Britain.

In 1800 Campbell sold the contents of his Museum. Several items were sold to the architect, Sir John Soane.

In 1804 Campbell added to his extensive land-holdings by inheriting John Vaughan’s estates at Golden Grove, Carmarthenshire. In 1808 he was mayor of Carmarthen.

Campbell died on 1 June 1821, at Bath. He is buried at Bath Abbey.

A portrait of John Campbell was made by Joshua Reynolds; a miniature of him by Richard Cosway is in the National Galleries of Scotland.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Dance the Younger
1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852

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George Dance

George Dance the Younger was the son of the architect George Dance the elder married Elizabeth Gould in 1719. Their fifth son, George, was born 1 April 1741 at the family home in Chiswell Street, London and was educated at St Paul’s School.

Dance spent the six years between 1759 and 1765 studying architecture and draughtsmanship in Rome. Aged 17, he set off on his Grand Tour, sailing from Gravesend, Kent in December 1758. After a short stay in Florence, where he was joined by his brother Nathaniel, who was already studying painting in Italy, he and his brother set off for Rome, arriving in early May 1759. By the early 1760s the brothers were living at 77 Strada Felice. At Rome, Dance was acquainted with the architect, James Adam, who was staying nearby at the Casa Guarini, Robert Mylne (they remained lifelong friends), Abbot Peter Grant and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

As a student of the Accademia di San Luca, Dance measured and drew several buildings in Rome, including the three remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Constantine and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, showing much promise as a draughtsman. Much of his later work was inspired by Piranesi. In late 1759 Dance received his first commission – to design two chimneypieces for Sir Robert Mainwaring. In early 1762 Dance was measuring and drawing the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli and later that year he entered a competition organised by the Accademia di Parma to design A Public Gallery for Statues, Pictures & c.. His drawings were dispatched to Parma in April 1763, and a few weeks later it was announced that he had won the Gold Medal, and his designs were exhibited at the Ducal Palace. The projected building was in the latest style of neoclassical architecture.

During June 1764 the Dance brothers were in Naples, but later that year they were back in Rome, entertaining the actor David Garrick and his wife. On the 21 December 1764 George Dance and his brother were elected to the Accademia di S. Luca, where he was described as Giorgo Danze, architetto Inglese. On the 16 February 1765 Dance dined with the painter Angelica Kauffman and James Boswell who was visiting Rome. A few weeks later the brothers left Rome to return to London.

On his return from the Grand Tour, George (the younger) joined his father’s office. His earliest London project was the rebuilding of All Hallows-on-the-Wall Church. He was one of five architects asked to submit designs, and his design was chosen on 8 May 1765. Work on the building starting in June 1765, at a cost of £2,941, and the building was consecrated on the 8 September 1767.

In 1768, when he was only 27, George succeeded as Architect and Surveyor to the Corporation of London on his father’s death. His first major public works were the rebuilding of Newgate Prison in 1770 and building the front of the Guildhall, London. Other London works of his include the rebuilding of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less (1793), a former chapel within the precincts of Barts Hospital.

At Bath, Somerset he largely designed the Theatre Royal, built by John Palmer in 1804-5.
Coleorton Hall was one of his few buildings in the Gothic style.

Many of Dance’s buildings have been demolished, including the Royal College of Surgeons, Newgate Prison, St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics, the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, the library at Lansdowne House, the Common Council Chamber and Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall, Ashburnham Place, and Stratton Park (demolished save for its Tuscan portico). Dance retired from practice in 1815.

With his brother Nathaniel, George Dance was a founder member of the Royal Academy, founded on 10 December 1768. In 1795, with William Tyler, Dance was appointed to examine the accounts of the Royal Academy following the resignation of Sir William Chambers, and in 1796 they became the Academy’s first auditors, helping put the institution on a sounder financial footing.

In 1798 Dance succeeded Thomas Sandby as professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, but as he failed to deliver a single lecture he was dismissed in 1805 and replaced by his former pupil, Sir John Soane. For a number of years he was the last survivor of the 40 original Royal Academicians.

Dance’s years after 1798 were devoted to art rather than architecture. His Academy contributions consisted of highly finished pencil profile portraits of his friends in Regency London’s artistic establishment. 72 etchings were engraved after them by William Daniell and A Collection of Portraits were published over ten years from 1804. Many are now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Dance married Mary Gurnell on the 24 March 1772 at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. Their first child, Thomas, was born in Autumn 1773. Two more sons followed: George and Charles Webb. Mary Dance died at the age of 38.

Dance suffered from ill health for the last three or four years of his life. He died on 14 January 1825, at No. 91 Gower Street. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Soane
1790–12 July 1860

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George Soane

George Soane was the younger son of John Soane, he was born in London. He graduated B.A. from Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1811. Shortly afterwards he married Agnes Boaden, against his parents’ wishes. His writing career was not enough to earn a living. Soane fell into debt, and was imprisoned. In 1814 he was editing the Theatrical Inquisitor, but also served time for fraud. He gave evidence on the King’s Bench Prison, from his experience of it, to a committee of enquiry in 1815.

In The Champion during September 1815 Soane attacked his father’s reputation as an architect, in two anonymous articles. His mother died shortly afterwards. These pieces led to a family rupture, and indirectly to the foundation of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane attempted to block the private Act of Parliament of 1833 that set up the museum’s endowment. The matter was debated in the House of Commons for an hour, with William Cobbett putting Soane’s side of the argument, that he would be deprived of a rightful inheritance. Joseph Hume spoke in favour of the act, which was passed.

Soane died on 12 July 1860.

Soane became known as an author of melodramas.

  • The Bohemian: a Tragedy, London, 1817.
  • The Falls of Clyde: a Melodrama, London, 1817.
  • The Inn-Keeper’s Daughter, Drury Lane, 1817.
  • Self-Sacrifice: a Melodrama, London, 1819.
  • The Dwarf of Naples: a Tragi-comedy, London, 1819.
  • The Hebrew: a Drama, London, 1820.
  • Pride shall have a Fall: a Comedy, London, 1824.
  • Faustus, or the Demon of Drachenfels, London, 1825.
  • Aladdin: a Fairy Opera, London, 1826.
  • The Night Dancers: an Opera, London, 1846.
  • The Island of Calypso: an Operatic Masque, London, 1850.

Soane’s other works included:

  • Knight Damon and a Robber Chief, London, 1812.
  • The Eve of St. Marco: a Novel, London, 1813.
  • The Peasant of Lucerne, London, 1815.
  • Specimens of German Romance, London, 1826.
  • The Frolics of Puck, London, 1834.
  • Life of the Duke of Wellington, London, 1839–40.
  • The Last Ball and other Tales, Woking, 1843.
  • January Eve: a Tale, London, 1847.
  • New Curiosities of Literature, London, 1847.

Soane also made translations from French, German, and Italian. He translated Undine into English in 1818, and there was a stage version by 1821. He supplied letterpress in 1820, translating some extracts of Goethe’s German, when the illustrations by Moritz Retzsch to Faust I were published in London (plates copied by Henry Moses).

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Robert Furze Brettingham
1750–1806

Robert Furze Brettingham like his uncle he spent a part of his early life in Italy, from where he returned in 1781. Brettingham’s subsequent works, and the drawings which he exhibited on his return at the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, showed that he did not neglect his opportunities for study in Italy. Among them may be noted in 1783 a drawing of a sepulchral chapel from the Villa Medici at Rome, in 1790 the design for a bridge which he had erected in the preceding year at Benham Place, in Berkshire, and the entrance porch of the church at Saffron Walden restored by him in 1792.

In 1773 he published another edition of his uncle’s Plans, &c. of Holkham, also, like it, in atlas folio, “to which are added the ceilings and chimney-pieces, and also a descriptive account of the statues, pictures, and drawings, not in the former edition.” Descriptive Account Brettingham wrote the descriptive account; as in the original edition, the plans are ascribed to Matthew Brettingham, and William Kent is ignored.

The sudden death in 1790 of the prison architect William Blackburn, provided the great opportunity of Brettingham’s life, and he soon gained a lucrative practice. Blackburn left many designs incomplete, several of which Brettingham subsequently carried into execution. He erected gaols at Reading, Hertford, Poole, Downpatrick, Northampton, and elsewhere.

In 1771 his name appears associated with those of the leading architects of the time in the foundation of the Architects’ Club, which met to dine at the Thatched House Tavern on the first Thursday each month. Other original members of this club included Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam, John Soane, James Wyatt, and Samuel Pepys Cockerell. About this time Brettingham also held the post of resident clerk in the Board of Works, which he resigned in 1805.

His works for private patrons include the “Temple of Concord” in the grounds of Audley End House, a rectangular Corinthian imitation ruin built for Sir John Griffin in 1790 to celebrate George III’s recovery from insanity, and a mausoleum in Scotland for the Fraser family. He also carried out work at Winchester House, St. James’s Square, erected originally for the Duke of Leeds; 9 Berkeley Square, afterwards sold to the Marquis of Buckingham; Buckingham House, 91 Pall Mall, rebuilt in 1794 by Sir John Soane; Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square; 80 Piccadilly, for Sir Francis Burdett; Charlton, Wiltshire, for the Earl of Suffolk; Waldersham, Kent, for the Earl of Guilford; Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, for the Hon. W. Wyndham; Longleat, Wiltshire; and Roehampton, Surrey, and Hillsborough House in Ireland, both for the Marquess of Downshire. Brettingham was held in much regard by his professional brethren, and was the esteemed master of many who later attained eminence in the architectural profession. The exact date of his death is not known.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Sandby
1721 – 25 June 1798

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Thomas Sandby

Sandby was born in Nottingham, the son of Thomas Sandby, a textile worker, and was self-taught as a draughtsman and architect. Paul Sandby was his brother.

According to architect James Gandon’s autobiography, Thomas and his brother Paul ran a drawing academy in Nottingham before they came up to London in 1741, in order to take up employment in the military drawing department at the Tower of London (a post procured for them by John Plumptre, MP for Nottingham). Another source says that Thomas initially came to London for the purpose of having one of his pictures – a view of Nottingham – engraved.

In 1743 Sandby was appointed private secretary and draughtsman to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and accompanied him in his campaigns in Flanders and Scotland (1743–1748). Sandby was at the battle of Dettingen in 1743. Pasquin says that he was appointed draughtsman to the chief engineer of Scotland, in which capacity he was at Fort William in the highlands when the Young Pretender landed, and was the first person to convey intelligence of the event to the government in 1745.

Sandby accompanied the Duke of Cumberland in his expeditions against the rebels, and made a sketch of the battle of Culloden, together with three panoramic views of Fort Augustus and the surrounding scenery, showing the encampments, in 1746, and a drawing of the triumphal arch erected in St. James’s Park to commemorate the victories. In this year the Duke was appointed ranger of Windsor Great Park, and selected Sandby to be deputy ranger; but Sandby again accompanied the duke to the Netherlands during the War of the Austrian Succession, and probably remained there till the conclusion of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in October 1748. He drew four views of the camps in the Low Countries, covering extensive tracts of country, and another inscribed ‘Abbaye près de Sarlouis’.

Sandby continued to draw a salary from the Board of Ordnance, and this, together with his appointment as deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park, which he held till his death, placed Sandby in a position of independence, and afforded scope for his talent both as an artist and as an architect. The Great Lodge (now known as Cumberland Lodge) was enlarged under his supervision as a residence for the Duke. The lower lodge was occupied by himself. His time was now principally spent in extensive alterations of the park, and in the formation of the Virginia Water Lake, in which he was assisted by his younger brother, Paul, who came to live with him. In 1754, Thomas made 8 drawings of the lake which were engraved on copper by Paul Sandby and other engravers and dedicated to the Duke of Cumberland. They were republished by John Boydell in 1772. George III, who took great interest in the undertaking, honoured Sandby with his confidence and personal friendship, and on the death of the Duke of Cumberland, in 1765, the king’s brother, Henry Frederick (also Duke of Cumberland, and ranger of the park), retained Sandby as deputy.

Although devoted to his work at Windsor and preferring a retired life, it was Sandby’s custom to spend a portion of each year in London. He rented a house in Great Marlborough Street from 1760 to 1766. He was on the committee of the St. Martin’s Lane Academy, which issued a pamphlet in 1755 proposing the formation of an academy of art, and he exhibited drawings at the Society of Artists’ exhibition in 1767, and afterwards for some years at the Royal Academy. Both he and his brother Paul were among the twenty-eight of the original members of the Royal Academy who were nominated by George III in 1768. He was elected the first professor of architecture to the academy, and delivered the first of a series of six lectures in that capacity on 8 October 1770. He continued these lectures with alterations and additions annually till his death. They were never published, but the manuscripts were held in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The illustrations were sold with his other drawings after his death.

In February 1769 he entered a competition to design the Royal Exchange at Dublin, winning third prize of 40 pounds. Perhaps Sandby’s most notable architectural commission was the design of the (first) Freemason’s Hall at Great Queen Street in central London, linking two houses purchased by the United Grand Lodge of England (the Hall was extended in the 1820s by Sir John Soane, but was demolished in 1930 after suffering irreparable structural damage in a fire in 1883). The building was opened with great ceremony on 23 May 1776, when the title of ‘Grand Architect’ was conferred on him by the Freemasons.

Sandby designed a carved oak altar-screen for St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a stone bridge over the Thames at Staines, opened in 1796, but removed a few years afterwards on account of its insecurity. He built several houses in the neighbourhood of Windsor, including St Leonard’s Hill for the Duchess of Gloucester, and one for a Colonel Deacon, later known as “Holly Grove”. Designs exist for many others of his architectural works which cannot now be identified. In 1777 he was appointed, jointly with James Adam, architect of his majesty’s works, and in 1780 master-carpenter of the his majesty’s works in England.

Sandby died at the deputy ranger’s lodge in Windsor Park on Monday, 25 June 1798. He was buried in the churchyard of Old Windsor.

Sandby was twice married. The name of his first wife is stated to have been Schultz. His second wife was Elizabeth Venables, to whom he was married in 1753. She had a dowry of 2,000 pounds, and bore him ten children, six of whom (five daughters and one son) survived him. In his will, and in some simple verses addressed to his daughters after their mother’s death, he named only 4 daughters, Harriott, Charlotte, Maria, and Ann, omitting his eldest girl, Elizabeth, who was twice married, and is said to have died about 1809. His daughter Harriott married (1786) Thomas Paul, the second son of his brother Paul, and kept house for her father after her mother’s death.

Though he was self-educated as an architect, and left few buildings by which his capacity can be tested, the hall of the freemasons shows no ordinary taste, while of his skill as an engineer and landscape-gardener Windsor Great Park and Virginia Water are a permanent record. He was an excellent and versatile draughtsman, and so skilful in the use of watercolour that his name deserves to be associated with that of his brother Paul in the history of that branch of art.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Soane
10 September 1753 – 20 January 1837

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John Soane

Soane was born in Goring-on-Thames on 10 September 1753. He was the second surviving son of John Soan and his wife Martha. The ‘e’ was added to the surname by the architect in 1784 on his marriage. His father was a builder or bricklayer, and died when Soane was fourteen in April 1768. He was educated in nearby Reading in a private school run by William Baker. After his father’s death Soane’s family moved to nearby Chertsey to live with Soane’s brother William, 12 years his elder. William was also a bricklayer. His brother introduced Soane to James Peacock, a surveyor who worked with George Dance the Younger. Soane began his training as an architect age 15 under George Dance the Younger and joining the architect at his home and office in the City of London at the corner of Moorfields and Chiswell Street. Dance was a founding member of the Royal Academy and doubtless encouraged Soane to join the schools there on 25 October 1771 as they were free. There he would have attended the architecture lectures delivered by Thomas Sandby and the lectures on perspective delivered by Samuel Wale. Soane would have had access to the library at the Royal Academy.

Dance’s growing family was probably the reason that in 1772 Soane continued his education by joining the household and office of Henry Holland. He recalled later that he was ‘placed in the office of an eminent builder in extensive practice where I had every opportunity of surveying the progress of building in all its different varieties, and of attaining the knowledge of measuring and valuing artificers’ work’. During his studies at the Royal Academy, he was awarded the Academy’s silver medal on 10 December 1772 for a measured drawing of the facade of the Banqueting House, Whitehall, which was followed by the gold medal on 10 December 1776 for his design of a Triumphal Bridge. He received a travelling scholarship in December 1777. In 1777 he exhibited at the Royal Academy a design for a Mausoleum for his friend and fellow student James King, who had drowned in 1776 on a boating trip to Greenwich. Soane, a non-swimmer, was going to be with the party but decided to stay home and work on his design for a Triumphal Bridge. By 1777 Soane was living in his own accommodation in Hamilton Street. In 1778 he published his first book Designs in Architecture. He sought advice from Sir William Chambers on what to study: ‘Always see with your own eyes…[you] must discover their true beauties, and the secrets by which they are produced’. Using his travelling scholarship of £60 per annum for three years, plus an additional £30 travelling expenses for each leg of the journey. Soane set sail on his Grand Tour, his ultimate destination being Rome, at 5:00 a.m. 18 March 1778.

His travelling companion was Robert Furze Brettingham, they travelled via Paris, where they visited Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, they went onto the Palace of Versailles on 29 March. They finally reached Rome on 2 May 1778. Soane wrote home ‘my attention is entirely taken up in the seeing and examining the numerous and inestimable remains of Antiquity…’. Soane’s first dated drawing is 21 May of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura. Soane’s former classmate, the architect Thomas Hardwick returned to Rome in June from Naples. He and Soane would produced a series of measured drawings and ground plans of Roman buildings together. During the summer they visited Hadrian’s Villa and the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli, back in Rome they investigated the Colosseum. In August Soane was working on a design for a British Senate House to be submitted for the 1779 Royal Academy summer exhibition.

In the autumn he met the builder and Bishop of Derry, Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol. The Earl presented copies of I quattro libri dell’architettura and De architectura to Soane. In December the Earl introduced Soane to Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford this would lead eventually to architectural commissions. The Earl persuaded Soane to accompany him to Naples setting off from Rome on 22 December 1778. On the way they visited Capua and the Palace of Caserta arriving in Naples on 29 December. It was in Naples that Soane met two future clients, John Patteson and Richard Bosanquet. From Naples Soane made several excursions including: Pozzuoli, Cumae, Pompeii where he met yet another future client Philip Yorke. Soane also attended a performance at Teatro di San Carlo and climbed Mount Vesuvius. Visiting Paestum, Soane was deeply impressed by the Greek temples. Next he visited the Certosa di Padula, then on to Eboli and Salerno and its cathedral. Later they visited Benevento and Herculaneum. The Earl and Soane left for Rome on 12 March 1779, travelling via Capua; Gaeta; the Pontine Marshes; Velletri; Alban Hills and Lake Albano; Castel Gandolfo. Back in Rome they visited the Palazzo Barberini, and witnessed the celebrations of Holy Week. Shortly after the Earl and his family departed for home, followed a few weeks later by Thomas Hardwick.

It was now that Soane met Maria Hadfield (they became lifelong friends) and Thomas Banks, Soane was now fairly fluent in the Italian language. Signs of his growing confidence. It was now that a party of British men, Thomas Bowdler, Rowland Burdon, John Patteson, John Stuart and Henry Grewold Lewis, decided to visit Sicily and paid for Soane to accompany them as a draughtsman. The party headed for Naples on 11 April, where on 21 April they caught a Swedish ship to Palermo. Soane visited the Villa Palagonia, which made a deep impact on him. Influenced by the account of the Villa in his copy of Patrick Brydone’s Tour through Sicily and Malta, Soane savoured the ‘Prince of Palagonia’s Monsters… nothing more than the most extravagant caricatures in stone’ but more significantly seems to have been inspired by the Hall of Mirrors to introduce similar effects when he came to design the interiors of his own house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Leaving Palermo from where the party split, Stuart and Bowdler going off together. The rest headed for Segesta, Trapani, Selinunte and Agrigento, exposing Soane to Ancient Greek architecture. From Agrigento the party headed for Licata, where they sailed for Malta and Valletta returning on 2 June, to Syracuse, Sicily. Moving on to Catania and Palazzo Biscari then Mount Etna, Taormina, Messina and the Lepari Islands. They were back in Naples by 2 July where Soane purchased books and prints, visiting Sorrento before returning to Rome. Shortly after John Patterson returned to England via Vienna, from where he sent Soane the first six volumes of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, delivered by Antonio Salieri.

In Rome Soane’s circle now included Henry Tresham, Thomas Jones (artist) and Nathaniel Marchant. Soane continued to study the buildings of Rome, including the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Soane and Rowland Burdon set out in August for Lombardy. Their journey include visits to Ancona, Rimini, Bologna, Parma and its Accademia, Milan, Verona, Vicenza and its buildings by Andrea Palladio, Padua, the Brenta (river) with its villas by Palladio, Venice. Then back to Bologna where Soane copied designs for completing the west front of San Petronio Basilica including ones by Palladio, Vignola and Baldassare Peruzzi. Then to Florence and the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno of which he was later, in January 1780 elected a member; then returned to Rome.

Soane continued his study of buildings, including Villa Lante, Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, the Capitoline Museums and the Villa Albani. That autumn he met Henry Bankes, Soane prepared plans for the Banke’s house Kingston Lacy, but these came to nothing. Early in 1780 Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol wrote to Soane offering him various architectural commissions, Soane decided to return to England and began to organise his return journey. He left Rome on 19 April 1780, travelling with the Reverend George Holgate and his pupil Michael Pepper. They visited the Villa Farnese, then on to Siena. Then Florence where they visited the Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi, Santo Spirito, Florence, Giotto’s Campanile and other sites. Performing at the Teatro della Pergola was Nancy Storace with whom Soane formed a lifelong friendship. Their journey continued on via Bologna, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Mantua where he sketched Palazzo del Te, Parma, Piacenza. Milan where he attended La Scala, the theatre was a growing interest, Lake Como from where they began their crossing of the Alps via the Splügen Pass. They then passed on to Zurich, Reichenau, Switzerland, Wettingen, Schaffhausen, Basel on the way to which the bottom of Soane’s trunk came loose on the coach and spilled the contents behind it, he thus lost many of his books, drawings, drawing instruments, clothes and his gold and silver medals from the Royal Academy (none of which was recovered). He continued his journey on to Freiburg im Breisgau, Cologne, Liège, Leuven and Brussels before embarking for England.

He reached England in June 1780, thanks to his Grand Tour he was £120 in debt. After a brief stop in London, Soane headed for Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol’s estate at Ickworth House in Suffolk, where the Earl was planning to build a new house. But immediately the Earl changed his mind and dispatched Soane to Downhill House, County Londonderry, in Ireland, where Soane arrived on 27 July 1780. The Earl had grandiose plans to rebuild the house, but Soane and the Earl disagreed over the design and parted company, Soane receiving only £30 for his efforts, he left via Belfast sailing to Glasgow. From Glasgow he travelled to Allanbank, Scottish Borders, home of a family by the name of Stuart he’d met in Rome, he prepared plans for a new mansion for the family, but again the commission came to nothing. In early December 1780 Soane took lodgings at 10 Cavendish Street London. To pay his way his friends from the Grand Tour, Thomas Pitt and Philip Yorke gave him commissions for repairs and minor alterations. Anna, Lady Miller considered building a temple in her garden at Batheaston to Soane’s design and he hoped he might receive work from her circle of friends. But again this was not be so. To help him out, George Dance gave Soane a few measuring jobs, including one in May 1781 on his repairs to Newgate Prison of damage caused by the Gordon Riots.

To give Soane some respite, Thomas Pitt invited him to stay in 1781 at his Thamesside villa of Petersham Lodge which Soane was commissioned to redecorate and repair. Also in 1781 Philip Yorke gave Soane commissions, at his home Hamels Park in Hertfordshire, he designed a new entrance gate and lodges, followed by a new dairy and alterations to the house, and in London alterations and redecoration of 63 New Cavendish Street. Increasingly desperate for work Soane entered a competition in March 1782 to design a prison, but failed to win. Soane continued to get other minor design work in 1782.

From the mid-1780s on Soane would receive a steady stream of commissions until his semi-retirement in 1832.

It wasn’t until 1783 that Soane received his first commission for a new country house, Letton Hall, Norfolk, the house was a fairly modest villa but it was a sign that at last Soane’s career was taking off and led to other work in East Anglia; Saxlingham Rectory in 1784 and Shotesham Hall, Shotesham in 1785; Tendring Hall, Suffolk, (1784–86) and the remodelling of Ryston Hall (1787)

At this early stage in his career Soane was dependent on domestic work, including: Piercefield House (1784) now a ruin; the remodelling of Chillington Hall (1785); The Manor, Cricket St Thomas (1786); Bentley Priory (1788); the extension of the Roman Catholic Chapel at New Wardour Castle (1788). An important commission in terms of the client, were alterations to William Pitt the Younger’s house at Holwood House in 1786, Soane had befriended William Pitt’s uncle Thomas on his grand tour; In (1787) Soane remodelled the interior of Fonthill Splendens (later replaced by Fonthill Abbey) for Thomas Beckford, adding a picture gallery lit by two domes and other work.

On 16 October 1788, he succeeded Sir Robert Taylor as architect and surveyor to the Bank of England, he would work at the bank for the next 45 years, resigning in 1833. Given Soane’s youth and relative inexperience, his appointment was down to the influence of William Pitt then the Prime Minister and his friend from the Grand Tour Richard Bosanquet whose brother was Samuel Bosanquet, Director and later Governor of the Bank of England. His salary was set at 5% of the cost of any building works at the Bank, paid every six months. Soane would virtually rebuild the entire bank, and vastly extend it. The five main banking halls were based on the same basic layout, starting with the Bank Stock Office of 1791–96, consists of a rectangular room, the centre with a large lantern light supported by piers and pendentives, then the four corners of the rectangle have low vaulted spaces, and in the centre of each side compartments rising to the height of the arches supporting the central lantern, the room is vaulted in brick and windows are iron framed to ensure the rooms are as fire proof as possible.

His work at the bank was:

  • Erection of Barracks for the Bank Guards and rooms for the Governor, officers and servants of the Bank (1790).
  • Between 1789 and February 1791 Soane oversaw acquisition of land northwards along Princes Street.
  • The erection of the outer wall along the newly acquired land (1791).
  • Erection of the Bank Stock Office the first of his major interiors at the bank, with its fire proof brick vault (1791–96).
  • The erection of The Four Percent Office (replacing Robert Taylor’s room) (1793).
  • The erection of the Rotunda (replacing Robert Taylor’s rotunda) (1794).
  • The erection of the Three Percent Consols Transfer Office (1797–99).
  • Acquisition of more land to the north along Bartholomew Lane, Lothbury and Prince’s Street (1792).
  • Erection of outer wall along the north-east corner of the site, including an entrance arch for carriage (1794–98).
  • Erection of houses for the Chief Accountant and his deputy (1797).
  • The erection of the Lothbury Court within the new gate, leading to the inner courtyard used to receive Bullion (1797–1800).
  • Extension of the Bank to the north-west, the exterior wall was extended around the junction of Lothbury and Princes Street, forming the ‘Tivoli Corner’ which is based on the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli that Soane had visited and much admired, halfway down Princes street he created the Doric Vestibule as a minor entrance to the building and within two new courtyards that were surrounded by the rooms he built in 1790 and new rooms including printing offices for banknotes, the £5 Note Office and new offices for the Accountants, the Bullion Office off the Lothbury Court (1800–1808).
  • Rebuilding of the vestibule and entrance from Bartholmew Lane (1814–1818).
  • The rebuilding of Robert Taylor’s 3 Percent Consols Transfer Office and 3 Percent Consols Warrant Office and completion of the exterior wall around the south-east and south-west boundaries including the main-entrance in the centre of Threadneedle Street (1818–1827).

In 1807 Soane designed New Bank Buildings on Princes Street for the Bank, consisting of a terrace of five mercantile residences, which were then leased to prominent city firms.

A growing sign of Soane’s success was an invitation to become a member of the Architects’ Club that was formed on 20 October 1791, practically all the leading practitioners in London were members, and it combined a meeting to discuss professional matters, at 5:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month with a dinner. The four founders were Soane’s former teachers George Dance and Henry Holland with, James Wyatt and Samuel Pepys Cockerell. Other original members included: Sir William Chambers, Thomas Sandby, Robert Adam, Matthew Brettingham the Younger, Thomas Hardwick and Robert Mylne. Members who later joined included Sir Robert Smirke and Sir Jeffry Wyattville.

On 20 January 1807 Soane was made clerk of works of Royal Hospital Chelsea, he held the post until his death thirty years later, it paid a salary of £200 per annum. His designs were: built 1810 a new infirmary (destroyed in 1941 during The Blitz), a new stable block and extended his own official residence in 1814; a new bakehouse in 1815; a new gardener’s house 1816, a new guard-house and Secretary’s Office with space for fifty staff 1818; a Smoking Room in 1829 and finally a garden shelter in 1834.

Soane who was a freemason was employed to extend Freemasons’ Hall, London in 1821 by building a new gallery, later in 1826 he prepared various plans for a new hall, but it was only built in 1828–1831, including a council chamber, and smaller room next to it and a staircase leading to a kitchen and scullery in the basement. The building was demolished to make way for the current building.

In October 1791, Soane was appointed Clerk of Works with responsibility for St James’s Palace, Whitehall and The Palace of Westminster. Between 1795 and 1799 Soane was Deputy Surveyor of His Majesty’s Woods and Forest, on a salary of £200 per annum. James Wyatt’s death in 1813 led to Soane together with John Nash and Robert Smirke, being appointed official architect to the Office of Works in 1813, the appointment ended in 1832, at a salary of £500 per annum. As part of this position he was invited to advise the Parliamentary Commissioners on the building of new churches from 1818 onwards. He was required to produce designs for churches to seat 2000 people for £12,000 or less though Soane thought the cost too low, of the three churches he designed for the Commission all were classical in style. The three churches were: St Peter’s Church, Walworth (1823–24) for £18,348; Holy Trinity Church Marylebone (1826–27) for £24,708; St. John’s Bethnal Green (1826–28) for £15,999.

Soane designed several public buildings in London, including: National Debt Redemption Office (1817) demolished 1900; Insolvent Debtors Court (1823) demolished 1861; Privy Council and Board of Trade Offices, Whitehall (1823–24) remodelled by Sir Charles Barry the building now houses the Cabinet Office; in a new departure for Soane he used the Italianate style for The New State Paper Office, (1829–1830) demolished 1868 to make way for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office building.

His commissions in Ireland included: Dublin, Soane was commissioned by the Bank of Ireland to design a new headquarters for the triangular site on Westmoreland Street now occupied by the Westin Hotel. However, when the Irish Parliament was abolished in 1800, the Bank abandoned the project and instead bought the former Parliament Buildings. In 1808 he started work on the design of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, for which he refused to charge. Building work began on 3 July 1810 and was completed in 1814. The remodelling of the interior has left little of Soane’s work.

Country homes for the landed gentry included: new rooms and remodelling of Wimpole Hall and garden buildings, (1790–94) for his friend Philip Yorke that he met on his Grand Tour; remodelling of Baronscourt, County Tyrone, Ireland (1791);Tyringham Hall (1792–1820); the remodelling of Aynhoe Park (1798); In 1804 Soane remodelled Ramsey Abbey none of his work there now survives; the remodelling of the south front of Port Eliot and new interiors (1804–06); the Gothic Library at Stowe House (1805–06); Moggerhanger House (1791–1809); for Marden Hill, Hertfordshire, Soane designed a new porch and entrance hall (1818); remodelling of Wotton House after damage by fire (1820); a terrace of six houses above shops in Regent Street London, (1820–21) demolished; Pell Wall Hall (1822). Among Soane’s most notable works are the dining rooms of both numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street (1824–26) for the Prime Minister and Chancellor of Britain.

In 1811, Soane was appointed as architect for Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first purpose-built public art gallery in Britain, to house the Dulwich collection, which had been held by art dealers Sir Francis Bourgeois and his partner Noel Desenfans. Bourgeois’s will stipulated that the Gallery should be designed by his friend John Soane to house the collection. Uniquely the building also incorporates a mausoleum containing the bodies of Francis Bourgeois, and Mr and Mrs Desenfans. The Dulwich Picture Gallery was completed in 1817. The five main galleries are lit by elongated roof lanterns, thus freeing the walls from reflections and maximising the wall area for paintings, and it has influenced the design of art galleries ever since.

As an official architect of the Office of Works Soane was asked to design the New Law Courts at Westminster Hall, he began surveying the building on 12 July 1820. Soane was to extend the law courts along the west front of Westminster Hall providing accommodation for five courts: The Court of Exchequer, Chancery, Equity, King’s Bench and Common Pleas. The foundations were laid in October 1822 and the shell of the building completed by February 1824. Then Henry Bankes launched an attack on the design of the building, as a consequence Soane had to demolish the facade and set the building lines back several feet and redesign the building in a gothic style instead of the original classical design, Soane rarely designed gothic buildings. The building opened on 21 January 1825, and remained in use until the Royal Courts of Justice opened in 1882, after this the building was demolished in 1883 and the site left as lawn. All the court rooms displayed Soane’s typically complex lighting arrangements, being top lit by roof lanterns often concealed from direct view.

In 1822 as an official architect of the Office of Works, Soane was asked to make alteration to the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster. He added a curving gothic arcade with an entrance leading to a coutyard, a new Royal Gallery, main staircase and Ante-Room, all the interiors were in a grand neo-classical style, completed by January 1824. Later four new committee rooms, a new library for the House of Lords and for the House of Commons alterations to the Speaker of the House of Commons house, and new library, committee rooms, clerks’ rooms and stores, all would be destroyed in the fire of 1834.

One of Soane’s largest designs was for a new Royal Palace in London, a series of designs were produced c.1820-1830. The design was unusual in that the building was triangular, there were grand porticoes at each corner and in the middle of each side of the building, the centre of the building consisted of a low dome, with ranges of rooms leading to the entrances in each side of the building, creating three internal courtyards. As far as is known it is not related to an official commission and was merely a design exercise by Soane, indeed the various drawings he produced date over several years, he first produced a design for a Royal Palace while in Rome in 1779.

The Royal Academy was at the very centre of Soane’s architectural career, in the sixty four years from 1772 to 1836 there were only five years, 1778 and 1788–91 in which he did not exhibit any designs there. Soane had received part of his architectural education at the Academy and it had paid for his Grand Tour. On 2 November 1795 Soane was elected an Associate Royal Academician and on 10 February 1802 Soane was elected a full Royal Academician, his diploma work being a drawing of his design for a new House of Lords. There were only ever a maximum of forty Royal Academicians at any one time. Under the rules of the Academy Soane automatically became for one year a member of the Council of the Academy, this consisted of the President and eight other Academicians.

After Thomas Sandby died in 1798, George Dance, Soane’s old teacher was appointed professor of architecture at the Academy, but during his tenure of the post failed to deliver a single lecture. Naturally this caused dissatisfaction, and Soane began to manoeuver to obtain the post for himself. Eventual Soane succeeded in ousting Dance and became professor on 28 March 1806. Soane did not deliver his first lecture until 27 March 1809 and did not begin to deliver the full series of twelve lectures until January 1810. All went well until he reached his fourth lecture on 29 January 1810, in it he criticised several recent buildings in London, including George Dance’s Royal College of Surgeons of England and his former pupil Robert Smirke’s Covent Garden Theatre. Naturally Royal Academicians Robert Smirke (painter) father of the architect and his friend Joseph Farington led a campaign against Soane, as a consequence the Royal Academy introduced a rule forbidding criticism of a living British artist in any lectures delivered there. Soane attempted to resist what he saw as interference and it was only under threat of dismissal that he finally amended his lecture and recommenced on 12 February 1813 the delivery of the first six lectures. The rift that all this caused between Soane and George Dance would only be healed in 1815 after the death of Mrs Soane.

The twelve lectures, they were treated as two separate courses of six lectures, were all extensively illustrated with over one thousand drawings and building plans in total. The lectures were:

  • Lecture I – traced ‘architecture from its most early periods’ and covered the origin of civil, military and naval architecture.
  • Lecture II – outlined the Classical architecture of the ancient world continuing on from the first lecture.
  • Lecture III – an analysis of the five Classical orders, their application and the use of Caryatids.
  • Lecture IV – use of the classical orders structurally and decoratively and for commemorative monuments.
  • Lecture V – the history of architecture from Constantine the Great and the Decline of the Roman Empire to the rise of Renaissance architecture, followed by a survey of British architecture from Inigo Jones to William Chambers (architect).
  • Lecture VI – covered arches, bridges the theory and symbolism of architectural ornament.
  • Lecture VII – appropriate character in architecture and the correct use of decoration.
  • Lecture VIII – the distribution and planning of rooms and staircases.
  • Lecture IX – the design of windows, doors, pilasters, roofs and chimney-shafts.
  • Lecture X – landscape architecture and garden buildings.
  • Lecture XI – a discussion of the architecture and planning of London contrasting it with Paris.
  • Lecture XII – a discussion of construction methods and standards.

Soane over the course of his career built up an extensive library of 7,783 volumes, this is still housed in the library he designed in his home now museum of 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The library covers a wide range of subjects: Greek and Roman classics, poetry, painting, sculpture, history, music, drama, philosophy, grammars, topographical works, encyclopaedia’s, runs of journals and contemporary novels.

Naturally architectural books account for a large part of the library, and was very important when he came to write his lectures for the Royal Academy. The main architectural books include: several editions of Vitruvius’s De architectura, including Latin, English, French and Italian editions, including the commentary on the work by Daniele Barbaro. Julien-David Le Roy’s Les Ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce, Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, in its French translation bought in 1806 just before Soane was appointed to the professorship. Marc-Antoine Laugier’s Essai sur l’Architecture. Jacques-François Blondel’s nine volumes of Cours d’architecture ou traité de la décoration, distribution et constructions des bâtiments contenant les leçons données en 1750, et les années suivantes. Six works by Quatremère de Quincy, including the Dictionnaire historique de l’Architecture. These are some of the major thinkers who influenced Soane and his own writings.

Soane also acquired several illuminated manuscripts: a 13th-century English Vulgate Bible; a 15th-century Flemish copy of Josephus’s works; four book of hours, two Flemish of the 15th century and early 16th century, Dutch of the late 15th century and French 15th century; a French missal dated 1482; Le Livre des Cordonniers de Caen, French 15th century; Marino Grimani’s commentary of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans the work of Giulio Clovio.

Other manuscripts include: Francesco di Giorgio’s mid-16th century Treatise of Architecture; Nicholas Stone’s two account books covering 1631–42, and his son also Nicholas Stone Sketch Book (France & Italy) 1648 and Henry Stone’s sketch book 1638; Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s The Second Epistle; James Gibbs’s A few short cursory remarks on buildings in Rome; Joshua Reynolds’s two sketches books from Rome; Torquato Tasso’s early manuscript of Gerusalemme Liberata.

Incunable in the library include: Cristoforo Landino’s Commentario sopra la Comedia di Dante, 1481; S. Brant Stultifera Navis 1488; Boethius’s De Philosophico Consolatu, 1501. Other early printed books include: J.W. von Cube, Ortus Saniatis 1517 and Portiforium seu Breviarum ad Sarisbursis ecclesiae usum 1555; William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies 1623 First Folio.

In 1792, Soane bought a house at 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. Later purchasing 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, he used the house as his home and library, but also entertained potential clients in the drawing room. The houses along with 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is now Sir John Soane’s Museum and is open to the public for free.

Between 1794 and 1824 Soane remodelled and extended the house into two neighbouring properties — partly to experiment with architectural ideas, and partly to house his growing collection of antiquities and architectural salvage. As his practice prospered, Soane was able to collect objects worthy of the British Museum, including the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I.

After the Seti sarcophagus arrived at his house in March 1825, Soane held a three-day party, to which 890 people were invited, the basement where the sarcophagus was housed was lit by over one hundred lamps and candelabra, refreshments were laid on and the exterior of the house was hung with lamps. Among the guests were the then Prime Minister Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool and his wife, Robert Peel, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, J.M.W. Turner, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough, Benjamin Haydon as well as many foreign dignitaries.

He also bought Greek and Roman bronzes, cinerary urns, fragments of Roman mosaics, Greek vases many displayed above the bookcases in the library, Greek and Roman busts, heads from statues and fragments of sculpture and architectural decoration, examples of Roman glass. Medieval objects include: architectural fragments, tiles and stained glass. Soane acquired 18th century Chinese ceramics as well as Peruvian pottery. Soane also purchased four Indian ivory chairs and a table.

Francis Leggatt Chantrey carved a white marble bust of Soane. Soane also acquired Sir Richard Westmacott’s plaster model for Nymph unclasping her Zone and the plaster model of John Flaxman’s memorial sculpture of William Pitt the Younger.

Of ancient sculptures a miniature copy of the famous sculpture of Diana of Ephesus is one of the most important in the collection. After the death of his teacher Henry Holland, Soane bought part of his collection of ancient marble fragments of architectural decoration. He also acquired Plastercasts of famous antique sculptures include.

Soane’s paintings include: four works by Canaletto and paintings by Hogarth: the eight canvases of the A Rake’s Progress the four canvases of the Humours of an Election. Soane acquired three works by his friend J. M. W. Turner. Thomas Lawrence painted a three quarter length portrait of Soane, that hangs over the Dining Room fireplace. Soane acquired 15 drawings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Soane’s friend John Flaxman, sketched Soane’s wife, this is framed and displayed in the museum.

There are over 30,000 architectural drawings in the collection. Of Soane’s drawings of his own designs (many are by his assistants and pupils, most notably Joseph Gandy), there are 601 covering the Bank of England, 6,266 of his other works and 1,080 prepared for the Royal Academy lectures. There are an additional 423 Soane drawings in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Other architects with drawings in the collection are by Christopher Wren, there are 8,856 drawings by Robert Adam and James Adam, John Thorpes book of architecture, George Dance the Elder’s 293 and George Dance the younger’s 1,303, housed in a specially designed cabinet, Sir William Chambers, James Playfair, Matthew Brettingham, Thomas Sandby, etc. There are a large number of Italian drawings. Of the 252 architectural models in the collection 118 are of Soane’s own buildings.

In 1833, he obtained an Act of Parliament, sponsored by Joseph Hume to bequeath the house and collection to the British Nation to be made into a museum of architecture, now the Sir John Soane’s Museum. George Soane, realising that if the museum was set up he would lose his inheritance, persuaded William Cobbett to try and stop the bill, but failed.

Awards, official posts and recognition:

  • On 10 December 1772 Soane was awarded the Royal Academy’s Silver Medal.
  • On 10 December 1776 Soane was awarded the Royal Academy’s Gold Medal.
  • On 10 December 1777 Soane was awarded the Royal Academy’s travelling scholarship.
  • On 16 October 1788 Soane was made architect to the Bank of England
  • On 2 November 1795 Soane was elected an Associate Royal Academician.
  • On 21 May 1796 Soane was elected to the Society of Antiquaries of London.
  • In May 1800 Soane was one of the 280 proprietors of the Royal Institution.
  • On 10 February 1802 Soane was elected an Royal Academician of the Royal Academy.
  • On 28 March 1806, Soane was made Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, a post which he held until his death.
  • In 1810 Soane was made a Justice of the Peace for the county of Middlesex.
  • On 15 November 1821 Soane was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • On 21 September 1831, Soane received a knighthood from King William IV.
  • On 20 June 1835 Soane was presented by Sir Jeffry Wyattville with a Gold Medal, from the ‘Architects of England’, modelled by Francis Leggatt Chantrey it showed the likeness of Soane on one side and the north-west corner of the Bank of England on the other.

On 24 June 1781 Soane leased rooms on the first floor of 53 Margaret Street, Westminster, for £40 per annum. It was here he would live for the first few years of his married life and where all his children would be born. In July 1783 he bought a grey mare that he stabled nearby. On 10 January 1784 Soane took a Miss Elizabeth Smith to the theatre, then on 7 February she took tea with Soane and friends, and they began attending plays and concerts together regularly. She was the niece and ward of a London builder George Wyatt, whom Soane would have known as he rebuilt Newgate Prison. They married on 21 August 1784 at Christ Church, Southwark. He always called his wife Eliza, and she would become his confidante.

Their first child John was born on 29 April 1786. His second son George was born just before Christmas 1787 but the boy died just six months later. The third son also called George was born on 28 September 1789, and their final son Henry was born on 10 October 1790 but died the following year from Pertussis.

On the death of George Wyatt in February 1790 the Soanes inherited money and property, including a house in Albion Place, Southwark, where Soane moved his office.

On 30 June 1792 Soane purchased 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields for £2100. He demolished the existing house and rebuilt it to his own design, the Soanes moving in on 18 January 1794. By 1800 Soane was rich enough to purchase Pitzhanger Manor Ealing as a country retreat, for £4,500 on 5 September 1800. Apart from a wing designed by George Dance, Soane demolished the house and rebuilt it to his own design and was occupied by 1804, Soane used the manor to entertain friends and used to go fishing in the local streams.

In June 1808 Soane purchased 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields for £4,200, initially renting the house to its former owner and extending his office over the garden to the rear. On 17 July 1812 number 13 was demolished, the house was rebuilt and the Soanes moved in during October 1813. In 1823 Soane purchased 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, he demolished the house, building the Picture Room attached to no. 13 over the site of the stables, in March 1825 he rebuilt the house to match externally no. 12.

Soane hoped that one or both of his sons would also become architects. His purchase of Pizhanger Manor was partially an inducement to this end. But both sons became increasingly wayward in their attitude and behaviour, showing not the slightest interest in architecture. John was lazy and suffered from ill health, whereas George had an uncontrolable temper. As a consequence Soane decided to sell Pitzhanger in July 1810.

John was sent to Margate in 1811 to try and help his illness and it was here that he became involved with a woman called Maria Preston. Soane agreed reluctantly to John’s and Maria’s marriage on 6 June, on the agreement that her father would produce a dowry of £2000, which failed to happen. Meanwhile George who had been studying law at Cambridge University developed a friendship with James Boaden. George developed a relationship with Boaden’s daughter Agnes and one month after his brother’s wedding married her on 5 July. He wrote to his mother ‘I have married Agnes to spite you and father’.

George Soane tried to extort money from his father in March 1814 by demanding £350 per annum, and claiming he would otherwise be forced to become an actor. Agnes gave birth to twins in September, one child died shortly after. By November her husband George Soane had been imprisoned for debt and fraud. In January 1815 Eliza paid her son’s debts and repaid the person he had defrauded to ensure his release from prison.

In 1815 an article was published in the Champion for 10 to 24 September entitled The Present Low State of the Arts in England and more particularly of Architecture. In the article Soane was singled out for personal attack, although anonymous it soon emerged that his son George had written the article. On 13 October Mrs Soane wrote ‘Those are George’s doing. He has given me my death blow. I shall never be able to hold up my head again’. Soane’s wife died on 22 November 1815, she had been suffering from ill health for some time. His wife’s body was interred on 1 December in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church. He wrote in his diary for that day ‘The burial of all that is dear to me in this world, and all I wished to live for!’. George and Agnes had another child, this time a son born in 1815, Frederick.

In 1816 Soane designed the tomb above the vault his wife was buried in it is built from Carrara marble and Portland Stone. The tomb avoids any Christian symbolism, the roof has a pine cone finial the symbol in Ancient Egypt for regeneration, below which is carved a serpent swallowing its own tail, symbol of eternity, there are also carvings of boys holding extinguished torches symbols of death.

The inscription is:
Sacred To The Memory of Elizabeth, The Wife of John Soane, Architect She Died the 22nd November, 1815. With Distinguished Talents She United an Amiable and Affectionate Heart. Her Piety was Unaffected, Her Integrity Undeviating, Her Manners Displayed Alike Decision and Energy, Kindness and Suavity. These, the Peculiar Characteristics of Her Mind, Remained Untainted by an Extensive Intercourse With The World.

The design of the tomb was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott’s design for the red telephone box. Soane’s elder son John died on 21 October 1823, and was also buried in the vault. Maria Soane’s daughter-in-law was now a widow with young children including a son also called John in need of support. So Soane set up a trust fund of £10,000 to support the family.

Soane found out in 1824 that his son George was living in a Ménage à trois with his wife and her sister by whom he had a child called George Manfred. Soane’s grandson Fred and his mother were both subjected to domestic violence by George Soane, including beatings and in Agnes’s case being dragged by her hair from a room. Soane refused to help them while they remained living with his son, who was in debt. However by February 1834 Soane relented and was paying Agnes £200 per annum, also paying for Fred’s education. In the hope that Fred would become an architect, after he left school, Soane placed him with architect John Tarring. In January 1835 Tarring asked Soane to remove Fred, who was staying out late often in the company of a Captain Westwood, a known homosexual.

On Monday 6 August 1810 Soane and his wife set off on a thirteen-day tour of England and Wales. They normally rose at five or six in the morning and would visit many towns and monuments a day. Starting in Oxford they visited New College, Oxford, Merton College, Oxford, Blenheim Palace and Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where they stayed the night. Next day they went to Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon to visit Shakespeare’s tomb, Kenilworth Castle, Warwick Castle, Whitley Abbey, Coventry and on to Lichfield. They next travelled to Liverpool, staying for four nights at the Liverpool Arms near Liverpool Town Hall. They attended a performance of Othello with George Frederick Cooke as Iago. Among the people they visited was Soane’s former assistant Joseph Gandy, then living in the city. Their son John was also living and studying with Gandy, in a failed attempt to become an architect. They visited John Foster (architect). Leaving Liverpool on Saturday 11, they crossed the River Mersey to the Wirral Peninsula and on to Chester where they saw the Rows and greatly admired Thomas Harrison’s work at Chester Castle. From Chester they visited Wrexham, Ellesmere, Shropshire. On Sunday they moved on to Shrewsbury, visiting architect George Steuart’s St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury. Monday they headed for Coalbrookdale, with The Iron Bridge then on to Buildwas Abbey. The journey continued down the River Severn to Bridgnorth then Ludlow and Ludlow Castle, Leominster. Wednesday 15 they were in Hereford, where they visited Hereford Cathedral and the Gaol designed by his friend John Nash. Continuing on they reached Ross-on-Wye. from where they journeyed down the River Wye stopping at Tintern Abbey, glimpsed Piercefield House one of Soane’s designs and arriving in Chepstow. Before moving on to Gloucester Cathedral and Gloucester where they spent the night. The next day they headed for Cheltenham, returning through the Cotswolds. Where they visited Northleach and Witney where they spent their last night on the tour. Next day they travelled via High Wycombe and Uxbridge, on to their home at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing for a days angling. Returning at nine o’clock at night on Monday 17 to their home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Soane was initiated on 1 December 1813 as a freemason, Soane did not like organised religion and was a Deist. Soane was very much influenced by the ideas that belonged to the enlightenment, and had read Voltaire’s & Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s works.

Soane was taken ill on 27 December 1813 and was incapacitated until 28 March 1814, when he underwent an operation by Astley Cooper on his bladder to remove a fistula.

For the first time since his Grand Tour Soane decided to travel abroad, he set off on 15 August 1815 for Paris returning on 5 September. In the summer of 1816 Soane’s and his late wife’s mutual friend Barbara Hofland, persuaded him to take a holiday in Harrogate, there they visited Knaresborough, Plompton and its rocks, Ripon, Newby Hall, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park, Castle Howard, Harewood House and Masham.

Soane visited Paris again in 1819, setting off on 21 August, he travelled via Dunkirk, Abbeville and Beauvais arriving in Paris. He stayed at 10 rue Vivienne, over the following days he visited, the Pont de Neuilly, Les Invalides, Palais du Roi de Rome, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Étienne-Louis Boullée’s chapel at Sainte-Roche, the Arc de Triomphe, Vincennes and the Château de Vincennes, Sèvres, Saint-Cloud, Arcueil with its ancient Roman aqueduct, Basilica of St Denis, Chamber of Deputies of France, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Musée du Louvre, Luxembourg Palace, Palace of Versailles with the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon with its Hameau de la reine, Halle aux blés, Halle aux vins, Jardin des Plantes, Bassin de la Villette with its Rotonde de la Villette by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Tuileries Palace, Château de Malmaison, he failed to gain admission to the Château de Bagatelle, he travelled home via Amiens and Amiens Cathedral, Abbeville, stopping of to visit Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral.
On 24 December 1825 Soane underwent an operation to have a cataract removed from his eye.

In 1835 Soane had this to say:
Devoted to Architecture from my childhood, I have through my life pursued it with the enthusiasm of a passion.

Soane included many members of the Royal Academy as friends including J. M. W. Turner, who was professor of drawing at the Royal Academy, with whom he spent the Christmas after his wife’s death as well as owning three works by the artist; John Flaxman was an old friend, he was professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy and Soane also acquired several plastercasts of Flaxman’s work for his museum; Thomas Banks again Soane owned sculptures by him; Thomas Lawrence who painted Soane’s portrait; despite falling out with his old master, George Dance the Younger, they were firm friends after his death Soane purchased Dance’s drawings; after the death of his other teacher Henry Holland, Soane tried to buy his drawings and papers, but found they had been destroyed, but did purchase some of his antique sculptures; despite being rivals Soane got on with fellow architect John Nash, they often dined together. Soane called on William Thomas Beckford both in London and when he was taking the waters in Bath, Somerset in 1829. Soane had other friends including: James Perry, Thomas Leverton Donaldson, Barbara Hofland. As well as several lifelong friendships he formed while on the Grand Tour, including Rowland Burdon.

Soane died, a widower and estranged from his surviving son George, who he felt had betrayed him, contributing to his own mother’s death. Having caught a chill, Soane died in 13 Lincoln’s Inn Field at half past three on Friday 20 January 1837. His obituary appeared in the Monday 23 January edition of The Times. Following a private funeral service, at his own request it was ‘plain without ostentation or parade’, he was buried in the same vault as his wife and elder son.

Within days of his father’s death George Soane, left an annuity of £52 per annum, challenged Soane’s will. Soane stated that he was left so little because ‘his general misconduct and constant opposition to my wishes evinced in the general tenor of his life’. To his daughter-in-law Agnes he left £40 per annum ‘not to be subject to the debts or control of her said husband’. The grounds for overthrowing the will were that his father was insane. On 1 August 1837 the judge at the Prerogative court rejected the challenge. George appealed but on 26 November dropped his suit.

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