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Mr John Soane

Who was Sir John Soane?

Sir John Soane (1753–1837) was a renowned British architect who left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape of London and beyond. Born on September 10, 1753, in Reading, England, Soane rose to prominence through his innovative designs and contributions to neoclassical architecture during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Life and Work:

Soane's early education in architecture began as an apprentice to George Dance the Younger, followed by a stint at the Royal Academy of Arts. From 1771 he attended the Royal Academy Schools where he studied for seven years. Between 1778 and 1781 Soane embarked on a Grand Tour and spent a considerable period drawing and measuring the buildings in Rome. It was during this time that he developed his appreciation of French and Italian archiecture.His exposure to the classical works of Palladio and the ruins of Rome significantly influenced his architectural style. His first commission came in 1781 at Hamels, Hertfordshire. There he build a lodge and dairy that were completed in 1783. His later commissions and additions included buildings in Suffolk and Norfolk such as Letton Hall; Shotesham Park; Tendringham Hall; as well as Gronville, Caius College, Cambridge; Wardour Castle, Wiltshire; Walpole Park, Greater London; and Royal Hospital, Chelsea. This work was carried out between 1788 and 1833. Soane's breakthrough came in 1788 when he won the competition to design the Bank of England's headquarters, a project that showcased his talent for merging classical elements with practical considerations.

One of Sir John Soane's most celebrated works is his own home, now known as Sir John Soane's Museum. Located at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, this house was not only his residence but also a living laboratory for his architectural experiments. The museum, established by Soane himself in 1833, showcases an extensive collection of art, antiquities, and curiosities, providing a glimpse into his eclectic tastes and interests, and was developed following his professorship at the Royal Academy in 1809.

Soane's impact on public architecture in London is exemplified by the Dulwich Picture Gallery (1811–1817), the first purpose-built public art gallery in England. This project, characterized by its innovative use of skylights, marked a departure from traditional museum design.

Throughout his career, Soane held various public positions, including serving as the Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy and as the official architect to the Bank of England. His influence extended beyond his architectural achievements, as he played a key role in shaping architectural education and professional standards in Britain.

Sir John Soane's legacy is not only evident in the physical structures he designed but also in his contributions to architectural theory. His lectures at the Royal Academy, compiled posthumously as "lectures on architecture," remain influential in the study of classical architecture.


  1. Darley, Gillian. "John Soane: An Accidental Romantic." Yale University Press, 1999.
  2. Richardson, Margaret. "Sir John Soane: Architect." Royal Academy of Arts, 1999.
  3. Summerson, John. "Sir John Soane: The Royal Academy Lectures." Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  4. Curl, James Stevens. "A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture." Oxford University Press, 2006.

Read more about Sir John Soane in the Parks & Gardens UK blog: http://parksandgardensuk.wordp... and http://parksandgardensuk.wordp...

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