Sir John Soane's Museum Drawings

The establishment of a site for the new Infirmary, proposed by the hospital physician, Dr Moseley in a letter to the hospital Governor Sir David Dundas on 20 December 1808, took until June 1810 to decide upon. The initial impetus for the establishment of a new Infirmary came from the Treasury’s re-acquisition of the lease of Yarborough (otherwise known as Walpole) House. The physician proposed that the old house (purportedly partly built by Vanbrugh) be converted into an Infirmary.

 

Soane’s initial report (on 12 April 1809), with his accompanying designs, found the conversion of the old house to be utterly unsuitable to support the 80 berths (beds) required for in-patients (survey drawings 8 to 10) and he suggested two designs for completely detached buildings to the south-west of the Great West Court (drawings 11 and 12 and drawings 13 and 14). These designs had the benefit of an unobstructed southern view over the River Thames, the air from which was thought to be beneficial to the health of patients. However, there was to be a complication that rendered his proposal impossible.


The complication was that, without Soane’s knowledge, the site proposed for the Infirmary (drawings 11 and 14) had already been leased on 11 March 1809 to Colonel Willoughby Gordon, for the construction of a villa. There followed a series of negotiations, in which Soane attempted to alter the decision and afterwards the position of the proposed villa in order to provide space for his Infirmary. However, by June 1810 Soane was forced to submit and put forward further plans for the conversion of Yarborough House (drawing 17), although in the end Soane only used parts of the old building (most significantly Yarborough House’s drawing room).

 

Most of the correspondence and many of the plans relating to the decisions concerning the new Infirmary were printed in: Papers, presented to the House of Commons, relating to the Building of a New Infirmary, and the Leasing of Ground at Chelsea Hospital (ordered by the House of Commons), to be printed, 20th April 1809.

Reference Number:

SM (1) volume 77/23 (2) volume 78/29

Purpose:

Site plans showing Yarborough House as a proposed site for the new Infirmary, c. December 1808-February 1809 (2)

Aspect:

1-2 Block plans showing the west side of the hospital, with Yarborough's house (pink wash)

Hand:

(1-2) office

1



2



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Reference Number:

SM (3) 67/5/16 (4) 67/5/14 (5) 67/5/17

Purpose:

Site plans with proposals for the conversion of Yarborough House into an Infirmary, February-April 1809 (3)

Aspect:

3 Block plan of buildings on the west side of the hospital, with a plan of rooms within Yarborough House, proposed for the new Infirmary

4 Block plan with Plan shewing the premises lately occupied by Lord Yarborough / proposed to be converted into an Infirmary etc & also shewing / the relative situation of those premises, with[in] the Royal Hospital / at Chelsea

5 Block plan with a Design for converting part of / the premises lately in the / occupation of Lord Yarborough / into an Infirmary and View of the Building / with the proposed / additions & alterations

 

Hand:

(3-5) office, Soane

3



4



5



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Reference Number:

SM (6) volume 78/30 (7) volume 77/24 (8) volume 78/31 (9) volume 77/25

Purpose:

Site plans with variant designs for the new Infirmary, facing the Thames, April 1809 (3)

Aspect:

6 Plan of Chelsea Hospital with a Design for the New Infirmary

7 Copy, Plan of Chelsea Hospital with a Design for the New Infirmary

8-9 Block plan of the west side of Chelsea Hospital with a block plan for an Infirmary of three long buildings surrounding a court on three sides

Hand:

(6-9) office, Soane

6



7



8



9



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Reference Number:

SM (10) volume 77/22 (11) volume 78/28 (12) volume 78/11 (13) volume 77/6 (14) 67/2/16

Purpose:

Site plans showing the proposed position of Gordon House, before 9 March 1809 (4)

Aspect:

10 Block plan of the west side of the hospital, showing the proposed site for Colonel Gordon's house

11 Copy, block plan of the west side of the hospital, showing the proposed site for Colonel Gordon's house

12 Block plan of the west side of the hospital, showing the original and an alternative site for Colonel Gordon's house

13 Copy, block plan of the west side of the hospital, showing the original and alternative site for Colonel Gordon's house

14 Survey of Premises / at / Chelsea, block plan of the west side of the hospital with a second alternative site for Colonel Gordon's house marked

Hand:

(10-14) office

10



11



12



13



14



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Reference Number:

SM (15) volume 77/56 (16) volume 77/59

Purpose:

Site plans with plan and revised plan for the new Infirmary located opposite the Great West Court, 29 August 1809 (2)

Aspect:

15 Block plan of the west part of the Hospital, with plan of Infirmary with detached wings on three sides

16 Block plan of the west part of the Hospital, with revised plan of Infirmary with detached wings on three sides

Hand:

(15-16) office

15



16



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Reference Number:

SM (17) 67/5/15

Purpose:

Site plan with the location of the new Infirmary, as built, c. June 1810

Aspect:

17 Block plan of Chelsea Hospital with Plan, shewing the situation of the New Infirmary / as now executing

Hand:

office

17



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