Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Searching for Regency London


Soane's Museum

This is the house of Sir John Soane, one of England's greatest architects. He was the youngest son of a bricklayer, but at fifteen moved to London as a pupil of the architect George Dance and studied at the Royal Academy. He became a highly successful architect winning the important commission of architect to the Bank of England.

His house, which he deliberately intended as a museum, is on of those places all Regency-philes hanker to visit. It is also the sort of place one might want to visit over and over again, there is so much crammed into such a small space. Soane intended his collection to educate and inspire students and amateurs in painting, architecture and sculpture.

The house is in Lincoln's Inn Fields and he first bought number 12 in 1792 and then moved into number thirteen in 1813, and right from this time he planned it as a museum, finally purchasing number fourteen in 1823.

Visitors were allowed in during his lifetime, but only in good weather. The rooms contain all kinds of artifacts, including a collection of antique marble fragments assembled in and around Rome for Henry Holland, bought on his death by Soane in 1816.

In the picture room are the two original paintings of Hogarth's series A Rake's Progress and An Election. Engravings would be done from the paintings.

It is a very eccentric sort of a place, not at all the typical Regency home, but a fascinating look around a town house. The rooms I enjoyed most were the Library and the dining room and the Drawing Rooms. They held dances in these upstairs rooms when Mrs. Soanes was alive. The rooms were painted in 'Turner's Patent Yellow' a fashionable colour of the day, and had matching curtains and upholstery. The staircases are lovely and take up minimum space.

Personally, I think the man would have ended up on reality tv as a hoarder.

It is difficult to do justice to the house or the museum with only words, but I highly recommend a visit.

Until next time, Happy Rambles. Off to read Georgette Heyer's Reluctant Widow, since someone mentioned it the other day.

What are you reading?