Understanding Architectural Drawings

Uses of the Drawings

This section discusses what the drawings were for. We show a survey drawing of an existing building, one of Soane’s own sketch designs and the working drawing sent to the builder in the form of a ‘letter’ for the same building – the Tyringham Gateway 

There is also a full-sized drawing of a detail in Soane’s greatest building – the Bank of England.

Collections | Understanding Arch. Drawings | Uses of the Drawings
Working Drawing: Tyringham Gateway

Working Drawing: Tyringham Gateway


This is the kind of drawing which might be called ‘a letter to the builder’. It tells the builder exactly what is required to be built and where; in this case the drawing was literally sent to the clerk of works, Mr Parkins, as a letter. Here we see both the front and the back of the sheet. You can see how it was folded, sealed with sealing wax, addressed and marked with a round mark by the post office on the join so once it was opened it couldn’t be sent again. This was before the time of stick-on postage stamps (the first stamp was the Penny Black in 1840). The drawing is for the Tyringham Gateway. Note how all the information needed is shown on the drawing: the plan, section and elevations with all the necessary dimensions. The detail on the right is an elevation and section of the cornice half the full size. It was drawn in 1794.

You can see the sketch for this drawing in Original Sketch Design: Tyringham Gateway and you can see the elevation of the house in drawing Tyringham Entrance Front.