Working in Soane's Office
This section tells you about what it was like to work in Soane’s office, where the office was and how the pupils and assistants were expected to reach it. It also shows where Soane himself worked. There is a drawing made in Soane’s office to show all his built projects up to 1815. We see the kind of pen made from a goose feather which Soane and his pupils would have used.
Soane was one of the most successful architects of his time and parents would pay to send their sons – only men worked in his office – to be trained to be architects. They worked for 12 hours a day, later reduced to 11. In the summer it would be hot and in the winter dark and cold. They had to use a door at the back of the property so they didn’t walk through the house and they weren’t allowed to mix with the domestic servants. A few of them didn’t prove good enough and didn’t work there for long. When they started, Soane would see how good they were at drawing by getting then to draw the rooms in the Museum. They would be with him for five to six years, learning to draw and design buildings and all the business which was related to architecture.
In Soane’s time, some pens were made from feathers, also called quills. The best quills come from geese; the feathers used are those from the leading edge of the wings. They were sometimes dried and hardened in hot sand and they were shaped with a sharp knife – a pen knife – to form a nib. This could be fine or broad as required.
Metal pens were also starting to be used in Soane’s time and would be used for finer work. Drawing Soane’s Original Sketch Design: Tyringham Gateway was probably made with a quill pen like this one.