Phase II: Soane’s Private Apartments

The second phase of the Opening up the Soane project, which is currently underway, is perhaps the most exciting part of the entire OUTS project: the reinstatement of Sir John Soane’s private apartments and the former Model Room on the second floor of No.13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  In 2016 this entire floor will be opened to the public for the first time in the Museum’s history.

These exquisitely decorated chambers were dismantled and transformed into a Curator’s apartment and offices, shortly after Soane’s death in 1837.  We know much about the appearance of these small, intimate rooms through Soane’s own meticulous record keeping and we are fortunate that most of their contents still survive in the Museum. 

On the second floor there is one large back room that was in fact once four separate rooms: Sir John Soane’s Bedroom with his four-poster bed (the most significant item of furniture of which a replica will have to be made); a Bathroom decorated en-suite with blue and white china on the mantelpiece; an ‘Oratory’ with antiquarian stained glass and personal memorabilia relating to Eliza Soane and a small library or Book Passage, which also displayed a glass-fronted box containing two mummified cats. In 1890 the partition walls which separated the Book Passage and Oratory were removed to form one large space. It was then that the arrangement of windows was altered, with those of the Bathroom and Oratory being blocked up. The two original windows of the Bedroom were merged into one larger aperture.  The restoration work will see the windows and partitions reinstated, as well as the furniture and works of art that once decorated them.

Shortly before he died, in 1834 Soane decided that Eliza Soane’s Bedroom, the large front room which he had left untouched for many years after her death in 1815, could be used to display to the public his collection of architectural models.  Based on detailed views (such as the watercolour below) and inventories left to us by Soane it is as The Model Room that this superb interior will be reinstated, including its characteristic loggia overlooking Lincoln’s Inn Fields and doors inset with convex mirrors, as well as a great number of perspectives in watercolour by Joseph Gandy currently not on display to the public.  Soane’s great model stand (which has already been restored to its correct proportions) will once again bristle with architectural models displayed according to Soane’s original arrangement.  Adjoining what was once her Bedroom is Mrs Soane’s Morning Room, with her day bed, ivory furniture and portraits of family and friends.

The Model Room (in what was originally Eliza Soane’s Bedroom) with the great model stand in the centre.  The stand was made for Soane by Johnstone and Brooks to display a model of Pompeii which he bought in 1826.  Through the opening in the north wall is a glimpse of the book passage with a panelled shaft rising upwards above it, hung with pictures, and lit by a hidden skylight.  Watercolour by C.J. Richardson c.1834-35

 

For a full list of all donors to the OUTS project as well as the contractors and consultants for the project please go to the Donors to the OUTS project page