The Bathroom

Watercolour view of the bathroom on the second floor of No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields

Watercolour view of Soane's Bathroom or Dressing Room, c.1825


Sir John Soane’s handsomely appointed Bathroom was originally fitted with a mahogany-panelled bathtub. The room was separated from the Bedroom by a partition containing two sash windows and heated by a magnificent white marble fireplace set with red Languedoc marble. On the mantelshelf was a garniture of blue and white porcelain vases.

The walls of the Bathroom were decorated with ‘duff yellow on marroon’ printed wallpaper with a black fillet border by the wallpaper makers Cowtan & Son. Large sections of this wallpaper have recently been uncovered and found to have survived, including the border fillet, which exactly matches a sample of the paper held in the V&A’s collection and contained within an order book belonging to Cowtan & Son, alongside a record of Soane’s order. 

The sash windows that illuminated the Bathroom contained plain yellow and red stained glass, with a panel of figurative stained glass inserted into the lower sash, whilst a raspberry-coloured Holland blind could be lowered for privacy.  The room was also furnished with two late 18th-century mahogany window seats, upholstered in black horsehair. A magnificent longcase clock, c. 1710, with a walnut seaweed marquetry case, stood in a specially constructed niche. 

A curious anecdote relates to the Bathroom’s history after Soane’s death.  Soane left instructions in his will stipulating that certain documents were to be sealed up in the bathtub and not be opened until 22 November 1896.  When opened on that date the bathtub was found to contain a jumble of unremarkable papers, calling cards and miscellaneous objects, including locks of hair, specimens of wood and false teeth! (Sadly, the latter were not retained by the disappointed Curator of the day!)



Examples of objects that will be returned to their original 1837 positions in Soane's Bathroom.  From left to right: one of two sixteenth-century Italian tin-glazed earthenware Majolica plates to be rehung in the Bathroom. This example is painted with a battle scene; a blue and white oriental teapot. As can be seen in the above painting from 1825, Soane arranged a number of blue and white china vases on the mantlepiece of his Bathroom, but later added to this collection and redisplayed it on decorative Hanging shelves either side of the mantlepiece, and right: eighteenth century window seat with scrolled arms and slender baluster legs. It was originally upholstered in black horsehair (one of two that can also be seen in the above image from 1825).