Robert Adam’s library at Kenwood House in Hampstead is one of the most beautiful and famous surviving interiors of the eighteenth century.

It had been designed for William Murray, Lord Mansfield, the famed Lord Chief Justice responsible for the success of the Somerset Case in 1772, the first legal step towards the British abolition of slavery in the 1830s. In this lunchtime talk by Dr Frances Sands, we will look in detail at Robert Adam’s exceptional surviving drawings for Lord Mansfield’s library at Kenwood, considering the design history of the space, the role that the drawings played, and enjoy an opportunity to view the drawings in person.

In Focus is a series of lunchtime talks with Sir John Soane’s Museum curators and conservators in which they select an item from Soane’s vast and eclectic collection for an in-depth investigation. You will hear about the history and provenance of objects collected by Soane and have an opportunity to examine at close hand works from the collection not normally on display.

About the Speaker

Dr Frances Sands is Curator of Drawings and Books, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. Fran’s research interests lie in early modern British architectural drawings. She has worked at Sir John Soane’s Museum since 2010, first as Catalogue Editor, tasked with cataloguing the office drawings collection of Robert and James Adam – a vast project which is still ongoing. In 2016 she was appointed the Curator of Drawings and Books, taking responsibility for the Soane Museum’s wider collection of 30,000 drawings and 7,000 books. She has curated various exhibitions, most recently Hidden Masterpieces at the Museum (2022) and publishes and lectures widely. Since 2010, Fran has also served as a Trustee of the York Georgian Society, the Mausolea and Monuments Trust, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and sat on the advisory committee for the Grinling Gibbons Society’s Tercentenary exhibition.

About the Event

Please note that this event takes place in the Museum's Seminar Room at Number 14 Lincoln's Inn Fields. No food or drink is permitted in the room. Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107.