"The Soane exerience" London Off The Beaten Path Tip by iandsmith

London Off The Beaten Path: 1,701 reviews and 3,049 photos

  Average facade, amazing interior
by iandsmith

John Soane was born around 1753 but, his original name was Swan, changed to Soan and later to its final form. In an inauspicious beginning to his career, he worked as a brickies labourer when he was just thirteen and a half but his master (George Dance) spied his talent and guided him through his formative years.
He was to be blessed with a couple of life-changing incidents in his later life however, the first of which was the time he spent in Rome. He trained as an architect under George Dance and was assistant to Henry Holland. After being awarded a travelling scholarship by the Royal Academy in 1777, Soane spent the next two and a half years in Italy, based in Rome. As with so many other English people on the grand tour, it had a profound influence upon him, particularly the architecture.
Soane developed a Neo-Classical style and gained several important commissions including the Bank of England and the Dulwich College Art Gallery.
By 1790 he was married and the second item cropped up. A man named Wyatt, uncle of his wife, left her a small fortune.
This allowed the family to buy the premises I was now standing in but also, by this time, he was a highly regarded architect. In 1806 he was Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy and a retained architect for the Bank of England, allowing him, in 1808, to buy the house next door.
It wasn't all happiness however, as often occurs with those labelled great. Time spent achieving greatness often means neglect of other aspects of life and his intractable temper didn't help either. His youngest son went public with his criticism of him in the press, the same year his wife died, 1815. He was offered a baronetcy but apparently refused it because he didn't want his son to inherit anything from him. The other son died in his mid thirties.
The house though, continued to grow and in 1820 Soane purchased number 14 and merged the three properties. (continued)

othercontact: 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 16, 2006
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