Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of London, for whom see Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008), 966-968, and Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984). John Soane's first contact with Ireland was in the summer of 1780, was when he was invited to Downhill, Co. Derry, by Frederick Hervey, Earl Bishop of Derry, to design additions and improvements to the house which Hervey had built on a bleak plateau above the sea. Soane had first met Hervey in 1778, when he was a student in Rome, and Hervey had swept him off to the south of Italy for the winter of 1778-9. On succeeding his brother as fourth Earl of Bristol in December 1779, Hervey had summoned Soane from Rome to design a new mansion on the family estate at Ickworth, Suffolk. After Soane had visited Ickworth, he was invited by Hervey to Downhill; his six-week stay - from 27 July until 2 September 1780 - proved entirely unproductive and ended in a rupture of his relations with the quixotic Hervey, for reasons which are not recorded.(1)

In 1790 Soane designed a villa for the Countess of Granard which has not been identified and may not have been built. His next recorded visit to Ireland was 1791 in connection with the remodelling of Baronscourt, Co. Tyrone, for the first Marquess of Abercorn. The new house was built to his designs but was badly damaged by fire in 1796 and only partly reinstated. Soane also prepared plans for a new Bank of Ireland in Dublin in 1799, which were not executed. His only other Irish commission was the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast, for which he supplied a number of alternative schemes without charge in 1808. The school was duly built, but the interior has undergone radical alteration.

The Irish Architectural Archive holds a copy of Soane's Designs for Public Improvements in London and Westminster (1828) which is inscribed on the flyleaf, 'To Jeremiah Harman Esq &c &c This volume is presented with sentiments of grateful recollections by the Author 27 Feby 1828'.

See WORKS, for Irish work only.


(1) For a detailed account of this visit see see Pierre du Prey, '"Je n'oublieray jamais": John Soane and Downhill', BIGS 21 (Jul-Dec 1978), 24-36.

6 work entries listed in chronological order for SOANE, JOHN (SIR) #

Sort by date | Sort alphabetically

Date: 1780
Nature: Proposed alterations, for Frederick Hervey, Earl Bishop of Derry. Not executed.
Refs: Plan and laid-out wall elevations for a designs for summer dining room and classical dog kennel in Soane Museum, Vol. 90, nos. 1 & 2; perspectives of alternative designs for the summer Dining Room in Soane Museum, Drawer 13, Set 4 (RA lecture drawings), nos. 1 & 2; P. Rankin, Irish Building Ventures of the Earl Bishop of Derry (UAHS, 1972), 18;  Pierre de la Ruffinière Du Prey, 'Soane and Hardwick in Rome: a Neo-Classical partnership', Architectural History XV (1972), 52;  Pierre de la Ruffinièredu Prey, '"Je n'oublieray jamais": John Soane and Downhill', BIGS 21 (Jul-Dec 1978), 24-36; Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984), 46-47,239.

Date: 1789;1791-92
Nature: Remodelling and enlarging of existing house, for 1st Marquess of Abercorn. Work supervised by Robert Woodgate. Main block gutted by fire, 1796.
Refs: Plan and elevation for a greenhouse for the Hon John James Hamilton, 1789 in Soane Museum, Drawer 8, Set 3, no. 23; 2 elevations in PRONI, T1726; PRONI, T2541/IAI/18-21 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44);  letters from Steuart to 1st Marquess of Abercorn, from 1779, in PRONI, Abercorn Papers, D 623 (see PRONI E-catalogue);  Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 130-132; Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984), 150-151,251, Pls. 101-2.

Date: 1790
Nature: Villa 'proposed to be built in Ireland' for Countess of Granard (i.e. Georgiana Augusta, widow of 5th Earl of Granard, who married Rev. Samuel Little, DD; perhaps not necessarily at Castle Forbes?)
Refs: Elevation and ground-floor plan of proposed house in Ireland for Lady Granard, 1790, in Soane Museum, Drawer 29, Set 5, A1-2; 3 plans and elevation in John Soane, Sketches in Architecture (1793), Pls. 22 & 23; alternative plan and elevation in Victoria & Albert Museum, see Pierre de la Ruffiniere du Prey, Sir John Soane (Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985), 43-44,Pl. 13; Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984), 250

Date: 1799
Nature: Design for proposed new bank on Westmoreland St. Unexecuted.
Refs: Designs, 1799-1800, in Soane Museum. Drawer 16, Set 7, 9, and Drawer 71, Set 4, 1-6; letter from Robert Woodgate to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum Archive: Private Correspondence XV.A.2.5; RA 1800, no. 1045; C.P. Curran, 'The Architecture of the Bank of Ireland' in F.G. Hall, The Bank of Ireland 1783-1946 (1949), 456-7; E. McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts', in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 100-101, Pls. 34,38; Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984), 262; Pierre de la Ruffiniere du Prey, Sir John Soane (Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985), 44

Date: 1808-1814
Nature: JS prepares 7 alternative schemes gratis. Modified designs executed . FS laid 3 Jul 1810. Finished 1814. Officially completed 5 Jun 1815. North wing added 1834 'almost certainly to original designs'(Brett). Interior subsequently remodelled.
Refs: 7 variant designs, d: 5 May 1808 - 18 Feb 1809, in Soane Museum, Drawer 71. Set. 5, nos. 1-41 & 43; bird's eye perspective in Soane Museum, Vol 90, no. 5; another bird's eye perspective in Victoria & Albert Museum, see Pierre de la Ruffiniere du Prey, Sir John Soane (Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985), 42; designs in PRONI, T 1580;  correspondence re building of school, 1808, in PRONI, SCH/524/7B (see PRONI e-catalogue, http://applications.proni.gov.uk/LL_DCAL_PRONI_ECATNI/ResultDetails.aspx , last visited Nov 2011;  J.H. Robb, Royal Belfast Academical Institution Centenary Volume (1913), 44 ff.; correspondence in PRONI,  Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect (1984), 270; C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 14-15, Pl.14

Date: 1815
Nature: Plans for additions.
Refs: Drawings, dated Jan, Feb 1815, in Soane Museum, Drawer 35, Set 1, 3-6