Soane Museum

bite-size chunks of London

Sir John Soane’s House

Sir John Soane was an architect and antiquarian (1753–1837), born near Reading, Berkshire. He trained under George Dance the Younger, for whom he had first worked as an errand boy, and won Royal Academy medals for his archi­tec­tural drawings. In 1777 he travelled to Italy and spent three years studying classical archi­tecture. On his return he designed numerous public buildings, churches and country houses. In 1788 he was appointed architect to the Bank of England and he later served as clerk of works at St James’s Palace, the Palace of Westminster and Chelsea Royal Hospital. Surviving Soane buildings in London include Bentley Priory, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Norwood Hall and Pitshanger manor house.

The Soane Museum or Sir John Soane’s House is an extraordinary collection of books and manuscripts, works of art, classical artefacts and casts and models of the remains of antiquity assembled by Sir John Soane as an ‘academy of archi­tecture’ in the connecting houses that he designed in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. He bequeathed the buildings and the collection to the nation because his wife and one of his sons prede­ceased him and he intensely disliked his surviving son. The collection includes The Rake’s Progress, a ‘moral narrative’ painted in 1733–5 by William Hogarth and subsequently made into popular engravings.

Admission is free and the museum is lit by candle­light on the first Tuesday of each month, from 6 until 9pm.
Sir John Soane’s Museum