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sir john soane museum 01

Museum of Sir John Soane in London, one of England's greatest architects. Soane died in 1837 and in 1833, by means of an Act of Parliament, he established the house as a Museum open to the public stipulating that it be kept 'as nearly as possible in the state in which he shall leave it'. In 1995 a five-year restoration programme was completed and the rooms are now almost exactly as they did on the day of Soane's death.

Soane was born in Berkshire in the youngest child of a bricklayer. At the age of 15 he became a pupil of the architect George Dance and moved up to London where he studied architecture at the Royal Academy and won a travelling scholarship which enabled him to spend two years in Italy. He returned to England in 1780 and soon showed his talent and determination, winning the important commission of architect to the Bank of England in 1788. He married, had two sons and in 1792 bought and built No. 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields as a home for the family with an office at the back.

In 1813 he moved next door into No.13, which he demolished and rebuilt as a new home but also as a Museum. He was now Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy and displayed his collection so as to educate and inspire 'Amateurs and Students in Painting, Architecture and Sculpture'.

After his wife's death in 1815 Soane lived alone here until his own death, constantly adding to and rearranging the displays. In 1823 he bought and rebuilt a third house, No. 14 Lincoln's Inn Fields. He rented out the house but used the stableyard at the back to extend his Museum. The facades of the three rebuilt houses form a symmetrical composition facing the Fields. The Museum was open in Soane's lifetime, but visitors were not admitted in 'wet or dirty weather'.

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP
Museum's web site

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