SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM
The architect Sir John Soane moved into number 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn in 1792, and over the next 32 years he bought numbers 13 and 14 as well. All three were gradually demolished and rebuilt, inside and out. Soane used his home as an architectural laboratory, a place in which to experiment with new ideas, techniques and technology, such as installing a bath with hot water – remarkable for the period.
As Professor of Architecture at the nearby Royal Academy, Soane was keen to share his ideas and theories with his students as well as the rest of society. Accordingly, he transformed the rear of number 13 into a museum, and conducted regular tours of the house. A highlight of any visit was undoubtedly the Model Room. It contained a number of important and rare miniatures – from the ruins of Pompeii and Paestum to Soane’s own designs for the Bank of England – and allowed him and his apprentices to study classical architecture.
Now reopened to the public after 160 years, the Model Room is enchanting and educating visitors once again – especially since the Pompeii miniature might be the only one of its kind in England, and the collection as a whole is the largest in the country, if not the world.
Also back on public display are Soane’s private apartments, including his Bedroom and his wife’s Morning Room, meaning it’s now possible to see the entire house as it was in Soane’s lifetime. * For more information, visit soane.org
LEFT The Breakfast Room features a mirrored and domed ceiling ABOVE Soane designed the ingenious ‘moveable planes’ in the Picture Room when he was 71 ABOVE RIGHT The modest exteriors of 12–14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields do not betray the cornucopia of treasures housed within
ABOVE The floor of the Model Room has been covered in a mosaic design based on coloured illustrations from when Soane was alive. The stand on which the models sit was Soane’s own design RIGHT A plumbed bath with hot water was incredibly rare in 1820 when Soane’s bathroom was created