This article traces the early building history of Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, prior to its erection in 1809. Various unpublished drawings and manuscripts in the Soane collection establish the germ of the idea for the London museum nearly a decade earlier in an unrealized project for a specially designed gallery at Soane's villa in Ealing for his architectural collection. A series of designs leading up to the 1809 museum plan are here published for the first time. It is further shown how this pre-eminent British architect's museum idea represented a lifelong ambition to elevate the status of architecture and to establish an architectural dynasty. In the course of pursuing these twin goals, the architect created a uniquely eccentric private house-museum which became a public trust only four years before the architect's death.
- Copyright 1984 The Society of Architectural Historians