Sir John Soane, the architect behind such structural London monoliths as the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery left a huge collection of architectural models and artefacts after his death in 1837. Three houses in Lincoln Inn Fields were bought and renovated by the well-respected architect for the sole intention of educating others in the vast history of international architecture.
Currently the house attracts 100,000 visitors a year and is host to a wide array of collections. These include paintings from the likes of Romanticist artist JMW Turner and the Italian Landscape painter and etcher Giovanni Antonio Canaletto. These can be found dotted around the house, including a portrait of Soane by oil painter Thomas Lawrence. Painter John Flaxman also made a portrait of Soane’s wife which can be found in the museum.
Soane’s collection is not restricted to paintings however. Over the years Soane acquired many architectural artefacts and fragments, including Ancient Greek and Roman bronzes, some even finding their roots in the famous city of Pompeii. One notable artefact is the Ancient Egyptian alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I, covered in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Chinese ceramics, Peruvian pottery and Ivory furniture can also be found around the house.
As you would expect from a famous architect, the house holds an architectural research library. This library holds Soane’s collection of over 30,000 architectural drawings and over 10,000 books. Quite the book stash for one man to have acquired! Entrance to this archive and library is available on appointment from Wednesday to Friday 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 if those staying at the Park Grand Hotel Lancaster Gate happen to be architecture lovers.
Alongside the generous selection of workshops and talks available at the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the surrounding Holborn area also boasts a variety of dining potentials. These involve the highly rated Scarfes bar, the traditional English Pub the Ship Tavern and the stylish Kimchee. The Shakespeare’s Head is of note for drinking; located just down the road from Holborn station it serves a wide range of British Ales and beers and is known for its great location and as a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. Travel from the Park Grand Hotel Lancaster Gate to the Sir John Soane’s Museum is also easy. The Southbound Bakerloo line from Paddington will take you to Charing Cross, from where a scenic walk through Covent Garden will have you at the museum within fifteen minutes.