...Or "Padre Giovanni has come to visit."
|The Bank of England - designed by architect, John Soanes |
(not that this impressed my teenage son.)
|Portrait of John Soane by Chantry.|
To his credit my son tried to look disappointed as he excused himself by saying he needed to bathe his bearded dragon (which in all fairness, he did then do) - so I went alone.
|Sir John Soane's house / museum is the cream coloured building on the left.|
Numbers 12 -14 Lincoln's Inn Field were the home of influential Georgian architect, Sir John Soane (no, don’t switch off, I promise it will get more interesting) and what I hadn't realised before my visit, was just how excitingly eccentric the great man was. I went unprepared for the sheer scale of the collection crammed into his home. Artefacts press in from all sides, no wall space or flat surface unoccupied and yet everything is in perfect harmony and order. The sheer weight of marble cornices, capitals, friezes and plaques mounted on the walls set me wondering about the danger of collapse.
|Soane's breakfast room.|
Soane, his wife and their two sons and lived in the house / museum much as it appears today: Greek and Roman marbles line the stairwells, a full sized Egyptian sarcophagus in the basement, a room of Hogarth's mounted on hinged walls. In the basement, Soanes created an atmosphere reminiscent of catacombs or Roman burial chamber, of which the centre piece was the magnificent Egyptian sarcophagus of King Seti I; bought by Soanes when the
|Soane's Sarcophagus room - and yes, it is as mad|
Mrs Soane must have had the patience of a saint to put up with the stamp of her husband's overwhelming personality, but by all accounts they were a happy couple. A mark of Soane's eccentricity was his 'Monk's Parlour.' This was a downstairs room designed in a gothic fashion, with dark sombre colours and heavy furniture to illustrate the importance of light (or lack of it) in creating atmosphere. What is even more delightful is that when Soane wanted to be alone he would claim:
|Inside the Bank of England - an example of how|
Soanes used light so effectively.
The moral of this story is that sometimes the plaudits of history can blind us to the personalities who create it. No dry as dust exhibition of worthy achievements can ever set the imagination alight to the wonders of the past, quite so much as a glimpse into the mind of the people who inspired them.
About Grace Elliot.
Grace leads a double life as a veterinarian by day, and author of historical romance by night.
Her love of history, romance and ....cats ....is reflected in her blog:
Fall in Love With History : http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com
Her latest release is HOPE'S BETRAYAL -