The first stage of the plan to “open up” Sir John Soane’s Museum in London is complete, meaning residents in Lancashire will soon see the antique cabinets and open bookcases used by one of England’s greatest architects in their original setting.
Sir John Soane (1753 to 1837) was an important English architect during the neo-classical period, whose home and offices in Holborn, London became a public museum. It extends over three adjoining buildings at 12 to 14 Lincolns Inn Fields, which Soane acquired and rebuilt in succession. At Number 13, which he made his private residence, he also built a museum to house his collections. Today, this is the main museum.
Before his death, Soane passed a private act of parliament bequeathing 12 and 13 Lincolns Inn Fields to the nation, with the instructions that they should be kept exactly as they were at the time of his death. Today, the house and museum continues to be a trust-held public body, aided by an annual grant from the government and bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund, who helped acquire Number 14 in 1997. This building was totally restored from 2006 to 2009, after which a new four-year project called ‘Opening up the Soane’ began. With phase one now complete, the Restoration of Soane’s private apartments is now under way.
While London is a long way from the Ribble Valley, the open bookcases, antique desks and other treasures of Sir John Soane’s Museum will make the trip well worthwhile. In the meantime, people in Lancashire can see antique marquetry furniture of similar quality by visiting an antique dealer.
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