Two views of Sir John Soane's Library-Dining Room looking north


The Library-Dining Room – the largest room in Soane’s house – was the main reception room. As its name suggests the room has a dual function. The triple-arched canopy also serves a dual function by subtly dividing the room in two while hiding the large structural beam that supports the ceiling. This feature was remodelled by Soane in 1832 when he flattened the central arch. It was one of the many changes that Soane continued to make to 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields after moving into the house in 1813. The ‘Pompeian red’ walls were inspired by the interiors of Roman villas.

Barbara Hofland, co-author of the 1835 edition of Soane’s Description…, eulogised: ‘The general effect of these rooms is admirable; they combine the characteristics of wealth and elegance, taste and comfort, with those especial riches which belong expressly to literature and art, – to the progressive proofs of human intellect and industry, given, from age to age, in those works which most decisively evince utility and power’.

Full title:
Description of the House and Museum, on the North side of Lincoln's Inn-Fields, the residence of Sir John Soane. [By Sir J. Soane.]
Watercolour / Pencil drawing
Charles James Richardson
© British Library
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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The Description of the House and Museum of Sir John Soane

Article by:
Tom Drysdale
Antiquarianism, Town and city

Sir John Soane, an architect and avid collector of art and antiquities, spent years designing in his Lincoln's Inn Fields home and curating his collections within it. As Tom Drysdale highlights, an extra-illustrated volume in the British Library reveals how Soane's unique house-museum evolved.