Marriage and children Soane's sons, George and John
On 24 June 1781 Soane leased rooms on the first floor of 53 Margaret Street, Westminster, for £40 per annum. It was here he would live for the first few years of his married life and where all his children would be born. In July 1783 he bought a grey mare that he stabled nearby. On 10 January 1784 Soane took a Miss Elizabeth Smith to the theatre, then on 7 February she took tea with Soane and friends, and they began attending plays and concerts together regularly. She was the niece and ward of a London builder George Wyatt, whom Soane would have known as he rebuilt Newgate Prison. They married on 21 August 1784 at Christ Church, Southwark. He always called his wife Eliza, and she would become his confidante.
Their first child John was born on 29 April 1786. His second son George was born just before Christmas 1787 but the boy died just six months later. The third son, also called George, was born on 28 September 1789, and their final son Henry was born on 10 October 1790 but died the following year from Pertussis. Soane's various houses Soane's country house, Pitzhanger Manor, designed and built 1800–3, sold by Soane in 1810
On the death of George Wyatt in February 1790 the Soanes inherited money and property, including a house in Albion Place, Southwark, where Soane moved his office.
On 30 June 1792 Soane purchased 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields for £2100. He demolished the existing house and rebuilt it to his own design, the Soanes moving in on 18 January 1794. By 1800 Soane was rich enough to purchase Pitzhanger Manor Ealing as a country retreat, for £4,500 on 5 September 1800. Apart from a wing designed by George Dance, Soane demolished the house and rebuilt it to his own design and was occupied by 1804, Soane used the manor to entertain friends and used to go fishing in the local streams.
In June 1808 Soane purchased 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields for £4,200, initially renting the house to its former owner and extending his office over the garden to the rear. On 17 July 1812 number 13 was demolished, the house was rebuilt and the Soanes moved in during October 1813. In 1823, Soane purchased 14 Lincoln's Inn Fields, he demolished the house, building the Picture Room attached to #13 over the site of the stables, in March 1825 he rebuilt the house to externally match #12. Family problems
Soane hoped that one or both of his sons would also become architects. His purchase of Pizhanger Manor was partially an inducement to this end. But both sons became increasingly wayward in their attitude and behaviour, showing not the slightest interest in architecture. John was lazy and suffered from ill health, whereas George had an uncontrollable temper. As a consequence Soane decided to sell Pitzhanger in July 1810.
John was sent to Margate in 1811 to try to help his illness and it was here that he became involved with a woman called Maria Preston. Soane agreed reluctantly to John's and Maria's marriage on 6 June, on the agreement that her father would produce a dowry of £2000, which failed to happen. Meanwhile, George who had been studying law at Cambridge University developed a friendship with James Boaden. George developed a relationship with Boaden's daughter Agnes and one month after his brother's wedding married her on 5 July. He wrote to his mother 'I have married Agnes to spite you and father'.
George Soane tried to extort money from his father in March 1814 by demanding £350 per annum, and claiming he would otherwise be forced to become an actor. Agnes gave birth to twins in September, one child died shortly after. By November her husband George Soane had been imprisoned for debt and fraud. In January 1815 Eliza paid her son's debts and repaid the person he had defrauded to ensure his release from prison. Sir John Soane's family tomb in the Old St Pancras churchyard (1816)
In 1815 an article was published in the Champion for 10 to 24 September entitled The Present Low State of the Arts in England and more particularly of Architecture. In the article Soane was singled out for personal attack, although anonymous it soon emerged that his son George had written the article. On 13 October, Mrs Soane wrote 'Those are George's doing. He has given me my death blow. I shall never be able to hold up my head again'. Soane's wife died on 22 November 1815, she had been suffering from ill health for some time. His wife's body was interred on 1 December in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church. He wrote in his diary for that day 'The burial of all that is dear to me in this world, and all I wished to live for!'. George and Agnes had another child, this time a son, Frederick (born 1815).
In 1816 Soane designed the tomb above the vault his wife was buried in it is built from Carrara marble and Portland Stone. The tomb avoids any Christian symbolism, the roof has a pine cone finial the symbol in Ancient Egypt for regeneration, below which is carved a serpent swallowing its own tail, symbol of eternity, there are also carvings of boys holding extinguished torches symbols of death. The inscription is:
Sacred To The Memory of Elizabeth, The Wife of John Soane, Architect She Died the 22nd November, 1815. With Distinguished Talents She United an Amiable and Affectionate Heart. Her Piety was Unaffected, Her Integrity Undeviating, Her Manners Displayed Alike Decision and Energy, Kindness and Suavity. These, the Peculiar Characteristics of Her Mind, Remained Untainted by an Extensive Intercourse With The World.
The design of the tomb was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott's design for the red telephone box. Soane's elder son John died on 21 October 1823, and was also buried in the vault. Maria, Soane's daughter-in-law, was now a widow with young children including a son also called John in need of support. So Soane set up a trust fund of £10,000 to support the family.
Soane found out in 1824 that his son George was living in a Ménage à trois with his wife and her sister by whom he had a child called George Manfred. Soane's grandson Fred and his mother were both subjected to domestic violence by George Soane, including beatings and in Agnes's case being dragged by her hair from a room. Soane refused to help them while they remained living with his son, who was in debt. However, by February 1834 Soane relented and was paying Agnes £200 per annum, also paying for Fred's education. In the hope that Fred would become an architect, after he left school, Soane placed him with architect John Tarring. In January 1835 Tarring asked Soane to remove Fred, who was staying out late often in the company of a Captain Westwood, a known homosexual. Maria, Soane's daughter-in-law, lived until 1855 and is buried on the edge of the south roundel in Brompton Cemetery.
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