Batten’s The Architecture…

The Walpole Society of London published a lengthy article by Miss M.I. Batten (Marjorie Isabel Batten, Walpole Society (London) 25, 83-113 (1936-7)) on ‘The Architecture of Dr Robert Hooke FRS’. The article and the illustrations are reproduced here, with headings to ease navigation. The text is as Miss Batten gave it, together with Hooke’s original spelling in his Diaries.


The Royal College of Physicians
The Bethlehem Hospital
The Screen in Merchant Taylors’ Hall
Montagu House
Willen Church
Ragley Hall
Aske’s Almshouses, Hoxton


THE Diaries of Dr. Robert Hooke, Curator of the Royal Society, cover the periods from March 1672 to the end of December 1680 (in the manu­script entries continue intermittently to May 1683), from November 1688 to March 1690, and again from December 1692 to August 1693. The first section, the original of which is in the Guildhall Library, has been edited by H. W. Robinson and W. Adams (published 1935), and the remaining sections, both of which are in the Department of Manuscripts of the British Museum, have been edited and published by Dr. R. T. Gunther as volume x of Early Science in Oxford (1935). These are all that are known to exist. The very eminent part that Hooke played in the scientific world of the late seventeenth century has never been forgotten, but his architectural work, in spite of the testimony of Aubrey, Evelyn, and Ward, has been completely neglected. This is to some extent due to the genius of Sir Christopher Wren, whose reputation dominated the period for subsequent architectural historians, collecting to his name a number of buildings in which he had had no hand. Two at least of these, the Royal College of Physicians in Warwick Lane and Willen Church in Buckinghamshire, must now definitely be acknowledged as Hooke’s work. Others, such as the Monument to the Fire of London and the Navy Office in Seething Lane, besides probab1y some of the work on the City Churches, become a complicated tangle which it seems probable will now never be com­pletely unravelled. A contributory feature to the neglect of Hooke as an architect was the fact that after the Fire he was appointed one of the City Surveyors, and historians, whenever they found his name connected with a building in the City, jumped to the conclusion that he had been employed simply to measure the site. Stephen Wren, Sir Christopher’s grandson, tells us in Parentalia (1750) that immediately after the Fire Wren took to his assistance his ingenious and able associate Robert Hooke’,1 and Elmes in his Memoirs of Sir Christopher Wren (1853) also has many references to Hooke, but both these authors seem to have taken it for granted that Hooke’s work was principally surveying. Elmes allows that Hooke may have had more to do than this in some cases, for Birch’s History of the Royal Society relates that in 1667-8 both Wren and Hooke were connected with designs for the proposed Royal Society Building.2

Robert Hooke was born at Freshwater in the Isle of Wight in 1635. Aubrey, in his Brief Lives (ed. A. Clark, 1898) tells us that Hooke early showed an aptitude for drawing as well as mathematics, and after his father’s death in 1648 he was sent up to London to be ‘bound apprentice to Mr Lilley the paynter with whom he was a little while upon tryall’.3  But Hooke decided that Lely had little to teach him and so took himself off. Aubrey also says that he was at some time taught drawing by Samuel Cooper. After leaving Lely Hooke went to Dr. Busby’s at Westminster [School], where he astonished the doctor by his feats of learning. He went to Oxford about 1650 and matriculated in 1658. It was at Oxford that he met Wren, probably about 1655 at the meetings of the ‘Experi­mental Philosophical Clubbe’ which later became the Royal Society. The two formed an intimate friendship, and it is probable that they were also connected by marriage. Both were to be professors at Gresham College, and throughout the seventies the Diary shows that the two men were meeting almost daily, working together on architecture and science, besides dining and going to plays. The later Diaries show them still great friends though no longer con­nected in architectural practice.

Aubrey, who is frequently mentioned in the Diaries, made familiar use of Hooke’s rooms in Gresham College, using them as the address to which he had his letters sent. His notes on Hooke are therefore particularly interesting. He says:  ‘He built Bedlam, the Physitian’s College, Montague-house, the Piller on Fish-street-hill, and Theatre there; and he is much made use of in designing buildings.’

Aubrey’s statement that Hooke and not Wren built the Pillar-on-Fish-street-hill is arresting because he knew both men well. Dr. Gunther in volume vii of Early Science in Oxford has published Hooke’s autographed Survey of the Monument, and it is quite clear from the Diary that Hooke was far more nearly connected with its erection than has generally been allowed. During six years, from 1673 to 1679, Hooke is constantly referring to the Pillar, as the following extracts from the Diary show: 1673, October 19th, ‘perfected module of Piller’; 1674, June 1st, At the pillar at Fish Street Hill. It was above ground 210 steps’; August 7th, ‘At the Pillar in height 250 steps’; 1675, September 21st, ‘At fish-street-hill on ye top of ye column’. On April 11th, 1676, he was with Wren ‘at the top of ye Piller’. On October 14th, he notes ‘scaffolds at fish-street-piller almost all struck’, but a year later he went again ‘to piller about scaffold’ and on October 26th he ‘directed corners’. He also had a good deal of trouble with the inscription, but on June 17th, 1678, he ‘saw Monument inscription now finished’, though as late as April 10th, 1679, he writes, ‘At Fish Street Piller. Knight cut wrong R. for P. It would seem as if Wren in his position as Surveyor­ General to the Royal Works had to be officially consulted, but that Hooke, either in his capacity as City Surveyor or as Wren’s partner, did most of the work.’4

Wren, during the seventies, had more work than anyone man could do, for there was the bulk of the City Churches, St. Paul’s, Trinity College Library, Temple Bar, Greenwich Observatory, the Mausoleum for Charles I, and one or two private commissions besides his routine work as Surveyor-General. From Hooke’s Diary it appears that the two men were working together on many of Wren’s buildings, though doubtless always with Wren as the senior partner. On June 22nd, 1675, Hooke notes. ‘At Sir Ch. Wren order… .   to direct Observatory in Greenwich park for Sir J. More. He promised money.’ He also visits Temple Bar with Wren. St. Paul’s, though essentially Wren’s work, is frequently mentioned in the Diary, and even here Wren was not averse to Hooke’s friendly criticisms.

Hooke was certainly connected with the building of the City churches. Nearly all of them are mentioned in the Diary, those he visited most frequently being St. Benets Finck, St. Laurence, St. Magnus, St. Stephen’s Walbrook, Bassingshaw Church, St. Anne’s and St Agnes, and St. Martin’s Ludgate. The entries are continuous and show him visiting them with Wren and without him, passing accounts and attending meetings of the parish councils. A typical church visiting day is the following: April 13th, 1675; Sir Chr. Wren and Mr Woodroof here. To Dionis Backchurch, Buttolphs, Walbrook, Coleman Street, St. Bartholomews. Dind at Levets. With Sir Ch. Wren to Paules.’ A few days later we get ‘I was several times about accounts at Sir Ch. Wren with Woodroof. I transacted the business of St. Laurence Church with Mr. Firman.’ In April 1676 Hooke ‘agreed with Marshall about St. Bride’s Church Tower’. In July 1674 is the entry, ‘with St. Martins Parish at the Greyhound. . . . Saw all things concluded what to doe,’ He gives a list of those present and Wren’s name is not among them. Besides the very many references to the churches themselves there are many others relating to payments from Wren to Hooke ‘on ye City Churches account’. These appear in the Diary separately from the payments that Hooke was receiving from the City of London for his work as City Surveyor. From November 1674 to October 1681 Hooke received something over eight hundred pounds, though as some of the entries are ‘due from Sir Chr. Wren’ and others are ‘received’, sometimes after an interval of several months, it is difficult to be sure of the precise amount.

One of the problems which the Diary raises is whether Wren or Hooke built the Navy Office in Seething Lane. The old Navy Office was burnt at the end of January 1673. In April Hooke is busy about plans for rebuilding. April 17th, ‘with Lord Brounker all the morn about Navy Office’. Two days later, ‘to Dr Wren at Paules about Navy Office module’. April 20th, ‘At the Lord Brounkers, discoursd about Navy Office’. Several other entries occur during the next few weeks and then stop to start again early in the following year. 1674, March 27th, ‘Sir Dionis Gauden here about Navy Office’. On November 27th, ‘Sir Christopher Wren promisd Fitch Navy  Office’. After December the entries cease, but it is clear that Hooke has done a design with the approval of certain members of the Board, and also that he had seen Wren about it. In the Minutes of the Navy Board5 Hooke’s name never appears, but in March 1674 is the minute ‘Send to ye Surveyor General for a Draught of ye Ground layout for the Navy Office’. Negotiations for the ground are protracted, but on December 4th, ‘Sir Christopher Wren Present – a draught of ye Office and of ye House with an Estimate of ye charge’ appears. Further disputes about the ground arc noted during the next few weeks At the end of March 1675 the Navy Office Minutes cease, those for the years immediately following having been destroyed in a fire. The Treasury Papers throw little further light on the matter, though Wren’s name appears in his official capacity of Surveyor-General. In the Navy Office Bills and Accounts there is no record of any pay­ment. As Surveyor-General Wren was certainly consulted, but he may have put forward Hooke’s design. The building is illustrated in Wheatley’s edition of Pepys’s Diary (1893-9), vol. i, frontispiece.

Hooke’s work as City Surveyor entailed the measuring of sites and also a good deal of work connected with Fleet Ditch and the two bridges crossing it at Holborn and at the foot of Ludgate Hill. It is possible that these bridges were designed by Hooke. He and Knight, the City Mason, worked closely together over the Cheapside Obelisk6 and the Snowhill Conduit. The proposed Quay7 along the north bank of the Thames is also frequently mentioned. The new maps made by Ogilby and others are referred to in the Diary as being submitted to Hooke for his approval. Unfortunately the plan for rebuilding London which Hooke produced immediately after the Fire has been lost. From descriptions it would appear to have been of the gridiron type.

Much valuable information for architectural historians is contained in the Diaries, but unfortunately the first and largest section, by far the most important, has been published with a very ineffectual index. The entries in the Diary are telegraphic and almost devoid of punctuation, and to get the full value very careful study indeed is required. It is necessary to sort out all the different people mentioned and to determine which craftsmen are working on which buildings. Frequently it occurs that the same mason or bricklayer is working with Hooke on two or more jobs concurrently, and then it is impossible to decide to which each particular entry relates. Further difficulties are raised by eminent benefactors to the City being connected with several charities. Sir William Turner, for instance, was president of the associated hospitals (Bedlam and Bridewell) from 1669 to 1689 and from 1690 to 1693, and Lord Mayor from 1668 to 1669. He was also a prominent member of the Merchant Taylors. Consequently the reasons for meetings with Turner, unless their purpose is specified, are guess-work.

For the sake of clarity it has seemed best to treat each individual building separately, and, as there is no adequate index to the largest portion of the Diary, to quote a certain number of the entries. The modern method of dating the year from January 1st has been used throughout, thus when Hooke writes ‘February 1678/9.’ it is here dated 1679. A list of the craftsmen working on each building has been given. In the Diaries, naturally enough, these craftsmen figure under their surnames without initials or descriptions except in rare cases. Many of these names occur in the accounts of the City Churches and other buildings published by the Wren Society, and also in The London Masons of the 17th Century (1935), by Professor Douglas Knoop and Mr. G. P. Jones. These have been considered legitimate means of identifying the trades of the crafts-men employed by Hooke.

In the Department of Manuscripts of the British Museum is a miscellaneous collection of drawings, called Add. MSS. 5238, some of which, as for example Bedlam and the plan of the Quay, are certainly by Hooke

The buildings which Hooke is known to have designed, though they cover a period of more than twenty years from 1670 to early in the nineties, show very little development in style. The chief influences observed are early seventeenth­ century French, and Dutch. Hooke in his Diary mentions tile purchase or borrowing of several French and Dutch books and prints of architecture. Bedlam, though essentially French in conception, shows Dutch influence in its detail. The roofs are of a form common throughout the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century in France and are especially typical of de Brosse and Lemercier. Richelieu, one of Lemercier’s most important works, and of which Hooke possessed the engravings by Perelle, is perhaps the most extravagant example of this kind of composition The treatment of the pavilions with sepa­rate roofs inevitably tends to break up the design, and Hooke shows that he has not succeeded in surmounting this difficulty any better than many of his eminent forerunners. It is possible that the rather unfortunate handing of the entablatures at Aske’s Almshouses, which run through from the low wings into the main block, is an attempt to rectify this lack of unity so noticeable at Bedlam. The planning of Ragley, with its wings treated as pavilions, seems to be reminiscent of de Brosse’s treatment at the Luxembourg, except that at Ragley the pavilions have not got separate hipped roofs and the general effect is in consequence less French than at Bedlam. Another possible French reminiscence at Ragley is the treatment of the order on the central feature of the front, where the complete entablature is not carried across under the pediment, an omission so disapproved of by the eighteenth-century critics of the works of du Cerceau and Lemercier at the Tuileries. The roof of the central feature of Add. MSS. 5238, no, 56, possibly Montague House, with its curved slopes crowned with a balustrade, is also a typically French feature.

The Dutch influence at Bedlam is to be found in the motif of swags, with windows above and below, placed between the pilasters on the fronts of the three pavilions. A similar device is to be found in several of Ving Boons’s8 plates. The same motif appears in between the lower order in the courtyard front of the Physicians’ College, and swags are somewhat similarly used on the exterior of the Theatre.  Hooke certainly possessed a copy of Ving Boons though he did not buy it till 1674, when the Diary also records the purchase of a Le Muet.9 Ving Boons, however, was first published in the forties, with a second edition in 1660.  The treatment of the centre feature in relation to the roof in the design of Sir Walter Young’s house, as published by Campbell,10 also suggests Dutch influence, for it is a common device in Ving Boons. The centre feature of Add. MSS. 5238, no. 56, seems to come from the same source. Hooke, however, was familiar with a higher authority than the Dutch for this type of design, for it appears in Rubens’s Palazzi di Genova (1622), a work the influence of which throughout northern Europe in the mid-seventeenth century can hardly be exaggerated and a copy of which Hooke certainly possessed.

Dutch and French works are not the only sources from which Hooke drew, and the Diaries mention his possession of such obvious works as Vitruvius, Serlio, and Evelyn’s Parallel of ancient Architecture with the modern (1664). From these he would derive a more orthodox treatment of the normal Renaissance motifs than from some of his Dutch and French books. He draws on them all indiscriminately. This is also true of Wren in his early works, and makes the problem of Hooke’s share in the City churches even more obscure. Equally there is nothing in the manner of the Navy Office as shown in the extant engravings to help to determine the question of authorship left open by the documents. This similarity in handling their sources raises the doubt whether among the drawings published by the Wren Society, as early works of Wren, there may not be some drawings of Hooke’s to be found, apart from the drawings of the Monument and the drawing referred below to the Physicians’ College. All these are in Add. MSS. 5238, but in view of the close connection between the two men it would not be surprising to find some in the collection at All Souls.


[1] Stephen Wren, Parentalia (1750), p 263.

[2] Birch’s History of the Royal Society (1756) vol ii pp 299 et seq.

[3] Aubrey, Brief Lives(ed A Clark 1898) vol i, p 410.

[4] See also the Minutes of the City Lands Committee published in Wren Society, vol. v, pp 46-9.

[5] Record Office, Admiralty 106, vols. 2887, 2888.

[6] See British Museum, Department of Manuscripts, Add.MSS.5238, nos 63, 73, 74, reproduced Wren Society vol v, pl xxxv.

[7] See British Museum, Department of Manuscripts, Add.MSS.5238, no. 83, reproduced Early Science in Oxford, vol x, p. 62.

[8] Philips Ving Boons, Granden en Afbeeldsels der voornamste Gebouwen, Amsterdam, 1648.

[9] Pierre le Muet, Maniere de bien Bastir pour toutes sortes de Personnes, 1623. First English translation 1675.

[10] Colin Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus or the British Architect, 2 vols., 1717-25.

The Royal College of Physicians

The entries in the Diary relating to the College of Physicians occur on almost every page from the opening in August 1672 till March 1678, when they become rarer as the work draws to a close. It is only possible to give a few of them.
1672. December 2nd. Gave Dr. Whistler estimate of physitians theatre.
1673 April 13th. Drew front of two lower storys of theatre. April 14th. Coffin began theatre. December 5th. with Mr. Story measuring at the Physitians College the Stonework.
1674. May 1st. Drew Designe for the Theater, May 26th. To Physitians College. They resolved Theater backwards. June 16th. At Sir J. Cutlers. Spoke to him. He resolved Theater before. July 20th, Set out Theatre at Colledge. August 7th. Propounded open theater. Agreed to. Sir Ch. Scarborough pleasd. September 5th. Past Smiths bill at the colledge, September 19th. At Colledge. Lem doing things contrary to order. Orderd glasing stopping, Whiting, hanging doors, putting on locks etc. December 4th. To Colledge past glasiers bill. December 21st. Gave draught to Hammond of Colledge Gate. December 23rd. Mrs. Hondius Demands money for Pictures. £20 account for Chimny Dining and £50 for the other chimny – unreasonable.
1675. January 12th. Agreeing with Story and Hammond for £210 for Colledge gate. February 19th. I had order from Sir G. Ent, Sir Ch. Scarborough, Dr. Whistler, and Allein to bespeak Dr. Harvey’s head of Pierce, as also about the King’s statue and Sir J. Cutler spoke about Painter. Past J. Lems bill about labourers which Mr. Jenkins affirmed to be just and true to his knowledge.
1676. April 14th. agreed with John Hayward for £140 for Roof of the Theater and sent him to Sir J. Cutler. May 5th. Deliverd Lems and Glasiers hill to Dr. Cox. September 22nd. At Theatre, Directed seates. November 6th At Physitians colledg auditing Groves and Talbots bills.
1677 January 13th. Bird told me Sir J. Cutler had paid him for Ball.1 February 27th. Saw Colledg ball up. April 13th Colledge order made for finishing the building on each side of the Theater. June 9th. Grove signed contract for plaistering the theater. August 8th. Directed Talbot about pipes and gutters.
1678 December 9th. directed Hayward about Theater Spire windows.
1679 March 8th.  Heard Dr. Charltons Lecture at Physicians Colledge.
The Principal Front in the Court at the Royal College of Physicians, Warwick Lane, London.
Pencil drawing by J Buckler, May 29th 1828.
(British Museum Add. MSS. 36370, f.158)

The Cash Books and Annals of the Royal College of Physicians prove the truth of the Diary. Hooke’s name occurs frequently. Wren’s is mentioned only once, in 1674, when he in company with several distinguished physicians were invited to inspect the buildings. Dr. Gunther gives relevant extracts from these documents in Early Science in Oxford, vol. vii, pp. vii and viii. The first entry occurs as early as December 1670 and shows that the houses round the court­yard were built first. The foundations for these were laid on March 12th, 1671.

The College removed to Sir Robert Smirke’s building in Pall Mall in 1825, but Hooke’s buildings lingered on for some years, the theatre being demolished in about 1866 and most of the remainder being burnt out in 1879.

Illustrations and references

The Theatre and entrance gate at the Royal College of Physicians, Warwick Lane, London. Pencil drawing by J. Buckler, 1828.
(Brit. Mus. Add. MSS 36370, f 157)

Illustrations are fairly numerous, e.g. Public Buildings of London, by Britten and Pugin; Microcosm of London, Ackerman; Early Science in Oxford, vol. viii. An article by A. Stratton in the Architectural Review, 1916 (vol xxxix, p. 69), gives an interesting account of the college buildings, although erroneously attributing them to Wren, and also a plan and section of the theatre.

In British Museum Add. MSS. 5238 is an interesting drawing, reproduced in the Wren Society’s publications (vol. v, plate 33), which would appear to be a preliminary drawing for the principal front of the courtyard to which it bears a strong resemblance.


Masons: Hammond, Story, Smith. Bricklayers: Fitch, Samuels, Lem.  Carpenters: Hayward, Avis, Whiting. Joiner: Davies. Smith: Bird.  Plaisterer: Grove. Plumber: Talbot. Painter: Hondius. Carver: Pierce. Unidentified:  Gate, Hewk, Griffith, Coffin, Parsons.

The Bethlehem Hospital

V0013185 The Hospital of Bethlem [Bedlam] at Moorfields, London
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
According to an inscription which was put up in the entrance hall Bethlehem Hospital was built in fifteen months between April 1675 and July 1676.11 This statement would not appear to agree with the fact that the entries in Hooke’s Diary spread over four years, but actually a good deal of preliminary work took place before building started, arid various odd jobs, including apparently the building of the Chapel, continued after the King had opened the Hospital in August 1676. There are nearly a hundred entries in the Diary relating to Bedlam, a selection of which are given here.

1674 April 14thWith Dr. Allen at Bedlam, Viewed Morefields for new Bedlam. Drew up report for him. At Sir W. Turner. Undertook new Designe of it. June 2nd. View in moorfields with Committee at hospitall. July 10th. At Davys about Bedlam module. July 11thAt Bridewell agreed the module for Bedlam. September 28th. Set out Morefield for Bethlehem wih Sir W. Turner, Sir. Th. Player etc. November 13th. Desgnd module of Bedlam.
1675 January 6th. With Sir Th. Player and the Treasurer12 about morefields walk and semicircle13.  Sir T. Player ordered me to agree about Levelling the walk and Re-mounting the trees.  March 2nd. Fitch began the planking etc. – of the foundation. April 9th. At the Bedlam Committee who after some bickering left the matter of the stairs to me. June 9th. At Bedlam agreed about the sewer, the window under gallery, oak doorcases, etc. July 1st. With Committee we agreed about slating. July 19th. Committee at Bedlam ordered all stone front. A great Huff with treasurer and Chase. August 4th. At Bedlam, Agreed whole Roof.September 7th. At Treasurer Ducanes Comtee. They agreed Lucarnes14 12 Carved Cantilevers, Lanthornes etc. flats. September 24th. Drew turret for Bethlem. Treated with Bates and Audley for 3 turrets for £90. September 28th. To Cartwright saw his Statues for Bedlam Gates. October 19th. To new Bedlam chimney all awray. October 20th. agreed with glasiers for small quarrys at 4d 3 farthings per foot, for Squares 5½ d the Lead to be 12 inches to an ounce and the glass every thick. December 16thShewd Battes about Bedlam shutters and Hayward about Roof.
1676 April 12thAgreed with John Hayward for £440 for Roof Lanthorn, bracketting etc. April 26th. At Bedlam committee, turret lanthorn put up. concluded. July 1st. With Sir Ch. Wren at Bedlam. Advised the widening the walk to the middle of Morefields. August 28th. I forgot to write this and the following weeks till September 9th. . . King at Bedlam on Tuesday 29th of August, Committee at Bedlam the day before.15October 6thAt Bedlam with the Treasurer valuing carpenters bills. October 28th. Severall committees at Bedlam about auditing bills where things went according to my prices. December 31st. Due from Hospital for Bedlam building and Surveying £200.
1677 January 18th. To Sir Wm. Turner about Spittle and Bedlam. He spake fair. I promisd Stevenson should paint Bedlam and Loggan grave it.
1678 January 8th. Received letter from Chase about Bedlam chappell. January 9th. With Chase and Knowles at Bridewell about chappell. Drew Designe for chappell.

An interesting point that emerges from the Diary is Hooke’s visit to Cartwright in September 1675 (see above) about the statues for the Bedlam gates. The famous statues of the Madnesses16 have always been attributed to Caius Gabriel Cibber, but curiously enough Hooke makes no reference to Cibber in connection with Bedlam nor does Cibber’s name occur in the Court books.17 Pope, in the Dunciad, referring to Colley Cibber, Caius Gabriel’s son, mentions the Madnesses ‘by his fam’d father’s hand’.18 On the outer piers of the gates stood a lion and a unicorn.

In 1800 the building was reported to be insecure and the new hospital was built in Southwark in 1812-15.

Illustrations and References

Aubrey states that Hooke built Bedlam, and Strype gives an account of the hospital. Old engravings are frequent and occur in Strype, Pennant, and Maitland’s History of London. Evelyn describes it as ‘magnificently built, and most sweetly placed in Moorfields’.In British Museum Add. MSS. 5238 is a preliminary colour wash drawing of one of the end pavilions of Bedlam which has been reproduced in the Hooke Diary. In this there is also a reproduction of an engraving of the whole facade of the Hospital from the Soane Museum.


Mason: Robert Smith(?) Bricklayers: Fitch and Lem. Carpenters: Bates, Hayward, Audley, Knowles, Jarmin(?) Joiner: Davies. Smiths: Bird, Lever. Carver: Cartwright. Glasier; Jarmin(?)

Scarborough also plays an important part as he does in many of Hooke’s buildings.19


[11] Given in J. Stow’s Survey of London, ed. Strype, 1720, vol. 1, Book I, p.192.

[12] Treasurer Ducane.

[13] Forecourt: see illustration above.

[14] It is interesting to note that Hooke throughout calls dormer window by the French name of Lucarnes.

[15] The Rev. E.G.O’Donoghue in The Story of Bethlehem Hospital, 1914, p.213, suggests that the staff and patients moved in during the last week in July as the first burial from the new building is recorded on August 2nd.

[16] Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

[17] See The Rev E.G.O’Donoghue, op.cit., p.205.

[18] Alexander Pope, Works, 1751, v.73, Dunciad, Book I.

[19] Scarborough is mentioned in connection with ten of the City Churches (Wren Soc. vol.x), as measuring surveyor at St. Paul’s from 1687 (Wren Soc. vol. xiv), in the same capacity at Hampton Court from 1689 (Wren Soc. vol.v), and as clerk of the works at Greenwich from May 1696. By November 1696 he was dead. (Wren Soc. vol vi).

The Screen in Merchant Taylors’ Hall

One of the few remaining works by Hooke is to be seen20 in the Merchant Taylors’ Hall. This is the carved wooden screen that stretches across one end of the Hall, and apart from slight alterations to the doors it is as Hooke left it. In the Diary on August 15th, 1673, is the entry ‘at Merchant Taylors Hall, Designe of Screen and pavement accepted’. This is confirmed in the Minutes of the Merchant Taylors Company for that year. A further entry in the minutes states that ‘Whiting joyner . . shall have £200 for all joyners, Carvers and Carpenters work for the Skreene in the Hall according to a Designe this day presented by Mr. Hooke’.

The Hall at the Merchant Taylors had escaped the Fire, but the buildings adjoining it had been destroyed, as also the School in Suffolk Lane. Hooke has a number of entries relating to both, for example: 1676, April 25th, ‘Drew designe for Merchant Taylors’ According to the Minutes of the Company, in April 1676 Hooke and Oliver (City Surveyor) were asked for a design, Avis21 (carpenter) and Lem22 (bricklayer) being asked for another, for the rebuilding of the King’s Chamber and Parlour adjoining the Hall. The matter then lapsed for some time, presumably for lack of funds, but in 1680 Lem and Avis are commissioned to build and two years later they receive their final payment. The building done by them includes the fine seventeenth-century staircase still extant.20

Hooke has several entries relating to the School, for example, 1674, January 28th, ‘At Merchant Taylors Scole Ordered to draw up platt’, and the following day ‘Contrived with Lem Designe of Merchant Taylors School’. In spite of these and many other entries in the Diary Hooke’s name never appears in the Company’s Books except in reference to the screen and when he is asked to prepare a design for the building adjoining the Hall. Lem had been at work at the School as early as 1671 and from the minutes it would appear that Lem was mainly responsible. It is, however, possible that Hooke was called in unofficially and paid by Sir William Turner to advise on Lem’s plans.

The Screen in the Hall of the Company of Merchant Taylors, Threadneedle Street, London. (Destroyed during WW2)


[20] Sadly, no longer; the Hall was bombed and the screen destroyed in WW2.

[21] Avis or Annis, described in Wren Soc. volumes as joiner (e.g. vol. x p.124).

[22] Lem or Lenn.

Montagu House

Between August 1674 and September 1680 Hooke, in his Diary, makes nearly a hundred and fifty references to Montagu House. The following have been selected as being the most interesting and showing the progress of the work.

Pen and wash drawing, possibly the north front of Montagu House
(British Museum Add. MSS 5238 no 56)
1674 September 2nd, With Mr, Montacue to Southampton Fields. September 12th, At home all day about Mr. Montacue plat. September 13th Completed Designe. October 12th. At Mr. Montacues with Mr Fitch and agreed upon setting out ground etc, At the Ground and drank with Mullett and Fitch. December 13th, Drew upright of Wings for Montacue. December 15th, With Mr. Montacue, Mr. Sidley, Fitch, Davys here. Saw module approved. Orderd all haste to be made.
1675 March 5th Finisht estimate for Mr Montacue. March 17th. Mr. Fitch here, Before he went to Mr. Montacue. Davys men brought in Module. Directed carpenter about the Ceeling of the stairs and partition and shoring plate of dining room  May May 22nd in Bloomsberry with Mr. Montacue Mr. Russell, Leak, etc, Measurd out Ground to a square June 29th. Set out Mr Montacues front. July 6th Set out foundations. July 24th Fell out with Mr. Fits about the stock bricks in the front of the house. September 1st. Saw the chimneys set out.  November 13th.  Mr. Montacue agreed with Davys. Italian painter Plaisterer and hanging maker.
1676 April 28thto Mr. Montacues. The west half of his Roof up. Resolved on the height of the wings, the rooms to be only 14 foot in the cleer.  May 2nd.  With Mr. Fitch at Bloomsberry    Directed the placing the chimneys in the garrets. May 10th . Mr. Povey to board the upper part of the Roof.  May 24th, At Mr. Montacues. Saw his new bought picture some good. Much discourse with him about high roof. To Bloomsberry. Discoursd Hayward he demanded £30 for higher roof, stair, stairhead, chimneys etc. June 29thScarborough here about mending chimney it was crackd and setled  June 30th. Scarborough here, Newland asked £4 for new fitting chimneys. Orderd Scarborough to have them proceeded with. July 1st With Mr. Montacue about covering chimneys…. To Bloomsberry. At the top of the new flat. Directed covering and trussing chimneys. He orderd Copper guilt balls and iron work for pavilion chimneys 23. I directed moulding at the bottom of the chimneys. July 3rdDirected the top of chimneys at Thomsons. July 4thWith Waters about chimney pieces. July 8thTo Thomsons and Bloomsberry. Irons for chimney done. July 24th At Mr Montacues. Discoursd about Portico and cupelos. August 17th.  Spoke with Mr. Montacue . . about altering the chimneys on the pavilions. September 12th, At Mr. Montacues. He allowed to leave out turret of  wings. September 21st To Mr. Montacues. With him to Bloomsberry. Pleasd chimneys. Cupelos over gateways 1, etc. . . Discoursd with Thomson about gateway and Stepps.
1677 June 13th Set out garden. August 28th. At Bloomsberry orderd Norris £40 on chimney pieces. November 24thWaited on Mr.  Montacue and Sidley then read over Fitches demand of overwork. November 28thWith Scarborough to Mr. Montacue with him to his house and into his Garden. Deliverd Fitches papers to Mr. Scowen. December 5th. Discoursed with Mr. Montacue, He seemd well satisfyd in all things…..     Desird me to send him the agreements, Designes and Estimates. December 6th. Mr Montacues account ended, wherein he is made Debtor to Mr. Fitch £8oo.
1678 January 5th Directed Thomson about stairs with corbells etc. February 4th. With Norris bespake chimney pieces and agreed for £6o. March 8th.. at Bloomsberry directed passages, stairs, struck stove, wainscoting, staircase.
1679 January 21stWith Hayward to Montacue house. Ballisters on top24 of house and raile on court stairs, February 28th at Mr. Montacues with Hammond about widening stairs.
1680 February 2nd. to Mr Montacue. Looke with Scowan sash windows25 blown down. July 7th. At Mr. Montacues, spake to him for money he promised me. Speedily viewed the cracks. None but that in the turret at the east of the Cloyster.
Courtyard of Montagu House, Bloomsbury, from Sutton Nichols’s illustrations to Strype’s Stowe, (6th ed), 1754.

Illustrations and References

Aubrey states that Hooke was the architect of Montagu House.

The Principal Floor of Montagu House
From Vitruvius Britannicus

Evelyn in his Diary has a good deal to say about Montagu House. The first entry is in May 1676, ‘went to see Mr. Montagu’s new palace near Bloomsberry built by Mr. Hooke, of our Society,26 after the French manner’, but according to Hooke’s Diary this would he before the roof was finished. In November 1679 Evelyn goes there again and writes, ‘it was most nobly furnished, and a fine, but too much exposed garden’. He makes his final visit in October 1683 and has left a description:  ‘to see Montagu House, a palace lately built by Lord Montagu27…    It is a stately and ample palace. Signor Verrio’s fresco paintings, especially the funeral pile of Dido, on the staircase, the labours of Hercules, fight with the Centaurs, his effeminacy with Dejanira, and Apotheosis or reception among the Gods, on the walls and roof of the great room above, – I think exceeds anything he has yet done, both for design, colouring, and exuberance of invention, comparable to the greatest of the old masters, or what they so celebrate at Rome. In the rest of the chamber are some excellent paintings of Holbein, and other masters. The garden is large, and in good air, but the fronts of the house not answerable to the inside. The court at entry, and wings for offices seem too near the street, arid that so very narrow and meanly built, that the corridor is not in proportion to the rest, to hide the court from being overlooked by neighbours; all which might have been prevented, had they placed the house further into the ground. of which there is enough to spare. But on the whole it is a fine palace, built after the French pavilion-way, by Mr Hooke, the Curator of the Royal Society.’

On January 19th, 1686, Evelyn writes ‘This night was burnt to the ground my Lord Montagu’s palace in Bloomsbury, than which for painting and furniture there was nothing more glorious in England.’  There is reason to suppose that ‘burnt to the ground’  was an exaggeration, and that ‘gutted’ would have been more nearly correct.

Campbell illustrates it in Vitruvius Britannicus, vol. i,  with three plates – the facade, the entrance gates, and the plan (see illustrations).  He writes ‘This great House was built by the late Duke of Montagu in the French manner; the Apartments are very noble arid richly adorned. Here Monsieur la Fausse, Mr. Rousseau, and Mr. Baptist have express’d the Excellence of their Art. The Architecture was con­ducted by Monsieur Puget 1678.’  It is to be noted that Campbell has made a muddle and given the date of the Hooke building. The house as illustrated by Campbell subsequently became the British Museum and engravings of it are frequent. In vol. vii of Early Science in Oxford is an illustration (frontispiece) purporting to be Montagu House by Hooke, but careful study of the plan in Vitruvius Britannicus shows it to be the reverse side of the usual view of the British Museum and also of the illustration given by Campbell. No authentic engraving of Montagu House as built by Hooke has been found and it seems probable, considering how short was its existence, that none exist. A further difficulty arises in the discrepancies between the various engravings of the British Museum, the proportions of the house varying considerably and even such details as string courses being omitted or inserted according, apparently, to the whim of the artist. But the suggestion is here put forward that Evelyn was incorrect in stating that the first Montagu House was burnt to the ground, and that the exterior of the British Museum was intrinsically the same as Hooke’s building. This theory is supported by a colour wash drawing in Add. MSS. 5238 which is identical in many respects with engravings of lie British Museum, the supposition being that the colour wash drawing was either an early or the final scheme by Hooke for Montagu House. Whether the portico on the second floor was ever carried out is a problem; but Evelyn’s reference to the ‘great room above’ suggests that the principal rooms may have been on that floor. Hooke mentions ‘ballisters on top of house’. That the gates to the British Museum were Hooke’s original gates seems positive, for the burning of the house would not necessarily destroy the gates, and Hooke’s reference to copper balls and iron work for the pavilion chimneys seems to put the question beyond doubt.


Masons: Waters, Miller, Norris, Thomson. Bricklayers: Fitch, Samuels. Carpenter: Hayward. Joiners: Davies, Avis. Smiths: Bird, Lever, Hayes. Marbler: Povey. Plaisterer: Sherwood. Glasier: Goodchild. Carter; Russel. Valuer: Tasker. Unidentified: Sidley, Leak, Coomb, Newland.


[23] The illustration above does not show that these balls are the finials of the pavilion roofs, the chimneys standing forward in the plan of the end walls.

[24] See illustration above from Add. MSS 5238

[25] This is a very early use of sash windows.

[26] The Royal Society.

[27] Ralph Montagu succeeded as 3rd Baron Montagu in 1684. Created Earl 1689, and Duke 1705. Hooke was of course dealing with him before his succession to the barony, hence ‘Mr’ Montagu, whereas Evelyn has ‘My Lord Montagu’..

Willen Church

Extracts from Hooke’s Diary.

1678  September 26th  Dr. Busby about Church. November 22nd. all day about Dr. Busbys module of a church.  November 2nd. Dind with Busby sbewd draught. December 10th. Drew ground plat for Dr. Busbys church  December 11th. to Dr. Busby, dind with him, gave him. . . another designe. for church.
1679 March 13th. Agreed with Bates For Dr. Busby for 35 sh per Square for framing, raising rales, scaffold for roof. 15 sIl pr Square for bricketting, finding all but boords.-With mason for 10d superficial all without walls. March 25thDind with Dr. Busby Dr. Pell Smethwick Horn Bates agreed about Country Church.Dr. Busby gave me 5 G[uineas]. April 14thDrew mouldings for Dr. Busby. April 15th. With Dr. Busby, good wine bad, lie changed his mind to cover with lead.

There are similar entries throughout the year, and then comes Hooke’s visit to the work.

1680 Monday May 3rdTo George Aldersgate Street 4 in the morn. Coach to Barnet change horses. To St. Albans. At Dunstable dined arid changed horses. At Newport Pagnell by 5, viewd church and steeple. May 4th, To Welling. Measured church. Dind at Mr. Stevensons, Dr, Atterbury, Plucknet, Bates, Horn, Tufnell. Suppd at Swan in Newport Pagnell, Slept well. May 5th. By horse to Dunstable by 7 ½  in morn thence by coach to London at 6 p.m. May 6th. Dind with Dr. Busby, from him 5 Guinnys. July 23rd. At Dr. Busbys, be desired me to agree with a plaisterer and he would stand to the agreement. October 6th. Dind with Dr. Busby, he signd to Glasier,

This is the last entry of any importance. The existing plaister ceiling bears the date 1680. In 1862 an apse was added to the East end, but apart from this addition the building is almost exactlv as Hooke left it. The fittings are prin­cipally of late seventeenth century date.

In February 1690 Hooke writes ‘He [Dr Busby] left me full power to agree for Almshouses at Wellin’, but no trace of these can be found.

Illustrations and References

The church is described by the Royal Historical Monuments Commission in volume ii of Buckinghamshire (1913, p.330), and three illustra­tions are given (pp 330, 45, 48).

In British Museum Add. MSS. 5238 is a drawing inscribed ‘Dr. Busby’s Church’, but this must have been the alternative design which Hooke mentions (December 11th, 1678) since it bears little resemblance to the existing church and is not nearly so fine. No drawings of the church as built seem to exist, for the Trustees for Dr. Busby who still look after the building have none among their documents.

St. Mary Magdalene, Willen, as shown in Batten


Carpenters: Bates, Hayward, Smith(?) Bricklayer: Horn. Smith: Walker. Painter: Stevenson(?) Unidentified: Tufnell, Plucknett, Smethwick.

Ragley Hall

Selected extracts from Hooke’s Diaries:

1679 June 20th. Lord Conways man about house. June 24th. Lord Conways Designe. June 25th, At Lord Conways. Mr. Holbert etc. July 5th. Spake with Lord Conway, shewd Designe. He gave me 10 G [gold guineas]. October 31st. Letter from Lord Conway by Mackginnys. November 20th. Sent letter to Lord Conway.28
1680 March 31st, Lord Conway at rny lodging. June 14th. Letter from Lord Conway. ­Saturday, June 19th. Set out for Oxford with Mr. Davys at 5 in the morn. June 20th, Mr. Davys sick of his Ague. Dind with Pit. Visited Dr. Wallis, Mr. Barnard, Mr. Piggot etc. Mr. Piggot at my lodging. Lay there Sunday night. June 21st.  Saw theater.29 Dined with Pigot. Visited by Wood, paid 10 sh. Rode with Davys to Chipping Norton. June 22nd. 
Davys seasd with ague at Morton hin marsh.30 June 23rd To Lord Conways. He was gon to Lord Brooks and Lord Digby. Roughly acosted by George Kempson. June 24th, Vjewd the country round. Holbert returnd. June 25th. Lord Conway returnd at night. I changd Lodging into the best Roome, Mr. Popham with him and Dr. Johnson from Warwick…. Holbert a Carpenter but a Pap. June 26th. Viewd module sbewd many faults, made a great many alterations, put the great stairs into one and viewd the situation and ground round about. Dined and Supd with my Lord and Mrs. Popham. Davys sick of Ague. June 27th. With my Lord and Mrs. Popham and Mrs. Kemson to church. June 28th, Spent most of time in considering all matters. June 29th.Prepard for Returne. Davys his Ague very gently. My Lord gave me 30 [gold] Guinnys. June 30th, Took leave of my Lord. Distributed 25 sh in the house. Took horse at 10 in the morning, baited at Morton hin mosse.30 Lay very scurvily at Iselip. July 1stTook horse at 4, arrived at Beckonsfield by 10. Dined there and arrived at London and Gresham Colledge by 6. Davys seased with his Ague. I was not in the least weary. Went with Society to Jonathans31 stayd with tbem till 10 at night. Slept well. July 3rd. Wrote letter to Lord Conway. Contrived his house. July 5th. Contrived house for Lord Conway. July 7th. Lord Conways man here. Michell returnd Draught of Portalls for Lord Conway. July 8th. Wrote letter and sent Draughts to Lord Conway. July 9th. Received Letter from Lord Conway. July 20th. Wrote and sent letter and Designe of 3 floors to Lord Conway.32 August 17th. Wrote to Lord Conway for Leonard.33

In the Record Office among the Conway Papers are three letters from Hooke to Lord Conway,34 all mentioned in the Diary, besides other correspondence in which the house is mentioned.35 Dugdale notes that Ragley is in the possession of the first

Viscount Conway. The  third Viscount and first Earl decided to rebuild. As far as we know Hooke only paid one visit to the house, though he may have returned after the Diary ceases, but it was a frequent custom in those days for an architect to send plans and  advice to be carried out by the local builder. Hooke’s letters about Ragley are the most detailed examples of this that have been discovered.

From the Diary we see that Lord Conway began his new house in 1679, but when he died in 1683 it was still unfinished. He assigned to his trustees the task of completing the house ‘by as much annually as they thought fit’. Probably they spent little on it and it was left to later generations to complete the decorations.36 Many alterations have been made since the end of the seventeenth cen­tury both to the interior and exterior, the latter including a portico added by James Wyatt. Though the decorations are almost entirely of later dates than Hooke’s time the fundamental structure still exists and enough remains of the original building to show that it was very distinguished. The pavilion plan, used by Hooke for Ragley and still existing, was more common in France than in England. The undercroft, which is fully raised above ground, contains some fine rooms in which the great bolection mouldings, characteristic of the end of the seventeenth century, still remain This undercroft, with the entrance under the main steps, is similar in conception to that at Houghton built by Kent. In the centre of the fine piano nobile is the hall of approximately the samedimensions as those mentioned in Hooke’s letter to Conway.37 But either his scheme for pillars standing free was not adopted or else it was altered at a later date, for the present hall has pilasters. The late Mr. Avray Tipping38 says of Ragley ‘this Charles II scheme is a fully developed precursor of such great Georgian houses as Houghton and Rokeby, Wentworth Woodhouse and Kirtlington’. Mr. Tipping suggests that the illustration of Ragley circa 1697 – 9 by Kip is incorrect in showing the roof, surmising that Conway would have adopted the newer method of hiding the roof as much as possible behind a balustrade similar to that now existing. Rut it is more probable that Kip was correct, for in every known building of Hooke’s be favours the French roof; and it may even be said that the roof at Ragley as shown by Kip is typical of Hooke. Wyatt may have been responsible for the present roof.  It should be added that Mr. Tipping was unaware of Hooke’s connection with the house.

Illustrations and References

Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne, engraved by Kip, 1697-9.

H. Avray Tipping, Country Life, March 22nd and 29th, 1924, vol. lv, pp. 433-45 and 476 – 82.


Joiners: Davies, Avis. Carpenter: Holbert.


[28] See letters below

[29] Presumably the Sheldonian Theatre by Wren

[30] Moreton-in-Marsh

[31] Jonathan’s coffee-house.

[32] See letters below

[33] See letters below

[34] S.P.Dom.Car.II, 412, no.67; 414 nos.31 and 67

[35] S.P.Dom.Car.II, 395, no.139; 413 nos. 38 and 84; 414 nos. 78 and 135. S.P. Ireland, Car. II, 333, no.145; 338, no.181.

[36] Horace Walpole writing immediately after a visit to Ragley in July 1751 states that it is ‘but just covered in, after so many years. They have begun to inhabit the naked walls of the upper storey. The great one is unfloored and unceiled’. See Letter of Horace Walpole, ed. Mrs Paget Toynbee, 1903 – 5, vol. iii, p.66.

[37] Horace Walpole (op. cit.) writes: ‘The hall is magnificent, sixty by forty, and thirty-eight high….The other apartments are very lofty, and in quantity, though I had suspected that this leviathan hall must have devoured half the other chambers.’

[38] Country Life, March 22nd 1924, vol. lv, p.445.

Letters in the Public Record Office from Hooke to Lord Conway

My Lord,
I had sooner returned my humble acknowledgements for the Honour of yr Ldps Letter had not an important occassion hindered me from giving yr Ldp a positive Answer to yr honrs kind Invitation; which now necessitates my stay here. I had also sent yr Ldp several designes for the stairs before the Great House, but that they doe none of them please me. The Ascent indeed is too long and too high to be wthout doors, which has caused me to consider afresh the whole Designe, and to vary the module itself; whereby (considering it is the first and most considerable ornament of the whole front) I have cast them to be under the court of the house it self, somewt of the nature of the Great Stalls at Somerset House, next the Garden though much otherwise Contrived, The Portico then in wch they are Lyes open to the (First)/(Great) Court into wch the Landing is immediate out of the Coach, and thereby the stairs always lye dry and clean, and it serves as a vestibule where footmen and meaner attendants may walk wthout Incumbring the great Hall. At the head of these Stairs of Stone the passage opens into the Great Hall which I make four score Foot square which leads to he Great Parlor straight forwards. I conceive the Designe to be very magnificent (so say noe more of it) And that wch will abundantly Answer yr Ldps Intentions in all particulars. Nor will the expence exceed what your Ldp hath already Resolved upon. I hope the Great affairs of he Approaching Part will necessitate your Ldps. Prescence here in Town, before the foundations are begun to he Layd, that so I may have the Honr of Discoursung this Desigrie with yr Ldp before final Resolutions be made past Recalling. This I mention not any ways to Lessen the Value of that module your Ldp now bath, nor any ways to Hinder the progress of he work itself as now designed. But that I conceive it will be much better for the work to begin the founda­tions somewhat later in the spring when the fear of frost is perfectly off, before which time I doubt not to be able (God willing) to be there to see everything put into a good order for the beginning and compleating thereof. I was very much troubled that I heard not of your Ldp being in town the last time, till the night before yr Ldp Left it for that I lost the opportunity of Acquainting yr Ldp wth it. But yet I hope there may be time enough for that affair after ye 22nd of January, when yr Ldp designes to be in London. In the meantime some draughts Ready for yr Ldps perusall shall be made by

November 15th 1679
my Lord
your Ldps most humble and most obedient Servant Robert Hooke

My Lord,
Since yr Lordp has honrd me wth the freedom of declaring my thoughts I presume further to acquaint yr Ldp that as to yr Ldps objections I was well aware of them and soe I hope I shall he the better inabled to answer them (though it maybe somewht more Difficult at this Distance) first then I am assured there will not be £100 difference in the charges at most between the way of the module and this propounded by me though I conceave the house will be £500 the better. The Hall in that way yr Lord­ship is sensible will at best be Dark at the uper or best end thereof. It will be open to the passages of Stairs Parlor etc. It will he covered by a half pace and It will have no prospect save at the Lower end. In this I send the uper end is next the light. lyes free from the trouble of passage, and maybe as Close or open as shall suit wth the present use. next the building in this is noe more than in the other …   and yet in the second story there are the same quantity of Roomes and more conveniently Disposed (which seems to he yr Ldps principal objecsion) fore there will be 8 great appartments all of convenient access without inteafearing viz 4 backwards towards the southwest and as many forwards towards the Northeast, for as 5 and 6 are drawing roomes to the four apartments backwards, soe 3 and 4 and as many as large and as good forwards. next My Lord, because I perceive yr Ldp is not pleased to have a vestibule For footmen, I have only Layd the middle third part of it (1) for a staircase allowing only what projects without the sides for an open portico and half pace to the stair in the middle of the ascent (half the ascent being wthout and half wthin the house) this is marked in the Draught of the first story wth 2,2,2. I have layd one third of it 3 to inlarge the chappell making the Gallery thereof which is even wth the floor of the Hall. 4 is the chappell which is cleer from the ground to the top of the first story, the other third part 5 1 have joyned to the Stewards Room 6. And because yr Ldp likes a vestibule though not for footmen I have placed it in the very centre of the house 7 which is open to the top in an octagon, and sirves to lead into all parts of the house both in the first and second storeys, and will be of as great ornament and convenience as anything can be in the house. this at four of its sides Receives light from the Roof, behind some of the other sides ascend stairs into the Cupelo at the top, which stands on the upright of the 8 columns of ye vestibule and will be a very fair Room, the contrivance of wch I hope I shall have time enough to acquaint yr Ldp wth  hereafter. This vestibule takes off that great Length y Ldp objects against in the Hall soe that the Remaining part 8 is but 66 foot, which is somewt shorter than that Designed by yr Ldp. And for the breadth which  is 44 foot is 2/3 ds of the Length and soe is of a good proportion, yet because yr Ldp may think it too wide, because 4 foot more than the former, by a row of Corinthian pillers of timber which serve to support the Gallerys 35.35.35. in the 2nd story, I can reduce it to 33 feet in the cleer which is half the length and a good proportion also, between wch Pillers in the wall behind them I leave niches which may serve to Receive Statues, Busts, vases or the like, according to the most noble way of the antients & some of our better sort of modern buildings. In the east Pavilion is 9 the little parlor which is 20 foot wide and 30 foot long, to which in is a wthdrawing Room sufficiently large wth Prospect towards the front and towards London. This little parlor may be a withdrawing Room to the Hall at other times. In the North Pavilion is 11 the Library of. the same bigness wth the Little Parlor, and 12 a closet to study in and 13 a room to lock up Instruments manu­scripts Raritys etc, those last two roomes are to be only 12 foot high and soe over them will be two roomes convenient for a bedchamber & study for the Chaplaine or library keeper the like may be done over the dressing roomes of the Great Apart­ments backwards in this story and overall the Dressing Roomes of the apartments in the 2nd story which will be very convenient for Roomes for servants. The whole back part of the House in this story I alter little soe that yr Ldp will have besides a hall vestibule and staircase, a chappell and a Library too and convenient Roomes to it. And also a Stewards Room and Little Parlor wth their conveniences and 10 Great apartments, every of wch have free access to the great staircase, hall chappell Library Great parlor Little parlor entrance etc. without at all intermingling or running through one another, and yet in the 2nd story you may goe round the house through each of them. Each of these apartments are compleat having withdrawing room bed chamber closet, Dressing room, stool room, servants room arid back stairs  I lope this may suit wth yr Ldps Designe for I know not well when to leave out anything. however my Lord if yr Ldp shall yet think the hall or any other parts either too big or too little wthout altering anything of the Designe either forwards or backwards the middle part may he made shorter and narrower, or wider and longer as yr Ldp Shall best like, for the Difference or charge is little more than for floor and Roof; for the contrivance of the Garrets I shall have time enough to acquaint yr Ldp. But the Draught of the celler[?] story I have added. are appropriated to ye staircases.  8 is the tower part of the chappell. 19.20.21. are vaults about 4 foot Deeper than the present ground for. Ale, wine, and cider 13 is the great vault for small beer 90 foot long and 37 foot broard.  14 is the vaulted passage from end to end of the house. All the other Roomes may be assigned to wht yr Ldp pleaseth and may be vaulted or not as there shall be occassion. Yr Ldp I hope will by these Sketches understand the Designe of the whole in gerierall soe as thereby to sec wh is consonant or not wit yr Ldps Intentions. Door windows chimneys ornaments etc. are here omitted, being obvious enough, but when I shall have the Honour to know yr Ldps further pleasure concern­ing these either compleat Draughts of every part, or a small module of the whole shall be provided by

my Lord

yr Lordsps most humble and most obedient Servt

R. A. Hooke.

July ye 20 1680
Gresham College.

If yr Ldp can provide materialls of Brick and stone Against the Spring and have a good number of hands for working the Stone fit for Setting It will be much better for the work to begin in March when the fear of the frost is pretty well over and soe the mortar will be thoroughly dry befor next winter and the whole house may be coverd befor Michaelmas, for if this should prove a hard winter there would be a necessity in the spring to take down a great part 0f the walls that should now be built but especially the stone work. As I have found twice in the building of St Paules and in a staircase at Mountacue house and severall other places.


For the Right Honbe the Earl
of Conway
Ragley, in Warwickshire.

My Lord,

I never designed those draughts for any other use than to explain my meaning to yr Ldp which without them it would have been very difficult to have done intelligibly by words. That soe yr Ldp understanding the severall Designes might pitch upon the best, which being done I alway designed a farther explanation of all particulars by a

module and necessary draughts. My vocassions will not permitt my absence hence at this time. But if this would I humbly conceive it will be much better for Dispatch to send Leonard up with the old module and in a fortnight or thereabout he may Returne wth it back againe compleated and Rectified, when it will be very easy for Mr Holbert or anyels yore  Ldp shall imploy to proceed wth the whole work without much if any further Directon. Here I can be often wth him and he may save what help is needful for Expedition Soe that he will rid [?] more in a week here than in a month in the country. In the meantime Mr Holbert cannot well doe amiss if he pro­ceeds in carrying up the front and Rear Walls and all the cross-walls for these apart­ments which are little if at all altered but only in doorways and leave the crosse walls that are to he under the Hall and Staircase till Leonard Returne to be then carried

up, for as they will quickly be done, they having not much work, seo being best of all sheltered by the out walls they wilt best indure to he carryed up last of all. And in the mean time to hasten wth the front wall which will be most exposed to the frost that if possible it may be dry and well thatched before the cold weather come. My Lord when Leonard is come up yr Ldp may be assured noe time shall be lost in the Doing of it, at least he will want noe help nor materials Mr Davys having already upon my desire provided for him a very good workman and convenient place, nor shall he want any necessary Directions or overseeing that can be given him by

My Lord

yr Ldps most humble and most obedient servt

R. Hooke.

Gresham College
Aug  17, 1680

address to the Earl of Conway
at Ragley

Aske’s Almshouses, Hoxton

By the will of Alderman Aske the Haberdashers’ Company was enabled to build the Almshouses at Hoxton. The references to this occur in the second section of Hooke’s Diaries covering the periods November 1688 to March 9th, 1692, and December 6th 1692 to August 8th, 1693.

1690 February 7th. At Haberdashers hall 4 wardens Cap. Mould: I shewd my designe, desird Hogsden ground
(Diary missing from March 10th 1690 to December 5th 1692.)
1692 December 20th. At Hoxton. Jones. both gable ends brickd up without order, also a flat about cupola, Lucerne lights backwards, Iron cramps etc without reason salt mouldring stone. Plumber laying high gutters, bricklayers tiling front etc all without my order.
1693 January 9th. Jones and Michal here. I bid them put the slates on the middle front at Hoxton. January 19th. At Chancys, with Allen about carpenter and bricklayers bill. February 10th. to Chancy, Allen and Mould39 to coffee house in Freemans Yard. with them to Hoxton to view and measure. March 6th. An order from Haberdashers committee for covering pediments with lead. March 27th. To Hoxton. Chancy Allen Watts viewd and valued Brickwork…then met Chancy Allen Watts at Jon:40 with Nicols where they cast up bills. Nicoll asserted that the usuall price for Rubbd and Gaged work was 8d per foot and that he would doe it soe. April 1st. Walk with Gof41 to Hoxton: Statue too small. May 13th. I gave Jones the inscript for Aske. May 15th. With Chancy about Hab accounts. July 17th. With Gof and Cox plumber to Hoxton: directed pipes and covering the flat.

The building has since been destroyed.

Illustrations and references.

Strype’s edition of Stow’s Survey of London (1720) illustrates the Alsmhouses and names Hooke as the architect (vol. i, book i, p.212). The illustrations in Strype show the cupola mentioned by Hooke in the middle of the central block. The gable ends which Hooke mentions are not apparent in any of the illustrations. The statue of Alderman Aske is to be seen in the illustrations in a niche above the central doorway.


Bricklayer: Nichol. Carpenters: Champion, Banks. Joiner: Housman. Plumbers: Cox, Michael(?)  Carver: Jones.


[39] Chancy, Allen, Mouls and Watts were members of the Haberdashers Company.

[40] Jonathan’s Coffee House.

[41] A personal friend of Hooke’s. For  possible identifications see Early Science in Oxford, vol x, p. xi.


The principal sources of information concerning Dr. Robert Hooke are given below. With the exception of Aubrey’s Brief Lives and certain sections of Early Science in Oxford, the writers have been interested almost exclusively in Hooke’s scientific work.

Richard Waller, Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke (1705).
John Ward, Lives of the Gresham Professors (1740).
Thomas Birch, History of The Royal Society (1756-7).
John Aubrey, Brief Lives, 2 vols (1898), ed. A. Clark, vol. i, p.409
R.T. Gunther, LL.D., Early Science in Oxford (1920 – 35), vols. vii, viii, & x.
Diary of Dr. Robert Hooke (1935), ed. H.W. Robinson and W. Adams (Introduction).