|Sir John portrayed in 1828 by John Jackson|
|Eliza Soane with her dog Fanny|
Sir John's mausoleum in Old St Panras Churchyard was designed and built for his wife Eliza who died in 1815. Elizabeth Smith was the niece and ward of George Wyatt the builder whom Soane knew the from working with him on the rebuilding of Newgate prison. On the 10th January 1784 Soane took her to the theatre and a few weeks later, on the 7th February she took tea with Soane and a group of friends. Soane began to accompany her regularly to plays and concerts and on the 21st August 1784, less than 8 months after that first visit to the theatre, they were married at Christ Church in Southwark.
|George and John Soane|
In September 1815 an article was published in the magazine Champion called The Present Low State of the Arts in England and more particularly of Architecture. Sir John Soane was the particular target of an acrimonious attack in the article which, although it had been published anonymously, it soon became clear had actually been written by George. His distraught mother wrote on the 13th October 'those are George's doing. He has given me my death blow. I shall never be able to hold up my head again'. She died on 22 November 1815. and was buried 1 December. Soane wrote in his diary that he had endured 'the burial of all that is dear to me in this world, and all I wished to live for!'
Soane was never reconciled to George and their feud continued until his death. His son John died in 1823 and was buried with his mother in the family vault. Soane set up a trust fund of £10,000 to support his widow and children. The following year he found out that George was living in a Ménage à trois with his wife and her sister by whom he had a child called George Manfred. George was scraping a living as an author and his always uncertain temper suffered even further under the stress of always being a step away from poverty. He drank and both the women in his life and his children suffered from domestic violence at his hands. Soane helped the women financially but refused to help his son. It is said that he refused a baronetcy because he did not want george to inherit the title on his death. When he did die in 1837 he left a considerable bequest for the maintenance and upkeep of his house as museum but left his son a small annuity of £52 a year explaining in his will that the bequest was so small because of 'his general misconduct and constant opposition to my wishes evinced in the general tenor of his life.' George challenged the will through the courts on the grounds that his father was insane. The challenge was rejected by the courts and George half heartedly attempted an appeal which he eventually let drop. George Sala in his memoirs said “I knew the disinherited George Soane well - a gaunt, sad man, earning a precarious livelihood as a minor poet and playwright.” George died in 1860 in Portland Place, at the age of seventy. He was not buried in the family mausoleum.
Nicolas Pevner's verdict on the Mausoleum: "Outstandingly interesting monument by Sir John Soane to his wife, who died in 1815, extremely Soanesque, with all his originality and all his foibles. A delicate marble monument beneath a heavy Portland stone canopy. Four piers with incised Ionic capitals; a pendentive vault carries a shallow drum encircled by a tail-biting snake (symbol of eternity), with a pineapple-shaped finial. The tomb is surrounded by a low balustrade with distinctive acroteria, which also encloses the steps down to the burial vault. Sir John Summerson suggested that the tomb can be interpreted as civilization (the monument) within eternity (the surrounding canopy)."
|The Mausoleum set in an imaginary landscape, a water colour by George Basevi|