Woolwich Arsenal

I called in at Wooolwich Arsenal, on the edge of the town, mainly in order to see the Offices of the Master of the Ordnance, which housed the Board Room of the Board of Ordnance and, on its left hand side, the Academy established in 1720 to train young officers, later used as a Model Room (hence the different ways the building is described).   It has a long-standing attribution, undocumented, to Vanbrugh, who lived nearby on Maze Hill and had after all served in the army in the early 1690s, but it is now, according to the recent Survey of London, thought more likely to have been designed by Brigadier General Michael Richards, who had been appointed Chief Engineer in 1711 and became Surveyor General in 1714.   It dates from a period when the dockyard was expanding, following the end of the war with France.   It certainly is reminiscent of the work of Vanbrugh, sharing many of his mannerisms in the brickwork, freely inventive like the Carrmire Gate at Castle Howard which was designed at more or less the same time:-

This is a drawing of it by Paul Sandby who was appointed Chief Drawing Master in 1768, the year of the foundation of the RA, and who taught morning classes on landscape and perspective:-


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