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Plans of Downing College by William Wilkins, 1806 - 1822

Reference Code: GBR/0269/DCAR/1/2/2/1/1

Scope and Contents

The archive contains two sets of Wilkins' drawings, completed almost entirely by his own hand between 1806 and 1817. They consist of detailed drawings of the original scheme for Downing College and a complete set of 67 drawings for the building of the West Range from 1817 onwards. The very first six drawings that Wilkins submitted have not survived, neither have his revised set dating to June 1806.


  • Creation: 1806 - 1822


Conditions Governing Access

From the Sub-sub-fonds:


Biographical / Historical

William Wilkins (1778-1839) was the eldest son of a Norwich plasterer and self-taught architect. He was first educated at Norwich Grammar School, then in 1796 won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College to read mathematics. After graduating in 1800 Wilkins was introduced into the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1801 was awarded by them the Worts Travelling Batchelorship, which enabled him to tour Greece and Asia Minor before returning to England and setting up his architectural practice. Much of his work was Greek Classical, but he later turned to Gothic. Some of his most important works were the National Gallery, University College London and St George's Hospital (all in London). Wilkins' other main works are in Cambridge: the classical Downing College, and two Gothic structures - parts of King's College, and the New Court of Corpus Christi College.


c. 186 item(s)

Language of Materials



At the beginning of the twentieth century Wilkins' drawings were bound into two albums. The smaller album (referred to as SWP - small working drawings - by Cinzia Maria Sicca in 'Committed to Classicism') contained 103 small size drawings produced by Wilkins between 1806 and 1817. These plans are now conserved in separate folders and have been listed according to their SWP numbers, except if these put the original drawing numbers out of sequence. The listing generally works around the quadrangle so that most drawings of a particular building will be together. The larger album gathered together 68 working drawings from 1818, all large versions of the drawings for the west range in the smaller album. They are listed according to their drawing number and have a key / contents page. These are also conserved and in individual folders. There are also two plans of Downing from 1822. Finally there are some prints, copies and photos of Wilkins' drawings and some loose drawings without dates of titles but presumably of Wilkins provenance.

Other Finding Aids

See the 'Catalogue of Drawings' in Cinzia Maria Sicca's 'Committed to Classicism'. This contains a complete list of all the SWP drawings giving details on size, materials and inks used, and inscriptions


Wilkins, William

Repository Details

Part of the Downing College Repository

Downing College Archive
Downing College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 762905