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Ground plan of The Dell

Ground plan of The Dell

Catalogue number: WP4/1/3

Architectural drawing of the ground plan of Wallace's house, The Dell at Grays in Essex, undated, circa 1871.

Wallace lived in a number of locations during his life. In 1871 he decided to have a house built in Grays, Essex, with views of the River Thames and the surrounding countryside. This particular large plan of the ground floor was drawn and annotated by Wallace himself. It could be an earlier version of the final plans, which he had drawn up by an architect.

The plan includes a large dining room, a library or drawing room, breakfast room, veranda, and a kitchen. Details about the gas supply and the locations of various pipes are included. Blue lines represent the water supply, with double lines indicating rainwater supplying the sink and lavatory only; the single lines indicate a 'lead flow pipe to boiler, house-maid's sink upstairs...and to supply a shower'.

The house was the first in England to be built mainly of concrete. This was a practical option since there was a cement works nearby. A robust structure, The Dell is the only one of Wallace's houses that still stands today. The magnitude of the project can be seen from the plans. The project was finished within a year, and in March 1872 Wallace, his wife Annie and their three-month-old son William moved away from Barking to their new home at The Dell.

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