Matthew Boulton and his second wife, Ann, moved into Soho House in 1766. Soho House came to represent much of what Boulton accomplished in his life. In 1790 he had the house extensively rebuilt, commissioning the local architects Samuel and James Wyatt to extend and re-design the house. Soho became the frequent meeting place of the Lunar Society and Boulton’s sustained interest in the sciences was solidified by the addition of a laboratory, space for a telescope, a study and a fossilry during the rebuild. This improvement and expansion was present in the grounds as well as within the house. Boulton recorded in a notebook of 1772 ideas to improve Soho, including the addition of a bridge so that “a one horse chair may go round… and walk along at brow of the hill” [Matthew Boulton’s Notebook 1772. MS 3782/12/108/7]. At some point during Matthew Boulton’s time at Soho a hot air heating system was introduced and as such Soho house has been described as the first centrally-heated house in England since Roman times.
The archives of Soho are also of interest as they tell the stories of several servants at Soho House. These are the stories of individuals who, without the surviving records, would not have been remembered. Martha Adcock came to Soho as a Lady’s Maid on 11th January 1796, although on several occasions took on the role of housekeeper during vacancies. Her wages went from 6 to 7 Guineas at the beginning of 1799, but her finals wages were sent to her on the 19th July of the same year, along with half a guinea as a parting gift. [MS 3782/13] The above image details the duties of the Butler in 1811, with some of the tasks reassigned to the footman. [List of Butler’s Duties, 1811. MS 3782/13/149/70] Joseph Burford started as a Footman at Soho in 1793 and by 1798 was receiving 8 guineas a year with a rise of a guinea expected every year. As footman he also received liveries, matching clothes for the carriage. He was also a beneficiary of Matthew Boulton, who “gave Joseph 10 guineas to begin the world with, and as an encouragement to frugality has agreed to allow him 5 per cent interest on any money not drawn in regular course but left in Mr. Boulton’s hands.” [MS 3782/6/101]