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Sir Charles Barry FRS (23 May 1795 – 12 May 1860) was an Englishmarker architect, best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminstermarker (also known as the Houses of Parliamentmarker) in his home city of Londonmarker during the mid 19th century, but also responsible for numerous other buildings and gardens.


Born in Bridge Street, Westminstermarker, he was the son of Walter Edward Barry. He was educated at private schools in Homertonmarker and then Aspley Guisemarker, before being apprenticed to a Lambethmarker surveyor at the age of 15. Upon the death of his father (a stationer), Barry inherited a sum of money that allowed him to travel extensively around the Mediterranean and Middle-East (1817-20). His travels in Italy exposed him to Renaissance architecture and apparently inspired him to become an architect.

Early career

His first major civil commission came in 1824 when he won a competition to design the new Royal Manchester Institution for the promotion of Literature, Science & Arts (now part of the Manchester Art Gallerymarker). Also in north-west England, he designed Buile Hill House in Salfordmarker (1825-27) and several churches in Manchestermarker including The Church of All Saints' Stand, Whitefieldmarker and Ringley Church, 1827, partially demolished in 1854. He began designing churches for the church commissioners, and he found out that they preferred designs in Gothic and Greek styles, so he put efforts in building those kinds of churches. In those many church works, the marked preference for Italian architecture, which he acquired during his travels showed itself in various important undertakings of his earlier years. One of the first works by which his abilities became generally known was the 1826 St Peter's Church, Brightonmarker, one of the first examples of the Gothic revival in England. Another noted early work was the Travellers Clubmarker, in Pall Mallmarker, built in 1832 in the Italianate style.

His church designs also include one in Hovemarker, East Sussexmarker (St Andrew's in Waterloo Street, Brunswick, 1828). Hurstpierpointmarker church. Barry's neglected Welsh Baptist Chapelmarker, on Upper Brook Street in Manchester (and owned by the City Council), is currently open to the elements and at serious risk after its roof was removed in late 2005.

Houses of Parliament

Following the destruction by fire of the existing Houses of Parliament on 16 October 1834, Barry won the commission in 1836 to design the new Palace of Westminstermarker, working with Pugin on the Gothic-influenced building. Work on site began with the laying of a foundation stone on 27 April 1840 by Barry’s wife Sarah. The House of Lordsmarker was completed in 1847 and the House of Commonsmarker finished in 1852, whereafter he was created a Knight Bachelor. In the meantime, Barry also served on the learned committee developing plans for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Although Parliament gave Barry a prestigious name in architecture, it near enough finished him off. The building was overdue in its construction and was well over budget making Barry tired and stressed. The brass plaque marking Barry's tomb in Westminster Abbey shows the parts of the Palace of Westminster Barry had strongest claim to, and this is seen by some as Barry's cry for recognition from the grave.[22108]

Awards and recognition

Sir Charles lived and died at a house, "The Elms", in Claphammarker Common North Side, London SW4 (blue plaque), and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbeymarker.

Other major projects

Cliveden as seen from its lawn.
Barry also designed:

The next generation

Three of Sir Charles Barry's four sons followed in his career footsteps. Eldest son Charles Barry designed Dulwich Collegemarker and parkmarker in south London and rebuilt Burlington House (home of the Royal Academymarker) in central London’s Piccadillymarker; Edward Middleton Barry completed the Parliament buildings and designed the Royal Opera Housemarker in Covent Gardenmarker; Sir John Wolfe-Barry was the engineer for Tower Bridgemarker and Blackfriars Railway Bridgemarker. Edward and Charles also collaborated on the design of the Great Eastern Hotel at London’s Liverpool Street stationmarker.

His second son, Rev. Alfred Barry, became a noted clergyman. He was headmaster of Leeds Grammar Schoolmarker from 1854 to 1862 and of Cheltenham Collegemarker from 1862 to 1868. He later became the third Bishop of Sydney, Australia.

Sir Charles’ nephew Charles Hayward designed several buildings at Pembroke College, Oxfordmarker.


External links

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