Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860)

The architect of the Houses of Parliament (Westminster Palace). He was born in London, studied first for a Lambeth architect and then abroad for a while, mainly in Italy, and his work shows the influence of Italian Renaissance architecture.

His first important work was a church in Brighton (St Peter's), and after further churches in Manchester and Oldham, he had his first significant commissions in London. Following the destruction by fire of the Houses of Parliament in 1834, Barry won the competition for the new buildings, on which he worked from 1837 through the commencement of building in 1840, to the completion of first the House of Lords in 1847, and then the House of Commons in 1852 (though some work carried on after that). The Victoria Tower, perhaps the most satisfyingly perpendicular Gothic part of the structure, was completed after Barry's death by his son. Working together with him on this pre-eminent example of Victorian Gothic was Pugin. (See the page on Westminster Bridge for description of the building as seen from across the river)

Barry's other well known buildings include the Manchester Athenaeum (1836), Manchester City Art Gallery (built 1824-35), the Treasury building in Whitehall (1845), the Travellers' Club (1829-31) and the Reform Club (1837) - both Italianate - and the Royal College of Surgeons. One of his sons, Sir John Wolfe-Barry, was the engineer for Tower Bridge; another, Edward M. Barry, worked with his father on Halifax Town Hall, and was the architect of Charing Cross Hotel

Top of page

Architecture pages // Full list of artists

Home