Sir Charles Barry biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
b. 1795 - d. 1860
Charles Barry was born in London in 1795. At the age of 15 he apprenticed to a London surveyor, but when his father died Barry was left a legacy which allowed him to travel throughout Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Syria, studying buildings and making architectural drawings.
The Italian influence was strong in Barry's designs, and he was a leading figure in the mid-Victorian architectural stlye known as Anglo-Italian that held vogue before Victorian Gothic became popular. Despite this, Barry was skilled in a variety of design styles, from Greek Revival to Italian Rennaissance, Gothic to Elizabethan, and suited his designs to the requirements of the job at hand.
In 1824 he won his first major civic commission, the Royal Institution in Manchester (later to become the City Art Gallery). This success was followed by two influential clubs in London, The Traveller's Club (1830) and the Reform Club (1838). The Reform Club design, based on Italian Rennaissance palace layout, was widely copied.
Barry later used the Italian Rennaissance palace theme into a variety of town houses and country house commissions, including Bridgewater House (London, 1846), Cliveden (Buckinghamshire, 1859), and Harewood (Yorkshire). He also worked extensively on Highclere Castle (Hampshire, 1842), where he adapted his work sympathetically to the largely Elizabethan structure. He also developed the classical Treasury Building in Whitehall, London (1846). Despite these successes, it is for his work with one building in particular that Barry will always be remembered.
In 1834 the old Palace of Westminster, where the House of Commons had met since 1547, was destroyed by fire. The only parts of the medieval Palace to survive were Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, the crypt of St Stephen's Chapel, and the adjacent cloisters.
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