Sir Charles Barry, (born May
23, 1795, London, Eng.—died May 12, 1860, London), one of
the architects of the Gothic Revival in England and chief
architect of the British Houses of Parliament.
The son of a stationer,
Barry was articled to a firm of surveyors and architects
until 1817, when he set out on a three-year tour of France,
Greece, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, and Palestine to study
architecture. In 1820 he settled in London. One of his first
works was the Church of Saint Peter at Brighton, which he
began in the 1820s. In 1832 he completed the Travellers’
Club in Pall Mall, the first work in the style of an Italian
Renaissance palace to be built in London. In the same style
and on a grander scale he built (1837–41) the Reform Club.
He was also engaged on numerous private mansions in London,
the finest being Bridgewater House, which was completed in
the 1850s. In Birmingham one of his best works, King
Edward’s School, was built in the Perpendicular Gothic style
between 1833 and 1837. For Manchester he designed the Royal
Institution of Fine Arts (1824–35) and the Athenaeum
(1836–39), and for Halifax the town hall (completed in the
In 1835 a design
competition was held for a new Houses of Parliament
building, also called Westminster Palace, to replace the one
destroyed by fire in 1834. Barry won the contest in 1836,
and the project occupied him for the rest of his life. With
the help of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Barry designed a
composition ornamented in the Gothic Revival style and
featuring two asymmetrically placed towers. The complex of
the Houses of Parliament (1837–60) is Barry’s masterpiece.
Barry was elected an
associate of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1840 and a royal
academician in the following year and received many foreign
honours. He was knighted in 1852 and, on his death, was
buried in Westminster Abbey.
His son, Edward Middleton
Barry (1830–80), also a noted architect, completed the work
on the Houses of Parliament.