The life and works of Sir Charles Barry

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Image of and signature of Charles Barry

&c. &c.


The right of Translation is reserved



The objects which I have had in view in the following pages, and the spirit in which I have endeavoured to pursue them, are referred to in the opening paragraphs of the first chapter. It remains to say a few words on the nature of the materials at my command, and the authorities on which my statements of fact and opinion are based.

For all narrative purposes, I have found an abundance of excellent and trustworthy materials. My father’s architectural life is written in outline in his own professional journals, and, in its more important periods, has left its memorials in public and official documents of unquestionable authority. Some of these I have quoted in the Appendix; in other cases I have given summaries of their contents, and references to the original documents. In all cases I may venture to profess, that I have taken the greatest pains to ascertain clearly the facts which I have here recorded. When I could not consult official documents, I have depended only on personal recollection and the testimony of {iv}eye-witnesses. Of any errors, which may still have crept in, I shall thankfully receive correction.

I could indeed have wished to present to my readers more original letters and extracts from Journals. These form the most valuable part of many biographies; for, independently of any intrinsic excellence of their own, they are full of interest, as bearing the marked impress of personal character, and enabling the subject of the biography to speak for himself. But here my materials fail me. My father was no great letter-writer. His pen was indeed constantly busy in valuable professional notes and official reports, clear in style and comprehensive in scope, of which specimens are given in the Appendix. But I find few characteristic letters, embodying his personal opinions and feelings; and he does not appear to have preserved, except in a few cases, the numerous letters from eminent persons, which he must have received. I have had therefore to rely on personal recollection to supply the deficiency, and to endeavour in the last chapter to describe his private life and character, as it appeared to those who knew him and loved him best. Nor are his Journals altogether fit for reproduction. They are indeed invaluable as authorities. During his foreign tours they were copious and detailed, and almost the whole of Chapter II. is drawn {v}from them. But they were mostly notes for practical use, and, before they could be published, they would need alterations and developments, which he alone had the right to give them. During his professional life they contained simply brief memoranda of every day’s work. I could not therefore quote them with advantage, but I have found them of the greatest value in ascertaining facts and fixing dates, which otherwise might have escaped me.

For all professional information and opinion,—for all, in fact, which may give any value to the work,—I have been able to refer to my brothers, in regard to the later part of my father’s career, with every fact of which they were intimately acquainted. For the earlier portion I have depended mainly on J. L. Wolfe, Esq., who was to my father the true friend of a lifetime, almost the only person who knew well his opinions and principles, and to whose aid and criticism he was materially indebted. He has given me notes and information, which I have found invaluable, especially in regard of the story of the New Palace at Westminster, which must be the central feature of the biography. For all the letterpress, however, I hold myself responsible. The choice of the illustrations is due to my eldest brother. We have to acknowledge with thanks the permission given us to use in some cases illustrations which{vi} have already appeared. Believing that an architectural record must speak mainly to the eye, we should gladly have given further illustrations; instead of some which are here found, we should have wished to represent more of the unexecuted designs, had authentic drawings been at hand; but we conceive that those actually given, especially the large illustrations of the Westminster Improvements, will be of great interest, both to the profession and to the public.

With these materials at command, and with these authorities to refer to, I have tried to tell my story, without tincturing the record with undue partiality, or introducing into it those merely private details, either of fact or of feeling, which appear to me to be utterly out of place in a published narrative.

I trust also, that, in speaking of controversies, and in dwelling on some parts of my father’s life, on which I cannot but feel strongly, I shall be thought to have observed due moderation of expression, and due respect for the reputation of others. In some cases I have simply stated facts, and left it to others to draw inferences and make comments upon them. It will not, I hope, be supposed that reticence in such cases implies any want of strong conviction or strong feeling on my own part. In fact, as the work has proceeded, I have felt more and more that such reticence is forced upon a son, when he is writing{vii} his father’s life, and I do not think that it need necessarily interfere with the impression which the record ought to create.

The story itself may perhaps be mainly one of professional interest. But this is a time in which Art is beginning to be recognised as an important subject to the public; and the record of a career not unimportant in regard of artistic progress, of the erection of one of the largest and most important buildings of modern times, and of designs and opinions bearing upon most public improvements now actually in contemplation, may therefore commend itself to general notice.

I have only to say in conclusion, that the inevitable difficulties in the task of preparation, the duty of wading through long official documents, and the necessity of seeking in many quarters information (which, even now, has occasionally arrived too late for use),[1] have delayed the publication of this Memoir to a period far later than that originally contemplated. I am far, however, from regretting this enforced delay. Whatever interest there may be in the record of works and opinions here given, it is not of a temporary character; and it is clear, from many indications, that even the time, which{viii} has already elapsed, has served to bring out public opinion more clearly, and has tended to the formation of a true estimate of Sir Charles Barry’s architectural genius, and of the position which his works must hold in the progress of English Art.

A. B.

Cheltenham, April, 1867.


Since this work was printed, the risk alluded to in page 195, as likely to arise from the employment of the late Mr. A. W. Pugin on the New Palace at Westminster, has been unexpectedly realized fifteen years after his death by some extraordinary claims put forward by his son. These claims, referring as they do to a question raised and settled in the life-time of those concerned, have not appeared to me to require any notice in these pages. I have therefore left the whole passage in pp. 194-198 precisely as it was originally written, without the alteration of a single word. It contains the exact account of the connexion which existed between Mr. A. W. Pugin and my father, and which, I repeat, so far as Sir Charles Barry’s knowledge and feeling were concerned, was never broken by any dispute or estrangement, from the day when Mr. Pugin (then a young man of 23) was first employed on the drawings of the New Palace, until the day of his death in 1852.

A. B.

October 22nd, 1867.{ix}


Object of the work—Birth of Charles Barry—His childhood, schooldays, and apprenticeship—His early efforts and amusements—His self-education and its effects on his character—His determination to travel—His matrimonial engagementPage 1
I. France and Italy.—General effects of travel—Study of classical architecture—Observation of natural scenery—Universality and accuracy of examination. II. Greece and Constantinople.—Growth of artistic power—Impressions of Athens and Constantinople—Contrast of the Turkish and Greek characters. III. Egypt and the East.—Great effect of Egyptian architecture upon him—Mehemet Ali’s government—Dendera, Esneh, Edfou, Philæ, Abousimbel, Thebes—Return to Cairo—Palestine—Jerash—Baalbec—Damascus—Palmyra. IV. Sicily and Italy.—Syracuse, Messina, Agrigentum, and Palermo—Return to Rome—Meeting with Mr. J. L. Wolfe—Systematic architectural study—Effects of Egyptian impressions—Italian palaces at Rome, Florence, Vicenza, and Venice—Italian churches—St. Peter’s, the Pantheon, the cathedrals at Florence and Milan—The bridge of La Santa Trinita at Florence—The {x}growth of his architectural principles—Return to England15
Early difficulties and failures—Thought of emigration—Non-publication of his sketches—Holland House—Revival of Gothic—His Manchester churches, and their peculiarities—Marriage—Church at Oldham—Alarm at Prestwich Church—Designs for King’s College, Cambridge—Royal Institution at Manchester—Gradual relinquishment of Greek architecture—St. Peter’s Church, Brighton—Sussex County Hospital—Petworth Church—Queen’s Park, Brighton, his first Italian design—Islington churches—His relations to church architecture generally—Removal to Foley Place—Subsidiary work—Travellers’ Club—General character of his life at this period64
Plan of the Chapter. (A.) Original Buildings—Varieties of his Italian style—First manner—Reform Club—Manchester Athenæum—New wing at Trentham—Second manner—Bridgewater House—Third manner—Halifax Town Hall. (B.) Conversions and Alterations—College of Surgeons—Walton House—Highclere House—Board of Trade—Architectural gardening—Trentham Hall—Duncombe Park—Harewood House—Shrubland Park—Cliefden House—Laying out of Trafalgar Square. (C.) Designs carried out by others—Keyham Factory—Ambassador’s Palace at Constantinople—General remarks on his Italian architecture89
Progress of the Gothic revival—Birmingham Grammar School—First acquaintance with Mr. Pugin and Mr. Thomas—Alterations at Dulwich College—Unitarian chapel at Manchester—Additions to University College, Oxford—Hurstpierpoint Church—Canford {xi}Manor—Gawthorpe Hall—Designs for Dunrobin Castle128
Plan of the Chapter. Section I. History of the Competition—Burning of the old Houses of Parliament—Opening of the Competition for the New Building—Award of the Commissioners—Approved by the Select Committee of the Houses—Protest of the advocates of Classical Architecture—Critical controversy—Personal attacks on Mr. Barry—Meeting of unsuccessful Competitors—Presentation of Petition by Mr. Hume—Opposition quashed by Sir Robert Peel—Protest against it by Professor Donaldson and others. Section II. Progress of the Building—Difficulties as to the Foundation—Commission of Inquiry as to the Stone to be used—First Stone laid—Unavoidable delays—Committee of the Peers—Generous support of Earl of Lincoln—Committee of the Commons—Appointment of New Palace Commissioners—Appointment of Dr. Reid—Difficulties arising therefrom, and arbitration of Mr. Gwilt—The Great Clock—Competition and success of Mr. Dent—Professor Airy and Mr. E. B. Denison referees—Mr. Denison the chief Director—His tone and method of controversy—The Great Bell and its disasters—The Fine Arts Commission—The Architect’s exclusion from it—His scheme for the Decoration of the Building—The scheme of the Commissioners—Its ideal excellence and practical drawbacks—Connection with Mr. Pugin—Real nature of the aid given by him—Mr. Thomas and the stone carving—Mr. Meeson and the practical engineering—Other assistants in the work—Opening of the House of Peers—Opening and alteration of the House of Commons—The Architect knighted in 1852—The Great Tower hardly completed at his death. Section III. The Remuneration Question—Its points of public interest—General question of architectural percentage—Its bearing on the particular work—Original attempt at a bargain by Lord Bessborough—Accepted under protest—Re-opening of the question—First Minute of the Treasury, and reply—Mr. White acts for Sir C. Barry—Second Minute of the Treasury—Counter statement—Third Minute of the Treasury—Submitted to by Sir C. Barry—Protest of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and reply—Practice of the Government after Sir C. Barry’s death—General reference to the question {xii}of expenditure—Summing up of the chief points of the controversy143
I. History of the Growth of the Design.—Influence of external circumstances on the design—Lowness and irregularity of site—Limitation of choice to Elizabethan and Gothic styles—Choice of Perpendicular style—Original conception of the Plan—Question of restoration of St. Stephen’s Chapel—Use of Westminster Hall as the grand Entrance to the building—Simplicity of plan—Principle of symmetry and regularity dominant—Enlargement of Plan after its adoption—Conception of St. Stephen’s porch—The Central Hall—The Royal entrance and Royal Gallery—The House of Lords, its construction and decoration—The House of Commons, and its alteration—Great difficulty of the acoustic problem—Enlargement of public requirements—Alterations of design in the River Front—The Land Fronts—The Victoria Tower—The Clock Tower—General inclination to increase the upward tendency of the design, and the amount of decoration. II. Brief Description of the Actual Building.—Its dimensions—Its main lines of approach; the public approach—The Royal approach—The private approaches of Peers and Commons—General character of the plan—The external fronts—The towers—Criticisms on the building by independent authorities236
Large number of designs not executed—Views of Metropolitan Improvement—Reasons for notice of such designs—Clumber Park—New Law Courts—National Gallery—Horse Guards—British Museum—General scheme laid before the late Prince Consort—Design for new Royal Academy—Crystal Palace—Alterations of Piccadilly and the Green Park—Prolongation of Pall Mall into the Green Park—Westminster Bridge—Extension of the New Palace at Westminster round New Palace Yard—Great Scheme of Metropolitan Improvements—Plan and description—General remarks {xiii}thereon266
Public action—His natural dislike of publicity—His characteristics as a Commissioner—Royal Academy—Scheme for Architectural Education—Royal Institute of British Architects—Scientific Societies—Royal Commission of 1851—Exposition Universelle of 1855—Professional arbitrations at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Leeds—St. Paul’s Cathedral Committee302
Leading events of his life—General habits of work—Domesticity and privacy of life—Acquaintances and friendships—Distaste of publicity—Leading features of character—Personal appearance—Failure of health—Death—Funeral in Westminster Abbey—Erection of Memorial Statue—Conclusion323
(A.) List of Architectural Designs355
(B.) Letter to his Royal Highness the Prince Consort as to the South Kensington Scheme358
(C.) Papers on the Remuneration Controversy369
(D.) List of Subscribers to the Memorial Statue405

(Corrections made by etext-transcriber.)



Portrait of Sir Charles BarryFrontispiece.
1. Plan of Travellers’ Club82
2. View of Travellers’ Club82
3. Plan of Reform Club93
4. View of Reform Club95
5. Plan of Bridgewater House97
6. View of Bridgewater House98
7. View of Halifax Town Hall103
8. College of Surgeons (as altered)106
9. Plan of Walton House109
10. Highclere House before alteration110
11. Highclere House after alteration110
12. Board of Trade before alteration111
13. Board of Trade after alteration112
14. Plan of Trentham Hall113
15. View of Trentham Hall114
16, 17. Views of Shrubland Park and Gardens119
18. Plan of Cliefden House121
19. View of Cliefden House121
20. View of Birmingham Grammar School130
21. Plan of Birmingham Grammar School131
22. Plan of Canford Manor137
23. View of Canford Manor137
24. View of Gawthorpe Hall139
25. Plan of New Palace of Westminster238
26. General View of River Front251
27. View of Victoria Tower254
28, 29, 30. Plans of Clumber House269
31, 32. Views of Clumber House (as existing, and as proposed)270
33. View of Crystal Palace (as existing)284
34. View of Crystal Palace (as proposed)284
35. Plan of Pall Mall Continuation (as proposed)286
36. Plan of proposed Extension of New Palace at Westminster, to enclose
New Palace Yard
37. View of the same from Great George Street292
38. Lithographed Plan of proposed Westminster Improvements (in pocket)see 294-299
39. Facsimile of drawing of the same (in pocket) see 294-299






Object of the work—Birth of Charles Barry—His childhood, schooldays, and apprenticeship—His early efforts and amusements—His self-education and its effects on his character—His determination to travel—His matrimonial engagement.

In the compilation of this memoir of my late father I have endeavoured to keep two objects in view. It is desired, on the one hand, to preserve for his family and his many personal friends some record of his private life and character. It is thought, on the other, that there will be some public value and interest in a notice of his opinions, designs, and works, and a general record of his professional career.

Even to the public at large it is conceived that his life, though it presents but little variety of incident, may yet be worth telling. He started with no advantages of birth, and with an imperfect education;{2} he was supported by no influential connection or school of art, and was aided by no patronage except that which his own merit commanded. He won for himself a place among the foremost architects of Europe, not more by his talents than by a life-long devotion to his art, and an extraordinary power of work. Having earned this high position, he paid its usual penalty in the many difficulties and misrepresentations, which are inevitable to a professional career, and which, though they may be stoutly met, tend, far more than any mere work, to wear out the energies and shorten the life. The interest of biography seems to lie, not so much in variety of event, as in its illustration of human character, and the ordinary conditions of human life. It is hoped that this interest may not be altogether wanting in the following pages.

By his professional brethren it will probably be thought, that the history of so many public and private works, and of the questions raised and decided in connection with them, may bear on some points important to the profession at large, and that the grounds and the nature of the architectural principles, which he maintained, may excite interest, even where they do not secure agreement. It is not unlikely that the record of such a life as his may throw some light on the remarkable progress and diffusion of artistic taste, which appear to mark our own time, transforming the whole aspect of our country, and not indirectly affecting our national character. Since he entered on his career the forms of Art have changed, and its principles have been{3} developed or modified. With some of these changes he strongly sympathized; others he strenuously resisted. But, in either case, the record of a life of ceaseless architectural activity, and of a mind keenly alive to artistic influences—readily impressible, and bound to no special school—must tend to illustrate the movements which have taken place, and are taking place still, in his own special province of Art.

It is for these reasons that the following memoir has been undertaken. In performing such a duty, it would be useless and unbecoming in a son to affect a position of independent criticism, or to claim credit for a strict impartiality. It can only be expected that he should record his father’s career as it was seen from his own point of view, and sketch his character as it appeared to those who loved him best. It can only be required that he observe strict truthfulness and accuracy as to facts, and due consideration for the feelings of others. If these limitations be observed (and I trust that in the following pages they will be observed most sacredly), experience has shown that such a record is likely to contain at least a large and essential portion of the whole truth. There will be subjects indeed on which it can only give the materials for judgment; for, where criticism is precluded, eulogium is at least equally out of place. But such correction and completion as it requires may be safely left to the impartial judgment of its readers.

In most cases its influence on the reputation of its subject is but a secondary one. The true and lasting reputation of a man will depend very little on any other memorial than the work which he has done, and{4} the influence which he has exerted in his life-time; and on the results which he has thus left behind for the use and the verdict of posterity.


Charles Barry, the fourth son of Walter Edward and Frances Barry, was born in Bridge Street, Westminster, on the 23rd of May, 1795, in a house which (until last year) lay under the shadow of the Clock Tower of the New Palace at Westminster.

His father was a stationer of great respectability and some wealth,[2] as is seen by the fact that he supplied, in the course of his business, the materials used at the Government Stationery Office. His mother died in 1798, when he was a little more than three years old; but her place was supplied (so far as a mother’s place can be) by the care and affection of his stepmother, Sarah, to whom his father was married shortly after, and to whom, at his death in 1805, he left the care of his children, and of the business which was to support them. Most thoroughly did she fulfil the charge, and reap her due reward of respect and gratitude. Of the whole family he alone, even from his childhood, manifested artistic taste and capacity, and chose for himself, in spite of all difficulties, a new path in life. These difficulties were then far greater than they would be now, in a less stationary condition of society, with greater facilities for change and travel, and greater opportunities of artistic and general education. There was little in his home life to foster any high aspirations, although{5} perhaps its wholesome atmosphere of honesty and regularity, of steady industry and “habits of business,” supplied a corrective influence much needed by an enthusiastic and artistic temperament.

He had little advantage of education. He went with his brothers to various private schools, such as schools then were. The first seems to have been a mere preparatory school; of the second, the only account preserved is that the “master paid little attention to it, being very dissolute, and absenting himself for weeks together;” and the last school, though perhaps rather better than the rest, was apparently one of those which attempted only mechanical teaching and severe discipline. Education, in the highest sense of the word, seems hardly to have been dreamt of. He carried away from it little except a superficial knowledge of English, a good proficiency in arithmetic, and a remarkably beautiful handwriting.

The account of his early days speaks of him as merely a warm-hearted and spirited boy, handsome and engaging in appearance, not very studious, full of fun, and by no means averse to mischief. His only remarkable talent was his taste for drawing; in this he was taught by a most incompetent man, and his best practice was in caricatures, especially of his drawing-master. The imperfection of his early training he always felt and regretted, in spite of his zealous efforts to supply its deficiencies. For, not to speak of the external difficulties which it threw in his way, it is obvious enough that his impulsive disposition, quick observation, and susceptible mind,{6} especially needed the bracing and strengthening influence of a good education.

On leaving school, at the age of fifteen, he was articled to Messrs. Middleton and Bailey, architects and surveyors, of Paradise Row, Lambeth. With them he remained six years. Both took a strong and affectionate interest in him, and from them he received all the professional training which he ever enjoyed. Their business was mainly that of surveying; he could have learnt little with them of the artistic element of architecture. But his time was not wasted; for he studied accurately and industriously the “business” of his profession. Lists of prices, calculations of dimensions, methods of measuring and valuation, crowd his note-book, side by side with studies from Chambers’ Architecture, and sketches of such details and ornaments as struck his own fancy. In the later part of his time much responsibility was thrown upon him, and responsibility he never refused. The fruit was seen in after life in his excellent habits of business, and his ability to prepare his own working drawings, make out his own specifications and estimates, and form a sound judgment of materials and work. This knowledge stood him in good stead; he never failed to impress its importance on young architects; and, though he would not for a moment have allowed it to take equal rank with artistic power, he regarded the frequent neglect of it, and the increasing tendency to separate it from the higher province of art, as a serious evil, both in theory and in practice.

But he could not be satisfied with this semi-{7}mechanical work. His name appears regularly in 1812, 1813, 1814, and 1815 in the architectural part of the catalogue of the Royal Academy. His first drawing, there exhibited when he was seventeen years old, still remains. It was a drawing of the interior of Westminster Hall, the building which (as has been well said) “was in after-days to give the key-note to his greatest work.” His other designs “For a Church,” “A Museum and Library,” “A Nobleman’s Mansion,” &c., have all perished. They had served their purpose, and were no doubt destroyed by himself, for he was always ruthless both in his criticism and his treatment of his early designs.

At an earlier age (about fifteen or sixteen) his artistic taste had found a much more curious development. There was much of the boy in him still (as indeed there was in all his after-life), and he did not disdain boyish fancies and amusements. Accordingly he resolved to transform his small attic bedroom into a “hermitage,"—“a rocky interior,” “with openings looking out on a sunny landscape.” The mechanical work and the painting he did entirely himself, working at it in all his spare time with constant delight; and when it was done, he kept up its character by using it as a painting-room, and drawing constantly figures of all kinds on a large scale on its walls. His family noticed all this with some wonder and amusement; he himself, though he used to laugh at it in after-life, remembered it with a kind of pleasure. These details may seem trivial, but they were certainly characteristic. The work must have given boldness to his hand (as scene-painting has done to some of{8} our great painters); it may not improbably have helped to kindle and foster his imagination, and at the same time to satisfy that delight in alteration and contrivance which always was conspicuous in him.

In every respect his home was a simple and a happy one. If it did not stimulate artistic tastes, it certainly allowed them perfect freedom, and gave them the support of admiration and sympathy. His character, in spite of his fondness for change and amusement, was always strongly domestic. In his work, and the society of his mother (for so he always esteemed her) and his brothers, he found all the interest he cared for. Such are the records of his early days. They are scanty enough; but they are corroborated by the recollections of his later life, for his was a character that changed but little.

It is evident from these that he was in every sense of the word a self-educated man, and the recognition of this fact is most important, for the true appreciation of his character, and a right understanding of his career.

Even in general education this was strikingly the case. He carried away very little from school. His very journals show that he had to acquire for himself not only a knowledge of French and Italian (which he mastered sufficiently for all practical purposes), but even correctness and fluency of English. They show, during his foreign journey, almost as great progress in style as in thought—a progress gained, as usual with him, not so much by systematic study as by a certain “readiness of mind” and an unwearied practice. Mathematics and theoretical mechanics he{9} had studied but little, and in fact he had little taste for such study. Their practical conclusions, as bearing on his own profession, he knew familiarly enough; and his mind was not only quick in its deductions from them, and bold even to the verge of rashness, but singularly fertile in all kinds of mechanical contrivance. But of systematic study of theory he was impatient. He could often, though at some risk, supersede it for himself by a kind of intuition, and he perhaps never estimated it at its true value.

But much more was this the case in all that regarded his own profession. No powerful mind had by its contact fired and influenced his; no deep course of study had imbued him with profound and systematic principles. He had gained “business” experience and practical knowledge; his strong natural tastes and powers had been cordially and kindly recognised, but in all that concerns the higher element of his profession he was left alone to find his way by his own observations and inductions to the first principles of Art. His natural character—vigorous, impulsive, and energetic—was allowed to grow by its own power, and to choose for itself both the method and the direction of growth.

The chief consequence was, as usual, an intense and absorbing devotion to the art which he had chosen as his work in life. He found it difficult to take any deep interest in anything else. In the political and social questions of the day he would often adopt the opinions of others. All his originality and his thought were already pre-occupied. In the service of architecture he held everything cheap; time,{10} labour, and health were sacrificed as a matter of course; and keenly sensitive as he was to blame, yet he would defy the opinion of the world in search of what he deemed perfection.

His art was scarcely at any time absent from his mind, even in times of social relaxation or of more serious employment. He could hardly enter a room without seeing capabilities in it, and longing to develope them. But when an important design was in progress, it seemed to take entire possession of his mind. It was his custom to work it out almost wholly for himself, in its scientific and financial as well as its artistic bearings. His extraordinary rapidity of execution and untiring industry enabled him to keep up this custom to a great extent, even in his busiest times. In fact, when a design was once conceived—when it had once taken possession of his imagination—hard work at it was a relief. The idea of it would occur to him at his first waking, and he could not but rise, however early the hour, and set to work. Adverse criticism at such a time was rejected or disregarded, but a few days later it would be found to have sunk into his mind unconsciously; then it would be rapidly seized upon as if original, and its results, often greatly modified and reconstructed, would be produced in the most perfect good faith as new, perhaps to the very person who had first made the criticism. Difficulties were forgotten or defied in the attempt to perfect the idea conceived; drawings of the more important parts of the work altered scores of times until his fastidious taste was satisfied. He could not conceive the idea of resting contented with{11} what was acknowledged to be defective, and he held that the word “impossible” was to be erased from his dictionary. In this absorbing devotion to his art lay the cause of infinite labour, many troubles, and much misapprehension, but in it lay, as usual, the secret of success.

Another effect of this early freedom and self-direction was a vigorous growth of self-reliance and originality. It perhaps entailed some want of philosophic symmetry and largeness of view, especially at a time when there was comparatively little study of great principles of art as based on substantial reason. Grounds of criticism were then sought by the generality in conventional rules, and by the more active minds in arbitrary conceptions of “taste,” till society was divided into the connoisseurs, who were to pronounce their arbitrary judgment, and the “ignobile vulgus,” who were obediently and ignorantly to accept their conclusions. Yet it gave him the power of progress, and it kept him also free from any tendency to bigotry and copyism. There is indeed the highest kind of originality, which combines philosophic knowledge and study with the power of a true development. But in practice, especially in the domain of art, the most important steps of progress are probably due to men of a happy intuition and an unscientific audacity, and such men are usually men who have guided and educated themselves.

He himself was avowedly and on principle an eclectic. He could not help recognising the excellences of various schools: but he knew too much to{12} be satisfied with any single one, as if it were all-comprehensive, and to conclude accordingly that to it alone praise and devotion are due. His principles of design and construction had been worked out for himself, the fruit of many crude conceptions in theory and many trials in practice. For that very reason they became so deeply rooted in his mind, that, when he attempted to change his course, he found himself insensibly returning to them. His early study of Greek architecture did not prevent his appreciation of Italian and Gothic; and so he stood apart from the exclusive devotion to one or other style which now seems to divide the architectural profession. Such a position is a difficult and dangerous one, in art, as well as in politics or theology, but those who occupy it supply the chief resisting influence to stagnation, and open some of the chief avenues of progress. In his case it was all but inevitable; his natural character, and his early freedom from the trammels of any school of art, forbade his taking any other course. For even in his early days those characteristics were fixed which determined his after career.

With these capabilities, and with a fixed and hopeful resolution to cut out a path for himself, he passed through his time of pupilage, and attained his majority in 1816. He now began to act for himself, and he at once conceived, or perhaps after long consideration declared openly, a determination on which much of his future success depended. He was naturally formed to make his way in the world. To the mental qualities already enumerated he added the{13} advantages of a handsome person, great fascination of manner, high spirits, and a sanguine temperament, which was well calculated to inspire confidence and win affection. He believed that he had the elements of success in him, and that he only needed freedom of scope and a more extended sphere than he could obtain at home. The result verified his belief. Perhaps the prophecy fulfilled itself.

By his father’s will, he and each of his brothers had inherited a certain sum of money, and the remainder of this inheritance, diminished by the expense of his education and his articles, now came into his hands. The sum was not a large one, and it was his all, for he had little expectations of assistance from without in entering on the risks of a professional career. He resolved to devote the whole, or the greater part of it, to an architectural tour.

The Continent was just opened by the peace of 1815. All English society was awaking from the torpor and isolation of the great European war. Architecture was receiving a fresh stimulus by the cessation of external difficulties, and fresh principles and models from abroad were breaking in upon its stereotyped forms. He naturally felt, with all the impressibility of his character, the influence of this universal movement; and at the same time, from deliberate consideration, he saw that his only chance of developing the power and satisfying the desires of which he was conscious, his only chance of gaining a thorough grasp of his art, and taking a high stand in his profession, lay in foreign travel. His mind wanted objects which the narrow and prosaic character of{14} his home life could not supply. It wanted the intercourse of a society from which conventional barriers shut it out in England; it wanted scope for activity, and models by which its activity might be guided. Without foreign travel he might have had the certainty of a respectable position and sufficient emoluments in his profession; with it he took the risk of delay and difficulty, and the chance of a noble career.

The choice was not likely to cause him much hesitation. He decided at once, and kept to his decision firmly, in spite of the natural remonstrances of his family, who felt the risk, but did not understand the necessity. Travel was then comparatively rare, and thought by many to be needless. It seemed madness to risk on it so much of his slender resources. His stepmother alone was led by her own strong good sense, and by her unlimited confidence in him, to give him her decided support. At last his plans were fixed, and his journey, the length of which he did not anticipate, or at any rate did not disclose, was determined upon.

Before he left England he was engaged to Miss Sarah Rowsell. Her father, Mr. Samuel Rowsell, was employed in the same line of business which his own father had followed. After about a year’s acquaintance, the engagement was made on the eve of his departure; and with this fresh tie to home, and fresh incentive to exertion, he left England in June, 1817.{15}




I. France and Italy.—General effects of travel—Study of classical architecture—Observation of natural scenery—Universality and accuracy of examination. II. Greece and Constantinople.—Growth of artistic power—Impressions of Athens and Constantinople—Contrast of the Turkish and Greek characters. III. Egypt and the East.—Great effect of Egyptian architecture upon him—Mehemet Ali’s government—Dendera, Esneh, Edfou, Philæ, Abousimbel, Thebes—Return to Cairo—Palestine—Jerash—Baalbec—Damascus—Palmyra. IV. Sicily and Italy.—Syracuse, Messina, Agrigentum, and Palermo—Return to Rome—Meeting with Mr. J. L. Wolfe—Systematic architectural study—Effects of Egyptian impressions—Italian palaces at Rome, Florence, Vicenza, and Venice—Italian churches—St. Peter’s, the Pantheon, the cathedrals at Florence and Milan—The Bridge of La Santa Trinita at Florence—The growth of his architectural principles—Return to England.

On June 28th, 1817, Mr. Barry left England, and remained abroad for more than three years. During that time he travelled, first, chiefly alone, in France and Italy; next with Mr. (afterwards Sir C.) Eastlake, and Messrs. Kinnaird and Johnson, in Greece and Turkey; thirdly, with Mr. D. Baillie, Mr. Godfrey, and Mr. (afterwards Sir T.) Wyse, in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria; and lastly, chiefly in company with Mr. J. L. Wolfe, in Sicily and Italy, returning alone through France in August, 1820.{16}

His travels had, at the time, a considerable interest of their own: few had gone so far as the second cataracts of the Nile; still fewer had added to their Egyptian experiences so great an extent of Eastern and Western travels. Accordingly, on his return to Rome, he was one of the lions of the season, and his portfolio of sketches excited unbounded interest, as much by their novelty as by their intrinsic excellence. All this is, of course, greatly changed; scenes then little known have become almost hackneyed; what were then difficult and even hazardous journeys, are now pleasant summer excursions. The intrinsic interest of any narrative of his travels (such as might easily be drawn from his copious journals) is therefore to a great extent lost. But the importance of their effect on his own mind can hardly be exaggerated, and it is to this, therefore, that attention must here be drawn.

In the first period of his travels, the point most deserving notice is the exciting and enlarging effect of novelty and beauty on a mind, which had hitherto been cooped up within narrow limits, and had lacked its own congenial food. The change was infinite, after the narrowness of home experience, and the depression of all artistic and scientific energy in England by the long war. It seemed to be the entrance on a new life, one day of which (to use his own constant expression) was “worth a year at home.” His frank and buoyant spirit, his love of adventure, and good-humoured determination in all his purposes, answered readily to its call.

There is little at first in his journals of a strictly{17} professional character; the architect is merged in the artist; and even the artistic element has by no means an exclusive dominion; observations of all kinds throng his journals, as impressions of all kinds evidently crowded on his mind. The external aspect of the country, both as to its scenery and its life, social peculiarities, and differences from English customs,[3] political feelings and tendencies, aspects of individual life and character—all claim their place, side by side with the records of sketches taken and buildings criticized.

Such a process, as it was the most natural, was also probably the most beneficial, if travel was really to enlarge his mind and to educate his whole nature. The work of life would soon narrow, and so deepen, the stream of thought and observation; and, indeed, at all times, he possessed the power of subordinating all his various interests and enjoyments to his one important business. He always liked the greater freedom of foreign life and foreign society, as compared with the conventions and formality which, then especially, clung to the social system of England. But Paris and Rome, with all their various enchantments fully appreciated and enjoyed, never drew him away from the hard work which was the real object of his travels.{18}

At first, of course, all study was devoted to classical architecture alone. It is curiously characteristic of the time, that at Rouen, while he thought it worth while to sketch and criticize a small Corinthian church, all the glories of the cathedral and of St. Ouen are dismissed in one line, as being “examples of a rich florid Gothic;” and at Paris, the cathedral of Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle are noticed in the same spirit, as having an antiquarian interest, and a certain irregular beauty of their own; but not as deserving any high admiration or study. Milan Cathedral is noted for its grandeur and richness, but with no criticism as to its architectural details. All this gradually changed as the revival of mediæval architecture began. On his return over the same ground the contrast seen in his journals is remarkable; and Gothic, though not studied or understood as it would be now, was regarded by him with keen interest and deep respect.

Art of all kinds, not exclusively architectural, attracted him at once. At Paris the Louvre occupied him for days together; and it was characteristic of his taste (which always inclined to the real rather than the ideal) that, on the one hand, he passed by at once as “showy and unnatural” the then popular school of David and Gérard, and, on the other, devoted more attention to the grand historical series of Rubens’ pictures, the Claudes, and the Dutch pictures (which reminded him of Wilkie), than to those of a higher and more imaginative kind. At Rome (thanks to the kindness of Canova, to whom he had letters of introduction) he spent whole days in{19} sketching among the antiquities, the sculptures, and the paintings of the Vatican, and of other galleries. In fact, at this time he often seemed to turn aside from architecture to woo the sister arts, although afterwards his own art gradually asserted an almost exclusive dominion, and he was accused, with some truth, of looking at the others as merely her handmaids.

Travelling as he was in Italy, he could not fail to be impressed by the artistic influences of painting, sculpture, architecture, and, above all, of music, which the Church of Rome presses into the service of her religious ceremonies. He first saw these displayed (and he could hardly have seen them more gloriously) when he entered Milan Cathedral on the feast of St. Carlo. He had fuller opportunities still, in his long sojourn at Rome, of witnessing all the splendours of Christmas and Easter. They could not but appeal to his artistic tastes, and especially to his great love of music; but they seem never to have laid hold of his mind. The sense of the artificiality and cumbrousness of ceremony spoilt the effect to his taste; and neither the time nor his own disposition was such as to appreciate any devotion, in which superstition might appear to lurk, whether in the wayside chapels of Switzerland or under the dome of St. Peter’s itself. He felt in it occasionally “something awful and divine;” but his feeling was marred by the prevailing sense of unreality. Even his friend Pugin’s enthusiasm in after days, though it commanded respect, could win no real sympathy from him.{20}

With regard to natural scenery, though his observation of it was always keen, he delighted in what was rich and beautiful, rather than in the highest forms of grandeur. The love of mountain scenery was not then a fashion, which few, even in a Journal, would dare to disregard. His admiration of it was blended with the notion of something strange and almost grotesque in it. He speaks of it as exhibiting “the freaks and outrageous effects of Nature” in its wilder features, and the beauties of an Alpine pass seemed to him to present something “appalling,” calculated to excite a kind of awe, too oppressive for genuine admiration. He delighted more in the Apennines, rising in mountains of equal height “like the waves of the sea,” and disclosing in their lateral valleys scenes of quiet beauty and richness, or in the scenery of the Saronic Gulf, with its bright colour and picturesque variety. Colour, indeed, at this time, seems to have impressed him more than form: sunsets, or moonlight effects, and the contrasts of white cities with the verdure surrounding them, are constant themes of notice and admiration. He cared for what was bright and beautiful more than for any sombre and awful grandeur; and he was always master of his impressions rather than overmastered by them.

His examination of buildings was always comprehensive, and his criticisms, even from the first, audaciously defiant of all fashion and authority.[4]

{21} In entering a town he always estimates its general effect before proceeding to details; and his impressions seem often divided between an artistic love of the picturesque and a determined architectural preference for regularity. In proceeding to greater particularity, no buildings came amiss to him. Besides the churches and palaces, which have a prescriptive right to precedence, he seems to have had a special taste for two most opposite specimens of architectural effect. Cemeteries, on the one hand, always attracted his notice, both as to their arrangement and their accompanying buildings, and in their case he had a strong dislike of over-embellishment. The sombre solemnity of a Turkish burial-ground was his ideal. The same taste which attached brightness and cheerfulness in buildings that ministered to life, inclined to solemnity and sadness in all that suggested the idea of death. On the other hand, theatres greatly interested him at all times, from the Scala at Milan to the little theatres of Italian country towns. He thought that they gave a grand opportunity for architectural effect, which was generally frittered away. And his note-books abound in plans and criticisms of existing buildings, and ideas as to their best theoretical construction. It was curious enough that a theatre was almost the only kind of public building which it never fell to his lot to execute.

Perhaps the one point especially to be noticed in all his examinations of buildings is the extreme care for accuracy which distinguishes them; measurements are always given, plans generally accompany{22} the descriptions in his journals; he would take any trouble to obtain measurements and details, even if it risked his neck, or threw him into the hands of the police.[5] What was vague seemed to him worthless, and difficulties rather excited than daunted him.[6]

In this way the first nine months of his travels passed over—a good preparation, but only a preparation, for professional study. It became a question whether he should return home, or visit Greece in the congenial company of Mr. (afterwards Sir C.) Eastlake, already distinguished as an artist; Mr. Kinnaird, an architect, afterwards editor of the last volume of Stuart’s ‘Athens;’ and Mr. Johnson, afterwards a Professor at Haileybury College. Home ties and considerations of economy drew him back; he consulted his friends at home, and especially his future father-in-law, Mr. Rowsell, and by his sensible advice he determined to disregard difficulties, and give full scope to his tastes and powers. It was a wise resolution; he had left England inexperienced and unknown; he was now recognised as an artist of talent and promise, and was to travel with men of acknowledged ability, generally his superiors in education and knowledge both of books and men. His journals show clearly the effect of his past{23} experience in greater maturity of judgment, greater taste for antiquity, and general growth of mind.

Athens and Constantinople were their two main objects. The season was rather advanced, so they hurried on, paying but a hasty visit to Naples[7] and Pompeii, then across Calabria to Bari, while he made the most of his time by sketching incessantly under a great umbrella, and managing to give careful descriptions and rough plans of all that he visited. Thence they crossed to Corfu;[8] and there first the richness and picturesque beauty of the island seem to have captivated him, and stirred up anew the artistic power within. His pencil was never out of his hand, but it was employed almost entirely on the beauties of nature, and his delight in the scenery itself evidently increased with his power of representing it.

This was even more strikingly the case in a visit to Parnassus and Delphi, where they spent some ten days in the hut of a poor cottager, and were richly compensated for their disappointment at finding no traces of the old temple, and no remains worthy of notice, by the extraordinary beauty of the country, and the opportunity which it gave them for countless sketches. They even offered a reward from the minaret of the village for one of the great vultures of the mountain, and obtained, for sketching purposes, a magnificent bird, measuring nine feet from tip to tip{24} of his wings. “I drank,” he says, “deeply of the Castalian spring, but did not find my poetic faculty improved thereby.” Yet the genius loci did not fail him entirely. It was here more especially that a change and growth of artistic power in him struck his fellow-travellers.[9] Before he left Rome, his drawings had been only careful and elaborate; now there began to show itself in them that indescribable power of insight and imagination, which distinguishes the true artist from the mere draughtsman. Conventionalities were shaken off, and nature represented as it was; laboured and ineffective drawing gave place to a bold and masterly grasp of the leading lines, and the general effect of the scene represented; and his journals show an ever-increasing admiration for natural and artificial beauty, and an absorbing delight in the task of representing it. The progress, once begun, never ceased. Every day witnessed a progress in his power, till his sketches in Egypt showed those powers in full maturity, and astonished those who had known him only in Italy and in Greece.

At Athens they stayed about a month, in despite of some danger of plague which hung over the city. Here unfortunately his journals fail us for a time, and there is no means of supplying the deficiency. It is easy to imagine his intense delight in seeing the buildings which he had so long considered not only as the masterpieces of Greek art, but as the highest forms in which the architectural idea of beauty had clothed itself. We know, what might{25} easily have been conceived, that his admiration did not evaporate in mere enthusiasm, but gave rise to careful study and thoughtful criticism; and that such study, while it deepened his original admiration, yet led him to feel that changes of circumstances, needs, and conceptions might well limit that imitation of Greek models, which had hitherto exercised a despotic influence over modern architecture. But beyond this, there is no memorial of what he perhaps at that time felt to be the crowning pleasure of his architectural tour, except some sketches, made always entirely on the spot, and remarkable for uniting great accuracy and truthfulness of effect to free and spirited drawing.

He left Athens on June 25th, 1818, with Mr. Johnson, and passed by Ægina, and through the Cyclades, touching at Delos, to Smyrna, and thence by land to Constantinople. The voyage was “one continued delight;” full of architectural and antiquarian interest, and even fuller of natural beauty, seen under cloudless skies and glorious sunsets.

They were now having their first experience of countries under Turkish rule, just at the beginning of Mahmoud’s reign, when lawlessness was at its height, scarcely kept down by his bloody justice, or awed by the suspicions of the coming revolution. It is not uninteresting to gather from the journals the impressions made upon the travellers even then by the Turkish and the Greek characters.

The Turks seemed essentially barbarians, not without some excellences (which probably have been deteriorated in late years), such as simplicity and sincerity of religious devotion, dignity, truthfulness,{26} and even generosity of character. They appeared to occupy rather than inhabit the country, allowing its richest regions to fall into desolation, and its commerce (except where the Greeks or English[10] sustained it) to languish and decay. The relics of its former grandeur were transformed for their own purposes, or watched over as antiquities with a jealous and ignorant churlishness;[11] their general insolence and violence were unbridled. At Constantinople Mr. Barry, by attempting a panorama of the city from the Galata tower, grievously offended the Turkish women, who, after abusing him with all their powers of vituperative eloquence, called up the guard to dismiss him summarily, and incited a mob of boys to pursue him with stones, and cries of “Giaour” through the city. Such insults were common then, and had to be borne patiently even by those under ambassadorial protection.

The Greeks, on the other hand, wherever, as at Iverli, Scio, and Patmos, they managed to secure self-government by payment of tribute, appear to have shown that activity and intellectual capacity which the modern kingdom of Greece, with all its defects, has since exemplified. They had schools and universities, in spite of the jealousy and ill-will of the Turks, libraries ancient and modern, and even scien{27}tific instruments from Paris. It was a matter of regret, but, after ages of slavery, hardly a matter of surprise, that their honesty and truthfulness did not keep pace with their intellectual progress. But there seemed then grounds for hope of improvement in them, and none for their Turkish masters.

Constantinople itself surpassed even his high-wrought expectations, as seen, first from the Asiatic heights, and afterwards on approaching it from the water. His journals are full of enthusiastic description; and in after life he often spoke of it as “the most glorious view in the world.” In spite of all difficulty he managed to see it thoroughly, both as to its architecture, and as to its Turkish life: but again his pencil was too busy to give much time for the use of his pen. Except to testify his impression of the magnificence of St. Sophia, there is little record or criticism of individual buildings. He spent a month of never-forgotten interest and enjoyment in the city, and then prepared to turn homewards, in August, 1818.

Once more an opportunity presented itself which could not be passed by. Mr. David Baillie, whom he had met at Athens, was preparing for a journey to the East; and, struck by the beauty of Mr. Barry’s sketches, he offered to take him, at a salary of 200l. a year, and to pay all his expenses, in consideration of retaining all the original sketches he might make. The artist was to be allowed to make copies for himself. The offer was too tempting to be refused,[12]

{28} for it gave him his only opportunity of visiting Egypt and Syria, and of doing so with a man of high cultivation and refinement, who treated him at all times with great kindness and liberality. He hesitated but little; and set out on September 12th, full of delight and expectation.

The third period of his travels was more important to him than all which had gone before. “Egypt,” he remarked, “is a country which, so far as I know, has never yet been explored by an English architect.” Besides the members of the French Institute, only Captains Irby and Mangles, and Belzoni, had gone before him. He felt keenly the novelty and magnificence of the scene thus opened to him. The remains of Egyptian architecture made a far deeper impression upon him than all Italy and Greece combined; and from this time architectural study seems to have assumed in his mind that predominant and almost exclusive influence which it never lost. His journals are kept with far greater accuracy and copiousness. Every great temple is described in outline and in detail, with notes of its present condition, and of the traces of its former greatness. His observation seemed to be stimulated, without being overwhelmed, by the inexhaustible profusion and magnificence of the Egyptian remains. He must certainly have thought of publishing to the world the information he had so carefully collected on a field hitherto little known, and engrafting on it the criticism and evolution of principles, which in the whirl of ceaseless change and activity he had no time to record in his journals. That intention bore no{29} immediate fruit; but the effects of the study sank deep in his own mind. It is hardly too much to say that he entered Egypt merely under the influence of vague artistic interest, and left it with the leading principles of his architectural system fixed for ever.

They passed first through the Troad, and thence by Assos and Pergamus to Smyrna, a brief journey, but one which was remarkable for the varied associations of legendary, classical, Byzantine, and modern times, such as perhaps no other part of the world can offer. Thence they sailed (with Messrs. Godfrey and Wyse) to Alexandria.

The impression then made by Mehemet Ali’s government of Egypt was very much the same which after experience has confirmed. It was a wonderful contrast with Turkish lawlessness; the country was well ordered, and perfectly open to Europeans; public works of all kinds were progressing; commerce and agriculture were pushed on under the guidance of European science, and with all the power of a despotic government. But there was another side to the picture: the pasha urged on his work in utter disregard of the rights, happiness, or lives of his subjects; “in fact,” he was “the chief merchant in Egypt, and did not mind sacrificing all other interests to his own.” The natural results among the people were infinite distress, and a deep though impotent hatred of the Government, solaced only by the common belief that the English (whose glory in Egypt was still fresh) would soon seize and emancipate the country.

Cairo itself was a remarkable evidence of the state of Egypt. The busy crowds of all nations which{30} streamed through its streets, “from the stately Turk to the half-naked and miserable Arab,” gave proof of a vigour and activity very different from the listless and apathetic aspect of most Turkish cities. In the city itself, though it seemed peculiarly Oriental in its general sombreness of aspect, relieved by “bursts of Saracenic magnificence,” yet buildings in European style, and silk and cotton manufactures under European guidance, indicated the quarter whence this vivifying influence came. There was no danger of molestation in sketching here, for, though the city was full of rejoicing and illuminations for Ibrahim Pasha’s victory over the Wahabbees, the strong hand of the Government, which left its bloody traces here and there visible in the streets, effectually checked the spirit of turbulence. The whole country was full of life and energy and progress, but its progress was maintained by force and purchased by misery.

From this point the journals contained a careful and elaborate description of the journey up the Nile. The first place noticed especially is Siout (Lycopolis?), where they landed to obtain permission from Ibrahim Pasha to visit Upper Egypt, and to examine the great catacombs; of these Mr. Barry made a careful ground-plan, as well as a sketch of the frontispiece. To the S.E. of the catacombs they saw “a kind of amphitheatre formed by the mountains, the whole of which was perforated for tombs, one range rising above another.” There was a beautiful contrast between the “gloom of this city of the dead” and the view from the height overlooking it, over the “rich{31} plain of the Nile, level as water, and in the highest cultivation, mostly covered with the rising crops, now of a beautiful green, and laid out” (as of old) “with geometrical exactness.”

From this point the ruins of temples began to show themselves, and on November 29th they came in sight of the great temple of Dendera, lying “on a low ridge of land all in shadow, with a pretty foreground of palm-trees, and the Libyan mountains in the distance.” Full of excitement they hurried on shore to see this first specimen of Egyptian grandeur. “It astonished us,” he says, “by its unexpected magnitude, and gave me a high idea of the skill and knowledge of the principles of architecture displayed by the Egyptians. There is something so unique and striking in its grand features, and such endless labour and ingenuity in its ornaments and hieroglyphics, that it opens to me an entirely new field. No object I have yet seen, not even the Parthenon itself (the truest model of beauty and symmetry existing), has made so forcible an impression upon me. The most striking feature of the building is its vast portico, six columns in front and four in depth, giving a depth of shadow and an air of majestic gravity such as I have never before seen.”

As soon as the first impressions of the grandeur of the great temple had passed away there followed, as usual, a most accurate examination of the whole. The three temples are described with the greatest exactness, every dimension, even of the details, being carefully recorded. All stood before them in complete preservation, in spite of the 4000 years which{32} had passed over the scene. “Even the hieroglyphics and the most delicate parts of the ornamentation were as sharp and vigorous as when they were first executed.” All was studied con amore. He seems to have been especially struck with the variety and beauty of the Egyptian capitals, all of which he sketched and criticised, evidently seeking to emancipate himself from the limits of the five orders, and longing for greater variety and scope for imagination.

The impression made on him by the mixture of general grandeur of outline and dimension with profuse richness of detail was never effaced. It seems at this time to have kindled in his mind an intensity of devotion to his art hitherto unknown, and to have stirred him up to extraordinary labour and study. Temple after temple opened upon him till the view of Philæ crowned the magnificence of the whole. Sketching for Mr. Baillie, copying sketches, where possible, for himself, elaborately describing in his journal what was then an almost unknown treasure-house of ruins, “in comparison with which even those of Greece and Rome sink into insignificance, although the Parthenon and the Pantheon still keep their places as models of architectural excellence"—he drank in deeply the influence of the scene, and seemed in three months to have lived through whole years of study.

Esneh, their next halting-place, appeared then less striking than Dendera; but his second visit corrected the impression, and led him to think the great portico “the finest of all he had seen in Egypt,” half{33} concealed though it was by rubbish and by modern excrescences. Both at Esneh and at Dendera he gives an elaborate description of the remarkable zodiacs, which appeared to show a knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes, and which were then little known except from the Memoirs of the French Institute, a work of which he remarks elsewhere that he found it “full of glaring and unpardonable errors.”

Edfou was then being excavated by M. Drouetti, sufficiently for examination; the sculpture appeared to be of a high order, but the general effect of the temple with the grand peristyle of columns (enclosing an area of 146 ft. by 108 in front) unsatisfactory in spite of its size, for want of due proportion and symmetry in its parts. On the other side of the river they visited the ruins of the temples at Eleithias, some half-excavated in the rock, and the famous tombs, which had then recently been opened, and had given by their hieroglyphics and painting a new glimpse of the life of the ancient Egyptians.

A few days now brought them to Assouan, whence they visited the islands of Elephantina and Philæ. At the former the ancient Nilometer attracted their attention, and was accurately measured and described. The latter island, now, and at his return in January, was felt by him to be the centre of attraction. He felt “it impossible to conceive anything more magnificent than Philæ in the zenith of its prosperity; when all, Egyptians and Ethiopians alike, venerated it as the burial-place of Osiris, and lavished on it the treasures of ages.” He speaks of the long ranges of columns{34} as the characteristic features of the ruins, and as producing even now an “enchanting effect,” and notices the traces of painting in the great portico, as showing great taste in the harmonizing of colours, and giving some idea of the brilliant effect which must have been produced in the days of its splendour. Even then, when the island was a mass of ruins, they lingered over it, carefully examining it at every step; and when at last they left it, it was with deep regret, and a feeling that only in leaving it could they fully appreciate its grandeur. The natural beauty of the view of the first cataracts, far superior in his opinion to that of the second cataracts, or to any point of the Nile, claimed its due share in their delight, and it was evidently the one spot in Egypt to which he most delighted to recur.

At Philæ they left their large vessel and proceeded in four small boats up the river. The whole scenery was now changed: mountains bounded the narrow strips of cultivated land on the banks of the river, and occasionally approached close to the water’s edge; villages numerous, but miserable enough, fringed the banks; and the finer barbarian race of Nubia contrasted favourably with the abject and miserable Egyptians. The ruins still showed themselves in almost uninterrupted series on either side, interesting in themselves, but still more interesting as memorials of the various civilisations which had passed over the country. Most belonged to the earlier Egyptian days: but, combined with these, or superimposed upon them, were the signs of the Greek and Roman dominion; and these in their turn were remodelled{35} or defaced by Christian hands. Greek, Latin, and Coptic inscriptions were mingled with the hieroglyphics; ancient deities were transformed into saints; and a rough daub of the Madonna was often seen on the very plaster which covered the symbols of old Egyptian idolatry.

They proceeded slowly, both in their ascent and return, and found abundant occupation by the way. Above all others, the ruins of Abousimbel claimed careful examination and accurate description. The temples, as being entirely excavated from the rock, and having the greater portion of their fronts occupied by colossal figures, were entirely new to them, and produced as great an effect on their minds as those of Dendera or Philæ. The entrance to the great temple, opened the year before by Mr. Salt, was now again closed by sand and rubbish, and had to be re-opened with much labour. The sculpture of the interior struck them greatly as spirited, and free from the conventionality of most of those which they had seen. The painting was in most places fresh and bright, but the intense heat (98°) and moisture of the interior had made the surface soft, and threatened rapid decay. He was even obliged to sketch on a board, because the paper was so soft that the pencil could not be used upon it, and to work with light almost insufficient for accurate examination. He carried away a drawing of the exterior, seen by a bright moonlight, and partly lit up by the fire of their Arab crew, as a memorial of a place which made a permanent impression on his mind.

A few days brought them to the second cataracts,{36} where they stayed only long enough to admire the picturesque aspect of the scenery, wilder, though less beautiful, than that near Philæ; and then they returned leisurely down the stream, stopping generally rather longer than on the ascent.

At Koum Ombos they now stayed to visit the great temple, with its many traces of crocodile worship, and to examine some of the mummies there found in abundance.

Thebes, which they had passed before, now detained them several days. The ruins of Luxor and Karnac, by their overwhelming magnitude and variety, seemed to throw all others into the shade; and at Medinet Habou, the temples and the recently discovered Tombs of the Kings possessed hardly inferior interest. Even Dendera, which had seemed so marvellous at first, now held only a secondary place. In fact, the rich abundance of architectural treasures presented to their eyes seems almost to have outstripped all attempt at description, and to have left neither time nor room for criticism.

Finally they arrived at Cairo on March 1st; thence duly ascended the great pyramids of Ghizeh, and penetrated into their interior; and on March 12th, 1819, Mr. Barry left Egypt. Little more than four months had elapsed since he first entered Cairo; but the fruits of that short time had been valuable beyond all description.

Their journey across the desert to Gaza, and thence to Jaffa and Jerusalem, with excursions to Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and the convent of St. Saba, lay over a more beaten track, and produced far less effect upon his mind. It could not fail to be full of interest, and{37} gave opportunity for numberless sketches;[13] they carried on their examination with their usual vigour, visiting all the “Holy Places,”[14] and, as they arrived at Easter, had abundant evidence of the feuds of the Greeks and Latins, and witnessed the notorious miracle of the “Holy Fire.” They carried away from the Latin Patriarch certificates of their presence at the Easter ceremonies (which gave them a certain sacred character as pilgrims), and rosaries, blessed at the Holy Sepulchre, which were highly prized in Italy and France; but the journal adds, “I wish I could say that my faith had been strengthened by a pilgrimage in the Holy Land,” and goes on to express the predominant feeling of disgust at the superstitions and impostures, which swarm on that sacred ground, and mar its holy associations.

A visit to Jerash, in Arab costume and under Arab guidance, had in it more of novelty. They found its remains situated in a well-wooded valley, and embosomed in trees. The ruins were then carefully examined, and some sketches made, but disputes between their Arab guards, and strong symptoms of violence, hastened their departure. “The remains (all of Roman origin) much resemble those of Antinoöpolis, and are probably of the same age; there is too great a profusion of ornament and feebleness of general design; but the effect of the great street, 740 yards in length, flanked by long colonnades of{38} Roman, Ionic, and Corinthian, crossed by triumphal arches, and terminating in a circus surrounded by a peristyle of Ionic columns, must have been magnificent, in spite of many faults of detail.”

Their journey northward, through the Lebanon country, to Beyrout, was highly interesting, not only for the grandeur and beauty of the scenery, but because it brought them in contact with the Maronites and Druses. Among the Maronites they always found industry, especially silk-weaving and the raising of silkworms, and considerable prosperity, wherever they enjoyed a quasi-independence of Turkish rule. At Deh-el-Kams the Emir (who was secretly a Christian) was full of interest in the West, a man of taste[15] and energy, who, like other Orientals, worshipped the memory of Sir S. Smith. The great Maronite convent of St. Anthony had a printing-press at work, and was a centre of cultivation and industry. They heard much of the Druses, and the jealous care with which they guarded the secret of their religion, the Acchals, or stricter Druses, living a recluse and ascetic life, the Jechaird Druses mingling with all, and professing themselves indifferently Christian or Mohammedan. Their relations were then peaceful; but the peace was jealous and precarious, and the Turkish authority (as usual) seemed weak to protect, and powerful only to oppress.

Baalbec, Damascus, and Palmyra, were their chief objects of attraction. The situation of Baalbec, in the midst of its forest of walnut-trees, delighted the eye of{39} the artist, but accurate plans and descriptions of the magnificent ruins (then but little known, and even now described with much discrepancy of authorities), gave evidence of more elaborate architectural study. The great encircling wall of the citadel, within which the ruins stand, formed of huge blocks of stone, some as much as 30 feet long, 13 feet high, and 10 feet thick, the fragments of the Greater Temple (of the Sun?), 270 feet by 165 feet, the extensive remains of the Smaller Temple (of Jupiter?), and a third circular Corinthian temple, with their decorations and masterly bas-reliefs, in which the Roman eagle was conspicuous, gave them the idea of that union of power with richness, which well deserves the title of “magnificence.”[16]

It was a curious transition from the silent grandeur of Baalbec to the bustle and life of Damascus. The first view of the city struck them, as it strikes all travellers, as one perfectly unique in its beauty,—“a boundless plain, with surface and horizon level as the sea,” but covered with masses of dark verdure, out of which the city of Damascus rises, “bright as the whitest marble.” The city itself hardly corresponded{40} with this glorious appearance. The travellers were probably taken for Turks, and so were able to see, without molestation, all the parts of this city,—the very home of Turkish fanaticism; but with the exception of a few of the larger buildings, which were full of Oriental magnificence, there was little to justify the glowing descriptions of former travellers. They quitted it without regret; for Palmyra lay before them.

In this expedition they encountered their only noteworthy adventure. The country was beset with the Bedouin Arabs, half obedient, half hostile to the Turkish Government. Every city and village was in a “state of siege;” and when the travellers arrived at the village of Kâl, they were taken for Arabs, and received with a dropping fire of musketry, till the presence of the Aga of Baalbec put an end to the mistake. However, they arrived safely at Homs; and there their dangers began. By the help of the Governor, who treated them most kindly and honourably, a negotiation was made with two Bedouin Arabs, professing to be envoys from the chief of the neighbouring tribe, for their safe conveyance to and from Palmyra.

They set out accordingly, eight in number, with an escort of twelve Arabs, who soon began to play them false, and led them out of the way to a large encampment of their tribe, where they were kept prisoners, and assailed with all kinds of lies and threats to extort money. The Arabs, of course, could not conceive the true object of their visit to Palmyra; but settled at once that they must be seekers of hidden{41} treasures, and that Mr. Baillie’s eye-glass, which excited their greatest astonishment, was the talisman, by which the treasures were to be revealed. The whole party had, for some extraordinary reason not mentioned, come out unarmed; there was not even a pistol among them; and they were therefore wholly in the power of the Arabs. However, they stood firm with true English coolness, till, after long negociation, they found proceeding hopeless, and resolved to return with their escort to Homs.

This they did at full speed, starting about 4 p.m., and galloping over the desert all night by starlight, the Arabs hurrying on in order to leave them under the walls of Homs before daybreak, and so to escape the vengeance of the Governor. About two hours before sunrise, they arrived at Dehr Balbah, near Homs. Here the Arabs by their signal made the dromedaries kneel down, and then tried, first to induce, and then to force, the travellers to dismount. This they refused to do, and, unarmed as they were, resisted for some minutes, wresting the spears and matchlocks from the hands of the Arabs. One or two of the party were slightly wounded, and the thrust of an Arab spear from behind at Mr. Barry would have been serious, and perhaps fatal, had it not been turned aside by the loose burnoose which he wore; as it was, it passed under his arm, and merely grazed his hand. A short struggle proved that the odds were too great, and so the Arabs gained their point, and galloped off to the desert.

Next morning the travellers went on to Homs, having previously sent a despatch to the Governor.{42} On their way they met droves of camels and Bedouin drivers, hastening with all speed to the desert, and cavalry of the Turkish Governor in pursuit. Several Arabs were killed, and three heads brought into Homs in triumph. The Governor behaved most honourably; he felt the danger of provoking the Arabs (for, in fact, out of this incident arose a petty war), but felt also that his own faith had been pledged to the Englishmen, and that it must not be violated with impunity. Some of the money still in his hands he insisted on returning, and, though full of anxiety as to the consequences of the affair, he dismissed them with all honour and courtesy. So ended the only failure, and almost the only serious danger, of their journey.

At Tripoli (June 18th, 1819) Mr. Barry’s engagement with Mr. Baillie terminated; and they parted with mutual regret. Nothing could have exceeded the kindness and liberality of Mr. Baillie’s conduct. About 500 drawings, by far the best which have been preserved of Mr. Barry’s sketches, remained with him, as evidence of the zeal and ability with which the other part of the contract had been performed.

Mr. Barry returned alone, touching at Cyprus, and thence coasting along Asia Minor. Rhodes naturally attracted his notice by the curious contrast of its former and present aspects. The old church of St. John (then a mosque), the Grand Master’s house still bearing traces of its original character, the old escutcheons embedded in the walls, spoke of the days of Christianity and Western civilization. The docks{43} and trade of the place, engrossed by Greeks and Europeans, and the insolence and ignorance of the Turkish soldiery, gave a melancholy picture of the present. At Boudroon (Halicarnassus) he managed, not without difficulty, to see the famous marbles embedded in the walls. Yerunda brought back a reminiscence of Egypt by a temple with an avenue of seated figures, 600 yards in length, “clearly Egyptian in origin, but only a feebly executed copy of the original.” Patmos, at which they next touched, was entirely Greek. The great convent near the “Cave of the Apocalypse” was the first object of interest. A good library neglected, with curious MSS. very carelessly kept, was its reproach; a flourishing Greek school its best evidence of activity. Thence he made his way to Smyrna, passing the ruins of Ephesus; and at last (August 16th, 1819) he bade farewell to the East, and sailed (with Messrs. Godfrey and Wyse) to Malta and Sicily.

A quarantine of twenty days at Malta left him only time for a hasty examination of Valetta and its buildings, before passing on to Syracuse. In Sicily he spent two months of great activity and enjoyment, studying the superimposed strata of Greek, Roman, Saracenic, and Gothic architecture, which give a visible epitome of the history of the island.

Syracuse attracted notice for the sake of the past rather than the present. The very cathedral was formed out of the old temple of Athene; the fountain of Arethusa, shorn of its glories, appeared only as “a great pool, full of washerwomen;” the town itself, shrunk to the little island of Ortygia, was but a{44} symbol of the wretched and degraded state in which the island then was.[17] The two harbours (“the smaller paved with marble, with rings for the fastening of galleys”) and the distinct traces of the other quarters of the old city were the only objects of much interest.

Taormina (Tauromenium) struck them more forcibly by its magnificent position, and its strange juxta-position of the great Greek theatre, Roman baths, Saracenic tombs, and Franciscan convent.

Messina, putting aside its beauty of situation, showed them little except the great hospitals (grand in conception, scale, and revenue, but miserable in arrangement, and restricted in usefulness), and the great prison, with its horrible dungeons and torture chambers, full of memories of recent cruelty, and even then unworthy of a civilized Government.

At Girgenti (Agrigentum) the profusion of remains, and the magnificent scale of the temples, especially the great temple of the Olympian Zeus, invited very careful study and criticism, in which are clearly seen the effects of his Egyptian travels.

But of all places in Sicily, Palermo was clearly far the richest in interest, and not unworthy “of one of the finest situations in the world.”[18] The cathedral at Palermo, and the palace and chapel at Monreale, gave him his first introduction to that peculiar archi{45}tecture, full of Saracenic and Byzantine influence, which is so interesting to all students of the early Gothic styles. He was much struck with its picturesque character, and especially with the richness of the mosaic decorations, and the use of external colours. It hardly approved itself to his taste; for it was too irregular, and too merely picturesque. Still it was examined with a care and respect, which showed the growing importance of Gothic in his mind, and the recollection probably bore fruit in after-times. But the choicest records of his Sicilian expedition were unhappily lost. A large portfolio of sketches (probably some of the best he ever made) was stolen from the vessel in which he was to return home; and, in spite of all inquiry and search, no trace of it was ever recovered.

He crossed over to Italy, passed through Naples, again visiting Pompeii, and arrived at Rome at the end of January, 1820, under very different auspices from those under which he left it. In fact, he was one of the lions of the day, especially in the English society of Rome; and his letters show that he heartily enjoyed his condition, and entered with great zest into the occupations and amusements which it afforded. It was not his nature to do things by halves; his spirits were naturally high and sanguine; and he could not but feel proud in the thought, that his position had been fairly won by his own talent and exertion. But, as usual, he did not allow all this to interfere for a moment with his main object. All dissipation was kept for the evening: the day was sacred to work, and that work was now entered into{46} with matured taste and new powers, both of origination and criticism. In this work he found an unexpected coadjutor. In a letter (dated Feb. 24th, 1820) he says,—“A Mr. Wolfe, an architect and pupil of Mr. Gwilt, has just arrived, and I have made his acquaintance with great pleasure. He is an enthusiastic admirer of art.” The acquaintance went on apace. At Easter, 1820, he continues—“In my first interview with him, I saw immediately that he was a man with whom I could coalesce and become intimate; and the result is that I now reckon him among the few sincere friends that one can hope to obtain in the world.” Never were anticipations more fully realized. The friendship, there begun, continued till the day of his death, with a rare warmth and perfectness of sympathy. The very dissimilarities of the two friends (as is usually the case when there is identity of principle and feeling) only strengthened their union, by giving each power to help the other. Art was the one thought of both; but it was pursued in very different ways. Mr. Wolfe’s mind was more educated, was naturally more scientific and philosophical, and pre-eminently distinguished by cool and well-balanced judgment. It was exactly the mind to influence Mr. Barry’s at this stage of his professional career, and to induce him to study, systematically and with a view to first principles, the treasures of Italian architecture which were before his eyes, find the rich variety of ideas and objects, with which his travels and his sketches had stored his mind.

He was often oppressed by the idea (apparently a very groundless one) that he had wasted much of his{47} time by the discursiveness of his occupations, and especially by his preference of the artistic to the scientific element of study. The truth probably was, that the materials were gathered, and that the task of arrangement and organization now alone remained. In that task the two friends resolved to work in common; and each altered his arrangements that they might be together in their study of Rome, Florence, Vicenza, Venice, and Verona.[19]

The devotion to Greek architecture with which he left England had been somewhat shaken by his intense admiration of the Egyptian. Although he looked upon the latter as a thing essentially of the past, yet recollections of it would haunt his imagination and influence his principles of design.

“I know not[20] (says his friend) whether the taste for ornament, for which he subsequently became remarkable, was natural or acquired. But he was full of admiration for the Egyptians’ practice of completely covering their buildings with sculptured hieroglyphics or painting; and he exulted in the (then recent) discovery, that the Parthenon, the model of Greek purity, was itself overlaid with ornament. His opinion was that ornament should be so limited in size as to increase the apparent scale of the building, and that it should be so kept down by lowness of relief, or by marginal framing, as not to interfere with the main outlines. These rules observed, he seemed to think that enrichment could{48} never be overdone—an opinion which he continued to hold to the end of his career.

“This principle of subordination of ornament was paramount with him. Perfection of design and workmanship were lost upon him, where ornament destroyed the essential outlines. To the Corinthian capital he had a positive dislike: even its finest specimens failed to satisfy him. For his idea was that in large capitals, however enriched by foliage, the apparent capability of supporting the entablature should still be preserved. The germ of this idea was probably found in the Egyptian capitals, many of which he very carefully studied and sketched. For years a new Corinthian-like order floated before his mind; but, as he had no opportunity of attempting it on a grand scale, his ideas were never carried out; for it was the rule with him, that without the spur of reality his genius slept.”

Italian architecture had hitherto attracted him but little in comparison with Greek; but he began to perceive how much more capable it was of adaptation to modern requirements, and to study it in that view. “By degrees its beauties grew upon him, although he long retained the opinion that it should be purified and refined, in fact treated à la Grecque. He delighted in every example of what he considered Greek feeling, and, as a notable one, in the grand fragment of entablature in the Colonna garden, the so-called ‘frontispiece of Nero.’ It was some years before the traces of this Greek influence disappeared from his designs.”

The building, which first inspired him with admi{49}ration for the Italian style, was the Farnese Palace. The principal front he greatly admired; he considered that the “imposing effect of its vast mass was greatly enhanced by the unbroken lines of the entablature and string-courses, the number and relative smallness of the windows, the complete subordination of all horizontal divisions to the crowning cornice, and the consequent full effect of the entire height.” The rear front seemed to him to be spoilt by the centre, which did not harmonize with the rest, and (by “a most unwarrantable wickedness”) broke the general entablature, and moreover outraged his feelings by the superposition of three orders (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). The interior courtyard he liked less still; and, among other criticisms, he noticed here what seemed to him at all times offensive, the solidity of the upper story, resting on two arcaded courses below.

The Florentine palaces, especially the Strozzi, confirmed the general impression made by the Farnese, “and from this time a grand cornice, without an order, became his beau-ideal of a street front;” but he noticed that few façades had the feature, which he thought all but necessary, an important basement, to serve as a kind of pedestal and “balance” the great cornice. The Strozzi Palace, “vast and imposing” as it was, was, however, rather a study than an example; its enormous height and masses of solid wall between the tiers of windows were unfit for use in England; and the characteristic windows, with their central mullions, he thought inconvenient for use, and perhaps inadmissible in pure Italian architecture.{50}

Two of Bramante’s palaces at Rome, the Cancelleria and the Palazzo dei Rei d’Inghilterra, at first pleased him much by their general character of solidity and breadth, and in the former case he noticed with delight the delicacy both of design and execution in the ornaments, and the perfect finish of every detail. There appeared, however, a want of boldness in the low relief of the great fronts, which seemed tame after the Farnese. “But his great objection was to the use of two orders, even when they were in low relief, and when the unity of the height was preserved by the importance of the upper cornice. The best examples of North Italy could not reconcile him to this ‘piling of house upon house.’ In later days the beauties of the Banqueting-house at Whitehall so prevailed with him, that he frequently used order upon order in his own designs: but hardly ever without breaking the entablatures. By the continuous vertical lines so produced the two stories were united, and his love of unity satisfied. But at Rome this expedient would have shocked him as barbarous.”

Before he left Italy he acquired a taste for greater luxuriance of ornament and greater boldness of outline, and looked on the style of Bramante as fit only for small works and for interiors. “The Villa Pandolfini at Florence proved to him how much could be done, even in a front of small extent, by means of a good frieze and cornice. He noticed as defects the stunted proportions of the windows and the continuation of the entablatures across the piers between them; but above all he disliked the great projection{51} of the lower story. For this so distinctly broke up the elevation into two stories that the cornice and frieze, well-proportioned to the entire height, appeared overpowering. But notwithstanding these defects, when he was at work on the street-front of the Travellers’ Club, no building had so much influence in determining its general style as the Villa Pandolfini.”

The palatial fronts at Vicenza and Venice did not take the same hold upon him as those at Rome and Florence. “The Library of St. Mark at Venice, the greater Porto Palace by Palladio at Vicenza, and others of the same kind, had not only the cardinal vice of superimposed orders, but were offensive by the multiplicity and prominence of their details.... To engaged columns—’colonnades walled up’—he had a great dislike; and when, as at the Board of Trade, he had to employ them, he always relieved them from the wall by grounds or margins. Even then they never thoroughly satisfied him. The disposition of the windows (grouped in the centre) in some of the smaller Gothic and other palaces at Venice was noted by him with approval, and was not forgotten when he was designing the garden-front of the Travellers’ Club. Of palace fronts, in which an order was employed, he was most struck with those of the public prisons at Venice and Palladio’s Thiene Palace at Vicenza.”

The Ducal Palace, magnificent as he felt it to be, did not satisfy him. Of the beauty of the arcaded stories he was fully sensible, nor did he object to arcaded exteriors in general. “But no consideration could reconcile him to arcades or colonnades support{52}ing, as here, a heavy mass of building. Whatever might be the character of the superstructure, he required that the lower part of the building should be comparatively solid and plain; the reverse appeared unnatural. In the finest portico he was not satisfied unless the basement (or the steps) was equal in mass to the pediment above. Even in the river-front of his new Palace at Westminster he rejected the idea (once entertained) of introducing a cloister; and was so jealous of the solidity and plainness of his basement, that he grudged every window and would hardly enrich a gateway.”

In the study of details of arrangement he was somewhat discouraged by considerations of the great differences between Italy and England as to climate and life. “The open cortile, surrounded with arches or colonnades, was a feature which delighted him, and which he often longed to introduce. There was one in his first design for the Reform Club. But in England he felt that a central hall had the advantage both in convenience and in effect. He suggested in after years the covering in of the area of the Royal Exchange and of the still more spacious area of the British Museum. His delight in a great central hall became a passion.”

The great staircases might have served more immediately as models; but he had peculiar ideas on this subject, which interfered with his admiration of those usually deemed most excellent. “Where scenic effect was given by various flights of steps, arcades, and columns, he seemed to think that space was sacrificed and a grand hall spoilt. He did not like to see ‘steps{53} hanging in the air’ or supported by cumbrous walls; and sudden changes in the direction of the flights annoyed him. His ideal staircase was a grand straight flight, the whole space, however great, being occupied by the steps; but if this were impossible, he required that all that could be seen at one view should be straight, and preferred the staircase, so common in Italy, where each separate flight is enclosed in solid walls.”

In Italy he first acquired that liking for visible roofs, which he afterwards showed, both in his Italian and Gothic works. He approved of them, because, being essential features, they ought not to be concealed; because, in fact, their visible appearance was the proof that the building was covered and was not a mere shell.

“To rustic work he had at first a great aversion. In substruction it might be tolerated, but elsewhere its employment seemed to him indefensible, and a rusticated column monstrous.” His admiration for Sanmicheli’s works, especially that at Lido, first shook his determination; at home his delight in the work of Inigo Jones carried on the process of conversion; and he himself afterwards used what at this time he would have proscribed.

His study of the Italian palaces was minute and elaborate, and produced the greatest effect upon his own future works. The great churches, though not less carefully studied, had less direct influence. The Gothic revival in England had begun to make itself felt, and his thoughts were already turned in that direction, although he had probably at this time less{54} knowledge of Gothic than of any other style. He was not then, nor did he ever become, an admirer of Italian Gothic. None of its forms appeared to him to be free from the characteristics of other recognised styles; some appeared corrupt Roman, others impure Gothic; and not even the eloquence and ability of their modern advocates could make him approve their revival.

But the great churches, though they could hardly be models for imitation, yet demanded admiration and criticism.

St. Peter’s disappointed him greatly in its elevation. He thought it had “a confused appearance and want of simple grandeur;” that “the openings in the centre were too crowded,” and that “the three-quarter columns, always objectionable, did not afford sufficient relief.” The details he greatly disliked. He noticed especially the want of apparent size in a building, one of the largest in the world, and accounted for it by the presence of colossal figures on the top of the façade, without anything to give the true scale,[21] by the want of sufficient projection in the front, and the enormous size of the windows, and by the impossibility of seeing any great part of the dome from the piazza, whence alone the whole substructure was visible. On the whole he much preferred the exterior of St. Paul’s, in spite of the “piling of order upon order,” which was a departure{55} from Wren’s original design; he preferred its regularity of design to “the complicated front and lofty attic of St. Peter’s;” he thought the circular peristyle of columns under the dome far finer than the corresponding substructure in the other case; and, if only the churchyard could be enlarged, he thought that its complete insulation, and the fine perspective views which it offers, gave it a decided advantage in position and apparent grandeur.

It was far otherwise with the general effect of the interior of St. Peter’s. Its magnificent size, satisfying his love of spaciousness, its beautiful proportions and simplicity of design, its richness and completeness of decoration, producing a sense of harmony and perfection, seized his imagination at once, and seemed to “leave nothing to be desired.” Its details he thought unworthy of special notice; but not so its decoration. The decoration of the dome delighted him; but the gem in his eyes was the baptistery. There the arrangement of marbles and mosaics seemed perfect, both in colour and form; it constantly recurred to him in designing, and had much to do with fixing his taste for that gorgeous kind of decoration. He delighted also in the gilding of the vault. Being wholly gilt (either dead or burnished gold), it seemed not gilt, but golden. This was to him real magnificence; “parcel-gilding” was gaudy, and he held it in contempt. This vault and the ceiling of Sta. Maria Maggiore were models which he would have gladly followed in his designs, and it was with reluctance that he gave up the idea of making the roof of his House of Lords all gold.{56}

The piazza in front of St. Peter’s, with its semicircular colonnades and magnificent fountains, greatly impressed him. The remembrance of it constantly floated before his memory as the ideal of the proper treatment of such a spot; and he long cherished a hope of realizing his ideal in London.[22]

The portico of the Pantheon he thought perfect in plan, and magnificent in effect. He admired its great depth, the increase of this in the centre, and above all the disposition of the inner columns, which gave apparent stability and variety of effect, without confusing the eye or obstructing the approach. He never could endure a portico which was shallow, or which had no inner columns, or which had the wall, the background of the columns, broken up by windows. But the junction to the circular building appeared to him unhappy. In fact he objected in toto to the treatment of a portico as a mere porch, thinking that in all cases the portico should be a continuation of the main building.[23] The interior he used to quote as the finest example in the world of the grandeur of a dome, when sufficiently large, and sufficiently near the eye to be comprehended in one glance. Domes like that of St. Peter’s, which could only be seen by a painful throwing back of the neck, seemed to him wrong in principle. For at all times he held, that interiors should be so contrived that a spectator on entering should see enough of the design to enable{57} him to comprehend the whole, and that, when this was not the case, there was a distraction of thought, fatal to any striking effect.

The exterior of the cathedral at Florence seemed to him grand only in size, “unworthy to be compared with our best Gothic cathedrals;” and the arrangement of black and white marbles such as to destroy both massiveness of general effect and beauty of form in its various parts. The dome, as the largest in the world, and the first constructed after St. Sophia, called for attentive study, especially in construction; but it convinced him that “polygonal domes should be avoided, especially when ribbed and of few sides. If, on looking directly at the dome, you do not see exactly an equal portion of the two remote sides, the perspective gives an untrue figure; and when the ribs are prominent and far removed from each other, this effect is increased.” The general architecture seemed to him a vicious mixture of Roman and Gothic, though details, especially the beautiful external cornice running round the building, were worthy of study and admiration.

On entering he acknowledged that the effect was simple and imposing, in apparent size grander than St. Peter’s, and even approaching the sublime. But the details appeared to him unworthy of special notice.

The Campanile was one of the few specimens of Italian Gothic which commanded his warm admiration. He longed for the spire (which had been rejected as savouring of “la brutta maniera Tedesca”): but the lofty and graceful proportion of the tower{58} charmed him. What he admired above all was the simplicity and distinctness of outline, which, he complained, was wanting in many of the finest Gothic towers. Nothing compensated him for a ragged or uncertain outline. His constant reference to this great work of Giotto showed that the impression was one neither weak, nor unfruitful of results. A liking for towers grew upon him; designs for them became the most cherished creations of his imagination, till he seemed to think that no design could be complete without them.

His notices of Milan cathedral are chiefly interesting as showing the growing importance of Gothic architecture in his mind. At his first visit he was merely struck with the elaborate richness of its material and workmanship, and the solemn magnificence of its interior. At his return in 1820, an accurate plan and section of the church are given; the grandeur of the interior is still more deeply felt; and some points, such as the introduction of the tabernacle-niches and statues over each cluster of shafts, noticed as interfering with it. But, while justice is still done to the richness and elaboration of the exterior, it is severely criticised. The “pinnacles are noted as rising too suddenly out of the solid mass to an enormous height;” the lantern-spire “as far too slender for the substructure;” the general design noted as “unhappy; much of its laboured enrichment is mis-applied; there is a want of harmony and continuity in its parts; and the sensation created is rather that of wonder at the treasures lavished upon it, than of genuine admiration.{59}

At Florence the Bridge della Trinita was an object of especial interest to him. “As it was still a question what was the exact form of its arches, and particularly whether they were or were not pointed, he determined to measure two of them, and, as time and means were wanting to accomplish this from below, he ingeniously set out level lines on the outside of the parapet, and let fall a series of ordinates to the fillet of the archivolt. After a long and careful investigation, he came to the conclusion that the arches were not designed to be pointed; but the original curve had been so crippled by irregular settlement, that its exact nature could not now be ascertained. He greatly admired the elegance of proportions in the arch and superstructure. To the curve itself, however, he had a decided objection. He had, and always retained, an antipathy to the ellipse and all which he considered irregular curves. Whether in single arches or vaulting, no curves pleased him that were not portions of circles, and whenever in the course of his practice semicircular vaulting would have destroyed proportion, he would adopt a coved ceiling, or any other expedient, rather than resort to the hated ellipse. In his first design for the new Westminster Bridge, the arches were segments of circles, and it was not without difficulty that he could be induced to substitute the ellipse. Even in Gothic work he never willingly employed a Tudor arch; but, where cramped for height, he preferred the arch formed by two flat segments of circles, making an angle with the jambs (as seen in certain windows at Winchester). Irregularity in{60} curves excited in him a feeling that was absolutely painful.”

In this indefatigable study and criticism he passed the last few months of his sojourn abroad. They were months of intense enjoyment: for his spirits were buoyant, his disposition frank and genial. Work he always loved for its own sake, and difficulties he rather enjoyed.[24] But they were also months of serious thought and study. “It was evident” (says his friend) “that the leading principles of composition which influenced him throughout his career were already rooted in his mind.”

First and foremost came a love of truth. “The false in architecture he abhorred; and all external features, which did not at least indicate the internal design, he condemned ruthlessly. Even a blank window offended him. The showy but screen-like façades, so often applied in Italy to comparatively mean buildings, were to him impostures, worthy of contempt.”

Next came a love of unity and regularity. “That he had an artist’s eye for the picturesque was certain from the happy choice he was sure to make of the best points of view for sketching. But actually to plan irregularity, because it was picturesque, he thought unworthy of the dignity of art.” Every feature, especially every ornamental feature, he would{61} rigidly subordinate to the preservation of the main outline and the main principle of the design, sometimes even at the cost of boldness and variety. Unity rather than multiplicity of effect he thought the object of human art—a lower beauty indeed than that which results from the unstudied harmony of Nature, but the only one which seemed to him really attainable. This view he continued to maintain, and, though he saw much beauty in works designed on the opposite principle, yet the observation of their general effect tended to confirm him in his theory.

Connected with this was his great love of the effect of spaciousness. The church “degli Angeli,” in the Baths of Diocletian at Rome, made a lasting impression upon him. “Its noble proportions and simplicity of design satisfied this instinctive desire of space, for the loss of which no variety of plan and no picturesque effect could compensate. No sooner did he enter a building than he measured with a glance its utmost capacity; and all that stood in his way,—piers, columns, and sometimes even the vault itself,—became obstructions which he longed to clear away.” In the grand nave above referred to the same feeling led him to dislike the position of the entrance at the side. In all great oblong halls he would have the door at the end, that the whole might be seen at first entrance. Except by necessity, he never gave up this principle.

Probably the next point most evident in his criticism was the love of perfection and completeness in detail. Nothing disturbed him so much as incongruity or want of keeping in the various parts of a{62} design; the mingling of grandeur with pettiness, and of rich decoration with bare and unadorned features,[25] seemed an offence against harmony; and he held that the hand of a master of his art was almost as much shown in the study and adaptation of every detail, as in the conception of a great general design. With this was connected his keen sense of symmetry and proportion. “The least offence against either—a single feature out of scale, an opening too narrow, or even a moulding too heavy—jarred upon him like a discord.” This sensitiveness was in fact carried to excess; “a single fault in a composition would blind him to its beauties; it needed to be overcome by an effort on his part or even the promptings of others; and it necessarily made him hypercritical, for, no building being perfect, he was rarely heard to praise any.” It is but fair to add that in this same hypercriticism he never spared his own designs, whether past or present, and often incurred by it almost endless labour.

These principles fixed in his mind, he left Italy, well acquainted with Greek, Egyptian, and Italian architecture, and with his interest and attention already attracted to the reviving Gothic. The work of life was now to commence in earnest; he was resolved to enter it fettered by the traditions of no single school, ready to think and work for himself.{63}

It will be easily seen that the hopes with which he had gone abroad had been fully realized. The very fact of his travels gave him a position in the eyes of the world, of which he might easily have made much more, had he carried out his intention of publication. He had gained acquaintances in the artistic world and in ordinary society, and his character and talents excited a general expectation that he would achieve fame and success. But the really important advantage was the kindling in himself of artistic energy and a sense of power, and the extraordinary development of his mind in knowledge, criticism, and ideas. Most men are conscious of some period in their life on which such an awakening influence acts, when the boundaries of thought seem to expand, when new ideas and powers make themselves felt, and the idea of some great object in life is definitely grasped. Such a period is one of intense happiness and of priceless value. It came to him during these three years of travel, and he returned to England a changed man.{64}




Early difficulties and failures—Thought of emigration—Non-publication of his sketches—Holland House—Revival of Gothic—His Manchester churches, and their peculiarities—Marriage—Church at Oldham—Alarm at Prestwich Church—Designs for King’s College, Cambridge—Royal Institution at Manchester—Gradual relinquishment of Greek architecture—St. Peter’s Church, Brighton—Sussex County Hospital—Petworth Church—Queen’s Park, Brighton, his first Italian design—Islington churches—His relations to church architecture generally—Removal to Foley Place—Subsidiary work—Travellers’ Club—General character of his life at this period.

In August, 1820, Mr. Barry returned to England to commence his professional life. He took a small house in Ely Place, Holborn, a position of no great pretension, but one recommended by its quietness, centrality, and cheapness. There he began the struggle of life in real earnest, with little external advantages of patronage or connection. It was a great, and not a pleasant, change from the brightness of his foreign life, during the latter part of which at least he had earned a high artistic reputation, and enjoyed the society to which such a reputation is the passport. He had warm friends of his own and his future wife’s family of the middle class, but they had little power, though much will, to help him. He had attracted at Rome the notice of men of high rank{65} and influence; from them he received much courtesy and even kindness, but their patronage brought as yet little substantial fruit.

With regard to the leading members of his own profession, of Mr. Nash, the Wyatts, and Sir R. Smirke, he knew little or nothing; of Sir J. Soane he had some slight knowledge, and from him on one occasion (that of the Islington churches) I believe he received some recommendation; of his own contemporaries he knew best Mr. Cockerell and Mr. Tite, and afterwards (partly through Mr. Wolfe) Messrs. Donaldson, Angell, and Poynter—all beginning life, as he was, and struggling, with more or less of advantage, against the same obstacles.

Perhaps a more serious difficulty still was the great change of architectural style in general, and of his own architectural taste in particular, which seemed likely to render valueless much of his professional study, begun when the ascendancy of the Greek style was still undisputed.

All these obstacles were of course incapable of hindering that ultimate success, which must depend essentially on a man’s own intellect and character. But they delayed its attainment, long enough to cause him disappointment, and the occasional despondency which belongs to the reaction of a sanguine character. He had begun, as almost all young architects must begin, by the harassing and thankless work of public competition; in it he had, as usual, his share of failures, embittered perhaps occasionally by the inevitable suspicions of incompetency or partiality of judgment. At times he even thought of leaving{66} London, and settling in a provincial town; at one time of leaving England, and trying his fortune in the more open field of America. His want of success had also the effect of delaying his marriage, and continuing the difficulties and the discomfort of an already long engagement. For after paying the expenses of his foreign travels, he had little money of his own to fall back upon, while waiting for the first gleam of fortune. All these causes made the first years of his professional career a time of anxiety and struggle, his first real entrance (in fact) on the battle of life. During this critical time he received much encouragement and much substantial help from his old masters, Messrs. Middleton and Baily, who still preserved their kindly feeling towards him, and felt proud of the reputation he had already achieved.

A natural way to public notice would have been opened to him by the publication of his Egyptian sketches. They were unique at the time, and had attracted much notice; his travelling companions, especially Mr. Wyse, urged him to bring them out.[26] His careful notes would have enabled him to give them something more than an æsthetic value. It is clear that he had cherished the idea of bringing them before the public. But it happened that in Egypt he had made the acquaintance of Mr. William Bankes of Kingston Hall; and he appears to have entertained the idea of some publication in conjunction with him. He probably needed a literary coadjutor, and he had been much attracted by Mr.{67} Bankes’s brilliancy and talent. But after much delay and trouble, circumstances prevented the realization of the plan; and by this time, he probably found that the favourable opportunity had been lost. At any rate he gave up all idea of publication, and to a great extent all care for those sketches which remained in his own possession. For his books are full of blank spaces, and many sketches have been altogether lost to his family.[27]

For the sake of the world, as well as for his own sake, it must be a subject of regret that he abandoned his project. The Egyptian field has been occupied by men of high talent and extensive knowledge. But probably there are few who would have brought to bear on the subject so much clearness and accuracy of observation, and so entire a freedom from prejudice. All that he ventured to publish would have been substantial, practical, and trustworthy, and might have been a sure basis for future study and speculation.

At Rome he had made the acquaintance of the Marquis of Lansdowne, who continued to be at all times one of his kindest patrons and friends. Through him he was introduced to Lord and Lady Holland, and became a not unfrequent visitor in the society for which Holland House was then famous. There he first met many noblemen of the Whig party, who showed him great kindness, and many of the distinguished literary men and artists of the day. He{68} appreciated most highly these intellectual and social influences; for his interest was keen and comprehensive, though his study was chiefly confined to his own profession. He enjoyed literary and scientific, at least as much as artistic society, and certainly possessed the faculty, peculiar to men of quick observation and clearness of conception, of understanding rapidly, and of seeing in their most important bearings, subjects on which he had no special experience or knowledge. Holland House therefore gave him great enjoyment and encouragement, and produced occasionally some substantial results of work. From his host and hostess he received such kindness as he could never forget.

Still, however, he was working on without much success. The Gothic style, though as yet little understood in its real principles, was now asserting its claims, especially for ecclesiastical purposes; and some stimulus had been given to ecclesiastical architecture (such as it then was) by the erection of the “Commissioners’ Churches.”[28] To this style he had never paid sufficient attention; he had now to become a student; and he threw himself into the new study with characteristic diligence and perseverance. His first essays were not very successful, though certainly not below the average of the time; he used to think and speak of them afterwards with a humorous kind of indignation; he carefully destroyed every drawing relating{69} to them, and would have still more gladly destroyed the originals. Up to the day of his death he felt that he was continually advancing in knowledge of Gothic, and was unsparing in the criticism of his own earlier work.

The event proved that he had judged rightly. His first works of any consequence were two churches built for the Commissioners, one at Prestwich, and the other at Campfield, Manchester.[29] His letters show the exultation with which he hailed the first success, and the complacency with which he regarded his first church designs, a complacency justified by the high opinion formed of them by others, but destined to undergo a woful change in after years, when these churches served as a continual subject of laughter to his friend Mr. Pugin and to himself.[30]

The first stone of the Prestwich Church was laid by Lord Wilton,[31] on the 3rd of August, 1822, and that of the Manchester Church (Campfield) by the Bishop of Chester, on the 12th of the same month. The designs seem to have been then well received, and to have given him his introduction to Manchester, where he found warm friends (especially the late Sir J.{70} Potter), and afterwards did a good deal of work. They, of course, showed little acquaintance with the spirit of Gothic detail. But they were considered to have elegance of proportion, and some originality of design. The fronts of churches appeared to him deficient in extension, and he attempted to obtain this by means of an arcaded porch at Manchester, as afterwards at Brighton by spreading the lower part of the tower. In this, as in other points, he carried out principles fixed in his own mind, without shrinking from ecclesiological heresies. On the other hand, in spite of his admiration for the horizontal lines and regular forms of Egyptian and Greek architecture, he entered so thoroughly into the vertical principle of Gothic, that he felt unsatisfied in carrying out any Gothic building without a spire. In his first church at Prestwich, as afterwards at Brighton, he did his utmost to secure the erection of one, though in both cases economical considerations prevailed against the architect’s protest. In his last work at the New Palace at Westminster, as soon as he felt himself “master of the situation,” the castellated character of the original design faded away, and a forest of spires sprang up, which he at times longed to complete by some spire-like erection on the Victoria Tower itself.

His success with regard to these churches was the more welcome, inasmuch as it enabled him at last to conclude his marriage, on the 7th of December, 1822, and thus to enter on the domestic life which he so much desired and prized. The small house in Ely Place continued for a time to be his home. Economy was still a necessity, and in that economy he had a{71} prudent and affectionate coadjutrix. But, indeed, except for his art, he was never lavish; and in spite of his enterprising and sanguine temperament, he had a horror of embarrassment and debt.

The work at Manchester seemed to be the first entrance on his long career of professional success. He was appointed, in March, 1823, architect for the erection of another church at Oldham, somewhat on the same scale and style as those already built. A commission was also given him to prepare drawings and plans for some alterations and enlargement of St. Martin’s, Outwich, which were afterwards carried out under his superintendence.

In the midst of it there came an alarm which would have overwhelmed a nervous architect, though it failed to disturb his equanimity to any serious extent. Soon after the opening of his church at Prestwich there came an express from Manchester, stating that one of the galleries had shown signs of falling during service, that the congregation had rushed out in panic, and that many were seriously hurt. By the time the then tedious journey to Manchester was over, the report had grown into “Stand Church fallen, 300 killed and wounded.” It turned out that a small hair crack had appeared in the plaster in consequence of too rapid drying. A man under the gallery perceived it, and fancied that it widened rapidly, whereupon he shouted out, “The church is falling!” The consequence of this sapient proceeding was a sudden rush to the doors, at one of which the steps had not yet been fixed. Down went the temporary steps, and the congregation over them. Happily but few{72} were hurt, and those not seriously; so the architect’s reputation escaped.

Meanwhile he was constantly at work. In the year 1823 he entered into the competition for the new buildings at King’s College, Cambridge, his friend Mr. Wolfe being also a competitor. The building was to be either Grecian or Gothic. In spite of the genius loci, he proposed a Greek building, thinking that a classical style (for which the Fellows’ Building afforded a precedent) would be less likely to invite comparison with the overwhelming grandeur of the chapel. Besides, in Gothic he was still weak, and somewhat inclined, after the fashion of the day, to restrict its employment to ecclesiastical purposes. In this competition he experienced a failure, probably fortunate enough for his reputation; for he never looked back on his design with any satisfaction, and, in fact, his attachment to Greek was gradually giving way. He felt that, for modern purposes, the style was not sufficiently plastic. Except on a grand scale, and in a commanding position, with full command of polychromy and of sculpture, the Greek portico seemed to him to lose its original effect, and become flat and insipid.

He did not indeed suddenly relinquish the style which in his early days he had regarded as the perfection of beauty and truth, nor did he fail to show that he had really grasped the principles on which this truth and beauty depended. In 1824 he built the Royal Institution of Fine Arts at Manchester, an edifice of considerable size and importance. On this building it was remarked, in the ‘Builder’ of May{73} 19th, 1860, shortly after his death,—“The building was of great importance, historically speaking, and in the results which it produced. By contrast with the pseudo-Greek, which was general in public buildings, and which in Manchester had even degenerated from the time of Harrison, it presented what was at once Greek derivatively, or Greco-Roman in details and impress, and yet was work new or original—work of art and mind. The portico, as a feature of architecture, was used and not spoiled; that feature and remainder of the building were grouped together, whereas in Greek of that day a portico was often tacked on to a many-windowed façade; the staircase hall, grand in proportions within, and culminating to a central feature of the exterior, was the forerunner of later efforts of the kind by the same architect and by others.” And even after he had given up the erection of buildings in the Greek style, it was remarked, with great truth, that “his feeling for the subtle beauty of Greek architecture never left him, and probably contributed in no slight degree to give that air of finish and refinement to his works which so greatly distinguished them.”

In 1831 he made a Greek design, of great massiveness and grandeur, for the Birmingham Town Hall—a building which had the needful advantages of scale and position.[32]{74}

But with these exceptions, he did little in the style to which his early studies had been given. Practical experience confirmed the doubts which had already been suggested by theory; and he saw that Gothic and Italian had the mastery of the field.[33]

His most important work of this period in the former style was St. Peter’s Church at Brighton. The opportunity was considerable; the competition exceedingly severe, and his victory was a subject of great delight and encouragement to him. A hurried note to his wife announced, August 4th, 1823, the day when the result was proclaimed, as the “proudest day of his existence,” likely to be the “entrance on a brilliant career.” Nor were these expectations altogether groundless. The church was much admired at the time, not undeservedly, for it was a decided step in advance, though the greater knowledge of Gothic in the present day will hardly altogether endorse contemporary criticisms. He himself in after days naturally felt dissatisfied with the faults of detail and the mixture of styles admitted therein; and his architectural conscience felt a strong and characteristic repugnance to the aisle windows, on the ground that, being in one height, they sinned against “truth” in giving no indication of the galleries within. But his greatest cause of regret always was the absence of the{75} spire, with a view to which the tower was expressly designed. He did his best to fight against the economical veto put on its erection, and always considered that the want of it did much injustice to his first important Gothic design.[34] But he had, on the whole, little reason to be dissatisfied. The design showed a marked advance, as compared with those of the earlier churches, and secured to him a good position in the ranks of church architects.

The erection of this church opened a new field to him at Brighton. Several minor works gave scope to his activity, and supplied welcome aid to his exchequer. He built Brunswick Chapel for Dr. Everard, a gentleman who appreciated his talents, and showed him very great kindness. Some other chapels and dwelling-houses he built or altered; of the Sussex County Hospital he designed the centre, to be at once erected as a portion of a larger design. The first stone was laid by Lord Egremont in March, 1826. Large additions were, however, made by other hands in the shape of wings, which entirely altered the proportions of the whole mass. He became also known to Lord Egremont in August, 1824, and was a not unfrequent partaker of the generous hospitality of Petworth Castle. For him he almost rebuilt Petworth Church in 1827, and added a new spire to the restored building.

At this time he also became acquainted with Mr. Attree, a solicitor of considerable eminence and in{76}fluence in Brighton, who was, then and afterwards, one of his sincerest friends. For him he undertook the laying out of a considerable tract of land as a park, to be called the Queen’s Park, and to be portioned out in villas—all designed in the Italian style. Of such detached villa residences there was great scarcity, and the scheme had every prospect of success. But the co-operation of the owners of adjacent property could not be gained, and in consequence no good access from the cliff was possible. Hence the Queen’s Park has never been so well known and frequented, as from its beautiful situation might have been expected. Only Mr. Attree’s house was built, on the plan of an Italian villa, excellently adapted to modern English requirements. Near it was a circular tower in the same style, intended to cover a horizontal wind-wheel for raising water. The work deserves notice as his earliest essay in the style in which he first gained his fame, and which to the last (in spite of the Gothicists) he maintained to be in some respects peculiarly fit for mansions of the present day. Small as it was, it was designed with as much care and finish as any of his larger works. In it for the first time he had an opportunity of carrying out his ideas of “architectural gardening,” as the house was set in a terrace-garden, with small fountains and pretty loggie, after the Italian manner. It led indirectly to a larger work of the same kind. The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland (to whom he had been introduced at Holland House) saw it, and were struck with the elegance and refinement of the design. From this impression resulted his subsequent{77} employment to carry out the greater works at Trentham.

Meanwhile the church-building movement continued, and in that movement he found much occupation. In 1826 he was employed by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, Rector of Islington (afterwards Bishop of Calcutta), to erect three churches in Islington—at Holloway, Ball’s Pond, and Cloudesley Square. These were churches of considerable scale, and no small expense;[35] but in them, as in so many other churches of the time, little was effected compared with what could now be done for the same sum. In 1829 he built a chapel and schools at Saffron Hill, London.

It was at this time only of his professional career that he was much employed in the building of churches. The consequence is that, although his churches were fully up to the mark of their period, they cannot take their place among his important works, or be considered to form any important step in architectural progress.

It was not merely that at this time Gothic detail and Gothic principles of design were comparatively unknown. But church architecture, as such, was only in the infancy of its revival, inasmuch as its symbolism was neglected, and the true proportion and meaning of its various features ill understood. Churches were regarded very much as “auditoria,” or preaching-houses—for the sermon still usurped a pre-eminence obscuring the other great elements of public worship. It was not wonderful that in their{78} design a want of power to enter into the true principles of church architecture was often betrayed, either by slavish adoption of that which was now meaningless, or by innovations which outraged the whole harmony of its grand idea. The minds of men have since been awakened to truer conceptions of the church and of its worship, and the progress of thought is seen in that advance of art, which has left behind the works of an earlier period. But architects, unlike other artists, cannot destroy the crude conceptions, which are their steps towards perfection.

Mr. Barry’s architectural career soon led him in another direction. This was probably not a mere accident, for it may be doubted whether his mind was such as to enter very deeply into the principles of church architecture, or at any rate into the particular development which such architecture has received. He himself felt strongly that the forms of mediæval art, beautiful as they are, do not always adapt themselves thoroughly to the needs of a service which is essentially one of “Common Prayer.” Deep chancels, high rood-screens, and (in less degree) pillared aisles, seemed to him to belong to the worship and institutions of the past rather than the present. Time-honoured as they were, he would have in some degree put them aside, and, accepting Gothic as the style for church architecture, he would have preferred those forms of it, which secured uninterrupted space, and gave a perfect sense of unity in the congregation, even at the cost of sacrificing features beautiful in themselves, and perhaps of interfering{79} with the “dim religious light” of impressiveness and solemnity.[36]

It still remains to be seen, whether the value of these principles will not yet be felt, and asserted more forcibly in the church architecture of the future, and whether the actual requirements of our service will not prevail over the beauty of special features and the power of old associations. But in the stage, through which ecclesiastical architecture was passing in the days of his active work, “correctness” was everything, and any innovations were ruthlessly hunted down as heretical. The stage was a very useful and necessary one; but it was rather preparatory than final, and there are already signs that it is passing away, and giving place to greater freedom and originality of treatment.[37]

All these works gave him constant occupation, and were gradually carrying him on through the first struggle of life to pecuniary independence. The improvement of his circumstances was shown by his removal in 1827 to 27, Foley Place, Cavendish Square—a house more desirable in situation, and better fitted for his increasing family.

Still he found time for much subsidiary work. Then, as afterwards, it was his practice never to neglect or despise anything. In October, 1824, he{80} undertook to make or correct a plan of Lambeth parish—a work in which no doubt his old local knowledge stood him in good stead; and in the next year he thought it worth his while to survey an estate in Dulwich. Nor did he shrink from the labour of preparing designs for competitions, or on the chance of professional employment. In March, 1824, he was busy upon a design for the “National Scotch Church;” in 1825 he sent in designs for the Leeds Exchange, and for the erection of a church at Kensington. The year 1828 seems to have been one of great activity. In it he prepared no less than four different designs in the competition for the Pitt Press at Cambridge; in the same year we find records of designs for three very different buildings—the Law Institution, a new concert-room at Manchester, and a new church at Streatham; while at the same time he was working hard at the design for the Travellers’ Club, the building which, more than any other of the period, secured him at once a high position in the architectural profession. His life at this time, as at all others, tells the story of work and enterprise, with the drawback of repeated failures, and the encouragement of occasional success. Such practical work was gradually absorbing the time hitherto given to artistic study. But he still found time for occasional architectural tours, in which, of course, his sketch-book was seldom out of his hand, for an elaborate plan and drawings of Jerusalem, in 1823, and for a drawing of a building, which he greatly admired, the cathedral at Palermo, contributed to a Leeds exhibition in May, 1825. For his life was at this time full of activity{81} and a sanguine hope, which gave zest to its hard work.

But the building which first gained him high reputation, and which even now holds a high place among his works, was the Travellers’ Club. He entered into a select competition for its erection in the year 1829. In sending in his designs he had great misgivings as to success; for, though he felt confident that the building would be satisfactory if erected, he thought that in the drawing it would be too plain to be attractive. Fortunately he was mistaken; and no sooner was the building carried out, than its erection was recognised as a real and important step in artistic progress. Italian architecture was already making its way in England; but it was observed at the time by a favourable critic, that “Barry’s Italian differed from much of that which had preceded it, as the perfection of language differs from mere patois.” The work itself was noticed by those interested in the revival of the Italian style, as a practical protest against the identification of that style in England with what is “little more than one mode of it, namely, the Palladian, which, if not the most vicious and extravagant, is almost the poorest and the most insipid.” The chief points of novelty noticed in it were the large proportion of the solid wall to the windows, and the striking effect of the great cornice.[38] “There is no single distinctive mark” (it was said) “which more{82} forcibly characterizes the difference between the Palladian school and that which preceded it, than the cornicione employed by the older artists to crown their façades. It was reserved for Mr. Barry to introduce the cornicione here, and its value as an architectural feature may be said to have been since admitted by acclamation. That the example thus set has not been lost upon us is already tolerably evident.”[39] But the great charm of the building was attributed with justice to the beautiful simplicity of its design (according, as it did, so well with the comparatively small size of the building), and the exquisite proportion and finish of all its parts.[40] In it, as in all Mr. Barry’s designs, there was not a line which had not been carefully and even elaborately studied, and the apparent ease and simplicity of the result, while it might lead the ignorant to wonder what there was in it to be called original, showed to competent critics the presence of the “ars celare artem,” which is pre-eminently the characteristic of genius.

The woodcut on the opposite page gives the elevation of the garden-front, and the plan of the principal floor. With regard to the latter, there is little to




notice, except the care for finish and detail, which has been remarked as eminently characteristic of its author. The position of the door at one extremity of the street front was acknowledged by him to be a blemish, inconsistent with the symmetrical principle of his design, but forced upon him by considerations of convenience, and the very small frontage at his command. The grouping of the central windows on the garden front was also an innovation on the principle of the regular Italian front, but it was one of a totally different kind. It was thoroughly in accordance with the main idea of symmetry, while it gave life to that symmetry by the evidence of artistic design, and it should be added, that it is as successful and convenient, in relation to the internal arrangement, as it is graceful externally. It was noticed and approved of at once by all critics.

The success of the design being undoubted, it naturally followed that its claims to originality were disputed. The garden front was acknowledged to be original and singularly beautiful, but the street front was asserted to be a mere copy of the Villa Pandolfini. On this point it may be better to quote the words of one in the highest degree competent to give an opinion. “The Pall Mall front has been characterized by superficial observers as a copy, with slight modifications, from Raffaelle’s Pandolfini Palace at Florence. One moment’s comparison of the two elevations will suffice to entirely dispel the idea. The Pandolfini Palace has, in common with the Travellers’ Club-house, only the accidents of being two-storied, having rusticated angles, and a doorway at the{84} extreme right-hand of the ground-floor of the principal façade. In every other respect the dissimilarities are most striking; the proportions of the windows are about one-third narrower in the Travellers’ than they are in the Pandolfini; in the former they are Ionic on the first-floor and Doric on the ground-floor; while in the latter they are Corinthian on the first-floor, and have simply returned architraves and no order on the ground-floor. The four windows on the first-floor of the Florentine façade are surmounted with alternately angular and segmental pediments, and united by panels in the interspaces, and by horizontal members; while the five of the Pall Mall building are precisely uniform, and the wall is entirely free from panelling, and the running through of any one of the members forming or decorating the fenestration above the cill-level. One of the leading features in the Pandolfini is its deep plain frieze, adorned only with a simple classic-looking inscription; while in the entablature of the Travellers’ Club the frieze is reduced to so small a proportion, and is so highly carved, as in fact to do duty rather as an enriched member of the cornice, than as a distinctive frieze at all.”[41]

This question of originality, always recurring in the career of every great artist, in fact of every distinguished man, is often most inconsiderately handled. It is clear that the progressiveness of man depends on the power, which each generation has, of using and{85} modifying the work of its predecessors. Every great epoch in science and in art has had its period of anticipation and preparation. It is the characteristic of genius to create out of materials common and well known to all; and its creations are universally recognised and accepted, as the clear and beautiful expression of that which is vaguely felt by the generality of men. If a man, in order to be original, defies established principles, and despises the treasures of the past, he voluntarily places himself on a level below that which has been already attained by humanity. Originality, in the true sense of the word, implies that ideas and suggestions from without shall be truly appreciated, studied, and reproduced with the stamp of native thought and imagination upon them, to individualize what is general, and to harmonize materials in themselves crude or uncongenial. Then, and generally speaking not till then, can we hope for a new creation, which shall be true, and therefore permanent, in harmony with that which has gone before, and therefore capable of striking a new key-note not unaccordant with the old.

In this sense it cannot be denied that Mr. Barry’s work was original. Simple details excepted, he copied little or nothing. Every design was conceived and moulded into shape, before he referred to a book or drawing. His mind was teeming with the stores of memory; but, when he borrowed an idea either from the works of the past or the advice and criticism of the present, it was sure to be modified or replaced by some fresh kindred idea{86} of his own. External influence was with him only suggestive; it set his mind in motion, but did not dictate the direction in which it should proceed. “Where we have an opportunity” (says the memoir already quoted) “of tracing the progress of his thoughts through a series of studies for any particular building, we find the work growing, as it were, evenly under his hand from the slightest generalization in the first small-scale sketch, to the plotted-out bay or repeat, and subsequently to the large-scale detail; then back again to another general elevation, to see how far that particular detail will work well in combination, then altered according to the result of that test, and roughed out again on a large scale to make sure of the effect of the parts when near the eye, and so on, till his fastidious judgment would be almost bewildered under the multiplying and conflicting impressions produced by the various studies. The man who works perseveringly in this way may at least make sure of two things—that his work will be good, and that it will be his own.”[42]

What is here so well said as to his work generally, is true of the Travellers’ Club in particular. It was certainly like nothing which had preceded it in Eng{87}land; it was certainly recognised as a model for future imitation or guidance. These two facts alone stamp the design as having a real place in architectural progress, and justify its being regarded as that, which first secured to its author a position among those who have deserved well of the cause of Art.

Meanwhile adverse criticisms did not weigh very heavily on his mind. He felt that by the new building he had become a man of mark, and had produced a decided effect on the growth and improvement of Italian architecture in the country. He was steadily advancing in prosperity, having passed through the period of doubt and difficulty, which besets the opening of most artistic lives.

His private life and tastes were simple enough. He appreciated the higher class of society into which he was thrown, and more particularly the peculiar brilliancy which distinguished that of Holland House. But he never was so thoroughly attracted by it as to feel quite at home there; probably, in England at any rate, few artists can be so. He came back with constant relief and pleasure to the quiet of his own fireside, and the society of his wife and children. Increasing work shortened his time of amusement and relaxation; for, as the day was taken up with business, the morning and evening became the times of composition and study: but at these times he neither needed nor liked solitude; music, in which he greatly delighted, was always a welcome accompaniment to his drawing, and even conversation failed to disturb him. When the opportunity for amusement came, he{88} could always throw himself into it with all the delight of a schoolboy. These days were the palmy days of the London Theatre, and in theatrical entertainments he always took the greatest pleasure, and found in them, as I suppose most hard-worked men do, the most complete relaxation and change of idea. But of all evening occupations, which his work left him time to enjoy, he cared most for those afforded by scientific and literary institutions. At the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, while he lived in London, he was a most regular attendant.

This time seems to have been, not indeed the most famous, but perhaps the happiest and most hopeful period of his life. With good health and spirits he entered with equal zest into hard work and complete relaxation; he saw his way opening before him, and had not as yet had that experience of disappointment, injustice, and misrepresentation, which every public man must expect, and from which he was not to be exempt hereafter.{89}



Plan of the Chapter. (A.) Original Buildings—Varieties of his Italian style—First manner—Reform Club—Manchester Athenæum—New wing at Trentham—Second manner—Bridgewater House—Third manner—Halifax Town-hall. (B.) Conversions and Alterations—College of Surgeons—Walton House—Highclere House—Board of Trade—Architectural gardening—Trentham Hall—Duncombe Park—Harewood House—Shrubland Park—Cliefden House—Laying out of Trafalgar Square. (C.) Designs carried out by others—Keyham Factory—Ambassador’s Palace at Constantinople—General remarks on his Italian architecture.

The steps by which Mr. Barry won his way to a high professional position have been narrated in chronological order. For the period of his life, from 1821 to 1829, is the one which is in itself most interesting and suggestive to those entering on a professional career.

It shows clearly enough, even by the variety of his designs, the fertility and versatile character of his mind and his unwearied energy of work. It illustrates the difficulties and disappointments, which present themselves at the outset of most professional careers. It is not uninteresting to remark the comparatively fruitless character of its earlier years, and the rapid increase of work towards its close, an increase which continued with progressive rapidity till the great work at Westminster absorbed all his{90} time and powers. If the lesson which it reads is not uncommon, yet it is at the same time one which never loses its value and interest.

But after this time his life had few vicissitudes. It became more and more absorbed in actual work, and its progress was marked, not by years or by events, but by the buildings which rose everywhere under his hand.

It seems better therefore to neglect the order of time, so as to follow only the connexion of subject, and endeavour to group together in some intelligible arrangement the various works which he was called upon to execute. The New Palace at Westminster will demand a separate treatment of its own.

The present chapter will be devoted to a notice of his chief works in the Italian style, both public and private buildings. The success of the Travellers’ Club naturally turned his attention principally to this style for some time. In it, perhaps even to the last, he worked with the greatest pleasure; and probably, if the choice had been left to him, without any influence of external authority or local association, it would have been the style of his New Palace.

His Italian works accordingly are numerous,[43] and naturally divide themselves into two classes: the first, of buildings erected by him; the next, of buildings which he was called upon to alter, to an extent often amounting to a complete transformation. Some brief notice may also be necessary of buildings for the designs of which he was consulted, although the execution of the designs was not under his direction.{91}

The first class of designs is not very numerous compared with the second. This might have been partly accidental, but it probably was due in great measure to his own fertility of resource, and the keen eye which he had for the capabilities of existing buildings. As he seldom admired any building unreservedly, so he seldom despaired of any, even of those which most men would have condemned as hopeless. When he was consulted therefore by public bodies or by private individuals, who needed additional accommodation, or desired greater architectural effect, he could generally strike out some plan of alteration which satisfied both requirements, while it appeared less costly than the erection of a new building, and preserved something of the charm of old associations. It may be questioned whether more real originality is shown in the design of what is absolutely new, than in the power of impressing a new character on old materials. But he used to regret the comparative fewness of his opportunities of erecting new buildings, unconscious that it was in some degree due to his remarkable power of giving fresh life to the old.

(A). It is, however, in his original buildings that his principles of Italian design can be most clearly traced. Those principles remained essentially unaltered. No competent eye can ever fail to recognise his hand. But he had certainly different “manners,” and these are most distinctly impressed upon the Italian buildings which he erected de novo. The first manner is that of his Travellers’ and Reform Clubs, and to it belong the new wing which he{92} erected at Trentham and the Manchester Athenæum. The second is marked in Bridgewater House. The third is distinctly seen in one of his last designs, the design for the erection of the Halifax Town-hall, which was carried out after his death. It must, of course, remain uncertain how far it would have been modified in process of execution, had he lived to see the work complete.


Reform Club.—The Travellers’ Club was completed in 1831. Since that time the great competition for the New Palace at Westminster had been decided, and his success had secured him a place in the first rank of British architects. In 1837 he was called upon to enter a select competition with Messrs. Basevi, Blore, Burton, Cockerell, and Smirke, for the erection of the Reform Club. His design was almost unanimously chosen. He felt some difficulty in designing a building of such superior magnitude in the same Italian style, side by side with his favourite Travellers’. He would gladly have varied it as much as possible, but he could not bring himself to depart from the “astylar” style; for of engaged orders he never thoroughly approved. The Farnese Palace was doubtless in his mind during the conception of this design, and a charge of plagiarism has been grounded upon certain superficial resemblances, in the same way and with the same injustice as in the comparison of the Travellers’ Club with the Villa Pandolfini.[44]

In this Club-house, as the sides were liable to be seen at the same time, an almost complete uniformity




of design was preserved throughout the three visible fronts. To complete breaks of design under such circumstances he had a rooted objection; he would rather risk monotony, than break unity and give the effect (so often seen in Venice) of façades merely “applied” to a building. Here, as in the Travellers’ Club, simplicity, solidity, and repose, were the great objects aimed at. The entrance seemed to some to want importance; he tried (in deference to advice) columns and pilasters; a porch he would not hear of, for it seemed to him a mere excrescence. But the design so enlarged seemed out of harmony with the windows; it appeared to break the unity of the design, and the entrance was therefore left in its present simplicity.

In criticizing his own design, he greatly regretted that he could not give to his upper windows an importance commensurate with that of the lower stories, such as is found in the three full stories of the Farnese Palace. He also took blame to himself because, for want of some relief, the columns flanking his windows appeared to be embedded in the wall. He would have gladly given more boldness to the dressings of the lower windows, and possibly more size to the windows throughout. With these exceptions, he continued satisfied with his design, and public opinion has certainly continued to confirm that satisfaction.

In the original plan the central portion of the interior was occupied by an open Italian cortile. A roof thrown over this converted it into the magnificent Central Hall, which is now one of the greatest{94} ornaments of the building. A rival design (Mr. Cockerell’s) had a Central Hall. It is possible that this may have first suggested the idea to the successful architect. But considerations of convenience and suitability to an English climate would have been sufficient to recommend such a step, and little change after all was made, except the addition of the roof.

It will be easily seen that the grand effect of a Central Hall, which became afterwards a leading feature in his Italian designs, cannot be obtained without considerable sacrifice. It is liable to interfere with the due provision of light and air for the basement story, and, in spite of much skill in contrivance, this defect may be traced in the case of the Reform Club. It is likely also to interfere with the existence of a grand central staircase, as it does in this case and at Bridgewater House. But it was a peculiarity of Mr. Barry’s plans that he seldom gave up much space to a grand staircase. As afterwards at the New Palace at Westminster, he was apt to consider such space as comparatively wasted, and to think a more effective use might be made of it for a great hall or gallery. At the Reform Club certainly he never regretted the sacrifice needful to secure his magnificent Central Hall.

With the internal decoration Mr. Barry took great pains, but felt great compunction in the use of imitations (scagliola and painting) in the place of real marbles and other precious materials. Necessity compelled the “imposture,” for, even as it was, the expense was great, and (in the opinion of some members of the Club) excessive. But with carte

L. H. Michael, del.


L. H. Michael, del.


blanche as to expenditure, he would have expelled every trace of it, and have rivalled the examples of gorgeous decoration, which had struck him in Italy.

This Club was remarkable for the great attention paid to internal convenience. More particularly the kitchen department, in which the enthusiasm and knowledge of M. Soyer were allowed full scope, was held to be a model of excellence. The whole has been named (by Mr. Digby Wyatt) as an example, that “the most minute attention to comfort, and the satisfactory working of utilitarian necessities, are compatible with the exercise of the most delicate sense of refinement, and the hardihood of genius.”

The annexed illustration gives a perspective view from the west (taken from Pall Mall), and a plan of the ground floor. The chief point notable in the latter is the careful attention to absolute symmetry of arrangement,—the centres of doors, colonnades, entrances to staircases and the like, being all made to balance with one another. The espacement of the windows, dictated by the external design, was also made to adapt itself symmetrically to each room, and in no case was recourse had to the device of blank windows—a device to which, though not uncommon in ancient and modern examples of Italian, Mr. Barry had a decided objection. Another point is the careful provision of direct lines of communication by corridors, and the picturesque treatment in many cases of their termination. Generally speaking, it will be found that it unites stateliness and architectural symmetry with great cheerfulness and practical convenience.{96}

The building, as a whole, was a decided success. Grander in scale than the Travellers’ Club, it carried out more thoroughly and emphatically the principles of design, which had made the former building famous. Its exterior, perhaps, produced less effect on the public, for the earlier design had pre-occupied the ground of originality. But it established Mr. Barry in the first rank of Italian architecture, and showed, alike by its points of similarity and its points of difference, that his former success had not been a happy accident. On the interior the difference of scale told for more than on the exterior. In the Travellers’ elegance and comfort alone could be aimed at. In the Reform Club there was an opportunity of adding grandeur, without destroying the former characteristics. No one could doubt that the opportunity had been nobly used. At the time of its erection the building stood almost alone, as a model to foreigners of what a great English Club could be. Other buildings have risen since on the same or even on a grander scale, both as to size and magnificence of ornament; but still it may be doubted whether its high position has been impaired.[45]


Manchester Athenæum.—The Manchester Athenæum, as has been said, belongs to this period of his Italian style. The exterior is plain, for it has no




great advantage of position, and economy was an object; but in its refinement of detail and perfection it is as characteristic as his greater works. In the interior there was one remarkable feature involving some bold and even hazardous construction. The confined space made it necessary to erect the great Lecture Theatre on the top story; and this, considering its size and the large number it was to accommodate, was a matter of no slight difficulty, but it was successfully achieved.


The New Wing at Trentham also belongs to about the same period. The annexed woodcut shows its general character—a Palazzino in itself, with an engaged order, not altogether unlike his favourite Banqueting-house at Whitehall. It needs no more special notice.


Bridgewater House.—The building which most distinctly marks his “second manner” is Bridgewater House. The change is chiefly traceable in a tendency to greater freedom of treatment, and to a desire for greater richness of effect. It seems to have been partly due to a general change of architectural taste in these directions, partly to his own habituation to Gothic work at the New Palace of Westminster.

Bridgewater House (built for the Earl of Ellesmere in 1847) was the last of his great Italian buildings in London. In his first design, fearing apparently too great a similarity to his Club-houses, and inclining to a more ornate style, he attempted to depart from his usual principles, and produced a design{98} (exhibited at the Royal Academy) in which on a lofty basement appeared a grand Corinthian order with engaged columns and entablature unbroken. But, as usual in such cases, he could not rest content with this dereliction from the principles in which both study and experience had confirmed him. He could not make up his mind to a “walled-up colonnade,” and double stories masked by a single order.[46] The design was rejected as too costly; and he not unwillingly returned to his usual style, and produced the design now executed.

In it there was, as has been said, another conflict of principles in his mind. Profuse Gothic ornamentation had made his earlier Italian simplicity seem insipid; for a time his pencil was busy, covering every yard of plain surface with panelling and sculpture. But here also his old principles reasserted their dominion, and the design ultimately came out as we at present see it, more ornate than his former works, but yet preserving a general character of simplicity.

The street front remained uniform as in his Club-houses; in the Park front internal requirements forced upon him the very effective variety of the great three-light windows at each end of the façade. The porch he was obliged to add for convenience sake, but, as it were, under protest, for it seemed to him, as usual, an excrescence. The chief peculiarity in the design was the treatment of the upper




windows. He was obliged to make them small and place them close under the cornice, and accordingly he united them by panels, and treated them as a kind of frieze. But this also he did not in the abstract approve; he doubted whether they were not too small for a story, yet too large for a frieze, and whether the effect was not to diminish the apparent height of the building. Another unusual step was the concealment of the roofs, and the substitution of a balustrade. It is curious that, whereas in his earlier designs (e.g. the Travellers’, Walton, and the Reform Club) he had used a visible roof, yet in some later designs (e.g. Bridgewater House and Cliefden) he departed from this principle, and employed a balustrade. The two are of course not incompatible, and indeed, especially if the roof be high pitched, some protection of balustrade or parapet is needed in London streets to prevent masses of snow, slates, &c., from falling. In his great design for the Government Offices, Sir Charles showed in almost all cases both a visible roof and a balustrade, and accordingly, in the design for the Halifax Town-hall, carried out since his death by his son, a similar arrangement is adopted.

The annexed woodcuts give the elevation of the Park front, and the plan of the principal floor. The latter manifests the same characteristics already noticed in the Reform Club. It is quoted by Mr. Kerr, in his ‘English Gentleman’s House,’ as a typical specimen of a stately and symmetrical plan, and contrasted with one in which a convenient irregularity and picturesque effect are the main objects proposed.{100}

It will be observed that the centre of this building, as of the Reform Club, is occupied by a fine hall, the result here also of an after-thought, for in the original design its place was occupied by a grand staircase, enclosed by walls. For the decoration of this hall he had formed great designs, which were never to be carried out. Delays interposed, and after the death of Lord Ellesmere the hall was placed in other hands. Mr. F. Götzenberg, a German artist, directed its decoration, and in 1858 the architect was invited to inspect the work, and aid it by his criticism. But, as might be expected, he found the principles adopted by M. Götzenberg very different from those which he had in his own mind. He could not take the responsibility implied in any interference or suggestion, and he retired with deep regret.

The building is certainly one of his most beautiful designs. It shows that the greater taste for richness and variety of effect had not injured that delicacy of proportion, and exquisite finish of detail, which had been so remarkably characteristic of his earlier buildings.[47]


Halifax Town-hall.—The Halifax Town-hall, the last Italian building which he designed, marks still more strikingly the change which his mind had undergone since the erection of the Travellers’ and Reform Clubs.[48]{101}

“This was the last of Sir Charles Barry’s works, and is in many respects one of the most interesting. Its interest arises not from the size or importance of the building, but from the evidence afforded by its design of the results of a long experience in the mind of its architect.

“In the design of the Reform Club, and still more remarkably in the design of the Travellers’ Club, he had adopted that type of Italian architecture which aims at producing grandeur of effect by the symmetry of its parts, the regularity of its arrangement, and the simplicity, verging on severity, of its details. Ornament is sparely applied in these buildings, and is in all cases subordinate to the strict regularity which governs the design. The only exception to this regularity, viz., the position of the entrance door to the Travellers’ Club, was always regarded by the architect as a blemish, only to be justified by its absolute necessity, and forced on him by the nature of the site.

“When, many years afterwards, Bridgewater House was designed, Sir Charles Barry had evidently changed his views in some degree; for this building, although preserving the rhythm and symmetry of a stately Italian palace, relies more on its ornamentation than either the Reform Club or the Travellers’.

“In it, as in the alterations to the Treasury Buildings in Whitehall, which were proceeding at about the same time, we see indications that Sir C.{102} Barry had begun to give to his Italian architecture a character differing considerably from that which marked his earlier productions.

“One important feature however may be remarked, as common to the Travellers’ and Reform Clubs on the one hand, and to Bridgewater House on the other, namely, the unbroken cornice which surmounts each building. The cornice is proportioned to the whole height of the building, and it is a curious circumstance that Bridgewater House is the last of his designs which contains this feature. In the case of the Treasury, the original design by Sir John Soane controlled of course very decidedly Sir C. Barry’s operations, but the features which he introduced, namely, the broken entablatures (tending towards a vertical, as opposed to the original horizontal effect of Sir J. Soane’s work), the carved panels between the two principal rows of windows, the covering of the entire surface with rustication and panels, the elaborate carving in the attics, go far to show that, whether influenced by the decorative character of the New Palace, Westminster, or by other considerations, he was rapidly changing the character of his Italian designs, and ornamenting them with increased decoration. The same tendency may be observed in his subsequent designs for the sculpture galleries at Shrubland Park and for the Government Offices. At Shrubland the entablature is broken over the columns and pilasters, and in his design for the Government Offices Sir C. Barry showed his opinion of the present Treasury buildings by adopting them as an integral part of



his design, which was indeed materially influenced by this circumstance.

“In the design for Halifax Town-hall the freedom of treatment above referred to may be clearly noticed to an even greater extent, not only in the more decorative portions of the work, but also in the arrangement of the plan and general character of the entire design. The tower and spire, which are placed at one corner of the building, form one of its most remarkable features; and, though it is possible that Sir C. Barry might have somewhat modified his design, if he had lived to carry it out, its general outline, and even its details, were too far advanced at the time of his death to have admitted of any radical interference with its essential characteristics.

“The Town-hall is situated in the middle of the town, on a site which, from its confined character, is not in itself favourable to architectural effect. The tower is placed at one corner of the building, so as to face the principal street, and to form the main entrance to the Town-hall. The Tower is surmounted by a spire of a remarkable design, which, in common with the whole of the building, displays a marked Renaissance character, while from its position it gives an irregularity of outline to the entire design, greatly at variance with the symmetrical arrangement observable in Sir C. Barry’s earlier Italian buildings. It may be noted however that in the New Palace at Westminster, which has often been criticized as planned on Italian principles, he placed his towers in positions of great irregularity as regards the plan, which in other{104} respects is arranged as far as possible on the principle of strict symmetry. The design at Halifax consists of two orders, with broken entablatures and arched windows in each bay. At the corner opposite to the Tower the Council-room forms a second projecting mass, thus departing still further from a symmetrical arrangement of plan, and there are also smaller projections at the other angles of the building. At Sir C. Barry’s death the foundations of the building were just completed, and its erection was intrusted by the corporation to me. At this time the details of the exterior had all been fully made out and revised and approved by him. The interior however had not been fully designed, and I am therefore responsible for its architectural treatment, as also for the addition of a high roof to the building, which latter feature was not to be found in the original design. I have also succeeded in restoring to the design several decorative features, which were at first omitted from the contract from motives of economy, but which were readily sanctioned, on my recommendation, by the corporation, whose public spirit and desire to do justice to Sir C. Barry’s last design deserve from me a word of grateful recognition.—E. M. B.”

It does not concern us to discuss the abstract merits of this gradual change of Italian style, visible in Sir C. Barry’s works. But it is certainly interesting in itself, and if it illustrates, as probably is the case, a tendency in the architecture of the present day to break down the rigidity of conventional divisions, and vary established styles by greater freedom of{105} treatment, it will serve to illustrate the remark made in the first chapter, that his mind was one eminently plastic and progressive, and one which therefore would partly guide, and partly follow, the general movement of architectural taste in the country. Holding, as he did, most strongly, the opinion that the styles which divide the architectural profession into two rival camps, had each their characteristic excellences, it is not surprising that he allowed their influences to interpenetrate and modify each other. It still remains to be seen whether his practice does not represent a tendency, which will be more fully exemplified hereafter.

(B). The second class of Sir C. Barry’s designs includes those which had for their object the alteration of existing buildings. In this work his skill was proverbial and almost unrivalled. Possibly his sanguine belief in the capabilities of the materials at command may at times have even misled him into attempting alteration, where demolition and reconstruction would have been little less difficult and much more satisfactory. But as has been said, it is doubtful whether his originality and power of resource were not manifested at least as much in this kind of work as in the erection of new buildings. In many cases, not only the fronts, but even the openings of the windows, would be preserved, and yet the building would become new under his hand, and what was plain and commonplace would start into richness and beauty. Like a masterly translation, the design bore the appearance of unfettered originality.{106}


College of Surgeons.—One of the first instances of such conversion was that of the College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn. Great additions were required, and the site was accordingly extended. As usual, not only was he to retain as much as possible of the old building, but the portico, the principal feature of the original building, was, above all, to be preserved. Mr. Barry himself would gladly have dispensed with the portico altogether; it was (what he strongly disliked) a mere porch attached to the building, not (as in the old Greek temples) an essential and dominant portion of it. But he could not venture upon this; so he changed its position to the centre of the new front by shifting one or two columns from one end to the other, and left it otherwise unchanged. The leading feature in his design was the severe and massive cornice, predominating over the portico and front generally, and uniting the attic with the main stories. The front itself he treated as a background, carrying simplicity almost to baldness in order to subordinate all to the main effect. It will be seen, of course, and it has been already remarked, that in this change he was carrying out the leading principle of his Italian street fronts, the use of the great cornice to give unity and completeness to the design. Although more of the exterior was preserved than usual, yet the spirit of the whole was changed; and, plain as it still was, it gained a striking and original effect.

The interior was almost entirely remodelled. The most important change was in the New Museum. The old one had been divided for architectural effect




by massive piers and transverse arches. All obstructions were now cleared out; ample space and light were secured; indeed, not a foot of space was wasted, and the light, diffused by transmission through a continuous cove (the ceiling being left as a reflector), was excellent. It became, as the curators declared, a cheerful and most convenient museum. At a later period (1850) he was called upon to carry out some further internal changes. These were intended merely to give additional accommodation, and little architectural effect was aimed at. An additional museum was erected on the same principles of design which had dictated the alteration of the old, but with somewhat more of light through the roof. Two new theatres were added, with suitable offices. No alteration was made in the front.[49]


Walton House.—The next specimen of Mr. Barry’s power of reconstruction, under very different circumstances, is seen at Walton House, belonging to the Earl of Tankerville.

The house stands on the banks of the Thames, in a position very pleasant and beautiful in itself (almost buried in its magnificent trees, and affording a ready access to the river), but having little openness or elevation, and therefore placing some difficulties in the way of architectural effect. The house had been a somewhat commonplace straggling building. The site was such as to require a certain amount of irre{108}gularity in treatment. In 1837 Mr. Barry was consulted for its reconstruction. This was the time between the erection of the Travellers’ and Reform Clubs, and belongs architecturally to his earlier Italian style. Some considerable additions were made, especially a fine entrance corridor, and a belvedere, on which probably the architect relied for giving effect to a building which wanted elevation of site. But the whole house was remodelled both externally and internally—the work as usual growing in conception during its progress. It became externally an elegant and at that time an almost unique specimen of an Italian villa. The size is not considerable, but every detail is studied so as to produce that effect of harmony and perfection at which Mr. Barry at all times aimed. The style is simple, with the characteristic features of a predominating cornice, and (as in the Club-houses) a carefully studied proportion of solid wall to windows, and an Italian roof made a visible and ornamental feature.[50] Seen, as so many Italian villas are seen, on some rising ground, and with opportunity of comparatively distant views, it might have produced a more striking effect. As it is, although the plan and composition are well adapted to the site, some part of its beauty is lost.

The interior arrangement has been quoted by Mr. Kerr[51] as an example on a smaller scale, and on a somewhat irregular plan, of the same “stateliness”


By Sir C. Barry.
By Sir C. Barry.


of design which he observes in Bridgewater House. Yet it was certainly adapted most thoroughly to the special requirements of the case, and cannot be accused of sacrificing convenience to effect. The chief feature is the long entrance corridor, spacious and symmetrical, divided by pilasters into equal bays, each square having its pendentive ceiling—somewhat in the style which in an Italian climate would have produced an open loggia. The internal details of the rooms are simple, but with the simplicity which is the result of study and of thorough understanding of principles. The house marks the change of taste (which Mr. Barry had certainly a considerable share in promoting) from the older Greek style of country houses, with their huge porticoes and massive details, to the greater elasticity, elegance, and brightness of the Italian style. It can hardly be doubted that the change was an improvement, both in architectural propriety and in domestic comfort and cheerfulness.


Highclere House.—But in the same year, 1837, he was called upon to exercise his skill in conversion on a grander scale, and in a far more striking manner, for the Earl of Carnarvon, at Highclere in Hampshire. At Walton he had to add much, and almost to reconstruct. At Highclere the whole constructional framework of the house was retained, and yet the building became in the strictest sense new and original. In fact, the contrast of its former and present condition, shown by the comparison of the two woodcuts, almost renders any comment unnecessary. The old building, as will be seen at once, is designed in{110} the comparative flatness and insipidity of bare classicism: under his hand it became a palace, rich and original in design. Yet not only were the main walls preserved, with scarcely any extension of the building or plan, but even the secondary features were kept intact. In no case was the level of any floor or the opening of a window changed.

The style chosen was less simple and richer in effect than the style of pure Italian. He called it “Anglo-Italian,” an Elizabethan or Jacobian style, which he thought excellent, when, as must often be the case in domestic architecture, the openings were of necessity too crowded for the purer Italian style, of which he had given examples in his Club-houses.[52] The centre, contrary to his usual practice, he elevated by an attic, feeling that the style admitted greater freedom and irregularity of treatment, and wishing to give importance to the great entrance; for he considered that the lofty and beautiful central tower and the elevated angle-turrets would preserve the needful unity of design.

The building thus transformed was one of his favourite works. It certainly is in itself one of the most striking country seats in England, and he could fairly claim it as his own, and rejoice over the beauty created out of unpromising materials and under conditions of no slight difficulty.


Board of Trade.—But of all examples perhaps the one best known is the conversion effected on the






Board of Trade at Whitehall. He had to deal with a building, which had long been before the public eye in a prominent position, and which was not without many points of architectural excellence. But the altered building seemed to take the public by surprise; it was practically new in design and spirit, and, though exposed to much censure from one class of critics, it commanded general admiration. The comparison of the two woodcuts, which show its present and its former condition, will easily explain the vividness of effect produced, and will show (what is elsewhere noticed) the growing taste for richness and vigour of effect visible in Mr. Barry’s later Italian style,[53] and in this case remarkably contrasted with the strict classicism of the original.

Yet the conversion was carried out under conditions which might have seemed hopeless shackles on his genius. Not only was it necessary to preserve all the levels of the floors and the position of the openings, but he was obliged also to keep and work in the Corinthian order of the original building, in spite of his objection to engaged columns. The original design, with many points of excellence, yet seemed to him to want symmetry, force, and grandeur. To remedy these defects, he raised the order on a basement story, did away with the superstructure, which seemed to oppress it, and, removing the colonnades, which by their shadows and projection cut up the wings, he gave the great flanking masses their full effect.{112}

The question next arose, whether the entablature should be broken or not. Mr. Barry’s objection to engaged columns has already been mentioned. Here, however, such an arrangement was forced upon him, and the question was, how the impropriety could be best alleviated. He had begun to think of breaking entablatures (which in days of classical purism would have shocked him), partly from the example of Inigo Jones’s Banqueting-house, partly from his Gothic studies, and the tendency to vertical lines which they fostered. He conceived that, when this step was taken, the engaged column changed its character; it no longer affected to support the entablature, but became avowedly an adjunct. This feeling, joined to the desire of greater variety and richness, carried the day, and, in this case and others, the entablatures were broken. In looking at his own work he felt that, from the necessary position of the columns, the breaks were somewhat over-crowded; and he rather regretted that he had not carried out an idea, which had occurred to him in studying his design, of crowning the principal windows with pediments to relieve the appearance of squareness. Otherwise he was contented and pleased with his work, which has been acknowledged as having given one more striking building to London. He long hoped that the façade would have been extended along Downing Street, and have terminated in a mass corresponding to those which now flank the elevation. His ideas indeed went beyond this: far larger schemes of extension were conceived by him in connection with the designs for the Government Offices. But





none of these were destined to be realized, and the building remains in its original dimensions.

Trentham Hall.—The next group of alterations to be noticed brings into prominence a kind of work, in which he took the greatest pleasure, and achieved very brilliant results. This was the architectural laying out and ornamentation of gardens. Early in his career he had made some essay in this direction at Mr. Attree’s house in Brighton Park. Up to the last he retained almost a passion for it. His idea was that the definite artificial lines of a building should not be contrasted, but harmonized, with the free and careless grace of natural beauty. This could only be effected by a scheme of architectural gardens, graduated, as it were, from regular formality in the immediate neighbourhood of the building itself, through shrubberies and plantations, less and less artificial, till they seemed to melt away in the unstudied simplicity of the park or wood without. In this the architect and landscape gardener must work side by side.

These views he had the opportunity of exemplifying on a grand scale in the works carried on for many years at Trentham Hall, the residence of the Duke of Sutherland. To the old building containing the state reception rooms, he simply gave a better cornice and improved its details, adding moreover a grand entrance hall, which served also as a billiard saloon, and communicated with the state rooms by a fine semicircular corridor. He succeeded also in grouping together very effectively{114} the straggling offices of the great house. Though he could not effect all that he wished, he was able thus to give some grandeur and unity to the large mass of building. The design of the private wing has been already mentioned.

But the great work was the change effected in the gardens.[54] His difficulties are stated by a high authority, the late Mr. Loudon:—“We could not help doubting whether even Mr. Barry could make anything of this great dull flat place, with its immense mansion, as tame and spiritless as the ground on which it stands; we have seen the plans, however, for the additions and alterations. Let no man henceforth ever despair of a dead flat.” The hall was surrounded by lawns and paddocks, reaching down to a lake. These were converted into a succession of gardens of regular design, stepping down by terraces from the house to the lake, and by balustrades, vases, statues, and flights of steps, so connected with the architecture of the house as to spread out its base, and give it the dignity and apparent height which its natural position forbade. This was a principle which Mr. Barry at all times pursued; gardening was, of course, with him only a handmaid to architecture, and in this particular case such treatment was the only method by which the lowness of site could be corrected, and dignity be given to what otherwise must have been but an ordinary country seat. He effected much; could he have carried out his whole scheme he would have had an “Isola




Bella” on the lake, and converted the lake itself into an architectural basin. For in his development of the principle that all garden work connected with buildings should have an architectural character, he was accused sometimes, not quite unjustly, of desiring to extend the domain of Art, even at the risk of encroaching upon Nature herself.

Probably the disadvantage of site still shows itself, and it may be that the materials at his command were somewhat impracticable; but the great confidence and liberality of his patrons gave him abundant scope, and the result is a building which may take high rank among the palaces of England.


Duncombe Park.—Another conversion, on a smaller scale, in which remarkable effect was produced by much less alteration, was carried out at Duncombe Park, the seat of Lord Feversham. The immediate object contemplated was the increase of accommodation in the stables and domestic offices, but the opportunity thus presented of improving a building, which stands on one of the noblest sites, and commands one of the finest views in England, was not to be lost. A design was prepared accordingly, meeting the special requirements of the case, but going far beyond them in its aim.

The house, which is ascribed to Vanbrugh, and was probably built by one of his pupils, is massive and imposing in its style, and severely plain in details. But it seemed to Mr. Barry merely to occupy the site, without harmonizing with the surrounding scenery of{116} the park. His object was to bring it into this connection, and soften the boundary-line between nature and art.

The main building he did not alter, except by suggesting a portico to the entrance front, known to have formed a part of the original design, though never actually executed; but he swept away a mass of subordinate buildings on each side, containing the existing offices and stables, and, designing a noble entrance court in proportion to the massive scale of the building, he flanked it with two blocks of buildings (containing the accommodation required), symmetrically designed, and showing remarkable boldness of detail. These new blocks of building he connected with the central building with quadrantal corridors, closed to the side of the entrance court, but open to the private gardens on the other side.

Having thus given grandeur and unity to a previously ineffective building, he proceeded to connect it with the scenery around. He altered the great avenue of approach through the park, so as to bring it, where it approached the new entrance court, into a position of centrality to the building. On the other side he remodelled the private gardens in his favourite Italian style, and so gave to the windows of the private apartments a view more suitable than that of the grass fields, into which they had previously looked.

The effect, as usual, was to give the house perfect novelty and dignity of effect, by utilising to the utmost size and capabilities comparatively wasted before.{117}


Harewood House.—A somewhat similar work was carried out for the Earl of Harewood, in the years 1843 to 1850. Harewood House is situated about nine miles from Leeds, in a position of great beauty, looking over the valley of the Wharfe. It was a house of some scale and pretension, built in 1759, by Messrs. Carr and Adams, with a lofty centre, having a large engaged Corinthian order, and connected by lower curtains with the wings, which were plainer in design.

It had apparently some massiveness of design and merits of proportion. It needed finish, life, and variety. The treatment of the work by Mr. Barry (additional accommodation being required) was simply to raise the wings, altering their design so as to bring them into greater importance and greater harmony with the centre, and to improve the design of the centre itself, by adding a handsome balustrade, and by raising the chimney-stacks to the dignity of architectural features, so as to vary the flat and monotonous lines of the former roof. Little else was done except that some beautiful carving (by Mr. Thomas), in the pediment and elsewhere, gave the greater richness and life which the original design wanted. But the effect was considerable, and the house now commands attention, not only by its scale and proportion, but by the evidence of taste and design visible throughout.

In the interior the work merely included some alteration and enlargement of the principal rooms and basement, and some new decorations.

But the gardens here also engaged his attention.{118} The park and grounds had been laid out by Mr. Lancelot Brown (well known in the last generation as a landscape gardener), but the garden near the house itself remained to be treated in Mr. Barry’s usual style. A grand terrace garden was formed on the south side, rising by a handsome flight of steps to the level of the house, adorned with sculptures and fountains, and laid out in parterre beds of architectural design. The gardens, kept up as they are with great care and skill, are among the chief sights of the neighbourhood. It need not be added that they thoroughly harmonize with the building and give it completeness and magnificence.


Shrubland Park.—But of all parks of this kind probably the most successful was that carried out for Sir W. Middleton at Shrubland Park in the year 1848. Inferior in extent to the work at Trentham, it presented greater capabilities, and was more perfect in result. On the house itself he produced a striking alteration. The original building had little architectural character; but it had been considerably altered in 1830 from the design of Mr. Gandy Deering. On the house, as thus altered, Sir C. Barry had to work, and the effect produced will be seen by an inspection of the annexed woodcuts. He added a new entrance, with a sculpture gallery on each side. At the same time he raised a portion of the house, so as to form a beautiful specimen of his favourite Italian towers, and substituted balustrades for the large pediments surmounting the various fronts, which would have grouped ill with the tower, and,





by distracting the eye, have interfered with unity of effect. A handsome lodge was added with a central tower, through which the main approach passed.

But the glory of Shrubland lay in its gardens, and it is in them that the traces of his hand are most plainly seen. Beautiful in themselves, they seemed to agree too little with the house, which had now assumed some architectural pretensions.

The upper garden near the house was therefore rearranged, and enclosed by balustrades. A handsome flight of steps led from the upper to the lower garden. At the foot of the steps an open loggia was placed, and the adjoining ground laid out with architecturally formed beds.

The works show in a very marked manner the refined taste and exquisite finish which distinguished all his designs. The whole principle, indeed, of his arrangements was dictated by the desire of perfect finish and harmony, against which the original scheme, bringing an ordinary flower-garden up to the very walls of the house, appeared to him to militate. Few works produced so much effect, considering their scale, and certainly few were so entirely after his own heart, as those at Shrubland Park.


Cliefden House.—Of all his conversions of existing buildings, this was the one which approached most nearly to the conditions of an original design. But his work was still in some degree fettered by the circumstances of the case.

The house was originally built, in a fashion very prevalent some years ago, having a centre with two{120} distinct wings, which were virtually separate buildings, and were only joined to the central mass by connecting corridors on the ground-floor. Such a plan produces much external grandeur; but this advantage, and some others which belong to it, are dearly purchased at the cost of internal convenience, especially when, as at Cliefden, the servants’ rooms are placed in one of the wings. A fire destroyed the central mansion, but spared the wings; and to Sir C. Barry was assigned the task of rebuilding what had been destroyed, without sacrificing the portions remaining, and of rebuilding it on the old foundations, which were still intact, and which it was desired to utilise.

The first design which he prepared was set aside for economical reasons. It differed materially from Cliefden as it now is. It was an astylar Italian design, comparatively simple in detail, and having the angles raised into towers, so as to be prominent features. Thus, although designed on symmetrical principles, it would have presented far greater variety of outline than the building actually erected. Considering its magnificent position, and considering also the different points of view and the great distances at which the house can be seen, the architect greatly regretted the necessity which forbade the realisation of his original design. He thought that a more vertical tendency and more varied outline would have contrasted better with the horizontal line of the beautiful bank of wood, out of which it rises.

The present house is built on the old




foundations,[55] the centre being the only new portion of the building. The plan is that of a first-rate Italian villa, and is remarkable for uniting elegance to great convenience of arrangement. For the great charm of Cliefden is its lovely view over the valley of the Thames, and it was absolutely necessary to bear this in mind in the arrangement of all the living-rooms. At the same time it was necessary to provide such access for the servants’ wing as should in some degree mitigate the inconvenience of the old plan of the house, and to arrange the staircase and corridors with due regard to dignity and architectural effect. The solution of the problem may be deemed highly successful, and will have some interest to the professional student.

In the external design Sir Charles adopted (what was unusual with him) an engaged order with unbroken entablature. In regard to the design generally, it may be doubted whether the house is of sufficient size to justify the use of an order of two stories, which, as seen from a distance, gives some impression of a want of breadth in the design. But, bearing in mind the circumstances alluded to above, we may conclude with some probability, that Sir Charles contemplated the enlargement of the design, by carrying up and rendering prominent the low side buildings, containing the dining-room and the private apartments. Such an addition would exemplify a method of treatment of which he was fond, viz., the employment of a central mass with two{122} slightly elevated angles, and would certainly add greatly to the effect of the garden-front.

The house, however, as it stands, may claim attention on its own merits. It was one of his latest Italian buildings, though showing much of the simplicity of his earlier designs.


Trafalgar Square.—Of all Sir C. Barry’s works, the one which is generally considered as least successful was the laying out of Trafalgar Square. On this subject he was consulted by the Government in 1840, and his chief idea in the arrangements, which he suggested, was to improve the effect of the National Gallery.

A plan was already under consideration, which contemplated the raising the whole square to the level of the pavement in front of the new building, and finishing it with a terrace and balustrade towards Cockspur Street. To this he had a strong objection. In common with the world at large, he considered the National Gallery to be already greatly deficient in importance and unworthy of its magnificent site. Such a terrace as was proposed, seen in the foreground on approaching from Whitehall, would throw it back into utter insignificance. He advised, therefore, that the level of the square should be kept down to that of Cockspur Street, instead of being raised to that of the base of the building, and the terrace thrown back so as to make it appear a part of the building, thus increasing instead of diminishing its height. This plan was adopted, but greatly injured by the erection of the Nelson Column, against which Mr. Barry protested{123} in vain. Not only did it cut up the building, but it interfered with a grand flight of steps, which he contemplated in the centre of his terrace, of the width of the whole portico of the gallery, and appearing from a distance to be a part of it. Its own design would be no compensation: for to the use of columns, as pedestals for statues, he objected on principle. He would have had the Nelson and Wellington Monuments (treated in a different style as grand designs in sculpture) placed on either side in the position of the present fountains. When this proved to be impossible, he introduced the fountains as a last resource. He intended them to be far larger; he wished them, indeed, to be of the scale of the grand fountains in front of St. Peter’s at Rome; but for this funds were not forthcoming, and an unexpected difficulty was found in obtaining a full supply of water. But, though fully aware that they were too small, he never felt the justice of the severe criticism which has been so unsparingly lavished upon them. For in this case, as in others, the architect’s work is criticized in ignorance of the limitations imposed upon it by necessity, and the interferences from without to which it has been subjected.


Besides these buildings, for which he was entirely responsible, there were several instances in which he gave general designs to be carried out by others; for, as his own time was more and more occupied, superintendence became difficult. But he never much liked this; in the buildings which he actually erected he was as fastidious in regard to details, as he was{124} careful in studying the great lines of the design; imperfection in detail was to him as a discord at all times, but doubly painful when it seemed to mar an idea originally his own, and he could hardly rest till it was removed.

Thus in 1847 and 1848 he made some extensive designs for the Government, to be carried out at Keyham Factory. They were intended to give some architectural character to the buildings, planned by the Government engineers for the execution of work for the steam fleet. These included foundries, smithies, turning-shops, &c., buildings necessarily of great extent and inconsiderable height. The designs made were Italian—simple, of course, but effective in character. They deserve notice not so much in themselves, but as being the only example of his treatment of a class of buildings, which it has been common to despair of artistically, and to surrender to the domain of plain and even ugly utilitarianism. In the same year he modified the design for the Ambassador’s palace at Constantinople, to an extent which greatly determined its general effect.


It will be seen from this brief description of Sir C. Barry’s principal Italian works, that, not merely by their number and size, but by their variety of character, and the existence in almost all of some special features of design or construction, they exercised a very powerful influence on the Italian architecture of the country.

They certainly appear to have carried out, to as great an extent as practice can ever carry out the dictates of theory, the principles which have been de{125}scribed at the close of Chapter II., as deduced by him from his original studies in Italy, except so far as these were modified by the powerful though indirect influence of the Gothic revival. This did not arise from any deficiency in power of originating novelty. There were few cases in which ideas were not conceived, and designs made, embodying more unusual forms and details than those finally adopted. Nor does it appear to have been due to his adoption of a formally defined system of principles—a kind of confession of architectural faith. It may be doubted whether he himself could have given an analysis of his own principles of design, as clear and as precise as that which has been given by others. Perhaps few men, who have much originative power in art, have also the power of such scientific analysis. He himself would constantly adopt what he conceived to be new “first principles,” and for a time mould every line of a design in obedience to their dictates.

But yet in almost every case he reverted eventually to his original principles. If the comparison of the old with the new was fatal to the latter, in respect of beauty or convenience, he was not the man to seek apparent originality at the cost of real excellence. The temptation to depart from the old methods, and the study of the methods by which such departure could be made, only tended to confirm them in his mind, and to show (what most practical men sooner or later discover in all provinces of thought) that the prevalence of old forms is generally due, not to arbitrary and pedantic convention, but to their inherent truth and vigour.{126}

It maybe added that, in his Italian work especially, harmony and completeness seem to have been the great objects of endeavour. Repose, rather than what artists call “movement,” was the characteristic of his designs. Whether successfully or unsuccessfully, he laboured principally to realize the conception of the whole, as having unity and perfect interdependence in its parts, and was not compensated, in his own works or those of others, for any violation of this unity, even by individual features of startling and original excellence.[56] A consequence of this feeling was that special attention to refinement and elegance of detail, which has been noticed by most critics of his works. He felt strongly that, when detail, however bold or beautiful in itself, attracts an undue share of attention, and brings into prominence what should properly be subordinate, an error in taste is committed, proportionate to the vividness of the impression produced. Another consequence was the paramount importance which he attached to beauty of proportion as compared with richness or originality of decoration. He was fond of pointing out in Sir C. Wren’s western towers of Westminster Abbey how this beauty of proportion seemed all but to annihilate the painful impression, produced by the badness of the details. In his own designs he would take the greatest pains, would sponge out and redraw a whole elevation, if he detected in its leading lines any defect in this his crowning virtue.{127}

It is evident that this principle may assume so tyrannical an influence as to extinguish originality, and tone down a whole design to respectable and consistent tameness. But it cannot be denied that it is a principle of paramount value, and few will question that it is largely manifested in his existing works. Not indeed that he allowed this desire of unity and stateliness of design, or his determination to make even the least work a real work of Art, to interfere with the thought of practical convenience, especially as regards the requirements of English climate and modern life. His Italian architecture was therefore singularly free from artistic pedantry; it was no artificial exotic, but a style thoroughly naturalized, and therefore one having an inherent principle of vigour and life. On it his architectural fame must still in great measure rest.{128}



Progress of the Gothic revival—Birmingham Grammar School—First acquaintance with Mr. Pugin and Mr. Thomas—Alterations at Dulwich College—Unitarian chapel at Manchester—Additions to University College, Oxford—Hurstpierpoint church—Canford Manor—Gawthorpe Hall—Designs for Dunrobin Castle.

While Mr. Barry was thus engaged almost incessantly on Italian buildings, he did not neglect the mediæval style, which was every day becoming better understood and more popular. In this style his works (after 1829) were comparatively few, until he engaged in the competition for the New Palace at Westminster. But the interest and study, which he at this time bestowed on Gothic architecture, must not be measured by the number of works which he actually carried out. He could not but be aware of the increasing power of the “Gothic Revival,” and, though he never wavered in his allegiance to the Italian, though to the last he maintained, against the pure Gothicists, its intrinsic beauty and peculiar appropriateness for certain classes of buildings, yet he viewed the Gothic movement with the greatest sympathy. With his early Gothic designs he had already learnt to be greatly dissatisfied; and, before he ventured on any further attempts in the same{129} style, he not only gave much attention to the writings of the Gothic School, but studied carefully every English example of the style, which could be quoted as an authority.


Birmingham Grammar School.—The effect of this thought and study was seen in the design for the Birmingham Grammar School in 1833. Greatly admired at the time of its production, it did not, of course, escape criticism in after days from its author as well as from others. But it certainly indicated an extraordinary advance in knowledge of Gothic, and in power of handling the style, both as to principles and as to details, and proved that its author was at least keeping pace with the architectural taste and knowledge of the time.

The site was such as to allow only of a street-front, and this fact had great effect on the design. The building was to contain, not only the Great Schools and Class Rooms, but also two residences, which of course needed the advantage of street frontage. The elevation adopted was regular and symmetrical. Simple as it is, it was the result of considerable study. The central portion was of course devoted to the Great Schools (placed on the first floor,[57] with an entrance cloister and class rooms on the ground floor), and the residences were made to form the wings of the building. Their two-storied oriels ranged with{130} the great windows of the school; the parapet was unbroken, except by raised battlements over the centre of the wings.

Mr. Barry was inclined to raise these wings into towers, and would have done so, had the building been isolated; but in its confined position he thought that towers would be ineffective, or perhaps even detrimental. Still he desired greater variety. He proposed a clock tower at one end of the front, which would also have had the additional advantage of giving greater importance to the building as seen down the street. A lantern was also designed, to rise from the centre of the roof, and relieve the flatness of the skyline. But these could not be carried out, the expense already incurred being very great, and the design remained without the relief proposed.

Another variation was at one time thought of with a view to giving more prominence to the main entrance. To a mere porch Mr. Barry had always an objection. It appeared to him a mere excrescence. Accordingly he tried the effect of advancing the centre, inserting a bay window over the entrance, and raising the centre of the parapet into a gable. But he never could make up his mind to advance the centre of an architectural composition. He maintained that the advanced portion must destroy, by its effect in perspective, the apparent size of the building, and this he considered an unpardonable artistic fault. At Birmingham this feeling was increased by his consciousness that the frontage was already somewhat small, and accordingly he felt compelled to leave the entrance as it now appears. He





was not altogether satisfied with its effect; but nothing would have compensated him for the loss of breadth and unity in composition.

The plan of the interior is perfectly simple. Almost the whole of the centre is occupied by two grand school-rooms, which are probably almost unequalled in magnificence of size and proportion. Few class-rooms were required by the original instructions, but some have been recently added by Mr. E. M. Barry.

Of the two principles of school arrangement, the architect will naturally prefer that, which throws most of the space into great school-rooms, and so gives greater scope for artistic effect. In practice the two systems may claim a certain balance of advantages. But in a grammar-school, where from the nature of the case many of the assistant masters are likely to be young and inexperienced, the preponderance of advantage seems to incline in the same direction which architectural taste would suggest. For in this case the advantage, both in guidance and support, to be derived from the presence of the head, and the “swing” of the great machine, probably outweighs all considerations on the other side of greater quiet and convenience. How far the plan at Birmingham was due to the architect, and how far determined by the instructions which he received, I do not know.

The school was completed in 1836. It attracted great attention and considerable admiration from the public and from the critics. The architect himself felt that the study of Gothic principles and details,{132} for which it was the occasion, had been of the greatest service to him, especially in the competition for the New Palace, on which he was even then preparing to enter.

There was also another reason which made him look back with pleasure to this work. It was in connection with it that he first made the acquaintance of Mr. Pugin, whose assistance he secured in making out some of the drawings for details. The acquaintance ripened into friendship, a friendship unclouded by a single misunderstanding, and closed only by the death of his gifted coadjutor. Here, also, it was his good fortune to discover Mr. Thomas (afterwards so well known for his work at the New Palace of Westminster) working as an ordinary stone-carver. Mr. Barry at once saw his remarkable talent, and resolved to give it a more worthy sphere for development.


Alterations at Dulwich College.—His other Gothic works were of minor scale and importance. In March 27th, 1830, he was appointed to the surveyorship of Dulwich College, an office then less important than it has now become by the extraordinary increase of the value of the college property, but one in which he always took great pleasure, and experienced great kindness from the Master and Fellows of the old foundation. In the next year, 1831, he was called upon to design and carry out the erection of a new wing to the College, and of a small school for the education of the twelve foundation boys and others. The wing then erected has been since so much altered and enlarged as altogether to change{133} its character. For the new constitution given to the College in 1858, by which the small school contemplated in the original foundation has been expanded into a large public school, absorbing the greater part of the endowment, has necessitated changes and enlargements on every side. Sir C. Barry’s own office expired with the old constitution, but the new Board of Governors elected from a number of candidates his eldest son Charles, who had for several years previously assisted him at Dulwich. He has been called upon, not only to erect the new schools on a scale of considerable grandeur, but also to remodel the whole existing College buildings for the accommodation of additional almspeople. In the course of this process it has been necessary greatly to alter the wing built by Sir Charles, which in itself was simple, and presented no marked features of design.


Unitarian Chapel at Manchester.—In 1837 Mr. Barry designed and erected an Unitarian chapel in Manchester. The scale of the building was small, and the design accordingly simple enough. The only notable point in it is that its chief front is almost occupied by a lofty arch, behind which the great window is recessed. The object was probably to obtain depth, and as much vigour of design as the size admitted. The effect is certainly successful.


Additions to University College, Oxford.—In 1839 he was called upon to carry out some work at Oxford. He added a wing looking on the High{134} Street, and containing only living-rooms, to University College. It was, of course, necessary that this should harmonize with the old building, of which it forms a part. But it is distinguished by the careful attention to refinement of detail, which marks all his works, giving evidence of the study which he thought it worth while to bestow, even on buildings comparatively insignificant in scale. He naturally took a more than usual interest in this work, for it was the only one he ever did in an university town (some designs for Worcester College in 1837 having led to no result), and it stood in a prominent position in the High Street, which he always regarded as in some respects the finest street in Europe.


Hurstpierpoint Church.—At a much later period (1843) he erected a church of considerable scale at Hurstpierpoint, in Sussex, standing in a position of some importance, as being visible both from the high ground of the Devil’s Dyke and the rich plain country which opens out below. The old church was inadequate for the increasing population, enlargement was difficult and expensive, and a new church was resolved upon, the parish granting a comparatively small portion of the sum required, and the landed proprietors, Mr. Borrer and Mr. Campion, and the rector, the Rev. C. H. Borrer (on whose exertions, as usual, the main work depended) guaranteeing the rest.

The first design made was on a scale too magnificent for their means, and in the Perpendicular style.{135} This was perforce put aside, and the church actually erected in the Early Pointed style.

The whole design shows the remarkable progress of church architecture, since the time when his hand was formerly employed in its service. The plan is cruciform, with nave, aisles, transepts and chancel, the latter being thoroughly spacious, and open to the body of the church, though well raised above it. The scale is considerable, for it provides for a thousand people, without galleries. The details and ornaments are simple, but (a point on which he always laid great stress) carried out with consistency and harmony of style throughout the whole design.[58] The materials are all of the best and most durable kind, and there is no instance of false pretension in any quarter. Externally the effect depends, as usual with his buildings, very greatly on beauty of proportion, and here, for the first time, he was able to carry out his predilection for a handsome spire in stone—in this case specially needed, as the church rises out of the level plain, and its spire is a prominent object for twenty miles round. Yet the cost (about 10,000l.) was not so great as that of each of his Islington churches in former days.

The work gave him great pleasure, though it came in the very busiest time of the New Palace at Westminster, and though (as has been said) church architecture was not the work to which his professional life was devoted. With greater care for Gothic detail, with a far more thorough grasp of the{136} principles of the old Gothic architects, he did not, however, lose sight of the fundamental ideas of the Church of England’s Service, and secured the effect of space, openness, and unity, which he conceived to be its paramount requirements.[59]


Canford Manor.—In Gothic, as in Italian, he was called upon to exercise his remarkable power of modification and reconstruction.

Canford Manor, the house of Sir John Guest, was one of the examples of this process.

In 1826 Lord de Mauley, who then owned the house, consulted Mr. Blore as to some necessary alterations, and the house was almost rebuilt from his designs between 1826 and 1836, with the exception of the old kitchen, which is named by tradition after John of Gaunt. Of the old house therefore very little remains. Of Mr. Blore’s building there remain, with many modifications, the dining-room and rooms over it on the east front, and the whole of the south front. The rest is the work of Sir C. Barry, who was consulted in 1848 by Sir John Guest. The plan will show clearly the extent of his operations.[60] Alterations had been already begun, and the removal of the principal staircase, entrance hall,





and billiard room had cleared the space which the great hall now occupies.

The main object which Mr. Barry had in view was to give unity, and therefore grandeur, to a building, the effect of which was hardly commensurate with its size. It will be seen by the plan that he built the great entrance tower and corridor, completed the great hall, built the conservatory, and the Nineveh porch for the reception of some Assyrian marbles, presented by Mr. Layard to Sir John and Lady Charlotte Guest. The old kitchen he restored, uniting it to the main building, and remodelled or rebuilt the whole of the offices of the house. Besides this, he carried out several external works. The gardens were laid out with his usual care and interest, and with the objects which in such work he invariably sought. He also added lodges and other external works, besides the arch under the railway embankment for the main approach, which was executed after the death of Sir John Guest.

As the extent of his work on the main building is given by the plan, so its effect externally may be appreciated from the other illustration, which represents the south front, and so contains both old and new work. There can be no doubt that here, as elsewhere, that effect amounts to a re-creation. It is interesting, as being the best example of his treatment of a large Gothic house, and a proof that he could, on what seemed to him the proper occasions, value the variety and picturesqueness of grouping, on which so many authorities insist as the one thing needful.{138}

Internally the plan shows, as in other cases, how perfectly real comfort and convenience can be united with much architectural grandeur. It should be observed that, unfortunately for the effect of the interior, the decorative portions of the work have not been fully carried out; and there is, therefore, observable in them some want of that beauty of finish and careful attention to minute detail, which is everywhere characteristic in his designs. With the exception of this drawback, he felt satisfied with a work, which he had carried out with great pleasure, and which is ordinarily considered as exemplifying most successfully his power to remodel existing buildings, with all the vigour and effect which belong to original designs.


Gawthorpe Hall.—The only other Gothic house of any importance, which Sir C. Barry had the opportunity of restoring and remodelling, was Gawthorpe Hall, near Burnley. The nature of the work here was different. He had to deal with a fine old house of the Elizabethan period, built about the year 1600, on the site of an older building, probably of the “Peel” or border-castle character, and presenting considerable variety of style in its different fronts. On one side it retained some of the stern and bare simplicity of the old border Peel; on another, the irregularity in position and size of the characteristic mullioned windows produced a quaint and picturesque effect; the principal front on the other side had greater regularity of fenestration, but was broken by two polygonal bays at the angles and one square bay




projecting from the centre front, in which a low-arched porch gave entrance to the house.

There was so much in the exterior of picturesque variety and quaintness, that, when Mr. Barry was consulted by Sir James P. K. Shuttleworth, in 1849, he felt unwilling to make any considerable alterations. All he thought needful was to give importance to the tower and chimneys, by raising them so as to produce greater boldness in the sky-line, and to surround the building with a pierced parapet of the characteristic Elizabethan style. The old grass terraces round the house had disappeared; these he carefully restored, and carried out the same principle of architectural gardening, which he had so often exemplified in his Italian buildings, by surrounding the house with a formal garden, designed according to the geometrical patterns of the Elizabethan period. The changes were not great, but they all tended to perfect and render more striking the original character of the building; and the work was carried on con amore, for he was a great admirer of the Elizabethan style for domestic purposes, and inclined to prefer it for such purposes to the purer Gothic forms.

In the interior he had somewhat greater scope. It had been modernized by successive owners, yet so that it still retained, almost untouched, the dining-hall and the richly decorated ceiling and carved panellings of the drawing-room. The problem therefore was simply to preserve and carry out the old style of decoration, to sweep away modern excrescences, and at the same time to give that greater convenience and adaptation to present requirements, which these{140} additions had been intended to supply. It was not one likely to cause him much difficulty, and, though all his suggestions have not been carried out, it was certainly solved very successfully, and the house is now a picturesque and beautiful specimen of its peculiar style.


Dunrobin Castle.—A work of considerable importance, for which Sir Charles Barry was consulted, although his designs were to a great degree modified, and were carried out by others, was Dunrobin Castle.[61] The castle, belonging to the Duke of Sutherland, overlooks the Dornoch Firth, and has the advantage of a fine position. It was a very old building, with some points of interest, but little pretensions to grandeur. Alterations were begun upon it in 1845, growing, as usual, in scale and magnificence, especially when the prospect of a royal visit stimulated the owner’s interest in it, and increased his requirements.

In 1844 designs were furnished by Mr. Barry at the request of the Duke; but it was found by Mr. Leslie that the information, on which they were based, had been inaccurate, and that the designs could not be carried out, without greatly enlarging the plateau on which the house stands, at an enormous expense, and without more alteration of the old castle, than the Duke was prepared to sanction. Some necessary alterations were therefore suggested, and the designs{141} returned for further consideration. It would appear also that ideas of a design of totally different character were entertained by the Duke. These would have altered the building from the chateau-like treatment suggested by Mr. Barry to a regular “castellated” style, with flat roofs and embrasured towers. Subsequently however this design was altogether set aside, and a set of drawings prepared by Mr. Leslie, with the characteristic high roofs of Scotch castle-architecture, returning in great measure to Mr. Barry’s original design as a basis. These were submitted to him for his approval, and some alterations made by his suggestion.

The work was then begun. In the course of it Mr. Barry was frequently consulted on points both of principle and of detail, and furnished drawings of ornaments and internal arrangements, as well as of external design. In 1848 he visited Dunrobin, when the work was nearly complete. He then advised some considerable alteration of the great tower, and designed a terrace garden, both of which were carried out.

It will be seen therefore that the work is partly Sir C. Barry’s and partly Mr. Leslie’s. The original designs of Sir Charles were made the basis of the work, and several alterations of principle and detail were made by him, as “consulting architect,” during its progress. But, of course, plans made at a distance must require much alteration, and the work, growing as it proceeds in capabilities and requirements, calls for much, of which the actual superintendent of the work must have the credit and the responsibility.{142}

On the whole, the north or entrance front is very much like Sir Charles’s original design, except that this design had no attics nor basement story. The southern and eastern fronts have far less resemblance to what was at first proposed by him, as it was here that the inaccuracy of the information supplied to him did the greatest mischief.

It was the only work of any size, with which he was connected in Scotland. He had given designs for an alteration of Drummond Castle in 1827, and for alterations of Drumlanrig Castle in 1840. But in neither case were his ideas carried out.

It will be seen from this enumeration, that his Gothic works, though not numerous, were varied in character, embracing buildings of collegiate, ecclesiastical, and domestic style. After 1837 his Gothic study was devoted to, and almost absorbed by, the works at the New Palace at Westminster. The progress visible in these lesser buildings, both in detail and in power of treatment, was partly introductory to the greater work, and partly derived from it. In it mainly his Gothic architecture must be tested. The other works merely show that his studies in Gothic were not confined to that one style, or to those principles of arrangement and composition, which he there considered to be rendered necessary by the circumstances of the case.{143}



Plan of the Chapter. Section I. History of the Competition—Burning of the old Houses of Parliament—Opening of the Competition for the New Building—Award of the Commissioners—Approved by the Select Committee of the Houses—Protest of the advocates of Classical Architecture—Critical controversy—Personal attacks on Mr. Barry—Meeting of unsuccessful Competitors—Presentation of Petition by Mr. Hume—Opposition quashed by Sir Robert Peel—Protest against it by Professor Donaldson and others. Section II. Progress of the Building—Difficulties as to the Foundation—Commission of Inquiry as to the Stone to be used—First Stone laid—Unavoidable delays—Committee of the Peers—Generous support of Earl of Lincoln—Committee of the Commons—Appointment of New Palace Commissioners—Appointment of Dr. Reid—Difficulties arising therefrom, and arbitration of Mr. Gwilt—The Great Clock—Competition and success of Mr. Dent—Professor Airy and Mr. E. B. Denison referees—Mr. Denison the chief Director—His tone and method of controversy—The Great Bell and its disasters—The Fine Arts Commission—The Architect’s exclusion from it—His scheme for the Decoration of the Building—The Scheme of the Commissioners—Its ideal excellence and practical drawbacks—Connection with Mr. Pugin—Real nature of the aid given by him—Mr. Thomas and the Stone Carving—Mr. Meeson and the practical Engineering—Other assistants in the work—Opening of the House of Peers—Opening and Alteration of the House of Commons—The Architect knighted in 1852—The Great Tower hardly completed at his death. Section III. The Remuneration Question—Its points of public interest—General question of Architectural percentage—Its bearing on the particular work—Original attempt at a bargain by Lord Bessborough—Accepted under protest—Re-opening of the question—First Minute of the Treasury, and reply—Mr. White acts for Sir C. Barry—Second Minute of the Treasury—Counter statement—Third Minute of the Treasury—Submitted to by Sir C. Barry—Protest of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and reply{144}—Practice of the Government after Sir C. Barry’s death—General reference to the question of Expenditure—Summing up of the chief points of the controversy.

The description of the greatest work of Sir C. Barry must necessarily occupy a considerable place in the narrative of his life. Independently of its intrinsic importance, both in a historical and architectural point of view, it was undoubtedly that, to which the best twenty years of his life were devoted, which gradually absorbed his attention, almost to the exclusion of other work, and which, not so much by its labour as by the anxieties, disputes, and disappointments arising during its execution, at last exhausted the health and strength of his iron constitution.

It would be needless to give a detailed description of a building, which tells its own story to the eyes of the public; it would be entirely out of place to attempt a general criticism on its merits. But the points, to which it seems needful to direct attention, are partly historical, and partly descriptive or critical. In the historical part of the notice, contained in the present chapter, it will be necessary to give some particulars with regard to—

I. The history of the competition, of Mr. Barry’s success, and of the opposition with which that success was greeted.

II. The order and dates of the erection of the various parts of the building; the alterations made during the progress of design, and the notice taken of them by Parliament; the new elements introduced into the work by the appointment of Dr. Reid to{145} superintend the warming and ventilation of the building, of the Fine Art Commission to direct its embellishment, and of Mr. Denison and Mr. Dent to construct the great clock; and the assistance received during the progress of the work from other artists.

III. The controversy carried on with Her Majesty’s Government on the subject of the professional remuneration of the architect.

The next chapter is reserved for a descriptive and critical notice, and must refer to—

I. The growth of the design, and the reasons which dictated its general scheme and details.

II. The general description of the plan and design, so far as such description is needed, as a key to the observation of the building itself.


Section I.—On the night of October 16th, 1834, Mr. Barry was returning from Brighton on the coach, when a red glare on the London side of the horizon showed that a great fire had begun. Eager questions elicited the news, that the Houses of Parliament had caught fire, and that all attempts to stop the conflagration were unavailing. No sooner had the coach reached the office, than he hurried to the spot, and remained there all night. All London was out, absorbed in the grandeur and terror of the sight.

The destruction was so far complete, that preservation or restoration was out of the question; the erection of a new building was inevitable, on a scale,{146} and with an opportunity for the exercise of architectural genius, hitherto unexampled in England. The thought of this great opportunity, and the conception of designs for the future, mingled in Mr. Barry’s mind, as in the minds of many other spectators, with those more obviously suggested by the spectacle itself.

The opportunity occurred at a critical time in the progress of architecture, when the long empire of classicism was being broken, and the claims of Gothic began to be recognised. There were all the energy and enterprise abroad, which belong to a period of change. The whole artistic world was on the alert, and the public generally were eagerly desirous that the opportunity should be used to the utmost.

Nor were these desires disappointed. At first, indeed, there was some inclination to keep to routine, and Sir R. Smirke was desired to prepare designs for a new building. But this course was felt to be unsatisfactory. The Government were called upon (by a published letter from Sir E. Cust to Sir R. Peel) to open a competition and appoint a Royal Commission to award the prizes. They readily responded to the call; and in accordance with the recommendations of a Committee of the House of Lords presented in June, 1835, the terms of competition were published. The style was to be “Gothic or Elizabethan;” the drawings were to be sent in (without formal estimates) and the decision pronounced before January 20th, 1836; and four premiums of 500l. each were promised, it being understood that the architect receiving the first premium{147} should carry out the work, unless some grave cause to the contrary should be discovered, in which case he was to receive an extra premium of 1000l.

The period of competition was short; only by unremitting exertion could drawings of such a building be prepared within six months; and certainly by the successful competitor such exertion was unsparingly bestowed. Four or five hours’ sleep was the utmost which he allowed himself during this time, and he paid the penalty of his over-exertion in a short and sharp attack of illness, when the work was done. The drawings were sent in on December 1st, 1835. There were ninety-seven competitors, and Mr. Barry’s plan was No. 64. When once the strain was over, his mind most characteristically threw off its anxiety, until rumours began to ooze out that No. 64 was among the first, and not unlikely to be the chosen design. Then followed a short time of vehement excitement, till on February 29th, 1836, the award was published, and the first premium assigned to Mr. Barry.

The Report of the Commissioners was published. It stated that the imperfect state of knowledge as to sound and ventilation had prevented their giving much weight to these points in their decision; and that therefore they had confined themselves “to the consideration of the beauty and grandeur of the general design, to its practicability, to the skill shown in the various arrangements of the building, and the accommodation afforded; to the attention paid to the instructions delivered, as well as to the equal distribution of light and air through every part of{148} the structure.” On these grounds they assigned the palm to Mr. Barry, and continued as follows:—

... We beg leave respectfully to add, that it is impossible to examine the minute drawings for this design, and not feel confidence in the author’s skill in Gothic Architecture; still, as the beauty of this depends upon the attention to detail, for which the architect has no rule to guide him, but must trust to his practical knowledge and good taste, we humbly, yet strongly, recommend to your Majesty, that his Drawings shall be submitted from time to time to competent judges of their effect, lest from over-confidence, negligence, or inattention in the execution of the work, we fail to obtain that result to which our just expectations have been raised.

We are, however, far from thinking it advisable, should the plan, when revised and perfected, be finally approved of by your Majesty, that it shall be subject to any alteration, that may have the effect of changing its character, or of impairing its unity of design.

We are aware that we are not called upon in selecting and classifying the plans for your Majesty’s approbation to make the cost of any design an object of our consideration; and we fully agree in the prudence of having abstained from requiring the competitors to furnish estimates, which would have been productive of no public advantage, whilst the trouble and expense attending them would have been a considerable bar to competition.... We are conscious that in the plan we have selected for your Majesty’s approbation, the enriched appearance of the several elevations will naturally excite suspicion, that it cannot be carried into effect but at an enormous expense. In the absence of the detail of any portion of the work, we can form no perfect idea of the architect’s intentions, but even with the minute drawings before us, we have sufficient evidence to lead us to the belief that, from the unbroken character and general uniformity of the different fronts, and external decorations being wholly unnecessary in any of the courts, no design worthy of the{149} country, of equal magnitude, can offer greater facilities for economy in the execution.[62]

The proposal here made to appoint a controlling commission (which many conceived to imply a recommendation that the original commission should be continued for this purpose) was unusual, and Mr. Barry was censured by his professional brethren for not protesting against it. Probably he felt that it was impracticable; certainly it was not carried out, and he was one of the last men in the world to submit to minute or vexatious control. Meanwhile he left matters to take their course.

The Report of the Commissioners was approved by a Select Committee of the Houses. An estimate was made by the architect, aided by Messrs. Chawner and Hunt, and afterwards, by the direction of the Board of Works, tested by Messrs. Seward and Chawner. The calculated expense was about 800,000l., exclusive of furniture and fittings.[63] The period fixed for its completion (with little foresight of the difficulties that must intervene) was about six years, and on this notion was based the calculation of the architec{150}t’s remuneration, out of which arose the harassing and painful controversy, to be more particularly narrated hereafter.

All at present seemed favourable; and the general opinion of the public ratified the choice of the Commissioners. The triumph was one of which any man might feel proud; and the work, commenced by the architect at the age of forty, in the prime of life and vigour, might have been expected to be carried out as auspiciously as it had been begun.[64]

But even now the triumph was not without alloy. Professional jealousy did not sleep. Perhaps it was inevitable that some soreness should be felt by the unsuccessful competitors for so important a work. It was certainly natural that sharp criticisms should be pronounced on the selected design. But happily few architects have had to encounter such a clamour as was then raised,—a clamour which certainly passed beyond the legitimate province of artistic criticism, venturing to attack the competency and honesty of the judges, and the private character of the successful architect.

In the first instance the partisans of classical architecture raised their voices in a somewhat tardy protest against the adoption of the Gothic style. They felt it to be a death-blow to the supremacy which Greek and Roman architecture had hitherto enjoyed. An article in the ‘London and Westminster Review,’ by “B.,” stigmatized Gothic as “a mere ‘ecclesiastical style,’ and advocated a change of site, as a less evil than the local necessity for the adoption{151} of obnoxious Gothicism. W. R. Hamilton’s “Letters to the Earl of Elgin” embodied, in an abler and more elaborate dissertation, the same protest against that which the writer conceived to be an antique and venerable barbarism. The rising Gothic school, of course, would not suffer such artistic blasphemy to pass unnoticed. Col. Jackson, in answer to Mr. Hamilton, took a defensive line, denying a monopoly of beauty to Classical architecture, and putting forward for Gothic the plea of nationality, of picturesque or romantic beauty, and of local associations. But this tone did not content Mr. Pugin; he followed with an article in favour of Gothic, breathing a little of the more aggressive spirit of the present Gothic school. He himself had not appeared among the competitors, although one set of designs was believed to have emanated in great degree from him.[65] It will be obvious to any one who knows his designs or writings, that he must greatly have disapproved of many main principles in Mr. Barry’s designs. But the question at issue was the dignity and value of Gothic architecture generally, and he plunged into it with all the enthusiasm of his character.

All this controversy was natural and justifiable; the only objection to the plea of the Classicists was that it came too late, and the whole is interesting, chiefly as marking the important influence which this competition was felt to exercise on the progress of Gothic architecture in this country.

But the storm of personal opposition and abuse which followed cannot be so easily excused. At first{152} anonymous attacks appeared in newspapers on the “highly ornamented and meretricious” character of the design, on the dangerously artistic beauty of the drawings, as tending to mislead the judges, and on the incompetency of the judges themselves, who were designated as mere amateurs. Hints were even ventured upon as to the favourable disposition of the chief commissioner towards Mr. Barry. It was pronounced that the competition was a “complete failure,” and that it ought to be renewed on a different basis, and with a greater freedom of choice as to style. When the design was altered and enlarged, to suit an extension of the site, the alteration was called a plagiarism, and alleged to vitiate the selection of the judges. All this was bad enough, but it is only that to which all public men are exposed, an acknowledged drawback to the great benefit of a free press, which will exist as long as anonymous writing is recognised. If this had been all, it might have been patiently borne.

But it was not all. Far more decided and unusual measures followed. An exhibition of the unsuccessful designs was opened on March 21st, 1836, with a view to invite comparisons. Finally a meeting of the unsuccessful competitors was held, to take steps to set the award aside. The chairman (one of the most distinguished of the unsuccessful competitors) stated the case, as one in which public duty must conquer private friendship, and defy the danger of misconstruction as to the motives of action; and after some discussion it was resolved, that the award of the judges was not confirmed by the public, that the{153} prizemen did not merit the preference which that award gave them, that, in fact, a board of amateur judges was necessarily incompetent, and that a petition should be made to be heard at the bar of the House of Commons, to show cause for a competent commission to revise the whole proceedings.

The resolutions did not pass without energetic protest, especially from Mr. (now Prof.) Donaldson. It was urged by him (as by Sir E. Cust, in a pamphlet subsequently published) with a force and truth fatal to the objectors, that all these proceedings came too late, and that those, who by competing had acknowledged the judges, could not now with any propriety vilify them, and set their decision aside.

The petition however was prepared, and presented by Mr. Hume, on June 22nd, 1836; it was grounded mainly on the fact that four Commissioners only signed the award, and the assertion that in that award considerations of expense and the conditions of competition were disregarded; its prayer was for a fresh investigation of the whole matter. This was followed up in a formal attack by Mr. Hume, on July 22nd, based on the alleged ground of the alterations made in the plan, but showing a characteristic alarm at the prospect of large expenditure. The Commissioners’ award was ably defended by Mr. Tracy (afterwards Lord Sudeley), one of their number. But the question was settled at once by a speech of Sir R. Peel, in which he pointed out, with obvious truth, that if Mr. Hume’s suggestions were adopted the “whole principle of competition would be destroyed,” and the public faith endangered; and{154} expressed a pity (somewhat prophetic) for the successful competitor as a man already “hunted and pursued,” “cui sua mortifera est victoria.” It was impossible to resist such an argument, even had the criticisms on the successful design been impartial, and the unpopularity of it real. But, in fact, the opposition was almost entirely professional, and in the profession itself it did not pass unquestioned. For the debate was followed by the publication of a protest of twelve competitors, against the proceedings of the original meeting of dissentients and the presentation of the petition, on the ground that the steps taken to overturn the petition were “indecorous and unprofessional,” and that the whole proceedings tended to disunion in the architectural profession. This protest was signed by Messrs. Donaldson, Angell, Kendall, Mocatta, Davies, Morgan, Wallace, Hakewill, Robinson, Blore, Lamb, and Bardwell. After this the opposition gradually died away, except in anonymous attacks.

During the whole of this time Mr. Barry, by the advice of his friends, had remained silent. He felt deeply the painful position in which he was placed, and, most of all, certain insinuations, touching not only his own character, but that of Sir E. Cust. It was asserted that he was “Sir E. Cust’s tool,” that the design in fact was that gentleman’s, and he only his draughtsman.[66] It was a relief to know that{155} the Select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to consider the question in March, 1836, gave opportunity for the following evidence from Sir E. Cust[67]

Lord Francis Egerton. You make mention of Mr. Barry’s plan; do you mean to imply you knew it to be Mr. Barry’s plan at the time you considered it?

Sir E. Cust. In answer to that question, I must say that I never had the pleasure of seeing but one design of Mr. Barry’s in my life; I knew nothing of his style, and was not even personally acquainted with him; but I had heard so much of the merits of his plan, that when No. 64 passed in review, which was not till I had seen the greater number of those which were submitted to us, I certainly had a strong suspicion, from the beauty of it, that it could be no other than Mr. Barry’s; but I had nothing in the world to lead me to this belief, excepting the superiority of the design. Neither had I a knowledge, from looking at the plans, of the authors of any of them; I made a guess, it is true, at one or two; but in each conjecture I was mistaken.... I should like to add, as I am the only one of the four Commissioners who had a personal knowledge of Mr. Barry before we entered upon our duties, that, immediately upon my receiving the intimation that my name was to be proposed as one of the Commissioners, I signified to Mr. Barry my desire that we might have no communication with each other, pending the inquiry, and that, whenever we might meet, the subject of the Plans of the Houses of Parliament should never be brought into conversation between us, which he so strictly fulfilled, that, until I saw his plan in the due course of examination, I never had the slightest glimpse of a sketch, nor the slightest hint of any kind from him or from any common friend, which would lead me to infer that No. 64 was the design of Mr. Barry.


After evidence such as this, the calumny could be repeated no longer.

Of the silence which he observed, trying as it was, he never had cause to repent. Many of those who opposed him resumed their relations of intimacy or friendship, when the bitterness of disappointment had passed away, and could hardly have failed to regret the course which they had pursued.[68] On the other hand, the noble and generous support of the friends (most of all of Mr. Donaldson) who stood up to vindicate his character against so strong a professional array, was intensely felt at the time, and never forgotten in after-life.[69] It was the only point in the whole proceedings which he cared to remember. But the trial was a painful one, and, when the attack died away, it left a vague discontent, which bore afterwards many fruits of trouble. It deserves a record as a specimen of the drawbacks which attend on professional success. Fortunately it is an experience which in all the important competitions since opened has never had a parallel.


Section II.—These troubles having at last passed{157} away, and all preliminaries having been arranged, Mr. Barry entered upon his work full of energy and hope. Great public expectation had been excited; the design of the new building was generally popular, and the authorities were prepared to aid and favour its execution in the best possible manner. He did not feel the burden of the work, and the responsibility now laid upon him. For a long time his unremitting exertion was in the truest sense “a labour of love.” Had circumstances allowed of the completion of the building, in anything like the time named, and at an expense such as had been calculated, the work would perhaps have been less beautiful than it is, and would certainly have been far less important in its influence on the “Gothic revival.” But it would have been universally accepted as a brilliant success, and the architect would have been spared many troubles. As it is, the account of the progress of the building shows conclusively (what those who have experience of such works know but too well) that difficulty, controversy, and misrepresentation beset the career of one who has to work for the public service. Had all been foreseen, it cannot be doubted that Mr. Barry would gladly have faced it all in the service of his art. But he would hardly have entered on his work with so much buoyancy and hopefulness of spirit, with so much self-reliance, and so much confidence in the future.

His difficulties arose, first from the inevitable occurrence of delays, for which he was in no sense responsible, and the liberty which he claimed of modifying his design; next, from the appointment of indepen{158}dent authorities to superintend certain portions of the work; and lastly, from the course which the Government took in respect of his professional remuneration. No one perhaps will say of the difficulties which he experiences in life, that he does absolutely nothing to bring them upon himself: but it may be safely declared of Mr. Barry that his one object throughout was the perfection of his work, and he may claim the sympathy which belongs to enthusiastic and devoted labour in the cause of duty.

The first vote of public money was made on July 3rd, 1837, and the first portion of the building, the river-wall, was at once proceeded with. The superintendence of this work was shared by the architect with Mr. James Walker, the well-known civil engineer. A coffer dam was constructed, and the foundations of the wall laid upon concrete, which in some places is as much as twelve feet in thickness. At the very outset of the work unforeseen difficulties were encountered, and unforeseen expenses incurred. The soil of the bed of the river was found to be exceedingly treacherous, in many places little better than a quicksand, and unfortunately the same character attached to the soil under a large portion of the building. Great care however was taken with the foundations, and they were made thoroughly satisfactory; still, as an additional precaution, Mr. Barry resolved not to draw the piles of the cofferdam, as had been at first intended, but to cut them off level with the dredged bed of the river, in order that the lower part of the dam might remain as a kind of fender or outwork to the wall, protecting it against{159} the scour of the river, which has in other places proved so dangerous to the stability of buildings. The wall was faced with large blocks of Aberdeen granite, and completed in 1839, and meanwhile the rest of the work proceeded, till it was brought up as nearly as possible to the level of the terrace on the river wall.

While the foundations were proceeding a commission was appointed to examine and report upon the various kinds of building stone, and select one, which should be at once thoroughly durable, and capable of being worked with tolerable ease and cheapness. The Commissioners were all distinguished men, Sir Henry (then Mr.) de la Beche, Mr. William Smith, Mr. C. H. Smith, and the architect. In 1838 they visited all the best-known quarries, and, after very careful inquiries and experiments, they presented a Report on March 16th, 1839, recommending the selection of the magnesian limestone from Bolsover Moor and its neighbourhood. It was subsequently found that the Bolsover quarries were insufficient to supply in good condition the large quantity of stone required, and for a considerable portion of the building a stone of the same general character (Anston stone) was used.

Well knowing the deleterious effect of the atmosphere (especially the London atmosphere) on all stone, excepting those which, like granite, are fit only for works of the most simple and massive design, Mr. Barry was glad to share the responsibility of the selection with men of high scientific attainment and reputation. That, in spite of all that care and{160} science could do, the stone has shown some signs of decay (in a degree, it may be remarked, greatly exaggerated) is well known; but it is doubtful whether any other selection would have proved more fortunate, considering all the requirements of the case.

It is strange enough, that no public ceremony was thought necessary to mark the real commencement of the most extensive and important building of the time. The first stone was laid privately, by the wife of the architect, on April 27th, 1840.

It was very unfortunate, that the site could only be taken possession of gradually, as the old buildings upon it were gradually relinquished by the public bodies occupying them, and that the exigencies of the public service demanded the piecemeal occupation of the various parts of the building, as fast as they were completed. There could be no grand “opening” of the whole building, no opportunity for forming a judgment of its various parts, in their due relation and subordination to one another. Perhaps to this was due the fact, that throughout the whole course of the work there was no public ceremonial to serve as a recognition of its importance, and of the labour and talent bestowed on its design and execution.

From April, 1840, the work proceeded with great dispatch, in spite of many peculiar difficulties. The site (as has been said) could not be at once occupied; various alterations were suggested, either by the increase of public requirements, or by the experience gained in the progress of the work. Perhaps the most serious difficulty of all was to be found in the{161} appointment in January, 1840, of Dr. Reid to superintend the warming and ventilating of the building, and the controversies (hereafter to be alluded to) which arose from that appointment. These various causes could not but tend to delay that rapid execution which Mr. Barry had expected, and which the public service required.[70] From this delay arose the first of the many troubles, which beset him in the course of his labours, and which must always, in greater or less degree, be encountered by those who carry out works of great extent and complexity, under public authorities, and with public responsibility.

The temporary accommodation provided for the House of Lords was both insufficient and inconvenient, while their old house, which had been surrendered for the use of the House of Commons, afforded every convenience and comfort. It was natural, perhaps inevitable, that the delay in the completion of the new House of Peers should create dissatisfaction. This feeling found its vent in the appointment of a Committee of Enquiry, which began its sittings in 1844, and reported from time to time to the House. In the course of its investigations it was found that several departures from the original design (which are noticed in the next chapter) had taken place, especially in respect of the royal approach and staircase. It was allowed in evidence by Lord Sudeley (Mr. Hanbury Tracy) one of the original Commissioners of Selection, that it “never was the idea, expectation, or wish of the Commis{162}sioners, that Mr. Barry should be confined to the plan approved of.” It was contended by the architect, that the alterations were either alterations of detail, not affecting the main features of the building and not increasing the expense, or else such as were necessitated by the requirements of further accommodation by the Board of Works, and therefore having “direct or implied authority.” But the Committee judged otherwise, and called the “special attention of the House” to the fact, that “alterations had been made by the architect without due authority.”

This Report was equivalent to a public censure. Not only the decision of the Committee itself, but also the tone of much of the examination, naturally caused Mr. Barry the greatest possible mortification. Had the Government assumed the same tone in its dealings with him, it is very doubtful whether he would have been able to continue the work. But the cordial and generous support of the late Duke of Newcastle (then Earl of Lincoln and First Commissioner of the Board of Works), both set him right in public estimation, and gave him personally the greatest encouragement and comfort. His Lordship, in his evidence before the Committee, while assuming for his office the power and responsibility of a rigid control of expenditure, yet urged forcibly the necessity of allowing much scope to the architect of a great public work, and of giving him a free and liberal support. He declared his perfect accordance with Mr. Barry in all the steps hitherto taken, while (in order to meet the views of the Committee) he arranged{163} that for all subsequent alterations the previous sanction of the Board of Works should be formally asked and obtained. The effect of this firm and generous support was at once visible in the milder tone of the second Report of the Lords Committee.

But the matter was not allowed to rest here. The question of the alterations made attracted attention in the House of Commons, and a Committee was appointed to investigate the matter still more closely. The result was a Report declaring that “the Committee impute no blame to Mr. Barry for the course he had taken, and have every reason to believe, that all the alterations hitherto made have conduced to the convenience and general effect of the building.” They approved (as the Lords’ Committee had done) of the new arrangement made by the Board of Works; but they did so expressly on the ground of the “misapprehension” existing as to the course hitherto pursued.

Thus the difficulty, which had seemed most formidable, passed away. It was allowed by the architect that alterations, not involving additional expense, had been made by his own authority. It is clear that, even if the requirements of the public service had not varied, many alterations must have suggested themselves in the carrying out of so great a work. It was allowed on the other side, that some measure of freedom must be granted to an architect, whose professional character and hope of future reputation were at stake, in the endeavour to make his building as perfect as possible. The only question was, whether the design, in its main features, was still a fair development of that originally selected. This being{164} decided in Mr. Barry’s favour, all serious opposition was at an end, while the opposition already experienced acted perhaps as an useful corrective to his natural tendency to alteration and development of plan.

It was, no doubt, in consequence of the difficulties above noticed, that a Commission was appointed on March 17th, 1848, to “superintend the completion of the New Palace.” The Commissioners were Earl de Grey, Sir John F. Burgoyne, and T. Greene, Esq., M.P. They were to “determine upon all designs for fittings, decorations,” &c., “all modifications of plan,” “all arrangements for warming, ventilating, and lighting the building,” subject to the approval of the Treasury, whenever additional cost should be proposed. The office must have been a difficult one, between the Treasury on the one hand and the Board of Works on the other, and although their relations with the architect were of the most friendly character, I cannot find that their appointment greatly facilitated the progress of the work.

Such difficulties must be expected by all who work for the public. No one can question the right of the Houses of Lords and Commons to examine, censure, and indirectly control, those who are working for their service. But then these public servants should be left free from other interference, with undivided power and undivided responsibility.

This was not the case with Mr. Barry. It has been already said, that the most serious difficulties, which he had to encounter, arose from the appointment of various authorities to superintend certain portions of the work, without any dependence on the{165} architect, and without the provision of any tribunal, to which differences between them and him could be referred for final decision. In the case of the New Palace of Westminster, as of other important buildings, experience has tended to show the difficulty (almost amounting to impossibility) of such a division of power and responsibility in the execution of any great public work. This division is likely to suggest itself to official boards or functionaries, anxious to unite all available talent and knowledge in the service of the public. Moreover, what is true in all classes of work is especially true in relation to architecture, many-sided as it is, touching on one side the domain of science, and on the other the domain of art. No architect in his senses is likely to refuse to take advice, in the many and various questions which must meet him in his work, from those who have made such special questions their peculiar study. But to divide power is to paralyse action and destroy responsibility. Even with the most honest intentions, and with the most sincere desire of a good understanding on both sides, differences of opinion must arise between co-ordinate authorities, leading to controversy, which is likely to be obstinate, in proportion to the earnestness and sense of public duty felt by both. Such was certainly Mr. Barry’s experience. The work was so important, that interference on all sides was likely; his own character was certainly one, open enough to suggestions, but ready to resist dictation.

The first serious instance of this difficulty showed itself in the long controversy, which arose between{166} him and Dr. D. B. Reid. It will be enough to glance at its leading features, and the principles which it involved.

As early as 1839 the attention of the Government and of Parliament was directed to the warming and ventilation of the New Palace generally, and especially of the two Houses themselves. Dr. Reid had for many years devoted much time and study to these subjects, and had attained considerable reputation as an authority upon them. He was accordingly consulted by the Government, and formed a plan, by which all chimneys were to be dispensed with, and all the smoke and vitiated air of every room in the building were to be carried into great shafts, forming towers in external design, in which large furnaces were to create a sufficient upward draught. Similar shafts were to convey cold air for general dispersion, and various mechanical contrivances were to aid the general action of the ventilating system.

It was generally felt at this time that some new system must be adopted for the warming and ventilating of great public buildings. Hence, the very novelty and comprehensiveness of Dr. Reid’s plan tended to recommend it to public notice, in spite of much scepticism on the part of practical men. Accordingly, in January, 1840, he was formally appointed at a fixed salary, to superintend the warming and ventilating of the New Palace. This appointment was made, without any consultation with the architect, and without any provision whatever as to the relative subordination of the two authorities thus{167} created. What limit (if any) should be put to Dr. Reid’s requirements of accommodation in space and position, how they were to be reconciled with the æsthetic or constructional character of the design, where the ultimate responsibility was to lie, if the efficiency of the building were seriously affected—all these questions were left undetermined. Nor was any authority provided, to which appeal could be made, if any important difference of opinion should arise between the architect and ventilator.

Division and disagreement were the inevitable result of this state of things. In consequence of Dr. Reid’s requirements alterations became necessary in every quarter of the building. The central tower itself was originally designed to furnish a great ventilating shaft, though it was afterwards gladly retained as an architectural feature. Finally it appeared that about one-third of the whole cubic contents of the building was to be surrendered to Dr. Reid; and it was the opinion of Mr. Barry that the construction would be seriously affected by the ventilating arrangements, and especially that the “fire-proofing” ordered by the Government was all but nullified.

This led to a decisive rupture,[71] attended of course by much controversy and mutual recrimination, into{168} which it would now be needless and improper to enter. The Government determined to refer the case to professional arbitration; Joseph Gwilt, Esq., was selected as arbiter. After a long and careful examination of the statements made, and papers presented by both parties, he made a report in September, 1845, stating his opinion, first, that Dr. Reid’s system, by the use of vertical flues, destroyed the fireproof character of the building, and, next, that the delay which had taken place was mainly due to the division of authority, and the want of detailed drawings explaining Dr. Reid’s views and requirements. He added a recommendation, that the whole authority over the building should be restored to the architect, but that he should be directed to call to his aid some “experts” in ventilation, and to act by their advice.

This award was one in which Dr. Reid refused to acquiesce. The matter was brought, by petition on his part, before Parliamentary Committees in the course of the next year. Various witnesses were examined, chiefly on the question whether a general scheme of ventilation could be applied to the whole building, or whether it would be advisable to ventilate the various parts separately. The final result was a report from the Lords’ Committee, stating that the only impediment to the preparation of the House of Lords for the session of 1847 arose from the delay of arrangements for warming and ventilating after the plan of Dr. D. B. Reid, and recommending that the warming and ventilating of the House of Lords be confided to Mr. Barry. So ended this long and{169} painful dispute, and in 1846 Dr. Reid ceased to have any official connection with the building as a whole. It was found that responsibility could not be divided; a false step had been taken, and that step it was necessary to retrace.

For a time the general care of the ventilation and lighting remained in the hands of the architect, who had the advantage of the advice of Professor Faraday, in the course which he adopted. Subsequently, the ventilation and lighting of the House of Commons were restored for a short time to Dr. Reid, but he was soon after superseded by Mr. Goldsworthy Gurney, who has since been succeeded by Dr. Percy.

Under the able management of these gentlemen, Dr. Reid’s system has been set aside, at least as far as the collection of all smoke into one shaft is concerned; and I believe that the constructional arrangements of the building have been found satisfactory. The change, however, could not be made without great difficulty, in respect of chimneys and ventilating flues, for which Sir C. Barry has been, naturally but unjustly, held responsible.

The next instance of the same difficulty arose from the appointment of an independent authority (Mr. E. B. Denison, Q.C.) to design the great clock and bells, and superintend their erection. No one can question Mr. Denison’s ability, the attention he has devoted to clocks and bells, or his real desire to do good public service. On the other hand, many besides Sir C. Barry have found serious difficulties in working with him, unless prepared to yield up their opinions entirely to his, or to submit to injurious{170} imputations, in the public press, and even in official correspondence. In the course of the work upon the great clock, Sir C. Barry was unfortunate enough to incur Mr. Denison’s hostility, and was assailed accordingly in no measured terms.[72] Several of her Majesty’s Ministers, filling the office of First Commissioner of Works—Lord John Manners, Sir W. Molesworth, and Mr. W. Cowper—shared this misfortune, and were attacked in a similar way; and Professor Airy, at whose instance Mr. Denison was appointed, and who at first acted with him as a joint referee, finally found himself compelled to resign his position.

But it is needless to resuscitate a defunct controversy. I shall only refer to it, so far as I am forced to do so by a “History of the Westminster Clock,”[73] written by Mr. Denison before, but published since, Sir C. Barry’s death. I shall notice merely its statements of fact; but it is right to remark, that, in so doing, I labour under considerable disadvantage. There are indeed many facts, with which Sir C. Barry alone was acquainted, and many points, on which he alone could have declared his opinions and motives of action. The case shall be sketched out here as it is contained in public documents. Those who may wish to refer to these documents will find them in Parliamentary Papers, No. 500 of 1852, No. 436 of 1855, and No. 553 of 1860.{171}

As the clock-tower rose above the building it became necessary to provide for the construction of the great clock and bells. They were to be of enormous size, and required the best possible workmanship.

With regard to the great clock Mr. Barry, by the desire of the Board of Works, applied to Mr. Vulliamy, of Pall Mall, to inquire whether he would be willing to furnish plans, specification, calculations, and working drawings, for the guidance of the Government, it being distinctly understood, that no promise that he should make the clock was to be implied in this proceeding. Mr. Vulliamy agreed to do so, for a fee of one hundred guineas if he should be employed to make the clock, and for a fee of two hundred guineas should such not be the case. On April 24th, 1844, Mr. Barry was instructed by the Board of Works to accept Mr. Vulliamy’s offer.

Subsequently however (in July, 1846) the Government thought it better that a work of such magnitude should be open to a select competition by Mr. Vulliamy, Mr. Whitehurst of Derby, and Mr. E. T. Dent of London, the conditions to be prescribed by the Astronomer Royal, and the plans subjected to his arbitration.

Mr. Vulliamy however declined to compete on these conditions, conceiving that the Astronomer Royal was already committed to approval of Mr. Dent, by a letter written in October, 1844, to the Gresham Committee, stating that he considered the Royal Exchange Clock “the best in the world,” and another letter addressed to Mr. Dent himself, on{172} July 22nd, 1845, containing a declaration, that, in the event of his being consulted as to a clock for the New Palace at Westminster, he should state without hesitation “that he considered Mr. Dent the most proper person to be entrusted with the construction of a clock of similar pretensions” to that at the Royal Exchange. It is needless to say, that this letter was written, when Professor Airy had no idea of being officially chosen as referee in the matter. Professor Airy had however, in a letter to Lord Canning, on June 22nd, 1846, recommended that the work should be given to Mr. Dent, “without inquiry of other makers,” unless his price appeared excessive, in which case he recommended that application should be made to Mr. Whitehurst and to Mr. Vulliamy. For these reasons Mr. Vulliamy objected to accept the Astronomer Royal as sole referee, though he would readily have competed, if the matter were referred to others conjointly with him.[74]

Accordingly, acting on his original instructions, he sent in his drawings and specification in August, 1846, with some remarks on the conditions laid down by the Astronomer Royal. Mr. Dent (declining, of course, to be guided by these drawings) and Mr. Whitehurst also, sent in drawings and specifications, with tenders for the execution of the work. The Astronomer Royal (who still continued to be sole{173} referee) made a report on May 18th, 1847, recommending that Mr. Dent’s tender (for 1600l.) be accepted, both on account of its lowness in comparison with Mr. Whitehurst’s (for 3373l.) and for certain reasons, which led him to believe that the work would be best executed in his hands.

As Mr. Vulliamy had declined competition, he merely added some remarks on his drawings, and on the objection which he had made to the appointment of the Astronomer Royal as sole referee.

Mr. Dent did not as yet receive the formal appointment to make the great clock. He had competed on the understanding that, if any other clocks in the building were supplied by tender or competition, his name should be included among the competitors. Some misunderstanding with regard to clocks ordered for the House of Lords, in October, 1846 (before the adjudication of the Astronomer Royal) from Mr. Vulliamy, led to his withdrawal of his name from the whole competition; but, on explanation of the circumstances, he saw reason to cancel this withdrawal, and continued the preparation of the great clock.

In May 31st, 1848, Mr. E. B. Denison first appears on the scene, in an eminently characteristic letter to Lord Morpeth, accusing Mr. Barry of “acting in concert with Mr. Vulliamy” to set aside the decision of the Astronomer Royal, endeavouring to persuade Lord Morpeth that “he is familiar with the art of clockmaking, contriving to prevent the clock being ordered,” and the like. No proofs are given of these statements, made as they are in a letter to Lord Morpeth, to be submitted to the Commissioners{174} for the New Palace. At the same time, August, 1848, Mr. Vulliamy applied for the two hundred guineas, which was to be his full payment, offering to return one hundred guineas in case of his being employed; but the Commissioners declined to recommend a payment of more than one hundred guineas, on the ground, that there was “no probability of any decision being required at present relative to the person to be employed to make the clock,” (June, 1849).

The matter still lingered, till towards the end of 1851 Mr. Denison was requested by Lord Seymour, the Chief Commissioner of Works, apparently at the suggestion of the Astronomer Royal, to act with that gentleman in the matter of the clock. He at once (to use his own words) examined, so far as was possible, the various plans, and “was soon convinced that none of them would do.” He therefore drew up a general specification, accepted by Mr. Dent, in accordance with which the clock was to be made under the direction of Professor Airy and Mr. Denison, for 1800l., and within the space of two years. This arrangement was formally sanctioned by the Board of Works, and thus for the first time the matter was put fairly in train.

The clock-tower had been in progress since 1843, and was now about 150 feet from the ground. The internal shaft (11 feet by 8 feet 6 in.) was of the same area on plan all the way up, and no hint had been given, that it was not amply sufficient for any clock which was likely to be required. But it now appeared, that the plan of the internal shaft was in{175} some points inconsistent with Mr. Dent’s plan of the clock, and some modifications which appear to have been inconsiderable,[75] were made by Mr. Dent, in order to remove that difficulty. It is to be observed, that the architectural arrangements were all made before the clock was ordered at all.

After this the work proceeded steadily, and (as Professor Airy was abroad for some time) it proceeded under Mr. Denison’s sole direction. So long as Professor Airy was able to take an active part in the work, no difficulty seems to have occurred. But now a proposal was made by Lord John Manners (who had succeeded Lord Seymour) that some other referees should be appointed, and that the architect should be one of them. This proposal seems to have greatly excited Mr. Denison’s wrath; but, considering the trouble which Mr. Barry had already had from the appointment of persons to carry out works on the building, independent of himself and uncontrolled by any superior power, considering also the temper which Mr. Denison’s letters had shown, and the unreserved way in which he had identified his interests with those of Mr. Dent, it will probably not appear so entirely ridiculous or unreasonable to others.

As soon as the arrangements were made public, a memorial of the “masters, wardens, and court of assistants of the Clockmakers’ Company of the City of London” was presented to Lord John Manners, to the following effect, that, the original design and plan of the clock being altered, a fresh competition ought{176} to take place, but that, if this was impossible, some committee of referees should be appointed in conjunction with the Astronomer Royal and Mr. Denison, including the architect and Sir J. (or Mr. George) Rennie, as originally proposed by Mr. Dent. To this memorial the natural answer was given, viz., that the arrangements were already definitely made with Mr. Dent for the construction of the clock, but that the question of additional referees was under the consideration of the Chief Commissioner. A rejoinder was, however, written by Mr. Denison, referring the memorial to Mr. Vulliamy and “a certain set of clockmakers,” instead of treating it as, what it certainly was, an official document of the Company, and containing imputations of motives of underhand conduct against Lord J. Manners, Sir C. Barry, &c., which, as being incapable of formal proof or formal refutation, it is not usual to admit into official documents. Lord John Manners naturally declined to enter into controversy, and proposed Mr. Robert Stephenson as additional referee; but he did not think fit to press the proposal, when it was met by Mr. Denison with a declaration, that the Astronomer Royal and himself would resign, rather than admit of any change in the footing on which they had consented to act.

At this time Mr. Dent died, and his successor, Mr. F. Dent, claimed to succeed to the contract. Some doubt was entertained by the Government, based on legal opinions, whether they were bound to accept this succession. They did not, however, desire to injure Mr. Dent; they were prepared at once to make a new contract, based on the terms of the{177} existing specification, with this single additional provision, that the approval of the clock should “be vested in the Chief Commissioner (then Sir W. Molesworth) acting under the advice and with the assistance of the Astronomer Royal and Mr. Denison, or either of them, should any difference of opinion arise between the two.” This reason of this provision will be obvious from a letter of the Astronomer Royal dated a few days before (November 7th, 1853), in which he stated, that, since Mr. Denison’s appointment at his suggestion, subsequent intercourse, while it had “confirmed his high opinion of that gentleman’s mechanical ingenuity and horological knowledge, had shown that their ideas of the mode of conducting public business were very different, and had at last forced on him the conviction that they could not with advantage profess to act in concert.” Professor Airy had therefore tendered his resignation. After an interview, the Chief Commissioner induced him to withdraw the tender; but it would not appear that he took any active part in the subsequent proceedings.

It however proved that the Board had indirectly recognised Mr. F. Dent as succeeding to the contract. The law officers of the Crown, though declaring that this “did not alter the legal bearings of the case,” advised that the contract should be allowed to go on as before, but that the Board should insist on “the substitution of some other referee or referees.” This last recommendation was not insisted upon, and all accordingly proceeded on the old footing.

The clock was completed by Mr. Dent in 1855,{178} and 1600l. was paid him on account. It however could not be hoisted to its place, and much discussion took place on the question, whether the tower was waiting for the clock, or the clock waiting for the tower. In fact, neither of these things was true. Both were waiting for the bells. As will be seen below, the tower was roofed in by Sir Charles in 1856, after he had waited in vain for some information about the bells, the tenders for which were accepted in 1855, but which were not finally ready till 1859. This necessitated the taking up the bells by the clock shaft, and so the clock could not be fixed till 1859.

Its troubles were not yet over. The weight of the hands was too great, and a vehement controversy, carried on in the usual spirit, took place in the ‘Times’ as to whether the blame of this did or did not rest upon Sir C. Barry.[76] Finally the difficulty was remedied, and the clock has been going on well up to the present time. As a piece of workmanship, it appears to do great credit both to Mr. Denison and to Mr. Dent.

Into the questions connected with the casting and the fate of the great bell it is here unnecessary to enter. All that Sir C. Barry had to do with it was that he recommended the appointment of Mr. Denison and the Rev. W. Taylor, F.S.A., as referees to superintend the formation of the bell; further proposing that certain bell-founders, Messrs. Mears, Warner, Taylor, and Murphy, should be invited to tender for it; but that if one founder alone should be{179} selected, Mr. Mears should be chosen. It is clear from this communication that he fully recognised Mr. Denison’s merits, and was not disposed to allow any personal misunderstandings to interfere with public advantage.

The recommendation was accepted, with the addition of the Chief Commissioner of Works as an official referee, with a view (I presume) to avoid the difficulties which had occurred in the case of the great clock, and to give the head of the department, who had to be responsible for the work, some opportunity of knowing what was going on. Mr. Denison rejected the proposal, on the ground of the Chief Commissioner’s incompetency as to technical knowledge, and the probability that he would “act under the advice of somebody behind the scenes.” A delay accordingly ensued; but in August, 1855, Lord Llanover (then Sir B. Hall), who had become Commissioner of Works, appointed Mr. Denison, Mr. Taylor, and Professor Wheatstone to superintend the casting of the great bell. Six months before Sir C. Barry had informed the Board that the roof of the tower was ready, and, after waiting in vain for information about the bells, he was obliged to cover it in at the beginning of 1856.[77] This necessitated the carrying up the bells inside the tower, which was not originally intended by the architect. The interior was not under his control. Originally Dr. Reid intended{180} a part of it for an air-shaft, and Mr. Gurney subsequently, against the architect’s wishes, used this part for a smoke-flue. The space available was about 8 ft. 6 in. in its smallest dimensions. Some difficulty occurred in consequence, of which much has been made. But it was obviated by the simple expedient of an alteration in the shape of the bell.

The first “Big Ben” was cast by Messrs. Warner, in August, 1856. In November it was brought to Westminster for trial, previous to its being hoisted into its place. It required a clapper of unusual weight, and in a short time it cracked under the test in October, 1857.

The bell was then re-cast under the direction of Messrs. Mears, in April, 1858. It was hoisted to its place, and tried with the clapper in November, 1858. It began to strike in July, 1859, and on the 28th of September it was found to be cracked. Into the charges and recriminations between Mr. Denison and Messrs. Mears, and the consequent action brought by the latter against the former, it is not at all necessary to enter. All that Sir C. Barry had to do with the matter was, that Mr. Quarm, his clerk of the works, and Mr. James, the engineer, gave their best assistance in the fixing and hoisting of the bell, and in suggesting methods for overcoming any difficulties which presented themselves. It is only needful to remark, that the tone of the controversies which followed throws some light on the causes of the difficulties and troubles, to which it has been necessary to refer in the history of the great clock. In themselves these only formed one of the many instances in{181} which Sir C. Barry, during the erection of the New Palace, suffered from the appointment of gentlemen, eminent in their own departments, to superintend works, in connexion with the building, and in perfect independence of its architect. But fortunately every such instance did not lead to so fierce a controversy as that which raged for a time about the clock and bells.[78]

There was one other case of divided responsibility, important as affecting the æsthetic character of the building, to which I must draw attention, as having caused Sir C. Barry much disappointment and anxiety. On this occasion, however, the architect experienced neither depreciation nor discourtesy; he sympathized with the object aimed at, and had reason to admire, in connexion with it, the knowledge, taste, and enlightened interest displayed by H.R.H. the late Prince Consort. Indeed, the qualities which the Prince brought to bear on the discharge of every duty undertaken by him, were perhaps never more{182} conspicuous than in his many labours for the encouragement of the fine arts in this country.

As the building advanced, the public attention was drawn to the great opportunity, which it offered for the encouragement of the arts of painting and sculpture. His Royal Highness, who frequently visited the work, and took considerable interest in its progress, was most anxious that this opportunity should not be lost, and at the same time felt, that only by great care and consultation of various authorities could it be used to the best advantage. Accordingly in Nov. 1841 a Royal Commission (the “Fine Arts Commission”) was appointed, under the presidency of His Royal Highness, and consisting of the following members:—Lord Lyndhurst, the Duke of Sutherland, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Earl of Lincoln, Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl of Aberdeen, Lord John Russell, Viscount Palmerston, Viscount Melbourne, Lord Ashburton, Lord Colborne, The Right Hon. Charles Shaw Lefevre (Speaker of the House of Commons), Sir R. Peel, Sir James Graham, Sir R. H. Inglis, B. Hawes, Esq. jun., Henry Gale Knight, Esq., Henry Hallam, Esq., S. Rogers, Esq., G. Vivian, Esq., Thomas Wyse, Esq. To these were afterwards added the names of Lord Mahon (now Earl Stanhope), T. B. Macaulay, Esq. (afterwards Lord Macaulay), Lord Willoughby d’Eresby, Lord Canning, Lord Morpeth, Sir B. Hall, and the Right Hon. J. Evelyn Denison (Speaker of the House of Commons), Lord John Manners, and the Hon. W. Cowper. Sir C. Eastlake was appointed Secretary.{183}

It is obvious, from a glance at the names of the Commissioners, that great care had been taken to represent on the Board, not only rank and official knowledge, but also artistic and literary excellence. But it will be noticed, that the name of the architect of the building does not occur on the Commission. It was thought, perhaps, that, as having to carry out the views of the Commission, he ought for technical reasons to have no seat upon it. It might also have been supposed, that he would be inclined to look at things too much from one point of view, and endeavour to subordinate painting and sculpture too much to the architecture of the building; so that, in the almost inevitable rivalry of the arts, he would not be a disinterested party. But it may be questioned whether technical propriety should have been allowed to override practical convenience. And it is not likely that a single voice on the Board would have been able to secure to architectural claims more than their due share of attention.

He himself greatly regretted his exclusion, and was inclined to consider it as a slight. He knew that practical questions must constantly arise, on which a few words of information from him might save long discussions, and perhaps serious mistakes. He felt also that few could have studied the building, as a whole, so thoroughly as he had done; that few therefore could be better qualified to give an opinion as to the nature and disposition of works of art, which should not only be beautiful in themselves, but should harmonize with one another, and with the building on which they were “set,” so as to produce a magnifi{184}cent whole.[79] He was, of course, examined by the Commission, and was invited to lay his views freely and completely before it. But this was a very different thing from the opportunities of frequent suggestion and free discussion, which he would have enjoyed, had it been thought right to place him on the Commission. It will perhaps be interesting to quote some passages from the Report which he prepared on this occasion, showing the ideal towards which he desired, gradually but systematically, to tend.

“With reference to the interior of the new Houses of Parliament generally, I would suggest that the walls of the several halls, galleries, and corridors of approach, as well as the various public apartments throughout the building, should be decorated with paintings having reference to events in the history of the country, and that those paintings should be placed in compartments formed by such a suitable arrangement of the architectural design of the interior, as will best promote their effective union with the arts of sculpture and architecture. With this view, I should consider it to be of the utmost importance that the paintings should be wholly free from gloss on the surface, so that they may be perfectly seen, and fully understood, from all points of view, that all other portions of the plain surfaces of the walls should be covered with suitable architectonic decoration, or diapered enrichment in colour, occasionally heightened with gold and blended with armorial bearings, badges, cognizances, and other heraldic{185} insignia emblazoned in their proper colours. That such of the halls as are groined should have their vaults decorated in a similar manner, with the addition occasionally of subjects, or works of art, so interwoven with the diapered ground as not to disturb the harmony, or the effect of the architectonic decorations generally, or interfere with the elementary features of the architectural composition. That such of the ceilings as are flat should be formed into compartments by moulded ribs, enriched with carved heraldic and Tudor decorations. That these ceilings should be relieved by positive colour and gilding, and occasionally by gold grounds with diaper enrichments, legends, and heraldic devices in colour. That the screens, pillars, corbels, niches, dressings of the windows, and other architectural decorations, should be painted to harmonize with the paintings and diapered decorations of the walls generally, and be occasionally relieved with positive colour and gilding. That the door-jambs and fireplaces should be constructed of British marbles of suitable quality and colour, highly polished and occasionally relieved by colour and gilding in their mouldings and sculptured enrichments. That the floors of the several halls, galleries, and corridors should be formed of encaustic tiles, bearing heraldic decorations and other enrichments in colours, laid in margins and compartments, in combination with polished British marbles, and that the same description of marbles should also be employed for the steps of the several staircases. That the walls to the height of from eight to ten feet should be lined with oak framing, containing shields with armorial bearings emblazoned in their proper colours, and that an oak seat should in all cases be placed against such framing. That the windows of the several halls, galleries, and corridors should be glazed doubly, for the purpose of tempering the light and preventing the direct rays of the sun from interfering with the effect of the internal decorations generally; for this purpose the outer glazing is proposed to be of ground glass in single plates, and the inner glazing of an ornamental design in metal filled with stained glass, bearing arms and{186} other heraldic insignia in their proper colours, but so arranged that the ground, which I should recommend to be of a warm yellowish tint covered with a running foliage or diaper, and occasionally relieved by legends in black letter, should predominate, in order that so much light only may be excluded, as may be thought desirable to do away with either a garish or cold effect upon the paintings and decorations generally. That in order to promote the art of sculpture and its effective union with painting and architecture, I would propose that in the halls, galleries, and corridors, statues might be employed for the purpose of dividing the paintings on the walls. By this arrangement a rich effect of perspective, and a due subordination of the several arts to each other, would be obtained. The statues suggested should be, in my opinion, of marble of the colour of polished alabaster, and be raised upon lofty and suitable pedestals placed close to the walls in niches surmounted by enriched canopies; but the niches should be shallow, so that the statues may be as well seen laterally as in front. The architectural decorations of these niches might be painted of such colours as would give the best effect to the adjoining paintings, being relieved in parts by positive colours and gilding, and the backs of them might be painted in dark colours, such as chocolate, crimson, or blue, or they might be of gold for the purpose of giving effect to the statues.

“I would propose that Westminster Hall, which is 239 feet long, 68 feet wide, and 90 feet high, should be made the depository, as in former times, for all trophies obtained in wars with foreign nations. These trophies might be so arranged above the paintings on the walls as to have a very striking and interesting effect. I would further suggest that pedestals, twenty in number, answering to the position of the principal ribs of the roof, should be placed so as to form a central avenue, 30 feet in width, from the north entrance door to St. Stephen’s porch, for statues of the most celebrated British statesmen, whose public services have been commemorated by monuments erected at the public expense, as well as for{187} present and future statesmen whose services may be considered by Parliament to merit a similar tribute to their memories. The statues which have been already proposed to be placed against the walls between the pictures, I would suggest should be those of naval and military commanders. The subjects of the paintings on the walls, twenty-eight in number, 16 feet in length, 10 feet in height, might relate to the most splendid warlike achievements in English history, both by sea and land, which, as well as the statues that are proposed to divide them, might be arranged chronologically. This noble hall, certainly the most splendid of its style in the world, thus decorated by the union of painting and sculpture and architecture, and aided by the arts of decoration as suggested, would present a most striking appearance, and be an object of great national interest.”

Side by side with these proposals, it may be well to place the substance of the principal Reports of the Commission presented to Her Majesty.[80]

After examining the various methods and styles of painting, fresco, oil, encaustic, and stereo-chrome (or water-glass) painting, and the best materials for sculpture, they had proceeded in the first instance to assume the superintendence of purely decorative works, and invite competition even in wood carving, metal-work, and stained glass. Fortunately they were led to reconsider this step, finding no doubt the insuperable practical difficulties which it involved, and to report “that experience proved that it was on many accounts advisable to leave with the architect the responsibility of all strictly decorative works.” They{188} add that “he had undertaken on his own responsibility the whole of the decorative works, except the stained glass,” and that they deemed it right to abstain from all interference, and disclaim all responsibility in the matter.

The tone of the Report appears to convey some surprise and disapprobation of the course adopted by the architect; but any one who considers the wide interpretation which may be given to the word “decoration,” and the absolute impossibility of distinguishing between decorative and constructional work, or of securing unity of effect, when the building is in one hand and the decoration in another, will probably conclude, that, as he was not a member of the Commission, no other course was open to him, consistent with due care, either of his own reputation or of the public service.

The Commission accordingly confined their attention to “works of art,” and decided that (generally speaking) the painting and sculpture should be historical, and that their subjects should be chosen from English history and literature.

They then adopted a scheme, drawn out by a Select Committee, consisting of the Prince Consort, Lords Lansdowne, John Russell, Morpeth, and Mahon, Sir R. H. Inglis, and Messrs. Macaulay, Hallam, and Wyse, for the choice and distribution of the various works of art. Westminster Hall, which in the architect’s scheme formed one of the most magnificent features, was strangely omitted from the scheme of this Committee, and left in its present bare and dreary condition. St. Stephen’s Hall, as occupying{189} the site of the old House of Commons, was set apart for the statues of “men who rose to eminence by the eloquence and ability which they displayed in that house,” and for paintings “illustrating great epochs in constitutional, social, and ecclesiastical history, from the conversion of the Saxons to the accession of the House of Stuart.” The Peers’ and Commons’ corridors, leading from the central hall, were to contain paintings illustrative of the great contest, which began with the meeting of the Long Parliament and ended in 1688. It had been already determined, that the House of Peers should contain statues of the barons who signed Magna Charta, and ideal paintings of Religion, Justice, and Chivalry, faced by corresponding historical pictures, the Baptism of Ethelbert, the Committal of Prince Henry by Chief Justice Gascoigne, and the Investiture of the Black Prince with the Order of the Garter. The Peers’ robing-room was to contain scriptural subjects, illustrative of the “Idea of Justice on Earth, and its development in Law and Judgment.” The Royal antechamber (the “Prince’s chamber”) was to contain “portraits relating to the Tudor family,” copies of the famous tapestry, representing the defeat of the Armada in the old House of Peers, and small bas-reliefs of the Tudor period. The Royal gallery was to be filled with paintings relating to the “military and naval glory of the country;” and the Queen’s robing-room with subjects from the legend of King Arthur. The Painted chamber was to illustrate “the acquisition of the country’s colonies and important places, constituting the British{190} Empire.” The Royal gallery, robing-room, and landing-places of the great staircase were to contain the statues of English sovereigns down to Queen Victoria.

It is clear that the two schemes were constructed on totally different principles. The scheme of the Commission was, so to speak, an ideal one, drawn up with great skill and knowledge, so as to cover the whole field of English history, and bring out those salient points, which might properly be connected with the palace of the legislature. The scheme of the architect was a practical one, drawn up with reference to the various halls and galleries of the building, and designed to present as grand and perfect a spectacle as possible to those entering and traversing the building. It would have been very desirable that these schemes should have modified and interpenetrated each other. Ideal perfection need not have suffered, had some deference been paid to the actual conditions of locality. But such was not the case. The Commission indeed refer to the architect’s scheme as enabling them first to “select fit localities” for the works of art, and next to “proceed to a general scheme suitable to the localities selected.” Yet it is difficult to trace in the arrangements actually made any reference to the architectural character of the halls selected, or to the actual convenience of exhibition of the works of art themselves.

The original recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee, which gave rise to the Commission, was that “a plan should be determined on, by which the{191} architect and the artists employed should work not only in conjunction with but in aid of one another.” The actual fact is, that, in some cases, the works of art are utterly at variance with the architecture, and ill-adapted to their position. Thus statues, beautiful in themselves, are executed on such a scale as to ruin the architectural effect of the halls, in which they are erected. This is the case with the statues in St. Stephen’s Hall, and the fine group by Gibson in the Prince’s chamber. In some cases fine paintings, such as Herbert’s magnificent picture of Moses delivering the Law, are in positions in which the public can rarely see them, while St. Stephen’s Hall, through which the main tide of people flows, is still left without a single picture. The series of statues of the British sovereigns is to be divided among three or four different localities, so that it will be impossible to see them at one time, or have them executed on one uniform scale. These things ought not to have been, and it is hardly possible that they should have taken place, had the Commission included one member, who had before his eyes the building as a whole, and the scale and succession of its various parts. Their labours have led to great and valuable results: it is a pity that these results should have suffered, even in a slight degree, from want of practical knowledge.

In order to carry out the ideas embodied in the scheme of the Commissioners, great exhibitions of cartoons and sculpture took place in Westminster Hall. Premiums were offered, and commissions were given to those who gained the highest places in this{192} grand competition. The work is still going on, and (it is to be hoped) will be continued, till something like the ideal proposed in the reports shall be realized. Few buildings could be better adapted to serve as a British “Walhalla.” The natural wish for the perpetuation of memorials of great men and great events has filled St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey with monuments, seldom fitted for places of Christian worship and Christian sepulture. Such monuments might well find a place in future in a building, which is at once a palace of the Sovereign and the home of the legislature,—a building moreover, which by its extent and by its publicity gives the greatest possible scope for such commemoration of the past. When we look at what has been already done by the hands of our most celebrated artists, it is impossible not to feel that already the object of the Commission has been, to a great extent, attained, and a great opportunity nobly used. It is to be hoped, that even now such modifications may be made, during the continuance of the work, as may do away with all such drawbacks as those noticed above, and secure the harmony needed for grandeur of effect.

But, if it was Mr. Barry’s fate thus to encounter opposition and difficulty, it was his good fortune in the execution of his great work to draw round him men, who would work heartily under his direction, and yet would bring to their work all the enthusiasm and the high artistic spirit, which are usually supposed to belong only to independent workers. The opportunity was a great one; the scale of the building, the supplies given from the public purse, and{193} (for a considerable time) the large discretion left to the architect in the employment of those resources, were at that time unprecedented. Mr. Barry felt the greatness of the opportunity. Not only did he desire to make his building a treasure-house of art and a sculptured memorial of our national history, but he also hoped to raise up in the course of its execution a school of decorative art, guided, but not servilely confined, by the examples of Gothic antiquity, and bringing to the evolution of Gothic principles all the resources of modern thought and science.

His ideas on the former point are embodied in the communication to the Fine Arts Commission, which is quoted above. The appointment of the Commission, of which (as has been remarked) he was not made a member, to a great extent took the highest artistic decoration out of his hands; and, but for his strenuous resistance, would have interfered even with purely architectural details. Still, however, much remained in his power; and his hopes in this direction did not fail of considerable accomplishment.

Nor was he disappointed in his other expectation. In the extraordinary progress of decorative art during the last twenty years the work in the New Palace of Westminster may justly claim a large share of influence. Infinite pains were bestowed on every detail; in some cases it seemed, that the dignity of the building as a whole, rather than the absolute need or object of the particular part under consideration, was allowed to determine the care and elaboration to be bestowed upon it. In the whole of the enormous{194} mass there is hardly a square yard, which was not the subject of careful study. It was rather an understatement than an exaggeration of the truth, when the architect was forced to state to the Government that “no less than between 8000 or 9000 original drawings and models have been prepared for it, a large portion of which have emanated from my own hand, while the whole of the remainder have been made under my own immediate direction and supervision.” It was impossible that this extraordinary labour should be wholly thrown away. It could not fail to advance that cause of decorative art, to which it was so unsparingly devoted. But Mr. Barry was well aware that such a work could not be carried out by the unaided exertions of a single man. It was his good fortune to give direction and stimulus to a crowd of artistic coadjutors; it is the duty and privilege of those, who cherish his memory, to record with the most unreserved acknowledgment the valuable aid which he received from them.

Foremost among all stands the name of the late Mr. Pugin. It was (as has been said) during the erection of the Birmingham Grammar School in 1835 that he first became known to Mr. Barry, and at that time his help was first received in designing certain details of the interior. From the first moment of their acquaintance the connection between them became warm and friendly. Agreeing in their entire devotion to art, and differing widely in character and in artistic principles, they had perhaps just that amount of sympathy and diversity, which leads to mutual appreciation, co-operation, and friendship. Unre{195}strained as their intercourse and mutual criticisms were—impossible, in fact, as it would have been to restrain either in the assertion of what he conceived to be orthodoxy in architectural faith—that intercourse was untroubled by the slightest misunderstanding or estrangement of feeling, from the time that they first saw each other in Birmingham, till the day when Sir C. Barry was one of the few mourners who followed his friend to the grave.

The first aid which he received from Mr. Pugin was under the pressure of shortness of time in making the original design. Working under Mr. Barry’s own eye and direction, Mr. Pugin sketched for him in pencil a complete set of details, in a style perhaps bolder, less carefully proportioned and less purely English, than would have been adopted by himself. In the design they differed toto cœlo. Mr. Pugin would{197} have recommended irregular and picturesque grouping of parts, utterly at variance with the regularity and symmetry actually adopted. Except in details, he neither had, nor could have had, any influence whatever, and those who compare the details of his own buildings with those of the New Palace will readily see that even here his influence, however valuable, was chiefly indirect.

As soon as he was appointed architect to the New Palace, he immediately thought of his friend, and resolved to invite him to his aid. Convinced that Mr. Pugin was at that time unrivalled in his knowledge of Gothic detail, admiring his extraordinary powers as a draughtsman, carried away by sympathy with his burning artistic enthusiasm, he could wish for no other coadjutor. The invitation was accepted, and a connection was established equally honourable to both artists. No man was more original than Mr. Pugin. He held strongly certain principles, on the evolution of which he greatly disagreed with his friend: he was one whose name and genius could at all times command an independent authority. Yet for the furtherance of his art he was willing to accept a distinctly subordinate position, and to work under the superintendence and control of another. His acceptance of the post, and the spirit in which he discharged its duties, showed the generosity and unselfishness which were his well-known characteristics. Nor, on the other hand, could Mr. Barry be unaware of the danger of calling in a too powerful coadjutor. He knew the almost inevitable risk which he in{196}curred of being supposed to wear other men’s laurels, of having all that was good or spirited in the details attributed to Mr. Pugin,[81] and of finding it difficult or impossible to control an enthusiasm, which might work in what seemed to him undesirable methods. But these things he resolutely put aside for the sake of an aid, which he thought likely to improve his great building, and which he knew to be genial and inspiriting to himself.[82] That Mr. Pugin was the last man in the world to encroach on another man’s authority or credit he knew, and that this confidence in his friend’s character was not misplaced is shown by the strong disclaimer which he put out, when an attempt was made to attribute to him more than he felt to be his due. The misapprehensions of others he could afford to disregard.

After Mr. Barry’s appointment as architect, he still received the same aid in preparing detailed drawings for the estimate, most of which however, by changes in design, were afterwards set aside. Finally, at his recommendation, Mr. Pugin was formally appointed superintendent of the wood carving, and in that capacity he directed, first the formation of a valuable collection of plaster casts of the most famous examples at home and abroad, and next the execution of the wood-work, ornamental metal-work, stained glass, and encaustic tiles throughout the whole building. But in all cases it was thoroughly understood between them, that the architect’s supremacy was to be unimpaired. Every drawing passed under his eye in all cases for supervision, in very many for alteration. Mr. Pugin’s originality and enthusiasm never interfered with this understanding: he would carry out vigorously and heartily what he himself could not altogether approve.[83] His suggestions and criticisms, freely given and freely received, were invaluable; and his enthusiasm, even in its eccentricities, was inspiring and irresistible. For more than five and{198} twenty years the intercourse between the two friends and coadjutors continued, unbroken by any differences except in taste, and, when Mr. Pugin was struck down by his fatal illness, Mr. Barry felt that his loss was irreparable.

In the stone-carving Mr. Barry was fortunate in securing aid, only less valuable than that of Mr. Pugin. In the same work, at Birmingham, he discovered Mr. Thomas, then working as an ordinary stone-carver on the building. He was struck by his ability, skill, and energy, and at once resolved to aid in raising him to a position more worthy of his talents.{199} After experience of his powers, he entrusted to him, under the same supervision, the entire direction of the stone-carving throughout the building. The result proved the wisdom of the choice. Under Mr. Thomas’s direction, stone-carving made a great step, which was felt in its effect upon architectural sculpture throughout the country, and which has conduced powerfully to the remarkable progress which it has since made up to the present time. With the general results of his exertions Mr. Barry was fully satisfied, and rejoiced greatly when his success in this capacity enabled him to take and to support elsewhere an independent position.

But an architect’s work is not purely artistic. The construction both of the New Palace itself and of the scaffolding used in its erection, taxed heavily scientific knowledge and ingenuity.[84] In fact, the whole timber or framed scaffolding, with travellers, by which a stone, perhaps elaborately carved, could be raised from the ground, and placed in its proper position, had seldom, if ever, before been employed on so large a scale. The constructional difficulties introduced by the need of preservation of old buildings, and of piecemeal occupation of the new ones, were great. But even greater were those caused by the frequent change and increase of official requirements in the course of the work; and most of all by the appointment of Dr. Reid, and his enormous claims of space{200} for warming and ventilation, never known till the whole arrangement of plan and construction was settled.

Into all these difficulties Mr. Barry himself fully entered. He felt a positive pleasure in the expedients by which they were to be met; and in the invention of such expedients he was full of resources, and bold even to the verge of rashness. But his knowledge was more practical than theoretical, and in his work he received the most valuable assistance from the scientific knowledge, ingenuity, and power of contrivance of Mr. Meeson, who was for a long time his chief assistant in this branch of office work. His aid was zealously and unobtrusively given, and heartily appreciated. Working side by side with him, and bringing practical energy, daring, and ingenuity to carry out much difficult and hazardous work, Mr. Quarm did good service to the building, and showed an enthusiastic loyalty and devotion towards his chief.

Meanwhile in the office Mr. Barry had associated with himself a series of able and zealous assistants, who were destined hereafter to make themselves a place in the architectural profession. He certainly was able to kindle in them a rare degree of enthusiasm for art, side by side with a strong personal attachment to himself, arising chiefly from sympathy in this enthusiasm. And it can hardly be doubted, that his peculiar refinement of detail and proportion, his careful study of every part of a building, and his resolution to attempt, even in comparatively trifling works, originality and unity of effect, must have{201} left their traces on the designs of those who had been associated with him.

It would be an almost endless work to recount the names of those who worked under his direction in the decoration of the New Palace. Messrs. Hardman in respect of the stained glass, Mr. Crace in the ornamental painting, Mr. Minton in the supply of the encaustic tiles, took far more than a commercial interest in the work. It is said truly, that much of the beauty and vigour of mediæval works arises from the fact, that the actual decorators worked artistically, with a view to the excellence of their work, and not merely to the wages to be received for it. If this spirit is reviving, or has revived, in the present day, much is probably due to the work on the New Palace at Westminster, where there certainly was in a very high degree this feeling among those who took subordinate parts in the work. It can be hardly wrong to attribute some measure at least of this feeling to the enthusiasm for art which actuated the leader. It is certainly a duty to record the deep sense which he entertained of it, and the support and encouragement which it gave him.

With these difficulties and with these supports, the work proceeded steadily and energetically. The time which elapsed from the actual commencement of the work in 1840, to the opening of the main part of the building in 1852, cannot be considered long, if the extent of the work be calculated, and its various drawbacks allowed for.

In February, 1847, the House of Peers was for the first time occupied, not with any ceremonial opening,{202} but for ordinary public business. Some difficulty was at first apprehended as to the acoustic properties of the House; but as soon as the Peers became more used to their new House, the difficulty was greatly diminished, if not entirely removed.

Meanwhile the rest of the building proceeded rapidly. The public approaches were completed, the committee-rooms gradually prepared for use, and at last the House of Commons was opened. The temporary house having been very convenient, the members of the Lower House had not been very anxious to enter their new quarters. When they did so, they were somewhat dissatisfied with the change. In the construction of the House the architect had acted upon the instructions and advice of the leading officials; and the general effect of these instructions had been greatly to diminish the dimensions originally proposed, for the accommodation both of the House and the public.[85]

When the House met, with an attendance increased beyond its usual standard by excitement and curiosity, it was thought that this process of diminution had been carried too far, and it was resolved to increase{203} the accommodation of the lobbies and galleries. To this alteration no artistic objection could be offered. But it was conceived, without, as Mr. Barry thought, sufficient trial and experience, that there was difficulty in hearing; and members, accustomed to the lowness of the temporary house, immediately concluded that it was the height of the present building which was in fault. It was imperatively ordered that the ceiling should be lowered, and the only way in which this could be done was by the introduction of an inner ceiling with sloping sides, cutting the side windows in half, and ruining the proportions of the room. Never was a work carried out by an architect more unwillingly. Mr. Barry could not feel that a sufficient trial had been made, to prove the necessity of the alteration. When it had been carried out, he no longer considered the House as his own work; and never would speak of it, or even enter it, without absolute necessity.

In 1852 the Royal approach was completed, and Her Majesty made, for the first time, her public entrance through the Victoria tower and the Royal gallery into the House of Peers. At the same time the great public approaches through Westminster and St. Stephen’s Hall were ready for use.

The main portions of the building might now be considered as finished, and the architect soon after was knighted by Her Majesty at Windsor. It was at a time, when he began to feel keenly the attacks made upon him, and the harassing controversies in which he had become involved. Such circumstances gave an unusual value to the honour conferred upon{204} him by the Sovereign—almost the only official honour which in this country is offered to artistic or scientific merit, although it has to be shared with those who have no pretensions to either.

From this time the building proceeded quietly towards completion. The towers were the last finished. There was not, of course, the same pressure of necessity for their completion; the nature of the soil under their foundations demanded great care and deliberation in raising the superstructure; and their design perhaps gave more trouble to the architect than that of any other part of the building. “Nothing,” it has been truly said, “tended more to retard a general appreciation of the architectural merits of the New Palace than the necessarily slow and protracted realization of its chief vertical features and skyline.” The central tower was the first finished; next came the clock-tower; and finally the great mass of the Victoria tower received its last stone. The great flagstaff rising above was added subsequently. It was indeed the last object which engaged his professional attention in the building, and was left unfinished at his death. The drawings of the flagstaff, and the lantern-work at the base, with its screens and flying buttresses, were made by his son (E. M. Barry, Esq.) in accordance with his known intentions. But it was on a temporary wooden staff, that the great flag was hoisted “half mast high” on the day of Sir Charles’s funeral.


Section IV.—It is impossible in a life of Sir C. Barry to omit notice of the long, harassing, and{205} unsuccessful controversy, which he carried on with the Government in relation to his remuneration for the New Palace at Westminster.

To his friends it is a painful subject; its nature and its effect upon his feelings and his health they would be glad to forget: but the true statement of the case is not only due to his memory, but also highly important, both to the architectural profession and the public. It often happens (it may probably be so in this case) that a battle lost to the individual by the influence of special circumstances, and by the use of overwhelming power against him, may prove to have been virtually won for those who come after him. It will be my endeavour to admit into the narrative as little as possible any expressions of mere opinion, and to tell the story chiefly through the main official documents put out on both sides, omitting the minuter details of the controversy, and the disputes on trivial points, which naturally arose from the antagonistic position produced by its continuance.

The question was briefly this, whether the architect of the New Palace at Westminster was entitled to the regular professional remuneration of five per cent. commission upon the outlay on the works executed under his direction; or whether there were special circumstances in the case, which justified a departure from the ordinary practice, and the remuneration of his services on a lower scale. In the course of the discussion arose another question, hardly less important to the public, whether the Treasury were justified, by their position and by their view of{206} the requirements of the public service, in constituting themselves judges of the question in dispute, in refusing arbitration on doubtful points, and in enforcing their decision, by withholding all remuneration, until its principle should be accepted by the architect.

This is no place for discussing at any length the abstract justice and expediency of the principle of five per cent. commission regularly recognised by all architects as the method of their professional remuneration. The principle of a percentage evidently involves some considerable inequality, when it is applied to works of different characters, requiring for the same outlay very different degrees of skill, labour, and responsibility. It seems hard that the architect of a church, which requires elaborate designs, should be remunerated at the same rate as the architect, who designs a simple warehouse, or the engineer who raises great masses of brickwork, requiring but two or three simple drawings. Like other principles not wholly equitable in their operation, it is recommended by its simplicity and practicability, and, in fact, to those who regard their work as a profession, and not a trade, its commercial inequality is compensated by the corresponding inequality of artistic opportunities.

But it is certainly not an excessive rate of remuneration. Compared with the profits of the builders, who execute the work, it is absolutely insignificant; nor can the remuneration of an architect of eminence bear comparison with that of an engineer occupying the same position in his profession. The period over which the expenditure on architectural work{207} is spread is comparatively large; the preparation of designs and working drawings, the incessant superintendence, and the duty of “measurement,” require a large and expensive staff of assistants. It is, therefore, rare that an architect “makes his fortune,” even if he is engaged in extensive works, and even if his gross receipts are considerable.

So much only is it necessary to remark on the general principle. On the particular case I must add (what will in all probability be generally allowed) that a building of a highly ornate and artistic design, carried out for a public body, whose requirements and instructions varied greatly from time to time, and requiring constant attendance on official personages and Parliamentary Committees, was one for which the regular percentage would be (to say the least) no excessive remuneration. It is true that the gross outlay was very great, but it was spread over a period of about twenty years. It absorbed almost the whole of the architect’s time, and gradually destroyed most of his private practice. After 1842 that practice, which would naturally have continued to extend, both in scale and area, began to diminish, and it is likely that pecuniarily he would have been nearly as well off, if he had been able to devote himself to private work. There was nothing in the general features of the case, which could make it right to treat it as an exceptional one.

It is therefore necessary to inquire into the special circumstances, which were held by the Government to require a deviation from the established usage.

The designs and estimates were accepted, and the{208} works commenced on July 3rd, 1837, without any official communication with the architect on the subject of remuneration. On March 1st, 1839 (i. e. more than nineteen months after the commencement of the building) he received from the Commissioners of the Woods and Forests (the “Board of Works”) a copy of a letter from the Treasury, approving of the following recommendation from the office of Public Works,[86] and ordering it to be observed in the remuneration of the architect:—

The subject of the remuneration to be made to Mr. Barry, as the architect selected for superintending the erection of the New Houses of Parliament, having been pressed upon the attention of this Board, in consequence of the opinions expressed at different times in both Houses of Parliament against the principle of remunerating architects by a commission or percentage upon the amount of their estimates, we beg leave to state to your Lordships, that in deference to those opinions, we have given the subject our best and most mature consideration; and that having carefully considered all the circumstances of this case, the extent and importance of the building, the nature and description of the several works, the very large amount of expenditure contemplated in Mr. Barry’s estimate, and the period within which it is proposed that such expenditure should be incurred,—we are therefore of opinion, that the sum of 25,000l. will be a fair and liberal remuneration for the labour and responsibility to be imposed on Mr. Barry in the superintendence, direction, and completion of the intended edifice.

(Signed) “Duncannon,
B. C. Stephenson,
A. Milne.”


A request on the part of the architect to be informed of the principle on which the sum of 25,000l. was calculated, having been refused, he addressed the following reply to the office:—

Foley Place, 22nd April, 1839.

Sir,—As the Board has not deemed it right to make me acquainted with the principle upon which the amount of remuneration for my services in respect of the intended New Houses of Parliament has been determined, I cannot, of course, form any opinion, and will not question the correctness of the data upon which it is founded. I make no doubt, however, that the proposed amount, although very far short of the customary remuneration which has hitherto been paid to architects for extensive public works, is considered by the Board to be liberal under all the circumstances of the case; and therefore, with this impression, I have no wish to do otherwise than bow to its decision. In so doing, however, I cannot, in justice to myself and the profession to which I belong, refrain from expressing most decidedly my opinion that the amount is very inadequate to the great labour and responsibility that will devolve upon me in the superintendence, direction, and completion of the intended edifice; and I trust when this is made manifest, as I feel sure it will be, upon the completion of any considerable portion of it, that there will not be any indisposition on the part of the Board (especially if the work should prove to be satisfactory to the public at large) to award to me the remainder of the remuneration which has hitherto been customary on similar occasions.

“I am, &c.,

(Signed) “Charles Barry.”

To this letter no rejoinder was made. On January 2nd, 1841, the architect again addressed the office, stating that “the time was now arrived when some{210} permanent arrangement must be made for the measuring and making out the accounts of work executed,” and requesting authority to make the requisite arrangements, the expense of which he conceived “to be included under the head of contingencies.” The office replied (January 18th) that this duty belonged to the architect as such, and that the expense was provided for in the professional remuneration already fixed. To this statement, on January 28th, the architect replied, pleading that the expense of measurement had been borne by the Board whenever less than five per cent. had been paid to the architect. He received a formal reply, declining to alter the view already taken by the office, and the correspondence was closed.

It is on the letters of Mr. Barry above referred to, particularly on that of April 22nd, 1839, that the case of the Government against him mainly depends. It is clear that his case would have been far stronger, had he at once ventured to refuse the 25,000l. offered him, standing upon the invariable custom of the profession, and the fact that his appointment had been made, and the work carried on for more than nineteen months, before any such conditions were mentioned. On the other hand, it is equally clear that he was placed in a position of much difficulty by the action of the Government. He was already thoroughly absorbed in the work, and had devoted much time and trouble to its commencement. His success in the competition had excited great and almost unexampled opposition and misrepresentation; he knew, therefore, that he had enemies, who would{211} gladly seize any opportunity to produce a breach between him and the Government, especially on a subject on which public opinion was at least greatly divided. It appeared to him very hard that he should be placed in such a position. It was natural that he should endeavour to take a middle course, and to accept the terms under a protest, which would leave the matter open for future consideration. It may be added that the Government, by tacitly receiving a letter, which contained such a protest, and expressed a hope of such future reconsideration, must bear some of the responsibility of the unsettled state in which the question was left, and of the controversy which accordingly arose.

The whole matter now remained in abeyance for eight years, during which time the work proceeded. It had been supposed that the building would be completed in about six years, and at an expense of about 707,000l. But, as has been elsewhere shown, from various causes, some wholly beyond the architect’s control, some for which he was responsible, and for which the approval of the Government and of Parliamentary Committees had been obtained, the time occupied in building was greatly protracted, and the expense proportionately increased. It was conceived by Mr. Barry and by his friends that the “bargain” made with the Office of Works, if it had ever had any legal value, had now vitiated by the entire change of the circumstances on which it was originally based, and that the time was come when the whole matter must be re-opened. Accordingly he addressed a letter on February 6th, 1849 to the{212} Commissioners for the superintendence of the completion of the New Palace, which contains a full and forcible statement of his case. It will be found in the Appendix. Its substance must be stated here.

After referring to the fact that he was appointed architect unconditionally, and that not till nineteen months after his appointment did he hear of Lord Bessborough’s proposition, he states that, having vainly asked for an explanation of the grounds of that proposition, he had acceded to it conditionally and under protest.

He then contends that the bargain as such has been annulled by acts of the Government, but that he is willing to meet the grounds alleged in Lord Bessborough’s letter. Accordingly, to the statement of “the extent and importance of the work,” he answers, that “the responsibilities of the architect are more than proportionally increased, and the demands on his skill, taste, and judgment are far greater than in works of less magnitude.” To the somewhat vague reference to “the nature and description of the work,” he replies by inviting a comparison between the New Palace and any other modern building, to show that in “variety of design, elaboration of details, and difficulties of combination and construction, the labour and responsibility incurred are greater than in any modern edifice,” and by referring to official delays and perplexities, and the control of Parliamentary Committees added to that of the Government. “It will not be irrelevant to mention (he adds) that already between 8000 and 9000 original drawings and models have been made, a large por{213}tion from my own hand, and the remainder under my immediate supervision.” The “statement of the large expenditure contemplated, and the period in which it was proposed that this expenditure should be incurred,” he meets by remarking, that “the annual expenditure has not been greater than that incurred in other public works on which the full percentage has been paid,” and that from circumstances over which he had no control, especially the difficulty of obtaining the whole site, and the introduction of Dr. Reid’s system of ventilation, the period of the execution of the building had been, and must be, greatly increased.

He then enumerated extra duties which had been thrown upon him, on which he might fairly claim remuneration.

He concludes by stating that his appointment had caused the loss of about two-thirds of his private practice, and declaring that the ordinary remuneration of five per cent. would be, to say the least, not more than an adequate return for the “labour, responsibility, and sacrifices incurred in conducting the largest and most elaborate work of the period, to which he had devoted almost exclusively the best period of his professional life.”

Of this letter it would appear that no notice whatever was taken for about five years. On February 8th, 1854, a communication was received from James Wilson, Esq., in reply to some letter of the same purport (not printed) from Sir C. Barry to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in accordance with a Treasury Minute on the subject.{214}

Its main points are:—

(a.) An assertion that a percentage of three per cent. had been accepted by Sir J. Soane, Sir R. Smirke, and Mr. John Nash (attached as architects to the Board of Works), and by Mr. Burton (unattached) for public works, and an assumption based upon this statement, that the fixed sum of 25,000l. had been calculated by Lord Bessborough as approximately 3 per cent. on the estimated outlay of 707,104l.

(b.) A statement (which it would have been somewhat difficult to substantiate) that a fixed sum had been “not unfrequently” substituted for a percentage, in order to “avoid an extension of the works and consequently of the cost,” such as that to which they advert in respect of the New Palace.

(c.) An attempt, afterwards abandoned, to represent Mr. Pugin’s appointment to superintend the internal fittings as relieving the architect of labour and responsibility, and accordingly to deduct the salary (200l. a-year) paid to that gentleman, from Sir C. Barry’s professional remuneration.

(d.) An offer (which they considered “fair and even liberal”) to allow three per cent. instead of five on the gross outlay, and to reimburse the architect for the expenses of measurement. In this offer it will be observed that they at once relinquish (it may be presumed as untenable) the principle of the fixed sum, and the bargain made by Lord Bessborough in 1839.

To this letter, after a delay caused by serious illness, Sir C. Barry sent on March 14th, 1854, a detailed reply. This reply addresses itself to each{215} of the three points of Mr. Wilson’s argument, and shows—

(a.) That the practice of the three per cent. remuneration had been abolished for seven years before Lord Bessborough’s proposition was made; that in former times, when the percentage was paid, the architects were relieved of all measuring and making up accounts, which was done by the Board; and that since 1832 five per cent. had been paid upon many important public works, including the British Museum, the National Gallery, the General Post Office, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, &c.

(b.) That the increase of expenditure was caused by circumstances not under the architect’s control, especially by the requirements of Dr. Reid, and that, as it involved a corresponding increase of labour and responsibility, it formed no reason for diminution of the rate of payment.

(c.) That the post held by Mr. Pugin was not such as to relieve the architect from responsibility, inasmuch as it was distinctly a subordinate one.

(d.) He concludes by reminding the Treasury that mere reimbursement of expenses by no means meets the claim for measurement, and by urging once more his right to the customary remuneration.

This letter was so far effectual, that in the correspondence which follows we hear no more of the precedents for the percentage of three per cent., or of the deduction of the salary of Mr. Pugin.

But to the claim advanced in the letter no reply was made for more than six months. Application was{216} made by Sir Charles for a payment of 5000l. on account, and in October 2nd, 1854, the Treasury consent to make the order (for a payment, be it observed, due under any circumstances) “on the distinct understanding that they do so in conformity with the principle of remuneration already laid down.”

The architect in reply on October 12th says, in reference to this paragraph, “I presume that I am to understand that their Lordships desire not to be prejudiced by any such payment in regard to the principles which they have laid down.... This advance, therefore, I receive as on further account of my claim, without prejudice either to the views of their Lordships on the one hand or of myself on the other; and I propose to avail myself of it accordingly.” Receiving no answer for a week, he drew the 5000l. accordingly, and on October 30th received a letter from Mr. Wilson, declining to consider that there are any “questions in suspense as to the principle of remuneration, since their Lordships’ communication must be held conclusive,” and actually insisting that the acceptance of the 5000l. must be construed as an “admission of the principle which they have laid down.”

Under these circumstances Sir Charles naturally felt it absolutely necessary to place his interests in professional hands. Accordingly, J. Meadows White, Esq., the eminent solicitor, continued the correspondence on his behalf, and at once obtained a withdrawal of the inference advanced by Mr. Wilson.


A request from Mr. White (on Nov. 20th, 1854) for further information on some points connected with extra services remained unanswered for six months, and was finally met, at an interview with Mr. Wilson on May 26th, 1855, by a withdrawal of the point relating to Mr. Pugin, an offer of three per cent. on all the expenditure, and of one per cent. for measurement on all works to which measurement applies. A complaint on Sir C. Barry’s behalf of the ex parte statements made by the Board of Works to the Treasury and kept from his knowledge, and a request to be furnished with some information as to their nature, were met, after another month’s delay, by a refusal. On this Mr. White addressed a counter-proposition to the Treasury, in a letter of July 14th, 1855, in which, after alluding to the large amount of “extra services” rendered,[87] and the claim of interest on the large sums which, by the Treasury’s own estimate, were due to the architect, and had been arbitrarily deferred, he proceeds as follows:—“I feel that I am justified in adhering to this part of the claim (for extra services) which I fully believe would extend to a sum of at least 10,000l. The claim for interest, if worked out in detail, would amount to at least as much.”

He then, after asserting strongly Sir C. Barry’s legal right to the whole five per cent., submitted a counter-proposition—viz., to accept the three per cent. commission and one per cent. for measurement on all certified works, provided that the claim for extra{218} services and interest were referred to some eminent person (Sir John Patteson, Sir E. Ryan, or Mr. J. Shaw Lefevre were named), or a specific sum were paid to close all such claims.

It will be, of course, understood that, in lieu of this payment of four per cent. and the extra claims, Sir C. Barry was prepared to accept the regular five per cent., and withdraw all extra claims whatever, which indeed, but for the attempt to diminish what he considered to be his fair remuneration, would never have been insisted upon at all.

To this letter no official reply was given, and accordingly a general reference of the whole question to arbitration was proposed. Both these propositions were rejected. The services for warming, ventilating, &c., previously ignored, were, after a consultation with Lord Palmerston, agreed to by Mr. Wilson, and 500l. per annum offered as a remuneration for them. In other respects the former terms were adhered to; all reference, either general or special, was unequivocally refused; and an offer to accept 5000l. in payment of all other extra services was apparently left unanswered.

The Treasury now proceeded to the final step. A minute was drawn up at a meeting of the Lords (Jan. 29th, 1856), simply reiterating the former terms (except with regard to the warming, &c.), and concluding as follows:—

“My Lords continue to be of opinion that their terms are not only fair but liberal. Considering, moreover, that this matter has gone on for nearly twenty{219} years without any distinct understanding being arrived at, my Lords are of opinion that it is inconsistent with the public interests that it should be any longer delayed, and that they therefore, as far as they are concerned, must record these terms as their final decision on the points at issue. They are pleased, therefore, to direct that no further payment be made on account, until a final settlement of the past and an agreement for the future be concluded.”

This peremptory minute was framed without any further communication with Sir. C. Barry, and presented to Parliament without any of the correspondence on the subject. It was also published in the ‘Times’ of the next day without his receiving any notice of the publication. Accordingly he felt compelled to send to the ‘Times’ next day a brief statement of facts, remarking on each of its clauses in succession.

A last application was made by Sir C. Barry, in an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Wilson, in which he advanced a plea that the original 25,000l. fixed by Lord Bessborough represented a percentage, not of three, but of four per cent. The plea was evidently an unfortunate one, entering as it did on statements, which, from the nature of the case, it was almost impossible to substantiate with any certainty, and, moreover, taking the case off the broad grounds on which it stood, to return to an agreement long since dropped on both sides. The Treasury were not slow to avail themselves of the advantage thus given them. In a minute of July 4th, 1856, they again traverse the whole ground, return to{220} the original bargain, and conclude that Sir C. Barry has failed to establish his position; they refer to the correspondence in 1839, and his acceptance under protest of the sum offered, expressing a doubt (which, except in official circles, has not been generally felt) “whether they have not taken too liberal a view of the question;” and state that, as the allowance of one per cent. for measurement, &c., applied to some works for which the services of a surveyor were not ordinarily required, it was more than Sir C. Barry’s due, and should be considered as giving a full equivalent for any extra services.

It was clear, both from the tenor of this decision and the spirit which it manifested, that Sir Charles Barry could hope for nothing more from any friendly negotiation with the Government. Two courses were open to him. He could have brought the question to a legal issue, standing upon the vitiation of the original agreement, and the invariable practice of the profession. Had he been dealing with a private person, he would undoubtedly have done so; and, in looking back on the question, his friends are sometimes tempted to regret that he did not do so, even against Her Majesty’s Government. But there was serious difficulty in attempting such a course; and he himself was much shaken in health, and had lost much of the sanguine confidence of earlier days. He could not hope for much of that support of his claims in Parliament, which is almost the only influence capable of materially affecting a Government, nor could he rely on the aid of public opinion. The only other course was to submit, under protest, to terms which he felt{221} unable any longer to resist. He addressed accordingly the following letter to the Treasury:—

Old Palace Yard, 15th July, 1856.

Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 10th instant, transmitting to me, with reference to my letter to Mr. Wilson of the 23rd ultimo, a copy of a further Minute of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, dated the 4th instant, relative to my remuneration as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster.

“It is with the deepest regret and disappointment that I find that their Lordships have put aside my proposal to refer all matters in dispute between us to arbitration. Their Lordships must be perfectly aware that no individual in my position could with the least chance of success contend with the Government, and therefore that the power of decision virtually rests with themselves. But this very circumstance I had hoped would ensure their determination to refer the case to some authority, the impartiality of whose decision could not be impugned.

“However, as their Lordships have thought fit to determine otherwise, and as it is evident, from the tenor of their Minute of the 4th instant, that no further arguments in support of my claim could alter their determination, I have no course left but to yield to necessity, and accept the terms dictated to me; in effect, to submit to a sacrifice of what I fully believe to be fair and legitimate claims, amounting, exclusive of a large sum for interest on payments delayed, to 20,000l. at least.

“But, while thus compelled to yield to the decision of their Lordships, I feel it due to myself and to my profession to state that I do not admit the fairness of the arguments, or the accuracy of the statements, upon which it is manifest this decision has been founded; and further, that, after a reconsideration of the whole case, and especially of all the reasons{222} which have been urged on the part of the Government, I remain firmly convinced that the arrangement forced upon me in 1839 has been entirely set aside by the non-fulfilment of any one of its conditions; and my claim ought in justice, to say nothing of liberality, to have been allowed in full.

“With respect to the completion of the works in hand, I beg to add, that as every other architect employed on public building has been, and is still being paid his full commission, nothing would induce me to continue my services upon the reduced rate of commission proposed but the strong and natural desire I have to complete a work, which, by the devotion of so many years of labour and anxiety, I have endeavoured to render not unworthy of the country.

“I am, &c.,
(Signed) “Charles Barry.

Sir C. E. Trevelyan.

It will be easily understood that so important a professional controversy could not go on without attracting the attention and enlisting the sympathies of the architectural profession. Accordingly, when the publication of the last Treasury minute showed the determination of the Government to set aside both the claims of professional practice and the offer of independent arbitration, the Architectural Institute felt that they could no longer keep silence.

The Council accordingly addressed Mr. Wilson as follows:—

Royal Institute of British Architects,
16, Grosvenor-street, 9th July, 1856.

Sir,—The attention of the Council of this Institute has been given for some time past to the correspondence between Her Majesty’s Government and Sir Charles Barry, respecting his professional remuneration as the architect of the New{223} Palace at Westminster, from its commencement to the present time, with especial reference to the principle involved therein.

“After careful consideration, the Council deem it incumbent on them to forward to you, in your official capacity, the following resolution, unanimously passed at their meeting on the 5th instant, as a protest against the course proposed to be adopted by Her Majesty’s Government on this occasion:—

That five per cent. upon outlay has been, and is, the only rate of charge recognised by the profession, as fairly remunerative in the average practice of architects.

That it is to be deeply regretted that it should be proposed to depart from the above rate in the instance of the New Palace at Westminster, a building involving in its design and execution the exercise of the highest professional attainments.

That the example which would be set by Her Majesty’s Government, should the course proposed be carried into execution (a legal appeal against their decision being practically impossible), is to be regarded as disastrous to the future prospects of architecture as a liberal profession in this country, as calculated to lower the character of public monuments in England, and unworthy the Government of a great nation, whose obvious duty it is adequately to foster and protect the genius of its artists.’

“We are, &c.,
(Signed) “Charles C. Nelson,} Hon. Secs.
M. Digby Wyatt. } Hon. Secs.

They received the following reply:—

Treasury Chambers, 15th July, 1856.

Gentlemen,—The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury have had before them the resolution passed at your meeting on the 5th instant, on the subject of Sir Charles Barry’s professional remuneration as the architect of the{224} New Palace at Westminster, which was inclosed in your secretaries’ letter of the 9th instant.

“Although my Lords cannot recognise your right to call upon Parliament or Her Majesty’s Government to conform to the regulations or opinions of the society in arrangements which may be made with professional gentlemen undertaking public works, their Lordships are anxious that no misunderstanding should exist in the minds of the respectable body which you represent on the subject of the remuneration of Sir Charles Barry as architect of the New Houses of Parliament.

“Their Lordships have therefore directed me to transmit to you herewith the enclosed copy of their Minute of the 4th instant, in order that you may be informed of the views by which this Board has been governed in the matter.

“You will learn from that Minute that this Board has not in its recent correspondence with Sir Charles Barry proposed any new principle with regard to the professional remuneration of architects employed on public works, but has, on the contrary, endeavoured to carry out in a liberal spirit an arrangement, made in 1838, in consequence of opinions expressed in Parliament, and acquiesced in by Sir Charles Barry in the following year, as shown by the correspondence quoted in the inclosed Minute, which took place in 1838 and 1839, and you will observe that the only objection then raised by Sir Charles Barry regarded the amount of remuneration proposed, and not the principle on which it was based. Their Lordships feel that you might, with greater propriety, call upon a member of your own body for an explanation of the motives by which he was governed, rather than address a remonstrance to Her Majesty’s Government against the deviation, acquiesced in by him in 1839, from the rate of charge recognised by the profession.

“I am, &c.,
(Signed) “James Wilson.”

The correspondence ended with their acknowledge{225}ment of this reply, accompanied by a statement that “it was only after a careful examination of the whole of the Parliamentary papers connected with the subject, that the Council arrived at their own conclusions thereon, and framed and unanimously adopted the resolution in question.”

It was not indeed likely that the Government would allow this interposition to modify action, which they had formally adopted and publicly announced. But the interposition itself was very gratifying to Sir C. Barry, as an acknowledgment that he was fighting the battle of the profession, and a testimony of the sympathy, which went with him in a difficult and unequal contest.

It would have been well, if his letter of the 15th had been absolutely final. But, as was perhaps inevitable, difficulties of detail arose in carrying out the scheme laid down by the Treasury, and some acrimonious correspondence was the result. Under the irritation caused by these petty disputes, the architect once more embodied his views in a formal protest, which was sent to the Board of Works, and met by a rejoinder from Mr. H. A. Hunt, their surveyor. Neither the protest nor the rejoinder add much new matter to the facts of the case, and they need not be recorded here.

One important matter still remains to be noticed. After Sir C. Barry’s death, his son, Mr. Edward M. Barry, who had long been his assistant in the work, received from the Board of Works an invitation to undertake the task of superintendence of “the works at the New Palace at Westminster, which had{226} received the sanction of this Board, and for which Parliament had made grants of money,” the rates of his remuneration to be “the same as those paid to his late lamented father.” Mr. Barry, of course, rejoiced to have the opportunity of completing his father’s work, and was willing to accept the rate of remuneration, in which Sir Charles had already been forced to acquiesce. At the same time he felt it right to inform the Board of Works that he did so in consequence of this desire to carry out Sir Charles Barry’s designs; “otherwise,” he adds, “I should have felt bound, on public grounds, and in justice both to myself and the architectural profession, to have called the attention of the Chief Commissioner to the fact that the remuneration forced upon my father’s acceptance by the Treasury minute of January 29th, 1856 (against the injustice of which he always protested) is:—

“1. Less than is customary with architects of standing, and adequate in the case of the Palace.

“2. Less than has been, and is now, paid to architects employed by the Government on other works.

“3. Less than was recently offered by the Government to architects of all nations, in the public competition for the new Government Offices.”

In November, 1863, in sending in his professional charges, calculated at the rate of four per cent., Mr. Barry remarked on the extension of the work beyond the amount which was calculated upon in the first instance, and for which money had been voted at the time of Sir C. Barry’s death, and on certain addi{227}tional duties which had devolved upon him as architect. At the same time, considering the case as one of an exceptional character, on which he had already maintained the abstract principle in his letter of June 8th, 1860, he left the matter entirely in the hands of the First Commissioner. The result was that in March, 1864, the Office of Works informed him that, by order of the Treasury, they were ready to “pay a commission of five instead of four per cent. upon the expenditure for the past and present financial years” (March 31st, 1862-1864). For all subsequent works upon, or connected with, the New Palace of Westminster, Mr. Barry has received, without question, the customary remuneration of five per cent. On the bearing of this proceeding on the question at issue it is hardly needful to remark.

Before collecting in one view the results of the whole controversy, there is one subject closely connected with it, to which it is necessary briefly to advert.

In the course of the controversy constant allusions were made to the great expenditure on the building, and especially to the great excess over the original estimate. In fact, the original agreement imposed by Lord Duncannon had for its object the prevention of such excess, by removing what was, I suppose, held to be a pecuniary temptation to the architect to incur it.

On the whole subject, therefore, of expenditure it is necessary to add a few remarks.

The original estimate for the erection of the building was 707,104l. and it is not unnatural that those, who{228} contrast this estimate with the amount actually expended, approaching two millions, should look upon the excess as something monstrous. The comparison however of the two sums gives an entirely erroneous view of the case.

The summary on the opposite page, presented to Parliament by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1850, of all sums expended, or to be expended, on the New Palace at Westminster is substantially correct, and will throw some light on the subject.

(a.) It will be observed that of the gross sum nearly 500,000l. is apportioned to furniture, fittings, and other decorations (not included in the estimate).

The largeness of this amount is due in great degree to the determination, expressed in the Fine Art Commission, and welcomed with acclamation by the public, of making the erection of the building a great opportunity for the encouragement of the fine arts of painting and sculpture. This determination seemed to the architect to necessitate a far greater amount of splendour and perfection in the whole internal fittings; for it was his opinion, strongly urged on the Commission, that the masterpieces of the painter’s and sculptor’s art, if they are to have their full effect, must be in harmony with the decorations surrounding them, and fix (as it were) the standard of their magnificence.

It will be, of course, a matter of opinion how far this principle has been successfully carried out in the New Palace at Westminster; but probably few will question its theoretical soundness, or be surprised



  £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
For Works included in the Original Estimate 522,170 0 0 159,934 0 0 682,104 0 0
For Works specially excluded from the Estimate 55,907 3 2 32,000 0 0 87,907 3 2
For additional Works in the construction of the Building 35,063 3 1 14,735 4 4 49,798 7 5
For Additions to, and Modifications of, the original Plans of the Building 19,150 1 0 32,564 5 0 51,714 6 0
For extra Charges consequent upon Changes in Materials and Workmanship 51,721 6 2 32,000 0 0 83,721 6 2
For additional Cost occasioned by increased Ratio of Contracts, &c. 53,400 0 0 21,000 0 0 74,400 0 0
For Works incidental to, but forming no Part of, the Works of the Building 27,409 4 0 16,177 7 2 43,586 11 2
For incidental Charges upon the Funds appropriated to the Building, but not connected with the Works thereof 38,972 13 8 5,000 0 0 43,972 13 8
For extra Works in Warming, Ventilating, and Smoke Arrangements 77,533 19 0 45,583 11 2 123,117 10 2
For extra Works in Fire-proofing, in consequence of Warming, Ventilating, and Smoke Arrangements 74,825 0 0 10,050 0 0 84,875 0 0
For Furniture, Fittings, Fixtures, and Decorations 93,195 9 0 404,204 11 0 497,400 0 0
For Purchase of Property for the Site 82,382 11 4 .. .. 82,382 11 4
For the Architect’s and Engineer’s Charges, and Cost of Superintendence 41,510 6 3 50,757 0 7 92,267 6 10
£ 1,173,240 16 8 824,005 19 3 1,997,246 15 11


that Sir Charles took advantage of that increase of taste for artistic beauty and magnificence, which had grown up since his designs were originally formed. In any case the expenditure on this head must fairly be regarded, as in very great degree unconnected with the first estimate, and deserving to be judged on its own merits.

(b.) It should next be noted that nearly 208,000l. was taken up by the arrangements for warming and ventilation, and for the extra work in fire-proofing which they rendered necessary.

The largeness of this amount will surprise no one who remembers that for these arrangements one-third of the cubical contents of the building was demanded; that the Central Tower itself belongs to these extra works; that large portions of the building were carried up for the purpose of providing continuous air and smoke flues, in the cross roofs connecting those in the main building; and that great changes of material were introduced, such as the substitution of iron for slated roofs, and of iron girders and brick arches for ordinary floors.

(c.) Besides these two chief causes of increased expenditure, it must be added, that the purchase of extra site and the cost of works (such as the river wall) expressly excepted from the estimate, absorbed nearly 170,000l., and that a sum of 97,000l. was devoted to purposes connected with the building, but not properly forming part of the works.

These sums amount in all to 970,000l. The rest of the excess is really and properly connected with{231} the works, on which the estimate was made. On this it is right to observe—

(a.) That the treacherous nature of the soil, discovered after the estimate was made, necessitated a large increase of expense on the foundations (nearly 50,000l.).

(b.) That the failure of the Bolsover stone, and the employment of the harder Anston stone, involved a great increase of labour upon it, and therefore of expense.

(c.) That the very fact, already noticed, of the piecemeal occupation of the building, necessitating all kinds of temporary arrangements, obstructing progress, and often preventing work from, being done in the easiest and simplest manner, also tended in the same direction.

(d.) That large additional requirements were made for the public service in the course of the erection of the building, including the restoration of St. Stephen’s Crypt, the provision of residences for the Clerk of the House of Commons, the Clerk of the Crown, the gentlemen in charge of the ventilation of the building, &c.

(e.) That the upward tendency of prices of labour and material, within the time occupied by the erection of the building, naturally told against the public, and very greatly increased the needful expenditure.

All these causes were at work in swelling the excess of expenditure. Some of them were altogether{232} beyond the architect’s control; for others he was partially responsible.

It was his earnest desire that the magnificence of the building should be worthy of its grand scale and still grander destination. He thought that, in the pursuit of this object, expense was to a great nation a secondary consideration; for the sum voted year by year for the purpose was after all a sum comparatively insignificant in the aggregate of the public estimates. It is undoubtedly true that his own sanguine temperament led him to undervalue difficulties and expense in carrying out what he thought desirable, and his fastidious taste, showing itself in numerous alterations, tended to increase actual expenditure. But these errors (if errors they were) were but the excrescences of that ardent desire for perfection, which was his real and principal motive. Nor does it seem that the public verdict would greatly condemn his theoretical principles. Those who have attacked the excess of expenditure (when they have not followed mere fashion or acted in pure ignorance) have done so, because they conceived that perfection had not been attained, and that accordingly the expenditure had been so much waste. On the final opinion, which shall be entertained of the building in itself, will depend also the opinion, which will prevail on the secondary question.

Much, however, of the action of the authorities in the matter of the remuneration seemed to proceed on the principle, that, since an architect by increasing expenditure increases his percentage, he should not be allowed to profit by what is at least primâ facie a{233} misdoing. On the general bearing of this principle on the remuneration by percentage it is not needful to speak. But those, who knew Sir C. Barry, will be well aware that, in any increase of expenditure, nothing could be further from his thoughts than the idea of his own pecuniary aggrandisement, and nothing was more painful to him than the imputation, expressly or indirectly, of any such unworthy motive.

The fact is, that the present building, and the one for which the estimate was made, although they are one in general principles of plan and design, are yet wholly different both in size and in decoration. To the bearing of this fact on the remuneration controversy, as well as on the question of expenditure, it is needless to do more than refer. The building must be judged in the matter of costliness as it stands; and, when its cubical contents are estimated, and its style considered, it will be found that excessive costliness has been attributed to it without adequate ground.

Such is a brief statement of one of the most interesting and important professional controversies of late years.[88] Without assuming a right to pronounce judgment, certain points may not unfairly be noticed, as summing up the really important features of the case.

I. The attempt to supersede the regular method of professional remuneration by the offer of a fixed sum for{234} the completion of the work was practically abandoned by the Government. The question between them and the architect turned on the amount of the percentage (whether it should be four or five per cent.), a question which made a difference to him of some 23,000l., but which did not settle any great principle, or materially affect the public interest, in the general question of the relations of the Government to the architects employed in public works.

II. It cannot be questioned that the Government made use of their power to enforce an acquiescence in their terms, irrespectively of the arguments by which they sustained them. This they did (as will be noticed)—

1. By not unfrequent interpositions of delay.

2. By an attempt (afterwards withdrawn) to construe the acceptance of a payment on account, due on any supposition, to be an acquiescence in the principle of their proposal.

3. By ordering all payments whatever to be withheld until the architect yielded to their terms, and by ignoring all claims for interest, on payments thus deferred and afterwards acknowledged to be due.

4. By refusing all arbitration, either on the general question or on that of the “special services.”

III. It is evident that the real ground of their action, and the reason why that action was allowed to pass almost unquestioned in Parliament,[89] was the{235} great increase of expenditure on the building, the delay in its completion, and the unpopularity into which, from these and from other causes, it had been brought. But for these things, the whole responsibility for which they were inclined to throw upon the architect, they would not have ventured, and probably would not have wished, to deal with him on a principle, which, in no other case (not even in the completion of the New Palace itself) did they show any determination to enforce. How far their course can be justified by these grounds of proceeding, it must be left to others to decide.

Such is the general narrative of the erection of the building. It has been given at some length, as forming a curious and not unimportant chapter in the history of modern English architecture. Such critical notice of it, as is necessary here, must be reserved for the next chapter.{236}



I. History of the Growth of the Design.—Influence of external circumstances on the design—Lowness and irregularity of site—Limitation of choice to Elizabethan and Gothic styles—Choice of Perpendicular style—Original conception of the plan—Question of restoration of St. Stephen’s Chapel—Use of Westminster Hall as the grand entrance to the building—Simplicity of plan—Principle of symmetry and regularity dominant—Enlargement of plan after its adoption—Conception of St. Stephen’s porch—The Central Hall—The Royal Entrance and Royal Gallery—The House of Lords, its construction and decoration—The House of Commons, and its alteration—Great difficulty of the acoustic problem—Enlargement of public requirements—Alterations of design in the River Front—The Land Fronts—The Victoria Tower—The Clock Tower—General inclination to increase the upward tendency of the design, and the amount of decoration. II. Brief description of the actual building.—Its dimensions—Its main lines of approach; the public approach—The royal approach—The private approaches of Peers and Commons—General character of the plan—The external fronts—The towers—Criticisms on the building by independent authorities.

I. In considering the growth of the design of the New Palace at Westminster, it is necessary to remember, that it was not left entirely free, to be determined by the taste of the architect or the requirements of the building, but was influenced by the site, by the existence of Westminster Hall, of the Courts of Law, and of a portion of the old St. Stephen’s Chapel, and by the limitation to either the Elizabethan or Gothic style dictated by the judges.

The disadvantages of the site were so obvious—so{237} obvious, that proposals were made to rebuild the Palace on other sites, among which may be noticed the high ground in the Green Park and Trafalgar Square. But in the end the feeling for the old site prevailed, and architectural effect was not unnaturally sacrificed to historical associations.

The site chosen was low; approached moreover from the higher ground of Trafalgar Square, and (in close juxta-position with the principal front) from Westminster Bridge, the parapet of which was then so high as actually to conceal a large portion of the front on the first view from the Surrey side of the river, and to give it the effect of being completely sunk. In some degree this defect might be, and has been, remedied, by the erection of a bridge (as at present) at a much lower level of roadway, and with low parapets; and this was a plan which Mr. Barry always strongly urged. But the only effectual remedy would have been to raise the building on a great terrace (as is done at Somerset House), so as to bring it on a level with the parapet of the bridge. It would have been a costly scheme; but high cost would hardly have deterred him from recommending it. The fatal objection was, that it would have left Westminster Hall and the Abbey, so to speak, in a hole; and this could not have been tolerated. The lowness therefore of the site might be mitigated, but could not be remedied.

Moreover, the site was irregular, almost wedge-shaped in form; and on the land-side Westminster Hall and the Law Courts (the former not parallel to the river front), made a continuous elevation impos{238}sible. These points presented great difficulty in plan, especially to one, who held to regularity and symmetry as main principles of design. The Law Courts might be and (he thought) ought to be removed; the other difficulties still remained inevitable.

Between the prescribed styles of Elizabethan and Gothic there was no long hesitation. The former appeared a bastard style, unfit for a building of such magnitude. Gothic was at once chosen. Of all its styles Mr. Barry admired most the Early English; but he then thought it hardly fit for other than ecclesiastical purposes. Finally he chose Perpendicular, thinking that it would lend itself most easily to the requirements of the building, and to the principle of regularity, which he intended to introduce in his design. But, if he could have had a site to his mind, and had been left free to choose his style, there is little doubt that he would have preferred Italian. The example most frequent in his thoughts was Inigo Jones’ grand design for the Palace at Whitehall; his own general ideas were manifested in the great design for the New Public Offices, which was the last important work of his life. He actually prepared some sketches and studies for an Italian design, in defiance of the instructions to the competitors.

But he felt that, under all circumstances, Gothic was the style best fitted for the New Palace, and, if Westminster Hall was to be made a feature in the design, the only style possible; and he was consoled for the loss of Italian mainly by the thought of the facility given by Gothic for the erection of towers, the one method by which he thought it possible to




redeem from insignificance a great building, in which convenience forbade great general height, and for which a low and unfavourable site had been provided.

Under the limitations thus imposed from without, his mind began to work on the conception of a design. The original idea of his plan was sketched out on the back of a letter, while he was on a visit to Mr. Godfrey, one of his early friends. Even this contained the germ of all that was to follow. But the first plan, which he drew out with care, exhibited every one of the great features of the executed building; and even at this early stage his views extended beyond this plan with a view to the completion of the design. He proposed to enclose New Palace Yard, erecting at the angle a lofty gate-tower, visible from Bridge Street to the Abbey. Beyond this point was to be a grand quadrangle, in which the Victoria Tower should be the principal feature, and from that Tower a grand approach was to lead straight to Buckingham Palace.

In considering the plan, Mr. Barry at once saw that Westminster Hall must either ruin any design, or form a principal feature in it. St. Stephen’s Chapel was in ruins; it was difficult to restore it with certainty; and if it were restored, it was natural that it should be reclaimed to ecclesiastical purposes.[90]

{240} This he therefore thought it better to avoid; but the crypt remained, to be preserved and rescued from its former use, as the Speaker’s Dining-room, to a more worthy purpose.[91] He therefore resolved at once to make Westminster Hall his great public approach, and to carry the public through it, and through a hall occupying the site of St. Stephen’s Chapel, right into the centre of the site provided. There were difficulties in the way; the position of the hall and chapel at right angles turned the line of approach; there was a want of parallelism in the one, and of perpendicularity in the other, to the line of the river front, and so to the principal axis of the building; the vast dimensions of the hall itself would tend to dwarf any other hall to which it formed the entrance. But he felt that these were secondary considerations, not worthy of counterbalancing the grandeur and the appropriateness of the general conception. The verdict of public criticism, both at the time of the competition and subsequently, has fully justified his determination.

These points determined, the rest of the plan followed naturally. The Commons must be on the left of the Central Hall, their private entrance in New{241} Palace Yard, and the Speaker’s residence beyond; the Lords on the right, their private entrance in Old Palace Yard, and the Royal approach again beyond this. The suites of libraries and committee-rooms could nowhere be so well placed as on the river front. This general plan was at once adopted, and from its main features he never swerved. He disliked, as an error of principle, the necessary duality of design, and the need of carrying on the great line of approach to inferior rooms, while the Houses of Lords and Commons lay on the right and left. He would have preferred some one feature incontestably the chief, so as to give the unity which he craved. But the plan adopted was recommended by grandeur, simplicity, and convenience;[92] and these considerations kept him firm and unhesitating in his adherence to it. In fact, he was surprised that none of his competitors had adopted it.

The plan and style being thus fixed, the composition of the design next suggested the question, whether there was anything in Gothic style which ought to interfere with the principles of symmetry, regularity, and unity, so dear to his artistic taste. Many (and his friend Pugin especially) contended for irregularity, picturesqueness, and variety. They would have had a group of buildings rather than a single one, or at any rate a building, in which there should be a general unity of style, rather than an actual symmetry of design, which they stigmatized as “clothing a{242} “classical design with Gothic details.” But Mr. Barry’s notions were widely different. He conceived that, if certain first principles were true, they could not vary in different styles. He believed that symmetry and regularity were essential to unity and grandeur; and on this conviction he acted throughout, though sensible at the time that it would meet with opposition, and occasionally disheartened by the increasing strength of the opposition in after years.[93] This is, of course, no place for the discussion of so difficult a question in the abstract. All that is needful is to indicate the principle, which, as a matter of fact, guided and controlled the design, and which probably accounts for the existence of certain actual features, and the omission of others which might have been looked for.[94]

The character of the building was, of course, to be palatial. There were however but fragments of Gothic palaces to be found in England. Italian Gothic had not yet attracted much observation. The town-halls of Belgium occurred to him, and he went over to that country to see and to admire them,{243} especially those of Brussels and Louvain. They recurred to him afterwards, as examples of visible roofs, and general enrichment. But at the time they did not affect his design, which was mainly “castellated” with embattled parapets, concealed roofs, and an absence of all spires. The great tower, one hundred feet square, was to be treated as a “keep;” the clock-tower differed little, except in size, from the same general character. With his great love of unity and regularity he might have desired a central tower,[95] but it must have been over the central hall, and there it would have been too far back to form a centre to the great river front, and half its height would have been concealed. He always thought that great towers should be seen from their parapet to their base; accordingly, he was content to place his towers in positions where they would form natural and prominent features, without interfering with each other, or with the great river front.

Such were the views which dictated the great outlines of the prize design. He made countless variations, drawings literally by hundreds, as studies of its prominent features, in the course of its formation; but the main principles were deeply fixed in his mind, and to them he always returned.

As soon as he was appointed to carry out the work, he was instructed to remodel his plan. More accommodation was needed, and the Government determined to extend the site southwards. This step had the additional advantage of enabling the architect to{244} enlarge the courts, required to give light and air to so extensive a building. It was the first of many alterations, some undertaken with direct authority, others more or less on his own responsibility, with the strong feeling that they were real improvements, dictated by an “architectural necessity,” and that as such they must eventually be sanctioned.

This willingness to accept responsibility was shown in the first change. The river line was not at right angles to the main approach through St. Stephen’s Hall. If both were strictly preserved, much distortion was inevitable. To diminish it as much as possible, he not only set back the line of the embankment at the southern end, but advanced it at the other end, near the bridge, so as to encroach on the river; and this he did, without consulting either the Conservators of the Thames or the Government. This bold step, sanctioned by its success, still left some remains of the objectionable distortion at the entrance from St. Stephen’s Hall into the central hall. There it still exists, but, owing to the octagonal form of the latter hall, and some contrivances of detail, it is hardly to be detected.

The next important alteration introduced one of the noblest features of the present building. In determining to use Westminster Hall as a public approach, he had feared that any important alteration might rouse opposition; he had therefore proposed merely to enlarge the existing entrance under the great south window. But now the grand idea of St. Stephen’s porch was conceived, the great window was set back, and the present noble entrance to the{245} building was the result. He had proposed also to raise the great roof of Westminster Hall,[96] being thoroughly satisfied of the practicability of the process, and the great improvement of proportion which must result. Considerations of expense alone interfered with its execution.

For the embellishment of the hall he had, as has been shown in the last chapter, grand dreams; frescoes, trophies, and statues, were to have met the eye, “set” in profuse enrichment of colour and mosaic, and the whole was to have formed a British Walhalla.

The central hall was originally intended to be far more lofty than at present; the lowering of its proportions is one of the many changes necessitated by the claims for ventilation made by Dr. Reid.

The most important alteration of all was made in the royal entrance. The tower in the first design was one hundred feet square, the sovereign was to have alighted within it, and the royal procession, turning round a central pillar, was to have returned by the way it came. The reduction of the size of the tower to seventy-five feet square set this plan aside, and it was then arranged, that the sovereign should pass through the tower into an inner hall, and alight at the foot of a grand staircase, leading straight to the robing room immediately behind the throne. But on consideration Mr. Barry grudged the great sacrifice of space, and the interruption of communication on the principal floor, for a staircase, which{246} could be used only twice a year.[97] He conceived the notion of the Royal gallery, as a hall for the use of the House of Lords, for the viewing of the royal procession, and for the display of architectural effect, unrestrained by the encumbrances which business renders necessary in the Houses of Lords and Commons. To these considerations he sacrificed the greater magnificence of the original staircase, and on his own responsibility proceeded with the work.

This was the first alteration which excited discontent and opposition. The nature of that opposition is referred to in the previous chapter; its only effect however was to produce a still further alteration, by the formation of the anteroom behind the throne (the Prince’s chamber) for the convenience of the House of Lords. This involved the curtailment of the Royal gallery, and the insertion of a comparatively small room in the royal approach, and was never entirely satisfactory to the architect.

In the House of Lords no great alteration was made, except in height. In the original design the roof was kept low, in deference to authorities in acoustics; but on more careful inquiry it was found that they differed widely from each other, and the architect not unnaturally thought that certain beauty of proportion need not be sacrificed to a doubtful acoustical advantage. The roof accordingly was raised. It could not be made open, because of the{247} requirements for ventilation; but, in fact, even in Gothic buildings Mr. Barry was disinclined to employ open roofs. For inhabited rooms he preferred a coved or arched ceiling, and believed that, in the abstract, a cove was the best method of connecting a horizontal ceiling with vertical walls.

In the gorgeous decorations of the house not a little was due to the work and the influence of Mr. Pugin, which added a stimulus, hardly needed, to the architect’s own love of enrichment. The carved and metal work, and generally the purely ornamental details, were designed by Mr. Pugin, under Mr. Barry’s direction, and subject to his frequent alterations; the painted windows were not only designed by Mr. Pugin, but carried out under his superintendence, the architect only stipulating for a sufficient amount of white glass to produce the “jewelled effect” he admired in many ancient windows.[98] The unsightly black effect of these windows at night was a great difficulty; a system of external gas-lighting was adopted to remedy it, but it has since been disused. The ceiling was a subject of much consideration; Mr. Barry wished to produce as much as possible the effect of solid gold, the enrichment of colour being purely subsidiary. His notion always was that decoration, if begun, should be thoroughly carried out, and that only by failure in this respect, and by partiality of decoration, was the effect of tawdriness produced.{248}

The House of Lords he considered as not a mere place of business, not even a mere House of Lords at all, but as the chamber in which the sovereign, surrounded by the court, summoned to the royal presence the three estates of the realm. He thought, therefore, that it should partake of royal magnificence, and lavished upon it all the treasures of decoration.

The House of Commons underwent many changes. The accommodation required by the original instructions, and the recommendation accompanying them, that every member should be brought as near to the Speaker as possible, necessitated enormous size and a nearly square form; but, on consultation with the authorities of the House, it was found that they considered the accommodation, both for members and for strangers, as unnecessarily and inconveniently large, and that the preponderance of their opinion was in favour of the old oblong form. On their authority the width and available accommodation of the House were greatly reduced. The difficulty really lay in this, that, whereas some accommodation must be provided for each of the six hundred and fifty-eight members, yet, for business purposes, the House must not be too large for the comparatively small average attendance. The Government seem to have dwelt more on the former consideration, the authorities of the House, who knew its practical working, on the other. The architect inclined to obey the latter, especially as their orders coincided with the claims of architectural proportion. The consequence of this reduction, as has been elsewhere stated, was great{249} disapprobation by the House of Commons, and the consequent alteration of the chamber, fatal to its architectural effect.

On the subject of the acoustic properties of the House it is right to remark that the difficulties were great and peculiar. In rooms where the speaking is to be from one or two quarters only (as in churches, theatres, or law-courts, in legislative assemblies, where the speaker mounts a “tribune,” &c.), the task is comparatively easy, though even here failure is not unusual. But in the Houses of Parliament a speaker must be audible from every part of the House, even when using that conversational tone which our method of Parliamentary speaking tends to foster. To this is to be added the consideration above alluded to of the fluctuating nature of the attendance. The House of Lords must contain the peers themselves, the sovereign and the court at the upper, the deputies of the Commons at the lower end; yet it is attended usually by a few peers who speak quietly across the table. In the House of Commons the variation of members is less, but the greater pressure of business makes its inconvenience more serious. Add to these the undoubted fact, that very few persons, especially in short conversational remarks, take the trouble to speak distinctly, and use proper modulation of the voice, and that in the case of a new building a certain time seems to be needed (which in the House of Commons was certainly not given), to “season” the House, and accustom the speakers to its pitch, and it will be seen that the architect was not without some plea, to oppose to the censure with which he was so{250} freely visited. Theories he found to be discordant, and time was hardly allowed for experience and trial of remedial measures.

Such were the modifications of plan voluntarily made by the architect; others were rendered necessary by circumstances. Some additional residences were introduced, refreshment rooms and offices were re-arranged, provision was necessary to meet the immense extension of the business of Parliamentary Committees, alterations made in order to provide for the whole of the public records, and, above all, changes in plan and elevation were necessitated on every side by the enormous claims, both upon the space and arrangements of the building, made by Dr. Reid for his schemes of ventilation. The central tower was wholly due to these requirements; many other parts of the building were carried up, and many smaller turrets were introduced, to meet the requirements of his system. The spaces under the Houses, intended for the horses and carriages of members, were surrendered to him, and the want of them is severely felt. On the whole it has been already noticed that he absorbed one-third of the cubical contents of the building. All these things involved frequent changes, constant thought and labour, and no slight increase of expenditure.

These alterations of plan were naturally followed by considerable alterations of design; some, in fact, necessitated by them, others dependent on certain changes of idea in the mind of the architect himself, and in the general feeling as to Gothic architecture.

Both these kinds of alteration were manifested in




the river front. The great increase of extent required some device for breaking the monotony and comparative lowness of this long front. He was strongly averse at all times to setting back the wings, or greatly advancing the centre of an architectural front, so as to break its line, when seen in perspective, and interfere with its apparent size. He was reduced therefore to attempt variation in outline, by slightly raising the whole centre, by heightening into towers the masses which flanked it, and by introducing visible roofs and turrets. This last change was one of principle; the “castellated” form necessarily disappeared at once, the parapet became subordinate, the turrets, originally battlemented, now terminated in tops, which, after many trials, and with some reluctance, were made of the ogee form. An upward tendency was given to the whole. The towers of the front remained for some time without visible roofs, and when the roofs were introduced they were so kept down (in deference to the advice of others) in relation to the angle turrets, that some confusion of principle resulted. He regretted afterwards that he had not kept down the pinnacles, and made the roofs boldly predominant. At the same time a change was made as to the buttresses of the whole front. They had no thrust to sustain, they interrupted the cornice and string-courses, and interfered with the panelling. For these reasons Mr. Barry himself disliked them, and, external criticism coinciding with his own feeling, he resolved to change them into turrets, which were free from all these objections, and which would tend{252} at once to elevate and break the sky-line, and by their greater projection to relieve the flatness of the front. These turrets, once introduced, must of course prevail throughout; they made their appearance accordingly in the prominent masses of the wings, and so the change of the whole character of the front was complete.

This alteration may be considered to have been more or less occasioned by the extension of front; other changes were made without any such ground. In the original design the windows of the two principal stories were set in arched recesses, with no string-courses to mark the divisions of the stories, united, as it were, under one head. This was now altered; the internal arrangements were manifested by the complete separation of the two stories; the recesses and the pointed heads of the windows of both stories were abolished, and in the attic story of the centre the continuous arcading was changed into sets of triple openings, so as to harmonize with the three-light windows below. These changes were less generally approved, as tending to give a flatness to the front, which the changes noticed in the preceding paragraph were not sufficient to remove.

The lower story of the whole front was made very solid and plain. It was indeed originally intended to contain a fire-proof range of vaults for the public records. Plainness of design indicated its use; it harmonized also with the principle which he always advocated, that the basement line should be as unadorned as possible, and that richness should increase with elevation; and it seemed to him more{253} than usually necessary in the case of the river front, in order to increase the effect of the embankment, and give the appearance of elevation of site.

Such were the principles which governed the design of the great front, and this design to a considerable extent determined that of the others. The front in New Palace Yard differed chiefly in the adoption of square buttresses, and (as the rooms looking into it were smaller) in the division of the whole building above the basement into three stories instead of two. This division not only suited convenience, but appeared to him more accordant with true principle; and he rather regretted that it could not have been adopted in the river front.[99] The front to Old Palace Yard, with the Victoria tower at one end and Westminster Hall at the other, might have given opportunity for greater variety of design; but the same general character still was made to prevail, only varied by the advancement of alternate bays and by the porch of the Lords’ entrance, which was required{254} for convenience, and which is little else than a portion of the basement advanced.

The great Victoria tower underwent repeated alterations. It had been originally treated with all the solidity of a “keep;” but the reduction on plan was compensated by increase in height, and the whole character of the design was necessarily changed. The entrance had been of moderate dimensions (professedly designed on the model of the Erpingham Gate at Norwich), and the top of the niche-band ranged with the cornice of the building. It was now raised to its present magnificent dimensions; the niches remained; and the upper part of the tower was divided into three large and two smaller stories. The design and arrangement of these cost incalculable trouble before it assumed its present form, divided into three windows, and the upper story rendered the prominent one by the arched and canopied heads of the windows.

As the tower approached completion, he felt some longing for a high pyramidal termination. But circumstances prevented his realizing this idea, and reduced him to the high roof and the great flagstaff. In the tower, however, as it stands, he always felt pride and pleasure, and trusted that it would be the great feature of the building, by which his name would be best known hereafter.[100]




The tower was at first intended to contain such of the public records as were not frequently in use, and was arranged accordingly with two lofty internal stories. Subsequently orders were given to accommodate all the records; not without great inconvenience, but with much ingenuity, accommodation was provided by the insertion of numerous floors and other contrivances. After all, the intention was abandoned by the authorities, and all the trouble and expense were thrown away.

The clock-tower was the one feature of the building which gave the greatest trouble, and for which design after design was made and rejected. It was to be what its name implied: the clock was to be the one prominent feature, not a mere accessory—treated as an architectural ornament. For practical purposes it was to be raised on the highest story, and made of immense size; the ornamental character of the whole front required that the lower part of the tower should be faced with delicate panelling, and yet a “top-heavy” effect must be carefully avoided. It was at once decided that the lower part should be solid, with but slight openings. To make the clock-story duly prominent all sorts of devices were thought of, till at last an example was remembered in which the whole clock-story was made to project beyond the body of the tower. The suggestion was{256} eagerly caught at; the example quoted differed in almost every respect from the character of the tower to be designed, and endless modifications were needed; but the general principle was preserved, and the result is one of the most striking features of the building. Still the termination remained; designs and models were tried over and over again; some forms appeared deficient in lightness, others were rejected as too ecclesiastical; till at last the form was devised which we now see. On the whole he felt satisfied with the tower, only thinking that the outline would have been improved by raising both the bell-chamber and the terminal portion of the roof, and regretting the angular projections on the face of the turrets below, which are terminated abruptly by the clock-story afterwards devised. His work on this and the Victoria tower gives a striking specimen of the process by which the whole design was worked out; no labour, no delay, no expense, seemed excessive in the pursuit of what he thought perfection, even in the minutest detail. They were temporary; the censures they might provoke were also temporary; the result was lasting, and worth any temporary sacrifice.[101]

Such were the reasons which led to modifications of the original design in the chief portions of the{257} building. Besides these, however, two general tendencies must be noticed.

The first was the desire to increase as much as possible the upward tendency of the lines of the design, to elevate and vary the skyline throughout. Every ventilating shaft was taken advantage of; every turret was heightened, till the central lantern, itself an insertion, was surrounded by a forest of louvres and spires. The whole character of the design was changed; and the change arose, partly from original predilection for the spire form, partly from advancing knowledge of Gothic architecture, but principally from practical experience of the great architectural disadvantages entailed by the site, and the comparative lowness of the building itself. The change has been generally recognised as an improvement.

The other tendency was to profuse ornamentation. His notion was that a general spread of minute ornament, a kind of “diapering” of the whole, was rich, but more simple, because less likely to interfere with the main outline, than ornaments on a large scale more sparingly employed. In the particular case before him he thought that smallness of scale in details would help to give an appearance of size to the building. But his feeling always was that ornamentation, if right in kind, could not be overdone; he did not recognise the value of plainer portions to act as a “setting” of the decoration; to him they appeared as “neglected spots;” and partiality of ornament he considered as tawdriness. In the internal courts he carried plainness out, even to excess; but he would not unite the two principles.{258}

The effect was visible over the fronts of the whole building, the more so, because his great idea was, by the aid of the sister arts, to make the New Palace a monumental history of England. Sculpture without, sculpture, painting, and stained glass within, were to preserve the memorials of the past, and declare the date and object of the building.[102]

Nothing provoked more criticism than this high ornamentation of the design; but, in spite of all such adverse criticism, he still held to the principle as the true one, and believed that it would eventually be recognised as such. It was once remarked by M. Guizot that the work was a “mélange de finesse et de grandeur.” Such was certainly the leading idea which inspired its design.

II. The preceding section has described the principles which governed the original conception and subsequent modifications of this great design. It remains only to give a brief description of the building as it exists, so far as is necessary to serve as a guide to the annexed plan.[103]

The whole building occupies an irregular site of about eight acres. Its longest front (the river front) is 940 feet in length, each wing having a frontage of{259} 120 feet, and the terrace occupying the remaining 700 feet. Its greatest width (exclusive of Westminster Hall) is about 340 feet. It contains above 500 rooms, and includes residences for eighteen different officers of the two Houses, of whom the principal are the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Serjeant-at-arms, the Usher of the Black Rod, and the Librarians of the Houses of Lords and Commons. It thus provides for a resident population of about 200.

This large mass of building receives light and air, not only from its external fronts, but from eleven internal quadrangles, many of considerable area. In actual size, and in the extent and variety of its requirements, it is equalled by few buildings of modern times.

The only portions of the old building, which it was found possible to retain, are Westminster Hall, the Cloister Court, and the crypt of St. Stephen’s Chapel, under the present St. Stephen’s Hall.

The main lines of the plan will be easily discerned, suggested as they are by the nature of the site, the position of Westminster Hall, and the duality of the object of the building. The first and most important is the line of public approach through Westminster Hall. At the end of the hall there is an ascent by a grand flight of steps to a landing under the great window (to which there is a shorter public communication through St. Margaret’s porch, from Old Palace Yard), and thence by another flight into St. Stephen’s Hall. This hall is ninety-five feet in length, twenty-nine in width, and forty-three in height{260} to the pitch of the groined roof. It contains several statues of celebrated statesmen, most of which are very beautiful as works of art, though executed on so large a scale as to be detrimental to the effect of the hall. It is intended to cover with appropriate frescoes the panels and the large arched recesses at the end of the hall.

An archway at the east end gives entrance to the central hall, octagon on plan and vaulted. Its vault is the largest octagon vault known, in which a central pillar is not used, and the lantern is sustained by a cone of brickwork rising above the vault.

From this point the public approaches diverge. To the right and left corridors open into the lobbies of the Houses of Lords and Commons. At the east end another corridor opens into the “witness hall,” from which access is had on the principal floor to the Peers’ libraries and committee-rooms and the Commons’ libraries, which, with a central “conference room,” occupy the whole curtain of the river front; a staircase leads to the upper floor, containing another long range of committee-rooms.[104]

The next great line is that of the royal approach. The royal carriage drives under the great Victoria tower, and the sovereign ascending the royal staircase enters the robing room, and thence emerges into the “royal gallery,” a room one hundred and ten feet long, forty-five in width, and forty-five in height, with panelled ceiling. This gallery is open to the public at the opening and prorogation of Parliament,{261} and was intended to be the entrance to the House of Peers. For the convenience of the peers an anteroom, the “Prince’s Chamber,” was added, through which the sovereign passes to the throne end of the House. Somewhat small in itself, and accordingly ornamented with small and delicate detail, it has been much injured by the large statue of Her Majesty, with the figures of Justice and Mercy flanking her throne, designed by John Gibson, Esq., R.A., and placed in this chamber.

The two Houses are approached, either from the central hall, or by private entrances for the members. The private entrance to the House of Peers is in the centre of the Old Palace Yard front, and there is another from the south-western angle of St. Stephen’s Hall. The entrances to the House of Commons are by the Star Chamber and Cloister Courts, and by an archway on the western side of Westminster Hall. Each House has its lobbies, corridors, and refreshment rooms, with ready access to its committee-rooms and libraries.

The two Houses themselves are of very different character. The House of Peers, as being, not only one chamber of the legislature, but the presence chamber of the sovereign, is of considerable size (ninety feet in length, forty-five in width, and forty-five in height), and decorated with lavish magnificence. The House of Commons, not presenting the same characteristics, is smaller in size (seventy-five feet in length, forty-five feet in width, and forty-one feet to the central line of the ceiling), while it provides much larger accommodation in the galleries and lobbies, and its decoration,{262} though careful and elaborate, is less magnificent in character. The official residences are, of course, grouped round the Houses to which they are appendages. The offices of the Lord Great Chamberlain are on the south front, the residences of the Usher of the Black Rod, and Librarian of the House of Peers, at the south end of the river front, and that of the Serjeant-at-arms on the Old Palace Yard front. At the north end of the river front we have the Speaker’s house, and the houses of the Serjeant-at-arms, the Librarian and the Chief Clerk on the north front and the front to New Palace Yard.

The plan generally, though having great intricacy in detail, an intricacy increased by constant variation of requirements, and by the elaborate ventilating system originally imposed on the architect, is yet perfectly simple and practical in its main lines. He adopted it from the first as the only one which could be effective or satisfactory, and never wavered in his approval of its great features; for it showed that characteristic which has been noticed in all his works, the preservation of the leading principle of “stateliness,” subordinating, often with great skill, variety of requirement and of contrivance to a general unity and repose in effect. And, although there are inevitable defects in detail, such as difficulty in obtaining sufficient light in some parts of the building, miscalculation of the amount of accommodation required, &c., yet experience appears to have confirmed his opinion and justified his confidence in the leading principles of his plan.

The first grand external feature is undoubtedly the{263} great line of the river front, which has been noticed above, and is illustrated, so far as the scale will allow, by the view given. The other great front, the west or land front, has never as yet been presented to the eye as a whole. It is interrupted by the law-courts, the days of which appear now to be numbered. When they are removed, it is to be hoped that due care will be taken to substitute some front harmonizing with the building, on which the present erection forms an excrescence. In any case this front will present a more broken line, which will probably, considering the height of the building, conduce to beauty and picturesqueness of effect. One extension of it, shown on the plan, has never yet been made; for New Palace Yard, which Sir Charles hoped to form into a great architectural quadrangle, is now to be enclosed merely by an ornamental railing.

The other important features are the three great towers. Of these it is to be remembered that the central tower was an after-thought, necessitated by arrangements over which the architect had no control; otherwise it is possible that, as has been suggested, it would have been so enlarged as to form a principal feature of the design. It has been a subject of some surprise, that the general principle of symmetry followed in the plan and river front, has not been preserved in the case of the two original towers; but from the very beginning of the design this was otherwise arranged. The architect probably regarded each as an almost independent feature, likely to group not with the symmetry of the river front, but with the necessarily broken line of the land front. In their design they present a{264} marked contrast, massiveness and grandeur being the characteristic of the Victoria tower, lightness and elegance of the clock-tower. Each has its admirers. It is perhaps generally thought that the clock-tower, from the smallness of its detail, harmonizes better with the adjacent front, while the Victoria tower, magnificent in itself, would have tended less to dwarf the rest of the building, had it stood almost independent of it, connected only by some grand cloister.

Such is a brief notice of the actual features of the building. The task of criticism must be left to others. At first very greatly praised, it was for a time somewhat recklessly condemned. Already it is clear that it is taking the position due to it. Critics of very opposite schools show their appreciation, both of the difficulties of the task assigned to its architect, and the degree of success with which that object has been attained. Mr. Fergusson, in a vehement anti-Gothic chapter, regretting that the style of the building was to be Gothic at all, concludes that, “taking it all in all, it is perhaps the most successful attempt to apply mediæval architecture to modern civic purposes which has yet been carried out.” Mr. Scott, in his work on Gothic architecture, does not hesitate to speak of it as, “on the whole, the most successful of our modern public buildings.” An article in the ‘Saturday Review,’ immediately after Sir C. Barry’s death, written in kindliness of feeling, but written also with care and discrimination in criticism, expresses pretty accurately the verdict of the educated public taste. “In spite of the shortcomings, which just critical taste or captious antagonism can find in the de{265}tails and the mass of the work,—in spite of the disadvantage of the primary idea of the style in which it is built having been revolutionised in the course of its progress—yet the Palace of Westminster stands alone and matchless in Europe among the architectural monuments of this busy age. From the border of the Thames, from St. James’s Park or Waterloo Place, from Piccadilly or the bridge across the Serpentine, the spectacle of that great square tower, of the central needle, and far away of the more fantastic beffroi—all grouping at every step in some new combination—stamps the whole building as the massive conception of a master-mind.”[105]{266}



Large number of designs not executed—Views of Metropolitan Improvement—Reasons for notice of such designs—Clumber Park—New Law Courts—National Gallery—Horse Guards—British Museum—General scheme laid before the late Prince Consort—Design for new Royal Academy—Crystal Palace—Alterations of Piccadilly and the Green Park—Prolongation of Pall Mall into the Green Park—Westminster Bridge—Extension of the New Palace at Westminster round New Palace Yard—Great Scheme of Metropolitan Improvements. Plan and description—General remarks thereon.

The list of Sir Charles Barry’s designs in the Appendix will show, that the numerous works which he executed formed only a part of the many designs conceived by him. It could not well be otherwise. In his early days he, of course, entered into many competitions, and made many fruitless designs. Even later in life his mind was always at work in the conception of designs, often without regard to immediate practicability. It was almost impossible for him (as has been said) to enter a building, or survey a town, without devising plans for its improvement. As few buildings were perfect, and hardly any to be despaired of, his naturally sanguine temperament, and consciousness of resource, often led him to forget or disregard all difficulties which stood in the way of his improvements.[106]{267}

In London especially his eye was always on the watch. Comparing it with continental capitals, and especially with Paris, he, of course, felt painfully the contrast of what might be with what is, and sighed over the waste of resources, and the neglect of grand opportunities for architectural display. His architectural career indeed began at a time of strict economy and rigid utilitarianism. But as it advanced, he could not but see that men were gradually emancipating themselves from the conventional fallacy, which separated the useful by a strong line of demarcation from the ornamental. Art was shown to involve, not mere arbitrary taste, but substantial and reasonable principle, and accordingly its influence was recognised, as important and valuable, not only in the case of the individual, but in that of the community. Accordingly artistic efforts have been allowed greater scope, and higher reward.[107] Schemes are proposed, and sums of money voted for them, which would have made the hair of the economists of 1835 stand on end with horror. Nor is the feeling for artistic display confined to the higher classes. It does not appear that the tendency to greater democratic influence is likely to check the growth of this feeling. Sir Charles rejoiced of course in its development, and his notions of metropolitan improvement grew in boldness and comprehensiveness of scale. His natural activity in this direction was quickened by the fact{268} of his long official connection with the Board of Works. Many of the Chief Commissioners had much confidence in his opinion and designs. He was not unfrequently consulted as to public improvements; and it was seldom that his vivid imagination confined itself to the limits of his official instructions. The great scheme of London improvements, which was his last work, was only the expression and completion of the ideas of a life-time.

Some of the conceptions which he formed for public and private buildings may fitly find a brief record here. In a memoir, the interest of which is mainly architectural, it is in some sense even more necessary to refer to designs, which exist only on paper, than to buildings, which are before the public eye, and which speak for themselves. But independently of this consideration, it is not impossible that they may still have a practical value. That many of them pointed in directions of real public utility is obvious from the fact, that they have been since carried out with success, although by different methods, and by other hands. It is not unreasonable to conclude that those, yet unrealised, may show a similar insight into public requirements, and into the means of meeting them, and may therefore have some power of suggestiveness, in relation to the many improvements which we yet hope to see. It will (I think) appear, that, though his plans were comprehensive and often costly, too costly for immediate execution, they were always thoroughly practical. He had no sympathy with vague architectural dreams; nor did his artistic taste and power make him forget reality.







Clumber Park.—In his connection with private clients, he made, of course, many fruitless designs—admired in themselves, but rejected as too grand and costly. Of all these the one which most deserves notice, and which may well serve as a specimen of the whole, is the design made in 1857 for the late Duke of Newcastle, in respect of Clumber Park. For of all Sir C. Barry’s designs for a grand private residence, this was the largest and most comprehensive.

The house is situated in a rich and pleasant country, not far from Worksop, in an extensive park, and close to a beautiful lake. It is large in size, but singularly ineffective from the lowness of its external elevation—a defect aggravated by the fact that the main approach descends upon it. The interior contains several handsome rooms, but these ill-connected with one another. The house is entered by a small entrance and a low insignificant hall, and does not possess a single good staircase.

The cause of all these defects was obvious. The house had originally been much smaller, and additions had been made with no definite plan. In fact, the desire to preserve a room in the centre of the building, which had been the chief room of the old house, had caused the sacrifice of all good general effect in the much larger rooms and passages, which were added.

The late Duke saw the cause, and determined to remedy it. He had long been something more than an admirer of Sir Charles Barry as an architect. He had shown him much personal friendship, and given him a kindly and generous support, at a time when{270} such support was invaluable. Accordingly he applied to Sir Charles to furnish a general plan, not with the idea of carrying it out at once, but in the hope that, by having it before his eyes, he might make some alterations, which were absolutely necessary, as an instalment of a satisfactory work, and “leave a record to those who came after him of a design, which they might be better able than he was to carry out.”

The work was naturally one in which Sir Charles took a more than professional interest. He saw that only an extensive scheme of alterations could utilize what existed, and add that which was still necessary.

The annexed plans will show the general design which he formed.

The first change was to turn the approach to a new entrance court, through an avenue which should mask the building till the visitor was close to it, and conceal the lowness of site and elevation. A new entrance hall led to a grand staircase, roofed over with a high cupola or dome, which might serve externally to give height and unity to a low and straggling building. The old west front was to be made a part of the interior of the building—a large new block of buildings being erected in front it, containing a grand range of galleries to unite the disconnected rooms of the building. The interior court, so formed, was to be treated in a somewhat novel manner, by being glazed over, and made into a winter garden, connected with the state-rooms on the new west front. Last, but not least, the private chapel, existing on the first floor in a very inconvenient position, for the use of the tenants as well as the





family, was removed, and a church erected on the east side of the house, with an access to it through a newly-formed conservatory.

Externally, the Italian garden was to be extended so as to encircle the house, and a range of conservatories added on the eastern side. For architectural effect, Sir Charles relied greatly on the central dome or cupola, and the new west front.

The plan was grand in scale and conception, and would have made Clumber one of the finest of noblemen’s seats in England. But it was so arranged that it could be executed in detail, and without interfering with the occupation of the house.

The only part of it as yet carried out is the erection of the new church by the present Duke, in the position indicated by Sir Charles, but from the designs of Mr. Thomas C. Hine, of Nottingham. Whether any other portion will be attempted is as yet uncertain. But the plan exists as a guide for all future work, to be modified, of course, as circumstances shall dictate. For the want of such plans, both in public and private buildings, it is lamentable to see how much labour and money are actually wasted.[108] In this point of view, as well as for its own grandeur of scheme, the plan for the new house at Clumber may have some interest to all.{272}

But the great majority of these designs had reference to public buildings, and to some of these it will be well to refer.


Law Courts.—The first design was intended to meet a public need, which has been long increasing in urgency, and now, after twenty-five years of discussion, is to be supplied on a scale of unparalleled magnificence.

In 1840 the need of additional accommodation for the Law Courts attracted the attention of the Government. It was always felt that they could not remain as they are, insufficient in accommodation, and a mere excrescence upon Westminster Hall and the New Palace. To enlarge them was impossible without a serious and unwarrantable encroachment on New Palace Yard. Therefore, it was concluded that the old associations of Westminster Hall must be set aside, and the Courts must be removed, and on the removal Sir C. Barry was consulted. Two sites appeared to him eligible: one in the centre of Lincoln’s Inn Fields; the other, fronting the Strand near St. Clement Danes Church, between Lincoln’s Inn and the Temple. Of these sites the former was clear, and would involve no expense in the purchase of existing buildings. He believed that the area occupied would be so small in comparison to the whole, that no serious injury to one of the “lungs of London” need be apprehended; and, though he yielded to the outcry, which arose against the scheme, he did not recognise its justice.

The choice of the other site, instead of interfering{273} with the free space so highly valuable in London, had undoubtedly the advantage of clearing away one of the worst of neighbourhoods.[109] To it accordingly his attention was afterwards directed.

In his first design he returned once more to the Greek style, which he had so long discarded. He considered that, for convenience sake, the principal floor ought not to be raised much above the street, and that, for acoustic reasons, the Courts themselves ought not to be high. This would make the whole design low, in comparison with the large extent of ground which it would necessarily cover; and to screen it by lofty piles of offices or residences would interfere with light and air. Under these circumstances, especially as he at first intended the building to be in an open space, visible on all sides, he determined to surround it with a classic peristyle, and seek massiveness and simplicity rather than height or grandeur. In Lincoln’s Inn Fields, grouped with, and screened by, masses of trees, so as not to be first visible at a great distance, he conceived that the old classic style might appear at advantage. But the scheme was afterwards abandoned, and the only Greek design of his later days fell with it.

In 1845 he was again examined before a Committee of the House of Commons, and submitted two designs; one occupying the second of the two sites above noticed, a space of about seven and three-{274}quarter acres, which he proposed to clear for the purpose; the other involving the enclosure of New Palace Yard, and the extension of the New Palace itself.

But once more the scheme was deferred, to be now executed on the Strand site, but on a far different scale and by other hands.[110] In any case, it is a comfort to hope that the present unsightly “Law Courts” will no longer disgrace the magnificence which surrounds them.


National Gallery.—The alteration of the present National Gallery has formed a part of most schemes of metropolitan improvements. It was constantly in Sir C. Barry’s thoughts from the very time of its erection. He shared the universal opinion that its elevation was far too low and uninteresting, and this impression he embodied in a little sketch, made at the desire of Sir E. Cust, who was at that time a member of a Parliamentary Committee on the subject, and intended for his private information only. Unfortunately the fact of its existence oozed out, as such facts always do; and, what was worse, imperfect copies of it were made, and circulated without the author’s knowledge. He thought himself compelled to allow a correct representation of it to go abroad, and from this arose inevitably a serious difference between him and Mr. Wilkins, the architect of the National Gallery. Mr. Wilkins not unnaturally conceived its publication to be a breach of professional{275} etiquette, and denounced it as such in no measured terms, especially when the success of Mr. Barry in the competition for the New Palace at Westminster still further embittered his feelings. But to this, as to the other attacks of the period, Mr. Barry made no reply, perhaps feeling himself in the wrong, certainly regretting the anomalous position into which he had been drawn, in his anxiety to rescue from comparative insignificance the building which occupies “the finest site in Europe.”

For some time the matter slept, till he was again consulted on the subject of enlargement of the Gallery, and made in 1848 a design for improving and extending the present building. He proposed to build over the vacant space in front, and advance the building to the line of the street. Several designs were made by him for the elevation, all having some great central mass, to overcome, as much as possible, the fatal effect of the Nelson Column upon the façade. He returned to the work again in 1852, in connection with larger schemes, and with designs upon a larger scale, for a building almost entirely new.

But nothing was done. The work, like all those which touch various interests, and which have to be debated upon in a popular assembly, presented difficulties, opened the door to various opinions, and ended for a time in mere discussion. Now again, as in the former case, it seems that substantial results may be hoped for. Another competition on a grand scale, though not attaining to the magnificence of the Law Courts, has been entered upon, and can hardly be allowed to be undertaken in vain.{276}

These two great plans are now shortly to be carried out. There remain others, the execution of which must surely be a question only of time. For the work, which has been commenced, of remodelling our public offices, can hardly stop short. The Board of Trade, the Foreign Office, and the India Board cannot be allowed to exist as isolated specimens of a better style, contrasting with the meagre ineffectiveness of our older buildings.


Horse Guards.—In 1846 Sir Charles received instructions to prepare plans for the enlargement of the Horse Guards. To confine himself to the limits of instructions was hardly possible for him. He had long sighed over the insignificance of the building, and the want of all effect about the Parade. Insignificant in itself, it seemed still more unworthy of its position, as forming a part of the “Via Regia,” the Sovereign’s approach to Parliament. Ideas floated before his mind of a second “Place du Carrousel.” The opportunity was too tempting to be resisted. Accordingly he provided indeed for additional accommodation by an additional story; but, having done this, he made a further ideal design, raising the centre into a tower-like mass, introducing other alterations on all sides, and transforming the building into a grand composition. The Parade by ornamental enclosures was brought into architectural connection with the design; the road from the Mall led by a gentle sweep to a grand entrance opposite the building, and at this entrance the “Marble Arch,” then just removed from its position at Buckingham{277} Palace, and cast upon the world for a habitation, was to be placed. The Wellington Statue, then also in search of a resting-place, was to form a central feature of the Parade, over which its illustrious original still presided. The other buildings near, the Admiralty, Treasury, &c., were to be brought into connection with its design; and a grand Place d’Armes was to be formed, second to none in Europe.

The idea was long a favourite one; he returned to it again in his “Metropolitan Improvements,” and his work at the Board of Trade shows what might have been effected by his talent for conversion. Nothing indeed was done; there was some doubt whether the foundation of the old building would bear the additions contemplated. The design itself, intrusted to the Government, was lost, and no trace of it can now be found. But, sooner or later, the work must be carried out, and, when it is carried out, it will in all probability follow the main lines of the arrangement which has thus been indicated.


British Museum.—Another design of his on a still larger scale had relation to an institution, in which he always felt the most lively interest.

The problem of securing sufficient accommodation for the collections at the British Museum—a problem which constantly recurs, as the collections increase, and the requirements of scientific men expand—at one time occupied Sir C. Barry’s most anxious thoughts. The simplest method of enlargement, by advancing the building towards Great Russell Street, was rendered impossible by the existence of the{278} grand portico. Little could be done except to raise the building, unless additional space were occupied. This could only be done at considerable cost, larger in fact than would have been at that time contemplated, though not larger than will probably at some time or other be found necessary.

Accordingly a plan was prepared, confining the building to its actual site. It was Sir Charles’s opinion, an opinion which he strongly maintained in public before a Parliamentary Commission, that the collections of Natural History were out of place in the Museum. It appeared to him, that they should be associated with “Zoological Gardens;” so that the dead and living specimens of the animal creation might be seen in connection, and the relations of the present to the past, in contrast or similarity, be distinctly traced. On the present site of the Museum this would be impossible; but, were the collections removed, as for instance to South Kensington, room could be found for any number of live animals, and for museums large enough to content Professor Owen himself.

This being done, he would have devoted the whole building in Great Russell Street to literature and art. He proposed to meet the requirements of the former by surrendering the Natural History Rooms to the Library, and providing for readers, not in one great hall, as at present, but in a series of rooms of moderate size. The claims of art and antiquities were to be satisfied by forming a magnificent hall, which was to be nothing less than the whole central area of the building, roofed with glass, capable of{279} containing even the Egyptian colossi, and unsurpassed in any building in Europe. There were some objections to it in detail, which he thought might be easily overcome. The idea was a grand one, and would have been carried out without serious difficulty. But M. Panizzi proposed a different scheme; the Government yielded to his authority, and the great Reading Room was formed.

This being the case, the matter slept, until, some years afterwards (in 1853), it became evident that the National Gallery must be either extended or removed. Against the notion of moving it out of the way to South Kensington, entertained by many, and favoured by His Royal Highness the late Prince Consort, Sir Charles most strongly protested, and he ventured (as a Member of the Royal Commission of 1851) to address a detailed letter to His Royal Highness, containing an elaborate counter-scheme. This letter is printed (by permission) in the Appendix, both for the sake of the intrinsic importance of its suggestions, and as a specimen of his official correspondence.

Its substance was as follows: After stating forcibly the objection which he conceived to exist to the proposed concentration at South Kensington, he proceeded first to develope a plan for the formation of the “British Museum of Art and Literature” on the site of the present British Museum in Great Russell Street, by the alterations already referred to, which had previously been submitted to the Government. It may be remarked that it was based on a principle, analogous to that on which he had advocated the removal of the Natural History collections. It seemed{280} to him that the works of art of all ages should fitly be viewed together, that the “National Gallery” was chronologically a sequel to the Gallery of Antiquities. The rudest efforts of imitative art, the works of Assyrian, Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman antiquity, the schools of art of mediæval and modern Europe, all seemed to form one great whole. He would have united them locally, as they are connected theoretically. Accordingly, removing the Natural History collections as before, he proposed to raise the whole suite of rooms assigned to them, to re-roof and re-light them, and so to form a range of galleries, excellently adapted for pictures and sculpture, and capable of containing the national collection for many years to come. This scheme, or some scheme like it, he at all times strongly advocated. It had certainly much to recommend it in abstract principle; he endeavoured, not unsuccessfully, to prove that it could be carried out gradually and systematically, without enormous outlay and without public inconvenience.

He next proceeded to urge the scheme, already referred to, for the transference of the Natural History collections to South Kensington, in connection with zoological and botanical gardens; and he would have united it to a “National Gallery of Science” in its various practical applications, with museums, laboratories, and the like.

In the third place, he went on to deal with the present National Gallery, which was, according to his scheme, after being enlarged and remodelled, to be divided between the Royal Academy of Fine Art and the School of Design for Practical and Decorative Art.{281} Here again he depended on the principle that art must be regarded as a whole, and that “Fine Art” cannot be separated from decorative and practical art, especially in a building, which he regarded as the home of art-teaching, and a place for exhibition of its results, and which he accordingly placed in a position second to none in respect of prominence and centrality.

Fourthly, he proposed to deal with the Museum of Economic Geology, in Jermyn Street, by removing its collection to the Temple of Science in South Kensington, and devoting it to form a “National Polytechnic Institution,” mainly for the use and instruction of the industrial classes.

Lastly, the building of the Society of Arts in the Adelphi was to be given up to meetings and lectures on all subjects connected with trade and commerce.

Such is the outline of a scheme, to the elaboration of which he devoted much time and trouble, and which will probably be thought to show well-digested principle, and careful study of practicability and convenience. It produced no effect at the time, for it opposed a plan in which His Royal Highness was greatly interested, and in the support of which many eminent men were already enlisted. Its author expected little result; but such considerations seldom kept him back from bearing testimony in the cause of his art, and so satisfying the imperious requirements of his architectural conscience.


Royal Academy.—In connection with these important schemes, another fruitless design was made by Sir Charles Barry.{282}

In 1859 the Government of Lord Derby proposed to dispossess the Royal Academy of their present accommodation in Trafalgar Square, with a view to that enlargement and alteration of the National Gallery, which was felt to be inevitable. Burlington House was fixed upon, as a site which might accommodate the Royal Academy, and certain other Institutions which had claims upon the Crown. Messrs. Banks and Barry (of which firm Sir Charles’s eldest son was a member), having lately gained high distinction in the Public Offices’ competition, were appointed by the Government to prepare general plans, showing how the entire area of Burlington House and its gardens might be best made available. It was ascertained that the Royal Academy would accept a portion of the site, would conform to the general block plan, and would erect a building at their own cost.

The whole area was to contain two great courts, with a grand thoroughfare through them from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens. The Government placed ground at the disposal of the Academy occupying two-thirds of the Piccadilly front, and the whole of the western side of the first of the great courts. Sir Charles Barry was appointed by the Academy to carry out the work.

His design occupied the entire frontage to Piccadilly, which necessarily required an uniform treatment. It contained three great divisions divided by bold turrets, with similar turrets terminating the façade. The lower part of the central division was occupied by three great archways for carriages leading into the court. The western wing, and{283} the upper stories of the centre, were occupied by the Royal Academy. The corresponding eastern wing was given up to scientific societies.

The front was simple and massive in character. The central archways were divided by bold Doric columns on plinths, and each of the wings had similar columns dividing its three bays of windows. A fully detailed cornice of the order terminated this story. On the principal story there were no columns. The central wall-surface was occupied by three bays of windows; the wings by niches, elaborately treated and occupied by statues.[111] The whole was surmounted by a noble cornice and balustrade.

The internal arrangement was simple. A grand staircase, entered from the covered carriage-ways, led to the principal story, which was occupied by magnificent suites of galleries lighted from above. The lower story was occupied by official rooms and residences, and schools for the various Professors.

All was ready to carry out the design. But a change of Government introduced new ideas, and the whole scheme slept, till it was revived under Lord Derby’s Government in 1866. The whole plan has now been changed; the great thoroughfare is to be done away with, and the Royal Academy building,{284} designed by Mr. Sydney Smirke, R.A., is to occupy the centre of the whole site, with frontage not to Piccadilly, but to the northern side of the front court, entered by central archways from Piccadilly, as originally proposed. The rest of the building remains under the direction of Messrs. Banks and Barry, except the portion assigned to the London University on the Burlington Gardens front, which is intrusted to Mr. Pennethorne.


Crystal Palace.—His connection with the Commission of 1851 led him to volunteer another suggestion which would certainly have had a magnificent effect. He had been greatly interested in the original Exhibition building in Hyde Park, and (as will be seen elsewhere) had urged during its erection several alterations which he thought likely to improve it. Though he freely recognised the simplicity of its idea, and its practical efficiency, he regarded that building as ineffective and ugly. But this was a temporary building only, and therefore its design mattered little.

When, however, the present “Crystal Palace” was projected as a permanent building, with all the advantage of a splendid position, Sir Charles felt persuaded that its external effect would be utterly unworthy of its scale and site. He was not consulted on the matter; but, at the risk of apparent obtrusiveness, he ventured to send the directors a sketch, as a suggestion, for the benefit of their great undertaking. It exhibited a great dome, rising in the centre of the present building, grouped with





cupolas and towers, so as to produce a grand outline. The annexed woodcut shows its effect, side by side with that of the present building. And an extant correspondence proves that it was allowed to be practicable and grand, and that the expense of carrying it out was found to be a comparatively small percentage on the whole outlay—a sum quite insignificant in comparison with that devoted to the waterworks, and with other sums lavished on less important objects. But once more he was to be disappointed. The design was “declined with thanks.” Yet it would have been worth while to do much to redeem from ugliness a building, which has the advantage of enormous scale, and which must be a conspicuous feature in every view of the environs of London. The plan proposed would have had a striking and even magnificent effect, and one, moreover, unique in its kind. Few can fail to regret that, even when rejected, it was not allowed to suggest some bolder and more artistic treatment than is seen in the existing building.


Alterations in Piccadilly and Pall Mall.—Another improvement, on which he was consulted by the Government in 1841, was the proposed widening of Piccadilly. He put the project into proper shape, and it was carried out accordingly, bringing into Piccadilly the fine row of plane-trees which extend to Hyde Park Corner, and which are the only trees standing in a great London thoroughfare. But, as usual, his desires went beyond the instructions given him. He cast a longing eye upon the Green Park,{286} which seemed to give room for a great design. The reservoir now existing was to be transformed into an ornamental basin, flanked by appropriate fountains, and surrounded by terraces with balustrades, vases, and statues. Fine broad flights of steps were to lead down to the Park, and thence by a long walk ornamented with sculpture to Hyde Park Corner. The object was to combine in one grand design what is now a somewhat wasted and ineffective space. But here again economy stepped in to forbid its execution; and the design exists on paper only.

Another fine idea, referring to the same quarter of London, remained equally barren of result. When the Marble Arch was in want of a site, Sir Charles proposed to do away with the obstructions which now encumber the east end of Pall Mall, so as to make a wide opening to the Park, which should be occupied by the Marble Arch with Stafford House on one side, and Bridgewater House on the other.[112] It was in such positions alone, where the Arch was combined with flanking buildings or rested on solid masonry as abutments, that he thought it a grand or even a rational feature. Standing alone, or with mere iron railing on each side of it, it seemed absolutely unmeaning, and therefore unsatisfactory. In the position proposed, it would certainly have looked well, and supplied (what is much needed) a grand termination to Pall Mall, and a good entrance into the Park. The annexed woodcut will show its effect, and the amount of alteration which it would



entail. It may not be too much to hope, that hereafter some such worthy termination may be found for one of the finest streets in London.


Westminster Improvements.—While thus conceiving designs for the architectural improvement of the metropolis in general, it was only natural that he should pay special attention to the neighbourhood of Westminster, in which his own main work lay. More particularly the constant sight of the river, with its glorious capabilities, and the miserable defacements of its banks, stirred him up to many projects for its embellishment.

Westminster Bridge was, of course, his first anxiety. The old bridge (the oldest in London since the old London Bridge had disappeared) was not only ugly in itself, but by its high roadway and parapets, and the massiveness of its general structure, exaggerated the defects of the site of the New Palace. He looked upon it with a jealous eye, eager to notice the first symptoms of decay. When that decay became serious, he suggested every device for lowering it and lightening in the course of its repairs; and, when all repair failed, and its demolition was found to be inevitable, he rejoiced over it as an enemy removed from his path. He then set to work at once to design a new bridge; its width he made no less than 100 feet, its height he lowered as much as possible, in defiance of all complaints as to the navigation. The lowness of the banks, in his mind, forbade a grand massive bridge, like London or Waterloo Bridges, which must dwarf all architecture near it, and which was{288} only fit to rest on banks of rock, or granite abutments, massive as itself. Lightness and elegance here were the first things needful. In style he would have Gothicized to suit the New Palace, and he would have carried out the work far beyond the erection of the bridge itself. In his design there was to have been a second Gothic bridge at Lambeth, a new river front was to be given to Lambeth Palace, and a fine avenue and quay formed along Bishop’s Walk to some new Gothic building at the foot of Westminster Bridge. All the eyesores on the Surrey side of the river, which marred the view from the terrace of the New Palace, were to have been swept away, and the river would have flowed on through a vast Gothic quadrangle.

But this again was one of those comprehensive schemes by which he alarmed economists, and the general design for the time was set aside. There is now a bridge at Lambeth, but it is the present paltry-looking suspension-bridge. There is to be the Surrey embankment, but it will hardly harmonize with the new bridge erected at Westminster. Yet, probably, by the time all is done, the same area will be covered, and the same expense incurred, without any general and comprehensive scheme. When it was set aside, he thought it better to keep the bridge distinct, though not inharmonious, in character. He adopted, rather in deference to authority than to his own taste, elliptical arches, at first seven in number, afterwards for convenience reduced to five; and submitted to the Board of Works a design, in which he endeavoured to preserve strictly the requisites above mentioned.{289}

The design was never carried out, but the present bridge fulfils many of the requirements which he had in view, and does something like justice to the great building at its foot.

His views as to the improvement of the river were not indeed confined to Westminster. The Thames Embankment schemes, so long discussed, and now at last in course of execution, were not unfrequently in his mind. He made several designs[113] for carrying out a work, which he felt to be essential to the thorough usefulness and architectural beauty of the Thames, and in which his own work at the New Palace gave him a special interest.


Extension of the New Palace at Westminster.—But of all designs in this quarter of the town the one which he had most at heart, and to which he returned again and again, was the extension of his great building on the land side. Such an extension was (as has been shown) contemplated in his very first design; and, almost up to the time of his death, he continued to urge it on the Government.

The extension was certainly contemplated by him mainly as an architectural improvement. In 1853 he wrote as follows:—“By means of these additional buildings the irregular, disjointed, and incongruous character of the present building on the land side would be removed, a degree of unity given to it on that side, in harmony with that already obtained on the river front; and the principal entrance to{290} the palace would then become a marked and important feature of the building.”

But it was also intended to meet an absolute necessity. The requirements of public business have greatly increased within the last twenty years. The Government are at this moment renting house property, for the accommodation of public offices and Royal Commissions, and for other purposes, at an annual cost exceeding 37,000l.[114] The houses in Bridge Street are now removed: the Law Courts are speedily to follow them. The Government are therefore now, as he foresaw that they would be, in possession of a valuable site. The question with him was, whether it should be made use of to meet the official requirements by supplying the accommodation wanted close at hand, with great convenience and economy to the public, or whether it should be left open, and so far useless, while these requirements were still met insufficiently and inconveniently elsewhere.

To the latter course Sir Charles was strongly opposed. There could be nothing to recommend it, except the notion that it would give a better architectural effect (for there is already open space close at hand, fully sufficient for sanitary requirements). But this notion appeared to him utterly erroneous. By leaving New Palace Yard open, or enclosing it only by a railing, the buildings surrounding it (Westminster Hall and the rest) are viewed from the higher ground of Bridge Street, and appear actually sunk, while the area itself, having a considerable{291} diagonal fall across the open space, is singularly unfortunate in its effect. By pulling down the Law Courts, and opening the whole side of Westminster Hall, he conceived that a still worse effect would be produced; for the scale and parts of the Hall are so large, that it must be utterly incongruous with the buildings round it. He conceived therefore that this proposal to leave the space unoccupied would be detrimental architecturally, while in an economic and practical point of view it would be an unwarrantable waste.

Accordingly his proposal[115] was to erect a line of building, occupying the site of the Law Courts and the western and northern sides of New Palace Yard, giving ample and even liberal accommodation for all public needs. New Palace Yard was to be entered on its west side by a grand gate-tower, or triple archway flanked by towers, leading by a gentle and uniform slope (about 1 in 50) to the present entrances, which, having been always intended as archways for an interior court, have not sufficient dignity or importance for the chief public entrances to the building. On the south side, Westminster Hall would form a grand centre with a range of buildings on each side of it; and on the north side, if a high range of buildings were thought objectionable, a cloister with one story above it, or an open arcade, might mask the building from the high ground of Bridge Street. The great entrance gate-tower he had proposed to call the Albert Tower, in a kind of correspondence with the Victoria Tower, which is the great{292} royal entrance, serving like it to mark the date of the building, and to commemorate the lively interest which the late Prince Consort took in all that concerned its artistic decoration.

Such was the scheme formed by him, and again laid before Lord Palmerston’s Government by his son Edward in 1864. The annexed woodcuts will show its general character. It has now some special interest, because the removal of the Law Courts must soon give the question a practical importance. All that is at present being done is to complete the Clock Tower on its western side, to enclose New Palace Yard by an iron railing, and to construct an arcade or cloister along its eastern side, with a subway at the northern end passing under Bridge Street to the Thames Embankment. There is nothing in all this, which is inconsistent with the subsequent execution of Sir Charles Barry’s designs, either in their original form, or with some modifications of detail. It can hardly be doubted that such execution would have much to recommend it, in regard both of artistic and of practical considerations.


General Scheme of Metropolitan Improvements.—But all these designs were embodied, and, as it were, absorbed, in the great design for Metropolitan Improvements, which he exhibited in 1857, on occasion of the Public Offices’ competition. Into that competition he did not wish to enter. He was indeed retiring from his profession; his constitution had been a good deal shaken; the remuneration controversy, and the attacks made on the New Palace






at Westminster, had disheartened, though they had not overcome him. But he wished to embody all the designs for the improvement of the Metropolis, which had floated before his mind, in one grand scheme, and to leave it (so he expressed it) as a legacy behind him. He thought of Sir Christopher Wren’s grand design for the rebuilding of London after the fire, and the example stirred him up to boldness and extensiveness of conception. That it would be but an ideal he knew well; he exhibited it without reference to the conditions of the competition, and without any idea of seriously concerning himself with it. It was, in fact, brought forward in the names of his sons Charles and Edward, in the hope that, if it secured public attention and approval, some of its leading features might be executed by their hands. At any rate he conceived that it would point in the right direction. Even if it were not substantially adopted at any time, yet it might set the minds of others at work. Before all things, he felt that in the great Metropolitan improvements, which every day’s experience proves to be something more than desirable, the chief danger to be avoided was that absence of a general scheme, or at least general conceptions, which has, in England especially, wasted time and money on erections of isolated and often misplaced magnificence. He wished to place on record the strong expression of this feeling, and he left the scheme, which he himself conceived to be the best, for the criticism and consideration of those who should come after him. With that vague presentiment elsewhere noticed, that the end for him was{294} not distant, he often said that he desired to leave it as his architectural memorial.

It has been thought right accordingly to embody in this work, first the general plan of his Westminster improvements, and next a considerable part of a large drawing, executed almost entirely by his own hand, and containing on a small scale, but with an artistic effect which can hardly be reproduced, elevations of the chief buildings, which he proposed to open to public view, to remodel, or to erect.

The following is the description of the design which he himself attached to it:—


General Principles of Plan.

In forming this Plan, its authors have ventured to be guided by the spirit rather than by the letter of the official instructions, which they consider to be incompatible with the best realisation of the objects in view.

They suggest that the whole of the Public Offices should be concentrated and combined in one group of buildings; that the Parade should be treated architecturally; that the New Palace at Westminster should be completed, as proposed, to Parliament Street; that the Abbey should have a central tower and spire and be freed from all its Italian solecisms of detail, and, together with the Chapter-house, be properly restored; that additions should be made to the Prebendal Houses, and a new Palace added, if need be, within the Abbey precincts, for a future Bishop of Westminster; and, for the due display of these important edifices, it is recommended that large areas should be laid open to them for ample thoroughfares and ornamental gardens. Thus these buildings, so isolated, could not fail, when seen under varied combinations and effects, to produce a most striking appearance.

The removal of the several public edifices and other buildings, which happen to be on the site of the proposed{295} ornamental enclosures, would be necessary for the ultimate development of the plan; but they need only be removed from time to time, as may be found convenient. In the mean time the plan is so arranged, that these enclosures, and the main thoroughfares adjoining them, may be formed without necessitating the previous removal of the buildings, and their unsightliness, in the interim, may be screened from view to a considerable extent by planting.

With reference to the public buildings in question, it is proposed that, sooner or later, St. Margaret’s Church should be removed to the west side of the proposed Abbey-close, that the National Schools should be placed in proximity with it, that the Westminster Hospital should be placed in a more central position of the district, that the Sessions House should be removed to the Westminster Bridewell, that the Stationery Office should be placed between Victoria Street and Tothill Street near their eastern termination, and that the office of the Board of Control should be removed, as soon as the accommodation provided for it in the proposed group of Public Offices is obtained. The only residence of any importance, that is sacrificed to the suggested improvement of thoroughfares, is Carrington House, which, in its isolated position, with thoroughfares on three sides of it, is not very eligible as a nobleman’s residence.


The Government Offices and Their Adjuncts.

Considering the large expenditure already incurred upon the existing Public Offices of the locality, the authors of this plan are induced, upon economical as well as upon practical grounds, to recommend that the Board of Trade and Treasury Chambers towards St. James’s Park, the Horse Guards, and the Admiralty should be retained, and, with certain external modifications, be made to group with and form part of a scheme for concentrating the whole of the public offices in one connected mass of building between the Park and Whitehall, which suggestion they believe may be carried out in a most convenient and striking manner. Owing to the{296} lowness of the site, which is less than two feet above the highest known tides, great loftiness of structure is proposed, and all habitable accommodation in the basement is deprecated. A great dome over the main entrance of the Public Offices is suggested, in order that they may vie in importance with the Abbey and new Legislative Palace, and have a distinctive character, both as a feature of Westminster, and also as seen from a distance. To allow of a comparison being formed between these offices and other existing and proposed buildings of the district, a reference is solicited to the illustrations of the block plan, where all such buildings are shown truly upon one scale, in their relative positions, and on their true levels. It is proposed that the principal carriage and foot entrance to the Public Offices should be from Whitehall, into a grand hall 320 feet long and 150 feet wide, covered with a glass roof, and affording access by archways to the several courts of the edifice. Upon the occasion of great receptions and other gatherings the great hall would afford ample accommodation for all carriages in attendance, and might be found useful occasionally for other public purposes, when a large and well-lighted covered area might be required. The magnitude and arrangement of the main building are such as to afford ample accommodation for all the offices enumerated in the official instructions, with the exception of the Admiralty, for which it is proposed to have the additional quota of accommodation provided for towards the Parade, where also, as well as on each side of the Horse Guards, is provided accommodation for other public purposes which may hereafter be required. The boundary of the Public Offices towards the Park is so arranged as to increase its present area.

The only existing office, in a sound state, and having any architectural pretensions, which must be removed, is the State Paper Office, which is obviously too much in the way of a good general arrangement of plan to be allowed to remain. The Parade, enclosed by the Public Offices on three sides, and by the open screen to the Park on the fourth, would form a striking feature of the locality, and provide a larger and more{297} conveniently arranged area for inspections than at present; and the advantage which is proposed, of being able to close it at pleasure, might be found to be of important use, in times of public excitement, not only for the inspection of the military but also of the police.


Thoroughfares and Traffic.

Ample accommodation is provided for the diversion of the eastern and western traffic, through the proposed main north and south thoroughfares of Whitehall and St. James’s Park, by means of two new bridges across the river, and a public thoroughfare through the Mall to the Strand. Westminster Bridge, rebuilt as proposed, should be retained in its present position, as being the natural line of communication with the Birdcage Walk, and the most convenient approach to the three important buildings in Westminster, from the Surrey side of the river. It is of the utmost importance, however, that the level of its roadway, as determined by Parliament, should remain unaltered; otherwise the effect of not only the Palace at Westminster, but also of the proposed Government Offices, will be seriously injured. To obviate in some degree the sunken effect of the New Palace at Westminster, as it will be seen from the bridge, even when lowered to the level determined by Parliament, a raising of the River Terrace of that building might be worthy of consideration upon that as well as other grounds. The plan exhibits two alternative propositions for the bridge at Charing Cross,—one, an entirely new bridge, and the other the present Suspension Bridge, widened for carriages. The former is preferred by the authors of this plan, but, if the latter should be adopted, it is hoped that its principle of suspension may be abolished, so that the present towers and chains may no longer destroy some of the finest effects of London, as seen from various points of view.


Miscellaneous Improvements.

Assuming that the long-proposed and in part adopted plan of embanking the river, with a view to the improvement of{298} its navigation and appearance, and the removal of its present offensive and unwholesome effluvia, must at no distant period be accomplished, it is proposed that at least such portion of the river as lies between the proposed Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo Bridge should be treated ornamentally, and have public quays on each side of it, with houses and terraces adjoining them, so as to screen from view the mean, unsightly, and in fact ruinous buildings, which at present disfigure both shores of this noble river. Amongst these buildings it is proposed to place a great hotel, at the Middlesex end of the Charing Cross Bridge, the promoters of which (it is believed) would construct so much of the embankment as is needed for their purposes at their own cost, upon having the fee simple of the site reclaimed assigned to them as an equivalent. An extension of the National Gallery is proposed, for an increase of the accommodation for the national collections of art, and for the use of the Royal Academy and Schools of Design, as well as for periodical displays of art and science, &c., in galleries exclusively devoted to the purpose. This is however proposed on the assumption that no better locality can be found for such objects. The extension of Whitehall Chapel provides for an improved United Service Museum, and would remedy the present fragmentary appearance of the building, while it would form an appropriate entrance to the road to the new Charing Cross Bridge. If this suggestion were entertained, it might be worthy of consideration, whether accommodation should not be provided in the new museum for a gallery of portraits of all the most eminent men of the naval and military services. With respect to the basin shown for the use of the wharves under the Adelphi Terrace, it might perhaps be worthy of consideration, whether the whole of the site of that basin and adjoining wharves might not be devoted to a great central terminus for the whole of the railways of the metropolis. In such case it would be advisable that the present Suspension Bridge should be converted into a railway bridge exclusively for communication with the several railways on the Surrey side of the river, and, with respect to those on the Middlesex{299} side, it is proposed that advantage should be taken of the Metropolitan Act to connect them as far as the proposed station in Farringdon Street, and continue that connection by tunnelling under Fleet Street and the Strand to the great central terminus in the site suggested.

Such was his own sketch of his great plan, which, with the annexed plan and illustration, will render further description needless.

It is probable that few will question its grandeur and comprehensiveness. It would have made Westminster a palatial quarter of the town, grouping together the buildings, which the public service of a great country requires, in an unity, justified by their actual unity of purpose, and all but necessary to their full architectural effect. The great quadrangle of nine acres, with its sides formed by the Abbey, the Government Palace, the New Palace of Westminster, and the public buildings removed in order to clear the area, must have been its most striking feature. Hardly inferior in magnificence would have been the Park view of the Government Palace with the enclosed Parade, the large area cleared along the Thames Embankment, and the great line of public buildings extending from Great George Street to Trafalgar Square. Essential points in the scheme were the embankments on both sides of the river and the large spaces reserved, to be laid out in public gardens, and so to give breathing space and opportunity for seeing the great piles of building proposed. Taken altogether it would have produced a general effect hardly to be equalled in Europe.

But it should also be noticed, that the plan was{300} eminently practical. It sacrificed little, it indicated the main lines which public improvements must eventually take, and it was capable of being carried out gradually. The concentration of public offices is demanded by public convenience; the opening out the great buildings to be erected will be an architectural necessity. The Thames Embankment is now a reality, though Sir Charles would have little dreamt that its effect would have been allowed to be broken in upon by the Hungerford Railway Bridge, and the enormous mass of the Charing Cross Station. The enlargement of the National Gallery is now only a question of time. The opening of great lines of communication is hardly likely to be long deferred. In the whole scheme therefore there was nothing visionary, nothing impracticable.

Its cost no doubt would have been great. But it would not have exceeded the cost, which will be ultimately incurred; and, if it had been carried out gradually, the burden on the public resources would have been almost imperceptible.

In the present state of public feeling as to the value of Art in itself, and in its influence on the national character, there can be no doubt that great public improvements will be demanded. The example set in Paris can hardly be quite lost upon us. Unless unforeseen necessity should absorb the public resources, great sums of public money will certainly be expended. That which is to be ardently desired is that the authorities who direct the public expenditure should have before them some great and comprehensive scheme, which, while it leaves all details{301} perfectly free, and so avoids monotonous uniformity, may indicate the general principles to be followed, and at least see that one improvement does not destroy or ruin another.

If the great scheme which occupied Sir Charles Barry’s last years sets men’s minds to work, indicates public necessities, and suggests the general lines of public improvement, it will (as has been said) do all that its author hoped for. An artist, himself incapable of following servilely the plans of others, could have desired nothing more than to stimulate and guide the free conceptions of the future.{302}



Public action—His natural dislike of publicity—His characteristics as a Commissioner—Royal Academy—Scheme for Architectural Education—Royal Institute of British Architects—Scientific Societies—Royal Commission of 1851—Exposition Universelle of 1855—Professional arbitrations at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Leeds—St. Paul’s Cathedral Committee.

To the description already given of Sir Charles Barry’s architectural works, it is necessary to add a brief notice of the various public commissions and duties in which he was called upon to take part. The labour bestowed on such work is perhaps less effective, certainly it is less definite in its results. But no man, who takes a leading position, has either the power or the right to refuse what is absolutely necessary for collective life and action.

In respect of such official labours, it must be remembered, that his constant occupation in professional work, and his great dislike of public speaking and public appearances, kept him to some extent removed from public life. No one acted more consistently on the conviction, that each man contributes most to the great sum of general progress by doing in the best possible way the task, which his station and talents specially mark out for him. But, whenever questions arose directly or indirectly bearing{303} upon Art, he was naturally called upon for his opinion and his services; and under these circumstances, even at the busiest periods of his life, he could always make time for the work, and take the liveliest interest in its progress.

He served, therefore, on several public commissions. In some respects he must have been an embarrassing coadjutor. At all times he was more inclined to originate than to criticize; and he would seldom consent to limit his ideas by strict considerations of immediate practicability. He was apt therefore to strike out a line of his own, for which perhaps he could not command the sympathy of his colleagues; and, even when he found the impracticability of such wider schemes, he was reluctant to acquiesce in any others, which might seem to him too narrow for the occasion. Yet it has been seen how frequently it happened, that the ideas which he threw out proved ultimately fruitful, though under other hands, and under different circumstances from those contemplated by himself. For perhaps one of his most striking characteristics was quickness of conception, and a certain “readiness of mind,” which made its large resources available on the instant. This was certainly united in his own actual work with an unwearied industry in the working out of his general conceptions, and a willingness to consider and test them in every possible point of view. But in the task of suggestion and criticism, which belongs to a commission, it had the opportunities of rapid and fruitful exercise, and he was always ready to meet every need, and overcome every difficulty. Partly from a{304} sanguine hopefulness, which led him to make light of obstacles, partly from a deliberate conviction, that in a country like our own considerations of expense are trifling, if any great public want is really supplied, he was always led to boldness and comprehensiveness in his conceptions, which might probably cause alarm in the first instance, and prevent the immediate execution of his designs, but which nevertheless arrested public attention, and showed the ultimate object which public convenience demanded. There are few public improvements at present proposed, which did not at one time or another come under his official notice, and set his pencil to work.

He was connected also with most of the artistic and scientific societies of England, and found in them abundant scope for activity.


Royal Academy.—In the work of the Royal Academy he took the greatest interest, for he had high ideas of what it should attempt in the guidance and direct inculcation of Art. Being himself a man little fettered by system, he was quite aware how little academies can kindle originality of talent, how liable they are to the danger of ignoring or even discouraging it. He had artistic friends, whose genius he greatly admired, among those who stood aloof from the Academy, who were the bitterest denouncers of its actual work, and who would have denied it even a theoretical value. But he always maintained that it had a most important sphere, and he contended, that, allowing for the inevitable defects of all institutions, it was working usefully and conscientiously{305} in the right path. This being the case, he was anxious at all times to improve and develope that action still further, so as to make it, even more than it is, the mainstay and guide of artistic progress.

It was to his own department of Art that his attention was mainly directed. This was due, not by any means to a narrow-minded exclusiveness, for his great desire was that all branches of Art should be proportionately represented, but to an idea that architecture and sculpture existed in the Academy almost by sufferance under the overwhelming predominance of the painters, and that they ought to have a larger influence and more extensive representation. His own art he believed to be most comprehensive of all in its scope and requirements, and at least as powerful as any, in its effects on the taste and intellectual progress of the country. He was therefore impatient of its being regarded as holding a secondary position, and having a quasi-mechanical character. As an Associate, an Academician, and a member of Council, he laboured at all times to advance its due claims.

More particularly he felt that there was in England a great want of a more formal and definite architectural education, and this want he conceived that the Academy ought to supply. In 1856 a large Committee was formed, with orders to consider how the instruction in the schools of the Royal Academy could be improved. The subject of Architecture was delegated to a small sub-Committee, consisting of Messrs. Cockerell and Hardwick, and Sir C. Barry. Each member of the Committee prepared suggestions for a scheme of architectural instruction, and these{306} suggestions were carefully and thoroughly discussed. No result, however, followed from the time and thought expended on the subject; indeed, the sub-Committee were fettered by alleged deficiency, both of accommodation and of funds, for the carrying out of a perfect scheme. They reported accordingly in favour of an annual grant of 150l. for a travelling studentship, to be held for one year, and gained by competition amongst the students who had obtained the gold medal. But even this was not acted upon.

Sir C. Barry himself greatly doubted the cogency of the arguments brought against the proposed improvements, believing that space could be found or made, and that some part of the pecuniary balance in favour of the Royal Academy (which was stated officially in 1860 as amounting annually to above 3000l. on an average of seven years) might be well expended for such a purpose, instead of being added to the large funds (above 100,000l.) already in hand. His own paper of suggestions is full and elaborate. Perhaps it may seem to err on the side of excess in requirements; and possibly his strong sense of his own want of regular artistic education may have inclined him to this side; but it will probably be thought to point in the right direction, and will have interest at this time, when it is felt that artistic education is not only both possible and desirable, but also capable of being based on systematic principles. The practical question must recur, and, when it does so, some guidance must be found in the record of the opinions of any who have thought much on the{307} theory of architecture, and have had experience of its actual capabilities and needs. The transference of the Academy to the larger accommodation now provided on the Burlington House site must remove all difficulties of space, and probably, by the very fact of change and enlargement, give an impetus to activity and efficiency of work.

His scheme is accordingly subjoined.



Elementary Teaching.

1. Geometry, trigonometry, hydraulics, hydrostatics, chemistry, optics, acoustics, geology, and mineralogy; and mechanics as far as they relate to the powers and forces applied to the purposes of construction.
2. Nature and properties of materials used for constructive and ornamental purposes.
3. Principles of construction.
4. Drawing, perspective, and sciography.
5. Drawing from the human form, from the life, and from casts.
6. Freehand drawing from natural objects with reference to decoration.
7.Conventional treatment of such objects as applicable to architectonic decoration.
8. Drawing and modelling of ornament.
9. Drawing of the elements of each recognised order or style of architecture.{308}
10. Drawing of the best works of the Greeks, the Romans, the mediævalists, and the most eminent masters of the revival of classical architecture.

N.B. It is suggested that the whole of the above studies should be conducted at the national establishments for art and science, the Schools of Design, King’s College, London, the London University, and other accredited institutions for teaching art and science, with a view to obtaining certificates of proficiency from such institutions as a qualification for admission to the Royal Academy.


Fine Art Teaching, or the Higher Branches.

Principles of—

1. Form, proportion, harmony, expression, outline, and stability in composition.
2. Principles of ornamentation.
3. Principles of colour in ornamentation.
4. Sciographic and orthographic rules and systems of composition loyed by the Greeks, the Romans, and the mediævalists, in hitectural Design.
5. Studies of composition in the several distinctly recognised les in ancient and modern times.
6. Principles of the application of painting and sculpture in hitectonic decoration.
7. Principles of the application of high art in painting and lpture in combination with architecture.
8. Exercises upon designs of existing works with reference to the rection of what may be at variance with the true principles of art.
9. Original composition emanating from the use of new materials in construction, and the omission of all that interferes with convenience and durability in the old or recognised styles, or that may be incompatible with{309} modern habits, fashions, and requirements, or unsuitable to the climate of the country in urban or suburban districts.

N.B. It is suggested that the above-named studies in the Fine Art Department, or higher branches of architecture, should be taught within the walls of the Academy.


Regulations as to Teaching in the School of Architecture.

1. That, with a view to the efficient working out of the rules and regulations of the Academy, specific duties with certain privileges and emoluments should be assigned to each degree of membership in the Academy, and that all should contribute their quota to the teaching in the school. Thus, from the class of R.A. should be chosen the visitor of the school for the time being, who should be responsible to the council; from the class of A.R.A. should be chosen a superintendent of the school, who should be responsible to the visitor for its discipline; and from a proposed new class to be called the Medallists of the Royal Academy should be chosen the teachers in the school.
2. That a course of lectures should be given in each year upon the History and Literature of Architecture, with criticisms upon existing works, excepting (as at present) upon those of living authors.
3. That two strictly architectural or scholastic competitions, one for the silver medal and one for the gold medal, upon subjects to be given by the visitor and council for the time being, should take place in each year, and that the drawings offered in such competitions should be exhibited to the public, prior to any decision upon them.
4. That the prize drawings in such competitions should be exhibited at the annual exhibitions, with an appropriate notice of them in the catalogue.
5. That the school be open on Thursdays from ten till four, and on other days of the week from seven till nine p.m., vacations excepted.



Honours of the Royal Academy.

That a silver and gold medal should be offered every year; the former for the best study of existing works, and the latter for the best work in original composition.

That the gold medallists should, in addition, receive a prize of fifty guineas, and a travelling studentship for two years, with a salary of 100l. per annum, and at the end of that time a right of membership in the Academy, as a class with certain privileges.

That in the annual publication of the names of members of the Academy, those in the class of medallists (namely, such as have obtained the gold medal) be included.


Regulations with regard to Students.

That proper certificates from public and other institutions for the teaching of art and science be produced by candidates for admission to the Academy, for the approval of the council, together with an original design and drawing of ornament as at present.

That such candidates as are considered by the council to be properly qualified, in all respects, be admitted as probationers, upon condition of preparing an original design within the walls of the Academy for the approval of council as at present.

That upon the approval of such probationary designs, candidates shall be admitted to the School of Architecture for two years.

That during the first year they may be allowed to compete for the silver medal, and during the second year for the gold medal and its rewards and privileges.


Accommodation Required.

That one room, the upper portion of whose walls may be covered with a select collection of architectural casts,{311} should be set apart exclusively for a school of architecture as well as for exhibitional purposes.

That the occasional use of an adjoining room for exhibitional purposes be granted, when not required for the annual exhibitions.

It was a subject of great disappointment to him that this scheme was rejected, and nothing put in its place. He was also disappointed, that, as has been seen in the last chapter, the design which he prepared for a new building, and by which he thought that his name might be permanently connected with the Academy, fell to the ground. But he still took as much interest as ever in its action. To the last he was a constant attendant at its meetings and on its business. One thing he never could be persuaded to do for this or for any other institution, viz., to deliver lectures or speeches, or even read papers on architectural subjects. But anything else he was ready and glad to attempt, and he prized his connection with the Royal Academy at the highest possible value.


Royal Institute of British Architects.—With this important institution he was connected from the beginning. In November, 1831, he discussed the principles of its formation with Professor Donaldson, to whom it has owed so much, both in its first foundation and its subsequent development. On December 3rd, 1834, he attended its first meeting, and records in his diary the completion of its charter on January 17th, 1837. Subsequently he became a Fellow and a Vice-President of the Institute. On{312} the death of Earl de Grey, when it was decided that the President’s chair should be occupied by a professional man, it was offered to him, and it was a subject of great regret to his friends, that the dislike of publicity, to which reference has already been made, prevented his acceptance of it. But he recognised the great value of the Society to the architectural profession, and rejoiced to see its growth and progress.

He had indeed much reason to feel grateful to the Institute for its generous appreciation of his position and labours, and for its hearty support in his time of professional trials. In 1850 he was chosen to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal, and it was presented to him on June 3rd by Earl de Grey, the President, who described most truly and skilfully the peculiar difficulties under which he laboured at the time. In the painful remuneration controversy, the Institute ventured boldly to interfere in defence of the architect, and to send to Mr. Wilson the Resolution which is quoted elsewhere. It was true that he was fighting the battle of the profession, but it was not the less true, that, on this very account, the interference of the Institute was likely to be stigmatised as interested and obtrusive. After his death the council of the Institute suggested his burial in Westminster Abbey, and sent to his widow and family an address of hearty and affectionate condolence.

In fact, the whole course of its official proceedings showed, in his case as in many others, that, in spite of the personal rivalries and of the differences of styles and principles which are found in all professions, and{313} perhaps especially in those of an artistic character, the whole body of architects was ready to show appreciation of work, and willing to give support and sympathy to one who was devoting to his art his time, his talents, and his life.

The younger Architectural Society (the Architectural Museum) also attracted his interest. And in the formation of the Architectural Publication Society he was willing to give all possible aid. He contributed to their Architectural Dictionary an article on Baalbec, and would no doubt have done more, had he lived longer after his retirement from active work.

But, although architectural and artistic societies held the first place in his regard, they by no means engrossed his whole attention. It was certainly characteristic of his mind to be ready in sympathy, and quick in appreciation of all kinds of intellectual pursuits, though literature had much less charm for him than either Science or Art. And, since he felt that architecture was a many-sided profession, in contact not only with all branches of Art, but also with scientific principles and inventions, and all those practical powers which occupy the sphere of “business,” he did not find that devotion to it blunted the edge of his interest in other things. At the “Friday evenings” of the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street he seldom failed to attend. I can well remember the deep interest, with which he entered into the original researches or wide generalisations, so often brought forward there by such men as Faraday and Owen. The general type of mind found in{314} our great scientific men at all times delighted him; for its union of simplicity of aim and enthusiasm for science with profoundness and originality of thought, was the type of genius with which he felt the warmest sympathy. He became in due course a Fellow of the Royal Society; and, valuing the honour greatly, he availed himself of every opportunity of enjoying its privileges. But I do not find that he took any prominent part in its action. The same is true of the “British Association.” He frequently attended its meetings, in the days when it was the fashion to sneer at it, as well as in his later years, when it had become one of the recognised institutions of the country. But here again he never came prominently forward. He was one of the listeners rather than of the speakers on all such occasions.


Royal Commission of 1851.—In 1850 Sir Charles was appointed as a member of the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The scheme of the building was discussed, and his pencil was immediately busy. He thought of a great building, a polygon of many sides. In the centre was to be a great hall for the larger objects, crowned by a gigantic dome, and surrounded by concentric ranges of rooms for the exhibition of the smaller objects. This, and many other schemes, were all put aside by Sir J. Paxton’s Crystal Palace; and Sir Charles then ventured to offer some suggestions for the improvement of the “grand conservatory.” The chief was to do away with the proposed flat ceilings, and vault both transepts and nave. The recommenda{315}tion was adopted for the transept only. As to the nave, certain practical difficulties were raised (which have been since disproved by experience at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham), and there the flat ceiling was retained to the great detriment of the internal appearance of the building.[116] He could not share the popular enthusiasm as to its general effect, though he recognised fully its practical convenience and the ingenuity of its contrivance, and confessed it to be adapted most excellently to a temporary construction.

His work as a Royal Commissioner led him to form a judgment on the schemes, which were formed for disposing of the surplus gained by the Exhibition, and so to conceive the designs which have been described in the last chapter. It probably also led to his appointment, in conjunction with his friend Mr. Cockerell, to represent English architecture on the juries of the Exposition Universelle. Being now somewhat less absorbed in professional work, he was able to give considerable time to the work, and spent more than two months in Paris. On this occasion he received the Gold Medal of honour for Architecture, and had an opportunity, which he highly valued, of making or renewing acquaintance with the leading continental architects.{316}

This was the only occasion which gave him any opportunity of acting abroad for the furtherance of his art. But his position, as a leader in his profession, had long been recognised by foreign artistic bodies. In 1842 he received his first foreign honour in being elected into the Academy of St. Luke at Rome; and after this followed a succession of elections to the Academy of St. Petersburg in 1845, of Belgium in 1847, of Prussia in 1849, of Sweden in 1850. Subsequently he was elected into the Academy of Denmark, and into the American Institute. Of these affiliations he was able to avail himself but little, for his days of foreign travel were over. But the honours he could not but value highly. Perhaps he valued them the more, when attacks began to be made upon him at home; for from them, as well as from intercourse with distinguished foreigners in England, he found abundant evidence of the high position which his works occupied in the estimation of continental critics.

On the occasion of the Emperor of Russia’s visit to England, he visited the New Palace under the guidance of the architect, and requested that drawings of its chief elevations might be furnished to him. These were acknowledged in handsome terms, and the acknowledgment was accompanied by a present of the drawings of the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, and one of those magnificent diamond snuff-boxes which seem to be the established gifts of royalty.

There were indeed few foreign visitors, distinguished either for rank or for artistic eminence,{317} who did not visit and admire his great work, and the éloge of M. Hittorf, read at the meeting of the Five Academies of Paris on August 14th, 1860 (making all allowance for the time and occasion), may be taken as not unfairly representing the general feeling of continental artists.[117]


Professional Arbitrations.—Besides the exercise of influence in public commissions and institutions, an architect who has attained a high rank in his profession, especially at a time when he is beginning to relinquish active work, has an important sphere of exertion in respect of professional arbitrations.

Open competitions are, and long have been, the order of the day. In the decision of the prize much of the dissatisfaction often caused, and the practical injustice often done, arises, not from any partiality or want of ability in the judges, but from the want of practical knowledge of detail, or of the advice of a practical assessor. There are drawbacks to the value of a professional arbitrator; certainly much difficulty and odium attach to his position. But to see the way through a complicated plan, to judge how an attractive elevation will work out, and how far an estimate can possibly be kept to, must certainly require the aid of professional knowledge.

Accordingly, in the latter part of his career, Sir{318} Charles Barry was not unfrequently employed as professional arbiter in public competitions.

In 1845 he was appointed to adjudge the first place in the competition for the Free Church College in Edinburgh—a building which was to occupy one of the finest sites in the city. He bestowed great pains on the adjudication, and gave some suggestions for the improvement of the design. But the award was practically set aside, and the present building erected, from a design for which he was not responsible.

In 1847 he was again employed to examine and report on the drawings of the competitors for the erection of the Glasgow College.

In December 1852 the Town Council of Leeds requested him to undertake the office of professional arbiter in the competition for the erection of their Town Hall. He went into the matter with his usual care and energy, and satisfied himself that the design of Mr. Brodrick, then comparatively a young man, was decidedly the best. On this occasion he had to meet some considerable efforts of local interest in behalf of other competitors; and at one time thought, that he might be obliged to throw up his office, and publish the correspondence. But he stood firm in what he considered to be his duty, and succeeded in securing the erection of a building, which has been since very generally admired.

On all such occasions he showed remarkably his characteristic power of throwing himself, heart and soul, into the work before him. On the process of forming his judgment he bestowed infinite pains,{319} and usually spent some considerable time. But his judgments, when formed, were usually positive and decisive, inclining perhaps occasionally to consider the capacities of a design, more than the standard of its performance, and valuing imperfect promise more highly than finished mediocrity. This is a tendency, which doubtless may be pushed even to the verge of injustice. Still it must be considered as that which has on the whole, more than any other, the double merit of rewarding real talent, and of securing men, who are capable of carrying out and perfecting, in the process of their accomplishment, buildings of real artistic excellence. It is almost needless to add, that he maintained his judgments unflinchingly, and defied all influences which tended to interfere with their independence and effectiveness.


St. Paul’s Committee.—In 1858 Sir Charles was placed upon the Committee for administering the St. Paul’s Cathedral Fund, a fund raised to assist the Dean and Chapter, first, in the maintenance of the Special Evening Services, and next in carrying out, if possible, some worthy system of decoration of the Cathedral. He took the warmest interest in the work. Admiring, as he did, enthusiastically the genius of Sir C. Wren, he felt it a privilege to contribute in the slightest degree to the embellishment of his great work, and its adaptation to the needs of our own time. Here, as in other cases, his only difficulty was to persuade himself to rest contented with that which was immediately practicable, instead of{320} stretching on towards the ideal conceived in his own mind. To some of the changes actually made he gave in consequence but a doubtful acquiescence.

In fact, to the position chosen for the new organ, and the arrangements for the nave congregations depending on that position, he was very strongly opposed—so much so, that at one time he thought of resigning his place on the Commission, and, when he refrained from this, considered it his duty to protest formally against the scheme adopted. His own view was to place the great organ over the western entrance (as is done in some foreign cathedrals), and to have only a small choir organ for use at the eastern end of the church. The great organ in the south transept he considered to interfere with the simplicity, spaciousness, and grandeur of the central area of the Cathedral.

It is needless to say that his objections were most courteously received, and carefully considered, although the Dean and the Committee did not feel able to yield to them. As usual, he took up and expressed his views pretty strongly, but he did not at all lose interest in the proceedings of the Committee, because they were not adopted. In any case it was much to co-operate in throwing open the Cathedral for the first time to an use worthy of its dignity and its magnificence of scale, and (what with him was a great, though, of course, a secondary consideration) in drawing public notice and admiration to the noblest work of our great English architect. He was present at almost every meeting of the Committee, and ventured to offer to Mr. Penrose, the architect of the{321} Dean and Chapter, practical suggestions which were kindly and cordially received.

Only four days before his death (on May 8th, 1860) he had written a paper to the Dean, on the subject of the proposed arrangements;—its handwriting as firm, and its style as vigorous as ever.[118] It is interesting to remember that this, which is (so far as is known) his last professional paper, should have had for its object the preservation and the adornment of a work, which he regarded as one of the finest in{322} the world. To him, as to others, it seemed inexplicable and disgraceful, that, while elaborate restoration is going on of every cathedral and abbey, almost of every remarkable parish church, the cathedral of the metropolis should be neglected, and the appeals for its decoration left almost unanswered. He had no sympathy with the intolerant Gothicism, which would pass over all that is classical, nor could he understand that the absence of the strong local feeling, which has rebuilt Chichester Cathedral, in great measure, by the contributions of Sussex alone, could be a sufficient reason for the neglect of the grandest building in London. He naturally thought of the magnificence of St. Peter’s, and he longed to replace the dreary coldness of St. Paul’s by a splendour which mutatis mutandis should rival its Italian anti-type. Sooner or later it must be that these longings will be realised.

Such is a brief record of the chief of his general public actions; many others there must have been, which have left no trace. He was one of those busy men, who can always find time and thought for subjects cognate to their own special work, though not directly connected with it. When, therefore, he was gone, his loss was felt, in this as in other relations of life, as removing one influence of suggestive originality and of practical soberness of judgment.{323}



Leading events of his life—General habits of work—Domesticity and privacy of life—Acquaintances and friendships—Distaste of publicity—Leading features of character—Personal appearance—Failure of health—Death—Funeral in Westminster Abbey—Erection of Memorial Statue—Conclusion.

The story of Sir Charles Barry’s life has in great measure been told in the description of his general architectural work. For that work he lived; and in it he found not only the occupation, but also most of the pleasures, of his life. It is hard for those who knew and loved him best to dissociate his memory from the recollections of his ungrudging labour upon it, and its never-flagging interest to him. It will therefore be necessary in this concluding chapter to give only a brief notice of his private life and character, and a short narrative of his death and funeral. There are many private details, treasured in the most sacred memories of home, which would be out of place in a published biography. Its proper record is of facts, which have general interest; of work, which produces lasting effects; of character, so far as that character bears upon public action and has its universal lesson.

The events of his private life were few and simple.{324} It is said that a nation is happy if its annals be dull: he was certainly fortunate in the fact, that his domestic annals were singularly uneventful; he had few troubles and difficulties, except those connected with his professional career. In the eyes of the world his course appeared to be one of uninterrupted and increasing prosperity. He spent the whole of his life in London, moving in 1827 from his first house in Ely Place, to 27, Foley Place, where his chief designs (including that for the New Palace at Westminster) were made; thence in 1841 to 32, Great George Street, in order to be near his great work while in progress; and lastly to Clapham Common, when he began to retire in some degree from his more active professional work.[119]

He never cared to leave London, except for business or for brief recreation. A short summer run was all that he needed, and there was perhaps some want of repose in his character, which prevented his caring for a country life. All his interests were in town; he rejoiced in its bustle and society; and nothing would have compensated him for a banishment from it.

His life was pre-eminently a life of work, but work which had in it, generally speaking, no flurry or painful anxiety—work, in fact, which seemed a delight and almost a necessity. He always rose early; seldom later than six o’clock, and often at four or five. He did so naturally and habitually; in this habit probably lay much of the secret of his freshness in work and{325} freedom from all feverish and restless excitability, even at his busiest and most anxious times. Whatever his troubles or occupations might be, he could always fall asleep at night, and, thanks to his excellent constitution, sleep was to him sound and refreshing. But, as soon as nature was satisfied, the mind resumed its activity, and in the early hours of morning there came back the whole flood of anxieties and conceptions, which defied the power of sleep and demanded immediate execution. It was well that this was his habit, excepting when, in times of great excitement or difficulty, it led him to overtask his strength. For in the time of his fullest work these morning hours were the only ones, on which he could reckon with certainty, and to these he traced many of the best of his ideas. He experienced to the full, what most early risers know, that some of the brightest thoughts belong to the very hour of waking, often solving in the first freshness of the morning a difficulty, which had perplexed or conquered him over-night. At all times, but in those morning hours particularly, his rapidity of execution was something marvellous. He himself was hardly conscious of any unusual power in this respect, and would expect of others what he felt that he could do himself. Of trouble he was utterly unsparing: he would think nothing of sponging out a whole elevation, if an idea occurred to him, by which he thought that it could be improved, even in details. Of any principal feature of a great work the number of designs would be almost endless. Like most hard workers, he was to a great extent superior to interruption. In fact, for the most part he liked{326} society during the time of his work. He would even listen to reading, or join in conversation, without allowing the secondary currents thus generated to interfere with the main stream of thought. The interruptions of business or necessity never seemed to break the thread of his ideas; seldom to flurry or discompose him. For he had this mark of readiness and clearness of conception, that he was capable, on the one hand, of setting to work at any moment, and resuming it, after interruption, just as if no interruption had occurred, and capable, on the other, of throwing it all aside at proper times, and joining in recreation or social intercourse with all the lightheartedness of a schoolboy. But for this readiness and elasticity of mind he could never have gone through the extraordinary amount of labour, which came upon him daily for many years.

On the general method of that work something has been already quoted (on page 86), from the words of one eminently qualified to judge. It frequently happened (it was so in the case of the design for the New Palace at Westminster), that the first sketch, which he made, contained all the essential features of the design as actually carried out. Such sketches, however, were eminently artistic in effect, and they would have been even apt to mislead, had they not been immediately brought to the test of accurate scale-drawing, and enlarged details. When this was done, either by his own hand or by the hands of others, the task of modification and alteration would begin, generally, however, tending after much labour to realise more fully and perfectly the conceptions at first{327} roughly shadowed out. Occasionally it was otherwise, especially in later years, when it can hardly be doubted that his fastidiousness of taste became excessive, leading to alterations, sometimes almost inconsistent with the original design, and securing minute improvements at too high a cost. But his most successful works were those in which the original idea predominated to the last; for they naturally had both the unity of original conception, and the effect of careful study in every detail.

His tendency was perhaps to do too much for himself, and to delegate too little of important work to the many who would have gladly helped him. If he did delegate anything, he was impatient to have it finished; and what Sir Charles expected to be done in “a couple of hours” became a proverb in his office. But it was hard to complain of one who never spared himself, and there were few who did not learn energy and actual delight in work under the shadow of his example. In spite, therefore, of the extent of his requirements and of a very determined will, which he never allowed to be questioned, he always met with cheerful and ready help, and there arose up among his assistants a strong esprit de corps, not without enthusiasm for their chief.[120]{328}

The early mornings till breakfast time, and the evening hours from eight o’clock till (at the earliest) eleven or twelve, were devoted to the drawing-board; the day from ten to five to superintendence of buildings in progress and to various business. This was his regular work; but during the time of the preparation of the competition drawings for the New Palace he hardly gave himself more than four or five hours’ sleep out of the twenty-four. Work, however, simply as work, never seemed to overtask his powers; it was not till anxieties and disappointments were added to it, that he began to feel the strain. It was rare, even when his strength began to fail, that he complained of its pressure: it seemed to him the natural object of life, and in it certainly lay for him the secret of happiness as well as success.

His habits of life were simple and domestic. He lived very much at home in the society of his wife and children, especially during the later years of his life. That home was pervaded by the spirit of intellectual work and energy which distinguishes the homes of professional men, and all its inmates felt the direct influence of its architectural atmosphere. Of his sons, two, Charles and Edward, followed his own profession. The former was at work independently, and the latter acted as his coadjutor, till he began to retire from the more active exercise of his profession. Their career he watched with peculiar interest, and his advice and aid were always at their command. In their names he sent in his last great architectural design,—the Plan of the Westminster Improvements, elsewhere referred to.{329} Of his other sons, two, Godfrey and John, were engaged, the one in surveying, the other in engineering work, and so followed paths of life not wholly different to his own. So far therefore his family life still reflected something of the professional thought and feeling, which elsewhere absorbed his interest. But into any successes, which his sons achieved, he entered with a special liveliness of satisfaction, and his home relations were those of almost unbroken happiness and affection.

But although this was the case, few men had less of a recluse character. His mind was singularly open to favourable impressions of strangers, and his own free and genial manner tended to draw them to him, and elicit their most attractive qualities. His judgment of character was certainly not severe or critical, and he occasionally suffered much from taking men at their own valuation.

To young artists, especially to young architects, he was always ready to show appreciation and kindness. In their case he laid aside the severity of criticism, which he indulged in relation to the works of established reputation: he was rather inclined to overrate incipient talent, and was always glad to meet it with encouragement and advice.

But indeed any stranger who presented himself, as an unappreciated artist or an unknown discoverer, was sure of a favourable reception. Foreigners especially made their way with him, for he always liked the greater freedom and liveliness of Continental manners and character. This openness to influence remained in him to the last, very little corrected by{330} experience, pushed even to the verge of credulity, often leading him into positions which had a tendency to compromise himself.[121] It is almost needless to add, that it was taken advantage of by unscrupulous persons, who received help and benefit from him in the time of urgent need, and turned afterwards to vilify the giver.

But although he was thus accessible to strangers, although no one could enjoy more the change and relaxation of society, and although he had many acquaintances in all ranks of life, he had few friends: with their society, added to that of his own family, he was perfectly contented. Perhaps with only one friend (Mr. Wolfe) had he any great and constant intimacy, for with him he could share the one great interest which absorbed his thoughts. Night after night Mr. Wolfe would spend with him, while the work of design was going on, always ready to give encouragement, suggestion, and criticism. And this community of artistic interest naturally developed itself into a general community of thought and feeling, not uncommon in youth, but rarely preserved in manhood and age.

Connected with these traits of character was a great, and (I think) an excessive, dislike of all public display. He had a keener sense of the conventionality and hollowness, which generally attach to it, than of the substantial reality, on which after all it{331} must be based, or of the important functions which it performs. It was difficult to induce him to take, on any public occasion, the part required of him, by his connection with public bodies or by his own professional position; he shrank from the necessity of a speech or a lecture, even on subjects on which he might have spoken with authority.

It is probable that this feature of his character was inseparably connected with his energy of work and eminently practical tastes; but it was certainly unfortunate in its effects. It isolated him greatly from his professional brethren, and this isolation, on the one hand, prevented his exercising the full influence of his position, and on the other, deprived him of an interchange of thought and opinion, which might have told with advantage upon his own mind. The effect of this isolation perhaps increased as time went on, when new styles were rising up in architecture, and much of the work, to which his life had been devoted, was disparaged or decried. He was not indeed shaken in his old architectural creed; he believed that, in spite of the originality and talent displayed in the rising generation of architects, there was in much of their work a violation of first principles, which would eventually be felt as fatal. This conviction, and the natural vigour and buoyancy of his character, enabled him to show a bold front to all attacks, and go on, in disregard of them, in the path which he thought the right one. But he nevertheless felt them keenly. Like most men of high spirits, he was subject to periods of depression, which told more on his constitution than any{332} amount of labour. And at such times, although, as has been seen, he received the most generous support from the members of his profession, he could but feel that in some respects he stood alone.

Such was the general tenour of his life, which at once reflected his natural character, and reacted upon it.

It must, of course, be left to others to pronounce on his artistic qualities, and to judge of the results which they produced. But it may be well to refer to the intellectual characteristics by which his mind seemed pre-eminently distinguished. One was a remarkable quickness of conception, which was intuitive on his own subjects, but which did not fail him even upon others. This quickness occasionally appeared to supersede any long abstract study. Not indeed that he would not spend infinite pains in maturing his conception, but these were given to practical developments and variations, which might be what mathematicians call “Formulas of Verification,” rather than to search for authorities and abstract reflection upon principles. I imagine that such half-unconscious intuition is characteristic of the artistic temperament, and doubt whether even Shakspere or Turner grasped, in abstract theory, those principles, which have been most truly discovered and commented upon in their works.

Joined to this quickness there was in him a remarkable fertility of design and contrivance. If a plan proved impracticable, if a design was rejected, the failure never seemed to disconcert him. Like the English infantry, he “never knew when he was{333} beaten,” and his scattered forces were rallied instantly to another attack. This fertility was stimulated by an indestructible power of taking interest in the minutest details, and of despising all trouble in the search after perfection, whether it were in the design of a Victoria Tower, or the alteration and realteration of a drawing-room drapery. And it was perhaps supported by that resolution to have his own way, good humoured but determined, of which he was not untruly accused. For he was entirely, almost amusingly, unconscious that it had anything to do with any personal characteristic or any assertion of individual will. It seemed to him to be dictated by an artistic necessity, so strong that it was hardly possible to oppose it. The very readiness with which the ideas occurred seemed to him a guarantee that they were reasonable and almost self-evident, and why they did not occur to others, or why, when suggested, they did not commend themselves to others, he could not understand.

With these characteristics were naturally united a sanguine disposition and a quick temper. That sanguineness was of course tempered, and even over-clouded, by experience of life, and it had its period of natural reaction, when all things seemed gloomy to him, and he would pronounce his own powers a mere pretence and his life a failure. These periods acted upon, and suffered reaction from, his bodily health, and in them work was his best relief. Some excitability of temper belongs to such disposition, but there were few whom one could more truly describe as

“Irasci celerem, tamen ut placabilis esset.”

For openness and geniality were leading characteristics in his mind. He delighted in society, and in society of men of all characters and occupations; and those who do this are not likely to treasure up morbid views of men or of actions.

Closely connected indeed with this excitability was his appreciation of fun and even good-humoured mischief, and his power of entering into interests, trivial or sportive in themselves. He would take trouble and show eagerness, even in the amusements of his home circle, and be anxious that they should be carried out in the best possible way. And, even to the last, he preserved much of the impulsive freshness and youthfulness of his character, without any sign of the narrowing and chilling influence of age.

But these qualities in him were not exaggerated into exclusive prominence. The imaginative and the practical, the powers of sanguine impulse and prudential action in detail, were remarkably blended in his mind. Thus he was on the one hand emphatically an artist. Before all things he placed the power of imagination and creation, the sense of beauty, and the reverence for Art which could minister to that sense, in all the forms which it assumed, in painting, sculpture, and music, as well as in architecture. I think indeed that he required the æsthetic influence to clothe itself in visible artistic form; for the beauty of Nature in itself, and the forms of the imagination clothed merely in the words of poetry, were not the influences which laid strongest hold upon his mind. But the claims of Art were paramount, and the realisation of what was beautiful in it was to him the chief good,{335} independent of all other results. Yet, on the other hand, he was emphatically a “man of business;” he had all the power of quick practical observation, clearness and decision in details, willingness to accept the necessity of prosaic work and drudgery, which belong to this character. The two elements in his mind harmonized, and did not clash with each other.

In the same way he was impulsive and almost rash, in the ventures he would make, and the risks he would run. The spirit of “speculation” might easily have been developed in him, even to a dangerous prominence. Difficulties he not only made light of, but he was often incapable of perceiving their full force, if it would have been fatal to a cherished idea. Yet in his execution of his schemes he could bring into play the powers of good sense, caution, and watchfulness, to make sure of every step, and to prevent divergence into the shadowy regions of the impracticable.

The same union of balancing elements of character was seen in regard of external influence upon him. His mind was certainly original, and his resolution and will most determined. Yet to external influences, direct and indirect, even to the tone of feeling and character of those who were with him, he was as certainly sensitive. Suggestion or criticism, warning or encouragement, he readily, almost unconsciously, took in, and seemed to assimilate, till they formed a part of his own mind. In respect of his own art, however, this susceptibility to external influence produced no inconsistency, for its results were fused{336} under the power of his original conception, and therefore, while they prevented anything fantastic and whimsical, they did not weaken the vigour which belongs to self-reliance. In fact it was one of the causes of that progressiveness of mind, which was always remarked in him, and to which allusion has already been made. He had a firm grasp of certain great principles; therefore he had the power to appreciate and to assimilate knowledge, from whatever sources it came. He was fettered by no system of rules; therefore he had the elasticity of mind, without which it is impossible to profit by external influence and teaching. To the last he confessed himself a learner. Sometimes, indeed, he would take up some new idea suggested from without, with characteristic eagerness, and begin to develope from it inferences, which were to yield a new store of first principles. But when these first principles were carefully scanned, they were found to be “old friends under a new face;” and so the new modification was accepted, while the essential ideas remained substantially the same. His works, accordingly, though they showed progressiveness, were always characteristic, and had a certain unity, which no competent eye can fail to discern.

Much indeed of his success and his power of influence depended on this union of apparently opposite elements, on this absence of one-sidedness and distortion of character. It was not produced in him by the deepening and enlarging influence of abstract study. Even in his own art his knowledge was gained mainly by experience, and he studied best with the pencil in his hand. But in other fields of{337} thought, he had in him very little of the student. His interest indeed was wide and keen enough, but it showed itself in quickness of observation and intuition, rather than in any profound study. Even from politics he to a great extent stood aloof, though he was consistently attached to the Liberal party, and his mind was certainly more innovating than conservative. Science (as has been said) interested him far more than literature. Had he not been distinguished as an artist, he might well have made himself a name in mechanical science, in which his great fertility of contrivance, his love of enterprise, and his tendency to set aside stereotyped systems and conventional rules, would have found a congenial field of exercise.

By this temperament, naturally buoyant and elastic, by the power of a disposition warm-hearted and capable of enthusiasm, by his remarkable determination of will, when once his mind was made up, and by the fact that, before he had come to a determination, he was singularly open to suggestion, by the resolution never to put up, even in little things, with what was defective or erroneous, he mostly prevailed. Clients, colleagues, even superiors, generally let him have his own way; for they felt that his determination was at least conscientious and disinterested. In his professional work especially, although he made mistakes and miscalculations, which might cause hardship, and sometimes, it may be, practical injustice, his determination was sustained by an integrity above all suspicion. Architects and engineers, dealing with large sums, the expenditure{338} of which they alone are able to control or criticize, are frequently exposed to solicitation, and even temptation, to relax vigilance and show personal favour at the expense of justice. Even a high rank in the profession does not secure men against the exertion of this influence, and few young beginners are spared the experience of it. It is well that, especially at the present time, the profession at large stands strong in known integrity, though the exercise of the vigilance and determination, which it requires, is often a thankless work. Of that integrity Sir Charles Barry did his duty in setting an example. Though he had many enemies, none even ventured on a breath of slander in this respect.

That he was ambitious cannot be questioned. There are two kinds of ambition; there is the desire of glory in itself, which seems to be its lower form; we find a higher ambition in the desire of doing something, which is not unworthy of glory, whether it obtains it or not. I think he felt both strongly. For praise and reputation are the chief secondary rewards of an artistic life, the compensation for foregoing the more material returns, which can be best obtained in other walks of life. But he lived long enough to feel, what all experience of life teaches, the capricious manner in which such reward is bestowed, and the insufficiency of it, even when it is obtained in the fullest measure. At no time would he have sacrificed to it the higher ambition of doing that which was artistically the best, though it might draw down a storm of unpopularity and censure. Whenever the lower ambition is thus clearly subordinated, it must be{339} regarded as an instinct of humanity, capable of giving force and life to the character, without the excitability and selfishness which mark its exclusive predominance.

The whole remembrance of his life is therefore one of work, simplicity, geniality, and vigour, guided by a conscientious devotion to duty, and kindled by a never-failing enthusiasm. Without these qualities, his artistic feeling, his power of origination and enterprise, and his genius for design, must have failed in the work and trials of life.

His personal appearance was a fair index of his character. The frontispiece, and the statue in the New Palace at Westminster, show the remarkably fine head, which indicated intellectual and artistic power, and the strong and almost sturdy figure, which was no bad type of his determination of character; but they cannot show the mobility of his expression, or that quick lighting up of the whole face, showing his delight in fun and warm geniality of feeling, which in his younger days aided the impression of his handsome features and bright complexion, and at all times gave a remarkable charm to his manner. He was one of those men who hardly seem to grow old. He came within five years of our “three score years and ten,” and yet he seemed young still, and it was almost impossible to connect with him the idea of weakness or decay.

But, when the last stone of the Victoria Tower was laid, when the flagstaff to surmount it was all but ready, his work was done, and his career drew to its close.


His constitution, originally one of remarkable strength, had been tried severely by work, and still more by anxiety and disappointment. The troubles connected with the New Palace at Westminster, not only in the Remuneration controversy, and in the many personal contests which arose out of the work, but in the fashion, which prevailed at one time, of constant depreciation of the work itself, and reflexions upon the architect, told much upon him. That much of this was ignorant he knew; that it would pass away he fully believed; but he felt it notwithstanding, for his disposition craved for sympathy and appreciation, and its sensitiveness was not dulled by age.

The effects were seen, not so much in any general weakness of health or appearance of decaying strength, as in sudden and violent attacks of illness. The first occurred in 1837, after the excessive work of the preparation of the design for the New Palace; and, as years and labours grew upon him, they became more frequent, till in 1858 he had so severe an attack of fever, that for some time his life was in imminent danger. But this seemed to pass away; he recovered much of his health and spirits, and preserved in great degree the elasticity and youthfulness of his nature. His strength, vigour, and keenness of interest in all around him were as strong as ever.

The end came most suddenly and unexpectedly. He had suffered for some time from a cough, which no remedy appeared to touch, but which nevertheless was thought to present no appearance of danger. On the 12th of May, 1860, he had been with Lady{341} Barry to spend the afternoon at the Crystal Palace, and had seemed very calm and cheerful, speaking of the natural dispersion of their children, and of the end of life, in which they should be thrown upon each other, as at its beginning. The evening had been spent as usual, and at the regular time, about eleven o’clock, he had retired to his dressing-room. There he was seized with difficulty of breathing and pain; and, before any of his children could be summoned, almost before it was known that there was imminent danger, all was over. It was found afterwards that the cause of death was a weakness of action both in the lungs and in the heart. Death might have come suddenly at any moment. That he had felt some vague presentiment of it was shown by his having put his affairs in order early in the year. But it is doubtful whether he was conscious of its actual approach. It was a cause of thankfulness for his sake that it came so painlessly, and that, though his children, to their great grief, were absent, his wife was with him to the end.

It had been intended by his family that his funeral should be private, conducted in accordance with the privacy and simplicity of his life. But almost immediately the chief members of his profession expressed a wish that his body should be laid in Westminster Abbey, among the “representative men” of the country. The idea was readily taken up, especially in the Institute of British Architects. A deputation from that body waited on the Dean, who willingly accorded the needful permission, and it was settled that his body should be laid in the nave. It was{342} but recently that Literature had been so honoured in the person of Lord Macaulay, and Science in the person of Robert Stephenson. Close by the side of the latter the new grave was opened.

The funeral took place on May 22nd (the day before his sixty-fifth birth-day). The family procession, moving from Clapham, was met at Vauxhall Bridge by the carriages containing the members of the Institute and other distinguished persons, and by a large body of workmen engaged in his works at the New Palace and elsewhere, who had requested permission to follow him to the grave. So augmented, it moved on to the Abbey.

“All the gentlemen who were to take part in the procession, and who numbered between 400 and 500 representatives of the great societies of arts and science in England, assembled in places adjoining the cloisters, and there awaited the arrival of the funeral cortége. The hearse reached Dean’s-yard a few minutes before 1 o’clock, and the coffin was borne through the old cloisters to the side entrance of the nave, where the Dean and Chapter, headed by the choir, were waiting. The procession was then formed, and to Purcell’s solemn anthem, ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ moved slowly up the nave. First came the High Bailiff of Westminster, then the beadsmen, vergers, and choir, followed by the Dean and Chapter, and the coffin. There were eight pall-bearers—Sir Charles Eastlake, President of the Royal Academy; the Chief Commissioner of Works, the Right Hon. W. Cowper, M.P.; Mr. G. P. Bidder, President{343} of the Institute of Civil Engineers; Lieutenant-General Sir E. Cust; the President of the Architectural Museum, Mr. A. J. Beresford Hope; the Dean of St. Paul’s; the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Mr. C. R. Cockerell; and Mr. Tite, F.R.S., M.P. Immediately following the body the five sons of the deceased walked as chief mourners, with the Dean of Chichester and other private friends of the late Sir Charles. To these succeeded a procession of immense length, which took nearly a quarter of an hour to file slowly into the Abbey, and for the members of which there was scarcely sufficient accommodation either in the choir or in the nave. The House of Commons was represented by Lord John Manners, Mr. J. Greene, Mr. R. S. Gard, Sir Joseph Paxton, Sir S. M. Peto, Sir A. Hood, Mr. F. V. Hume, and Mr. J. Locke. Among the Council and members of the Royal Academy were Messrs. T. Creswick, A. Elmore, J. H. Foley, S. A. Hart, J. R. Herbert, G. Jones, J. P. Knight, Sir E. Landseer, Messrs. C. Landseer, D. Maclise, P. Macdonall, W. C. Marshall, B. W. Pickersgill, F. R. Pickersgill, J. Phillip, D. Roberts, R. Redgrave, C. Stansfield, S. Smirke, R. Westmacott, and Professor Partridge. Among the associates were also Messrs. T. L. Cooper, W. Frost, P. F. Poole, E. W. Cooke, F. Goodall, G. G. Scott, B. O’Neil, R. G. Lane, and J. T. Willmore. Of the Council and members of the Royal Society there were the Rev. J. Barlow, Sir Roderick Murchison, Messrs. J. P. Guest, C. R. Weld, J. P. Gassiott, and R. W. Walton. The Council of the{344} Institute of Civil Engineers was represented by Messrs. C. H. Gregory, T. Hawksley, J. Locke, M.P., Sir J. Rennie, F.R.S., Messrs. J. Simpson, C. Manby, F.R.S., T. H. Wyatt, J. Hawkshaw, F.R.S., J. R. Maclean, J. Cubitt, J. E. Errington, J. E. Harrison, J. D. Hemans, J. Murray, &c.; and the Council of the Architectural Museum by Messrs. E. Street, J. Clarke, R. Brandon, E. Christian, Rev. T. Scott, Messrs. G. Scharf, H. D. Chantrell, W. Slater, and J. Gibson. Of the Council and members of the Institute of British Architects there were Messrs. G. Godwin, F.R.S., T. L. Donaldson, M. D. Wyatt, V.P.S., J. H. Lewis, J. Bell, F. C. Penrose, F. J. Francis, G. Morgan, R. A. Romeau, J. H. Stevens, G. Vulliamy, B. Ferrey, C. C. Nelson, J. Norton, Sir W. Farquhar, J. J. Scoles, I. Angell, H. Ashton, I. Bellamy, J. B. Bunning, D. Burton, F.R.S., C. Fowler, H. Kendall, D. Mocatta, A. Salvin, O. Jones, J. Pennethorne, and about 150 other members of the Institute and profession.

“Among the others attending were the Earl of Carlisle, the Duchess of Sutherland, Archdeacon Hale, Mr. A. Austin, of the Board of Works; Mr. Winkworth, Society of Arts; Mr. A. W. Franks, Society of Antiquaries; Mr. Henry Ottley, Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts; the Hon. Arthur Gordon, &c.

“As many as could be accommodated in the choir having taken their seats, the solemn service proceeded by the choir’s chanting with melancholy impressiveness Handel’s ‘I know that my Redeemer{345} liveth,’ and the mournful cadences of Purcell’s 90th Psalm. The Dean then read the lesson, after which the choir again sang, ‘When the ear heard,’ &c. The procession was then reformed, and moved slowly to the side of the grave amid the most solemn silence.

“At the edge of this the coffin was deposited while the choir chanted in a subdued tone Croft’s touching anthem, ‘Man that is born of woman has but a short time to live,’ and ‘In the midst of life we are in death.’ The coffin was then slowly lowered to its last resting place, amid the unrestrained emotion of the mourners and friends. The Dean then proceeded with the rest of the service, which was listened to with the most profound silence, broken only by the sharp harsh rattle of the earth as it was strewed on the coffin. The choir then chanted ‘I heard a voice from Heaven,’ and still more impressively the anthem, ‘His body is buried in peace, but his name liveth for evermore.’ The ceremony concluded with the benediction pronounced by the Dean, and the solemn music of the Dead March rang through the Abbey, while the relatives and friends pressed forward to take a last glimpse of all that remained of the gifted Sir Charles Barry. A flag was hoisted in the Victoria Tower half-mast high during the day, and, as long as that tower stands, its great founder will need no other memorial of his fame with posterity.”[122]

The funeral arrangements were such as to avoid{346} all that could jar on the solemnity of the occasion—an occasion never to be forgotten by those who took part in it. It was impossible not to feel the sincere and generous sympathy, which had assembled all the representatives of the art and science of England to do honour to his memory, and the strong personal feelings of respect and friendship, which mingled with the public demonstration, and gave it warmth and substance. The foresight of it would often have been full of support and comfort to him; the reality was deeply felt by those who followed him to the grave.

The following resolutions from the Institute of British Architects, and the Architectural Society, were evidences of the kindly sympathy of his professional brethren:—

“The Royal Institute of British Architects, impressed with the loss which the profession and the country have sustained through the decease of Sir Charles Barry, whose genius has conferred great lustre upon this age, hereby record their profound sympathy with the affliction which has fallen (more immediately) upon the widow and family of their lamented friend.”

“The Committee of the Architectural Museum desire to express their sense of the severe loss which Art has sustained by the demise of Sir Charles Barry, an architect whose fame was the property of his country, and indeed of the world. They desire also to express their feeling of their own personal loss in him, who as one of their Trustees,{347} and as a cordial supporter of the Museum, had conciliated the respect and regard of all who knew him. They beg in the last place to offer the expression of their most sincere sympathy and condolence to his family, and request the President to transmit the message to them.”

These resolutions were but the concentrated expressions of the warm and kindly feeling manifested at the meeting of the Institute on May 22nd. On that occasion a paper was read by M. Digby Wyatt, Esq., V.P., “On the Architectural Career of Sir Charles Barry,” remarkable alike for the accuracy and fulness of its sketch of events, and for the generous spirit of appreciation and respect which animates its thought. It may, perhaps, be permitted me to quote its conclusion here:—

“I know not how any moral, that the ablest rhetorician in the world could draw from Sir Charles Barry’s professional career, could be made to speak more strongly, or admonish us more stringently, than the facts of his life and the monuments which he has left behind him, do for us unerringly, if we will but open our hearts to apprehend and study them aright. His incessant labours, first to learn and then to practise, again to learn and again to practise, and again, and again, and again to learn and practise, so long as his physical energies could support the activity of his intellect, ought to convey to us all a lesson of profound humility, and a stimulus to exertion of the most active kind.

“If he, with all his natural genius and aptitude{348} for art, could achieve success, in the measure in which he did achieve it, only by never-ending and still beginning toil and study, how can we emulate even an approximation to his excellence in our art, without an exercise of both? His life is surely another practical illustration of that which the lives of the greatest artists who ever lived—of Titian, of Michael Angelo, of Raffaelle, of Leonardo da Vinci, of Albert Durer—already bear witness to: that study and practice must in art ever go hand-in-hand. Study without practice will but make the pedant; practice without study can but multiply busy worthlessness.”

These tributes to his memory, coming as they did from those who could speak with authority, have a special value of their own; with all allowances for the kindly feelings of the moment, they may be accepted as a substantial and enduring testimony. At the time, perhaps, a tribute of respect, at least as much felt and appreciated, was marked by the voluntary attendance at his funeral of the workmen who had helped to carry out his works. His family felt themselves justified (in their letter of thanks to the workmen) “in recognising in that attendance, not only a kind and cordial sympathy with their own sorrow, but also a proof of the respect with which his memory was regarded, and of the pride and interest felt, in having aided to accomplish what his genius had conceived.” And what was true of the workmen was still more true of those who had been his subordinates in the work, and had laboured cordially and{349} efficiently in the service. He had inspired the sympathy which always attends on enthusiasm and self-sacrificing labour in a great cause.

A kindly notice in the ‘Saturday Review’ (of May 19th, 1860) may be added appropriately here, as expressing the feeling of the educated public on the occasion:—

“The death of Sir Charles Barry, at a moment when he appeared in the full enjoyment of life and intellect, is a severe public, no less than an artistic loss. We are glad to learn that his claims as one of the worthies of the age are to be recognised by a public funeral, and a resting-place beneath the vault of Westminster Abbey.... It is undeniable that Sir C. Barry has not been for many years popular with officials; but we are not inclined to think the worse of him on that account. He was through life a man of large and expansive ideas, and of resolute determination to carry out those ideas; and, as might be supposed, he was continually in collision alike with red-tape officials, and the economic bullies of supply-nights. Season after season a raid at Sir C. Barry was a sure card for a little cheap popularity in the House of Commons.... His Prize design in its first conception embodied a great mistake, the adaptation of Tudor forms to an Italian mass. Time rolled on, and the great Gothic Renaissance came into existence, owing in a great degree to this very competition. Barry was not the man to cling to an inferior and antiquated design from false shame or blindness to the movement of the age. The world was learn{350}ing its lesson, and he conned that lesson with the world.... His death at this time, when he was gradually retiring from the more active pursuit of his profession, was, in one respect, as great a loss as if he had been carried off in the height of his more youthful labours. At a moment when the battle of the styles is running the risk of creating an odium architectonicum, and when the pernicious heresy is blossoming in influential quarters, that the dignity, the ornament, and the convenience of a metropolis are no concern of a great nation and an imperial legislature, we cannot well afford to miss the man who, from his position, talents, and age, could speak upon architectural questions with somewhat of the authority of a Nestor.”

The feelings excited by his death naturally gave rise to the desire of some external memorial of him in the scene of his architectural labours. The idea was taken up by many, chiefly by his old and kind friends Professor Donaldson and Mr. Wolfe, and it was warmly aided by the Duke of Newcastle, the most constant of all his official patrons and supporters. No monument could be erected in the over-crowded Abbey—a simple memorial brass has been placed by his family to mark his resting-place in the nave. Permission was therefore sought and granted for the erection of a statue in the New Palace. It was desired to place it in St. Stephen’s Porch, near the point which marks one of the chief features of the design—the utilisation of Westminster Hall as the grand entrance to the building, by the splendid arch and staircase at its{351} southern end. This position, by which the main stream of people flows, was refused. The only one which could be obtained was at the foot of the public staircase leading to the upper range of Committee rooms from the “Witness Hall,” one public enough, but not very central, nor very well adapted to the exhibition of the statue in itself.

A subscription was opened, in which his family was allowed to take no part, in order that the memorial might be one from his personal friends and his professional brethren. The work was entrusted to Mr. Foley. The result is the statue, which is now placed in the position assigned to it—admirable as a work of art, and excellent as a representation of the original. It is the more remarkable, inasmuch as it was not taken from life, or even from a cast of the face after death. The only materials were a good bust by Behnes, one or two photographs, and the sculptor’s own personal recollections. The work which Mr. Foley has produced from these materials, by the fine outline of the head, and the expression of vigour and energy in the face, has the merit of giving to strangers the idea of a man who could deserve and achieve eminence. It has the hardly inferior merit of bringing back its original very simply and very effectively to those who knew him.

It is but right that it should find some place in the building to which he devoted so much labour and skill, for which he gave up so much of his life. But the principle of the old “Si monumentum quæris, circumspice” has its application to him also. He{352} can need no monument in Westminster. His works remain; by them he would have wished to be judged; to them both now, and even more hereafter, when lapse of time has given value and solidity to men’s judgment, his reputation may safely be left.{353}



(A.) List of Architectural Designs.

(B.) Letter to His Royal Highness the Prince Consort as to the South Kensington Scheme.

(C.) Papers on the Remuneration Controversy.
(a.) Letter of the Architect to the New Palace Commissioners in 1849.
(b.) Treasury Minute of February, 1854.
(c.) Reply of Sir C. Barry, March, 1854.
(d.) Letter of J. M. White, Esq., July, 1855.
(e.) Treasury Minute of January, 1856.
(f.) Reply of Sir C. Barry of February, 1856.
(g.) Conclusion of Treasury Minute of July, 1856.
(h.) Brief Remarks of Sir C. Barry, 1856.

(D.) List of Subscribers to the Memorial Statue.





[The designs marked with an asterisk are known not to have been carried out at all; others may have been also fruitless. The date given is that of the first occurrence of the design in his diaries; in many cases the design was altered, or recurred to after being set aside.]

* Newington Church1821
  Prestwich Church1822
  Campfield Church, Manchester1822
  St. Martin’s Outwich1822
  Ringley Chapel1822
  Oldham Church1823
  Brighton Church (St. Peter’s)1824
  Royal Institution of Fine Arts at Manchester1824
  Saffron Hill Chapel and Schools1824
  Sussex County Hospital1825
* Leeds Exchange1825
* Kensington Church1825
* Bognor Improvements1825
  Holloway Church1825
  Cloudesley Square Church1826
  Ball’s Pond Church1826
  Petworth Church Spire and Alterations1827
  Brunswick Chapel, Brighton1827
* Drummond Castle Alterations1827
  Stoke Newington Church Alterations1827
* Law Institution1828
* New Concert Room at Manchester1828
* Church at Streatham1828
*{356}* Pitt Press, Cambridge1829
  Mr. Attree’s House, Brighton1829
  Travellers’ Club1829
* Design for Highgate Church1830
  Holloway Schools1830
* Charing Cross Hospital1830
  Brighton Park1830
* Birmingham Town Hall1830
  Additions to Dulwich College1831
* Westminster Hospital1831
* City Club1832
  Birmingham Grammar School1833
* Manchester Club1833
  College of Surgeons Alterations1833
* Design for National Gallery1833
* Woburn Abbey Alterations1834
  Bowood (Alterations)1834
* Holland House1834
* Islington Chapel1834
  Elizabethan House, for W. Currie, Esq.1834
  Kingston Hall Alterations1835
  Stafford House Alterations1835
  Design for New Palace at Westminster, begun Aug. 23rd 1835
  Manchester Unitarian Chapel1836
  Manchester Athenæum1836
  Corsham House1836
  Walton House1837
* Worcester College, Oxford1837
  Reform Club1837
* Buchanan House (Duke of Montrose)1837
  Highclere House1837
  Trentham Hall1838
  University College, Oxford1839
* Petworth House Alterations1839
  Trafalgar Square1840
* New Law Courts1840
  Kiddington Hall1840
* Drumlanrig Castle1840
*{357}* Pall Mall Alterations1840
  Pentonville Model Prison1841
  Colonel Fox’s House, Addison Road1841
  Dulwich College Schools1841
  Hurstpierpoint Church1841
  Piccadilly Alterations1841
  Harewood House1842
  Ambassador’s Palace at Constantinople1842
  Duncombe Park1843
  Ensham Hall1843
* Thames Embankment1843
  Board of Trade1844
  Dunrobin Castle1844
* New Law Courts1844
* Horse Guards’ Alterations1845
* Pedestal of Wellington Statue1847
  Keyham Factory1847
* National Gallery Alterations1848
* Royal Scottish Academy1849
* Elvaston Castle Alterations1849
  Canford Manor1850
  Bridgewater House1850
  College of Surgeons Alterations1850
  Dowlais Schools1851
  Edgbaston Hall (Alterations)1852
* Northumberland House Alterations1852
  Mr. Lyon’s House1852
* Crystal Palace Design with Domes1852
* British Museum Alterations1853
* Westminster Improvements1853
* National Gallery1853
* Royal Academy, Burlington House1855
* Clumber1857
* Government Offices Concentration1857
* Duxbury Hall1859
 Halifax Town Hall1859




Westminster, 15th October, 1853.

Sir,—In considering Your Royal Highness’s noble project and detailed plans, for concentrating all that appertains to Art and Science in one Institution at Kensington, certain doubts and difficulties as to the efficient realisation of such a comprehensive project upon that site have occurred to me, which, as a Member of the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851, I venture, with great respect and deference, to submit for Your Royal Highness’s consideration, together with a suggestion for meeting what appear to me to be the difficulties of the case.

I entirely agree with Your Royal Highness as to the great advantages, that would result from a concentration of such objects in one locality; but, having regard to the particular locality in question, I fear that it would be found to be neither convenient nor large enough for such a comprehensive purpose.

In laying out a great city, de novo, if an Acropolis in its centre of 150 acres could be set apart for the purpose, or if a second Fire of London were to afford the opportunity of appropriating that extent of space to the object in the locality of Russell Square, the project would, in my opinion, be not only feasible, but most desirable.

The doubts and misgivings which I entertain as to the site at Kensington for the comprehensive purposes to which it is proposed to be applied, are—Firstly, That it is far too much to the west for the general convenience of the Metropolis, particularly for the industrial community and the working-{359}classes at the eastern and central portions of the town. Secondly, That to carry out efficiently the principle of concentration as regards both Art and Science, it would not be large enough to accommodate the National Library and the entire collection of arts and antiquities at the British Museum, which should, in my opinion, form a part of such an institution; neither is it probable that the Learned Societies, whose meetings are usually in the evening, would be induced to form part of the Institution in such a distant locality. Thirdly, That it would render several old established and popular National Institutions, which have been erected at considerable cost, more or less useless; such as the British Museum, the present National Gallery and Royal Academy, the Museum of Economic Geology, and the Society of Arts, &c. And, Lastly, The enormous and indefinite cost that it would be necessary to incur, and the great lapse of time and inconvenience resulting therefrom, that might, and probably would, ensue, before such a large and costly institution would be completed, so as to render its advantages and usefulness thoroughly available.

From a rough calculation which I have formed of the buildings shown in Your Royal Highness’s plan for the National Gallery alone (which contains 1900 squares of buildings—i. e., is 30 per cent. larger than the entire British Museum), taking the Palace at Caserta, with which, in point of length and proposed design, it would so nearly assimilate, as a type of the style to be adopted—the cost would be little less than a million and a half of money; and to erect the other buildings, containing about 3995 squares, as shown in the same plan, within the main roads only, in a similar style, together with the enclosure, laying out of the ground, and formation of roads, &c., would probably cost an additional two millions and a half.

With respect to the advantage of this site for the national pictures, as regards immunity from soot and dust, I fear that too much importance is attached to that circumstance, owing to the enormous neighbourhood both existing and arising around it, and to the consequences of its position as regards{360} the denser portions of the Metropolis; for in the more lofty and airy neighbourhood of Hyde Park Gardens, Westbourne Terrace, &c., much inconvenience is felt from the falling of blacks, particularly during an easterly wind. From this and other considerations, I am inclined to think that the heart of London is not more subject to the effects of a sooty atmosphere than its immediate suburbs. All furnace smoke is likely to be soon abated under the provisions of the recent Act of Parliament for that purpose, and it is to be hoped that ere long such a stigma upon Science as the continuance of a similar nuisance from open fires will be removed. As to dust, the site at Kensington, with the open and airy spaces and macadamized roads surrounding it, is likely, I think, to suffer as much from that inconvenience, as the crowded and more frequented parts of London, particularly where the streets are paved with granite.

With reference to the capabilities of the site, in an æsthetic point of view, its lowness and flatness are not favourable to a fine architectural display, and the loftiness of the buildings which it is proposed to erect upon it, if properly proportioned to their lengths, will effectually shut out all view of the loftier background of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, with their fine trees, when viewed from the principal road out of Brompton.

Having thus described the doubts and misgivings which I entertain with respect to the site at Kensington, and as to the possibility of carrying out a perfect and efficient concentration of all that relates to science, art, and literature upon that spot, I proceed to notice the advantages and capabilities, which the existing institutions, to which I have adverted, would offer for such purposes, conjointly with the newly-acquired site.



As regards the present British Museum, which I would propose to call the “British Museum of Arts and Literature.”

This Institution occupies the most central portion of the Metropolis; its site is lofty and commanding; the soil good,{361} dry, and well drained; it is open to the north, and has 82 acres of open space in the squares which adjoin or are immediately contiguous to it; it contains at present 1480 squares of building, and stands upon above 8-1/2 acres of ground, which, by the addition of the surrounding property, with additional buildings upon it, might be increased to 3269 squares of building, and 13-1/2 acres of ground; it has already cost the country little short of a million of money; it is in a good neighbourhood, well calculated for residences for professors and officers of the Institution, and it has the advantage of the London University as an adjunct in its immediate neighbourhood; it is, moreover, a very popular Institution, and its site only requires the clearing away of a portion of the shabby neighbourhood to the south of it, and the opening up of a new approach to it in that direction, to render it an unexceptionable site for a great National Institution.

I propose that this Institution should not only be devoted to Art and Literature, but also to the accommodation of the Learned Societies. For this purpose it would be necessary to purchase the whole of the surrounding property, extending to Montague Street and Russell Square on the east, to Montague Place on the north, and to Bedford Square and Charlotte Street on the west; to cover over the quadrangle with a glass roof, and erect additional buildings on the west side of the present buildings, as recommended in a report, which I recently made to the Government, with a view to increase of the accommodation within the limits of the existing building.

The quadrangle and the ground story of the building might then be appropriated to the antiquities; the whole of the principal floor to the library, including the manuscripts, prints, and drawings: and the reading-rooms and the upper floor to the national pictures, which floor, with certain modifications that could be made at no great cost, might be admirably adapted to receive them, and which would not only accommodate the present collection, including the cartoons at Hampton Court, and my namesake’s pictures at the Society of Arts, but afford space for a future increase of it to nearly eight times its present amount, or more than double the{362} extent allotted to the pictures in the Louvre. To effect these arrangements, it would be necessary to remove by degrees, as other accommodation could be provided, the whole of the Natural History collection, which at present occupies a large portion of the one-pair floor, as well as other portions of the building, to Kensington. On the surrounding property recommended to be purchased, I would propose that as leases fall in, or otherwise by degrees, other buildings for such progressive enlargement of the Institution, as circumstances may render necessary, should be erected, by which the requirements of the country in respect to Art and Literature may be met for ages to come.

If these suggestions, as far as they relate to the limits of the present building, were carried out immediately, it would be necessary to incur the estimated cost of the additions and transformations, recommended in my recent report to the Government, amounting to £105,000
To which should be added for the requisite modifications of the one-pair floor, in order to adapt it for the reception of the national pictures 25,000
Making a total of £130,000

According to present requirements, however, this expenditure might be spread over a period of two or even three years; but upon such an arrangement, as would allow of depositing the present collection of national pictures in the rooms prepared for their reception, and providing for the pressing wants of the library, at the end of the first year.

The Institution, even in such a limited and incomplete state, would even then exceed the accommodation for galleries of art and books provided by the Parisian Bibliothèque Impériale and Louvre combined.

For the realisation of the entire project ultimately, it would be desirable that the Government should immediately purchase the fee simple of the whole of the property, which surrounds, and is immediately contiguous to, the present building. It is most fortunate that this property, at present{363} belongs entirely to one freeholder, a noble duke, whose liberality and patriotism are proverbial, and who therefore would probably feel disposed to part with his interest in it for public purposes at a moderate amount. The sum that would be required to acquire this property, and cover it with the buildings to which I have already adverted, would probably amount ultimately to less than a million of money; but, inasmuch as the accommodation to be provided for in these suggested buildings would not at present, nor probably for a considerable time to come, be needed, it would not be necessary or desirable to do more now, than purchase the fee simple of the property in question, and allow it to remain, as it is, so as to be remunerative to the Crown, until required from time to time for the purposes which have been proposed, leaving the expenditure upon the new buildings, proposed to be erected upon it, to be spread over such a period of years as may be considered prudent.



As regards the newly-acquired site at Kensington.

Upon this site I would propose that an institution should be founded, to be called the “National Gallery of Science,” in its various application to arts, manufactures, and commerce. For this purpose the distance of its locality from the centre of the Metropolis is comparatively of less importance than it would be in respect of an Institution for Art; for the feeling of the country at large, as regards art, is still wofully deficient, and can only be fostered and improved by placing the finest exemplars of all ages in a central position, in the hands, as it were, of the whole of the Metropolis, so that all of its inhabitants, and all who visit it from the provinces, particularly the industrial and working-classes, may have the benefit of being able constantly and easily to inspect them, and thus become familiarised, and even imbued, with their principles and excellence. With respect to science, the country is already pre-eminent; and a distant locality therefore of an institution for its encouragement is not likely to{364} deter that portion of the community, who are interested in it, and are anxious to profit by its advantages, from being ready perchance to go out of the way for the purpose.

It appears by the plan of the site at Kensington, that it consists of about 88 acres, of which about 52 acres lie between the projected main roads forming its principal subdivision, upon which are proposed to be erected the National Gallery, containing 1900 squares of building, and also the Colleges of Art and Science and the Museums of Industrial Art and Patented Inventions, containing together 3995 squares, or in the whole 5895 squares of building. About 10 acres of the site appear to be devoted to roads, and the remainder, about 26 acres, to outlying plots of ground, of irregular form, proposed for the accommodation of the learned societies, a music hall, official residences, &c., &c. The wedge-like form of ground towards Kensington Gore, which, although in the midst of the site, forms no part of it, having a frontage of about 320 feet to the high-road, and extending about 1100 feet into the principal subdivision of the ground already mentioned, is a serious drawback upon any architectural display, that might be made towards Hyde Park. This is less to be lamented, however, as the aspect and the point of view from higher ground are not favourable for such a display. The southern portion of the ground is therefore most properly proposed to be appropriated to that object, and the proposed general distribution of the buildings seems to me to be judiciously arranged for its attainment. If, however, my suggestions should be considered worthy of adoption, it would perhaps be desirable to alter the entire distribution, and it certainly would not be necessary to provide for buildings of such a commanding and costly character, as would be the case if the idea should be entertained of uniting all the requirements of art, science, and literature in one institution upon that spot. The only buildings that would be required, according to my suggestions, would be museums for the exhibition of zoological, botanical, and mineralogical specimens, and for patented inventions; a menagerie for living specimens in the department of natural history; a library of science, and theatres,{365} with laboratories, for public lectures in every branch of science, combined with a botanical garden and accommodation for living specimens of the animated kingdom; and such accommodation might in the first instance be fully obtained within the limits of the principal plot of ground between the proposed main roads. The off-lying plots might be held in reserve for any future increase of the Institution that may in the course of time be required, or a portion of them might be at once appropriated to workshops for the practical teaching of the industrial arts.

The valuable collections in the department of Natural History at present at the British Museum, the entire collection of the Museum of Economic Geology, the Trade Museum of the Society of Arts, the collection of patented inventions under the charge of the Patent Office, and possibly one or both of the private collections of the Regents Park and Surrey Zoological Gardens, if concentrated upon this spot, would form such a valuable and instructive collection, as could not fail to excite a great interest in the institution amongst all classes of the community.

It is difficult to estimate what might be the ultimate cost of such an institution; but it is probable, I think, that much less than a million of money would cover the amount of it. This expenditure, however, might be spread over a course of years, and, as the institution would add so much to public enjoyment and instruction, and would be practically so advantageous to the arts, manufactures, and commerce of the country, Parliament would not be likely to be backward in voting from time to time the requisite supplies.

Such an institution, when fully carried out, might then vie with the Jardin des Plantes, which it would much exceed in acreage, and the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers of the French capital combined, and bear an honourable comparison with those noble institutions.



As regards the present National Gallery and Royal Academy of Art.{366}

The building containing these two Institutions occupies the finest position which London affords for architectural display, and is unfortunately the meanest and most ineffective of its public buildings. It stands upon rather more than an acre of ground, nearly one half of which is wasted in the Fore Court, under a mistaken notion that it was desirable to let in a view of the portico of St. Martin’s Church from Pall Mall East, which, owing to the tower of the church being now seen above it, has lost all the importance and grandeur of effect which it formerly had when seen from Old St. Martin’s Lane.

The present edifice contains 278 squares of building, which I propose should be increased to 448 squares, by removing the present useless portico and other columns and projections which now break up its front, building upon the wasted portion of its site, namely the fore court, and placing the staircase on the site of the present sculpture-room. With these and other additions and alterations, assuming that the national pictures are removed, I propose that the building should be devoted exclusively to the teaching of Art in all its branches, and the periodical exhibition of modern works, for which purpose it should be divided between the Royal Academy of Fine Art, and the Metropolitan School of Design for practical and decorative Art.

The present wall space for pictures, which amounts to about 16,920 superficial feet, would, by the proposed additions and alterations, reach 54,720 feet; and ample space would be provided for sculpture, casts, &c., as well as for the schools, lecture-rooms, libraries, and other accommodation required by each department, so that the business of the schools need not be interrupted, as is now the case at the Royal Academy, during the entire period of the annual exhibition of modern productions.

The addition, which I would propose to make in front of the existing building for the purpose of masking its deformity, and shutting out of view from the south all the unsightly objects on the rising ground at the back which are now seen above it, would be in the Italian style of architecture, about 430 feet in length and nearly 100 feet in height, with flank{367}ing towers about 30 feet square, rising to a height of 130 feet. The composition would consist of two orders of architecture in the façade generally, and three in the towers, elevated upon a lofty arcaded ground story, affording covered access to the building for carriages to the extent of 100 feet in length. In the centre of the front in each of the orders above the ground story I would propose open loggiæ, about 100 feet long, to enable visitors to enjoy the view to the south, and obtain a little fresh air as a relief to the often oppressive and wearisome effect produced by an inspection of very extensive galleries of works of art.

The cost of such additions and alterations as I have suggested would probably amount to about 135,000l., and as the Royal Academy would be much benefited by the increased and improved accommodation that they would afford, a portion of its funded property might fairly be required as a contribution to that expenditure, and the remainder might be reasonably looked for from Parliament, as being for the permanent accommodation of a new national institution. Such a building as that proposed, upon such a noble and commanding site as that of Trafalgar Square, could not fail to have a very striking effect, and would dominate over that portion of the Metropolis, as the Vatican does over Rome.



As regards the present Museum of Economic Geology, in Jermyn Street.

This institution occupies a good, well-frequented, and nearly central position, and has recently been formed by the country at an expenditure of about 40,000l. It contains 112 squares of building, including a fine theatre for lectures, a mineralogical museum, and good accommodation for various scientific purposes.

I would propose that the entire collection at this institution should be transferred to the proposed College of Science at Kensington, and that it should thereupon be set apart and fitted up as a National Polytechnic Institution, for amusing{368} and instructive demonstrations and lectures in science, with a library and schools for engineering drawing, for the use principally of the industrial and working classes of an evening, which, judging from past experience in the institution itself, and the success that attends other private institutions of a similar nature, could not, I think, fail to become extremely popular and useful.

Fifthly and Lastly.

As regards the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, in the Adelphi.

This old-established Institution, being denuded, as I have proposed, of its paintings and its Trade Museum, Library, &c., might be rendered useful as a place for meeting and for lectures, principally of an evening, on all subjects connected with the statistics of trade and commerce, &c., and a rendezvous for all, who seek information connected therewith.

Having now enumerated the capabilities and advantages that our existing institutions afford, conjointly with the newly acquired site at Kensington, for the important objects to which I have adverted, I have only to add that I have been induced to associate Art, Literature, and Learning in one institution as being branches of knowledge of a kindred nature illustrative of each other, and likely to work well together, and to separate from them Science, which has less affinity with those branches of knowledge, except in so far as it may be applied to the useful arts and manufactures of the country, for which the means and accommodation are proposed to be provided at Kensington.

I am, in short, induced to recommend this separation of Art and Science from a strong conviction that the site at Kensington is too distant from the centre of the Metropolis, too small, and too low for a perfect, efficient, and convenient concentration of all that relates to both; and that it would be far better to improve and add to the usefulness of all our existing Institutions for the encouragement of Art, Literature, and Learning, and turn the site at Kensington to the best{369} account for the encouragement of Science, particularly in its application to the arts, manufactures, and commerce of the country, than to attempt the more comprehensive project proposed with reference to that site, which, for the reasons I have assigned, would I fear be likely to meet with many financial difficulties, delays, and disappointments, and excite, as a national institution, invidious comparisons with the newly erected Crystal Palace, which occupies one of the most commanding and beautiful situations in the country, and is placed in the midst of about 280 acres of ornamental grounds, forming an institution with objects akin to those of all our existing public institutions, combined and wholly effected by private enterprise at an ultimate cost of probably more than two millions of money.

I have the honour, &c.,

(Signed) Charles Barry.




To the Commissioners appointed to superintend the Completion of the New Palace at Westminster.

Great George Street, 6th February, 1849.

My Lord and Gentlemen,—The time is now arrived, when I deem it necessary to call your attention to a matter of great personal interest to myself. I allude to the remuneration for my past services as architect of the New Palace at Westminster.

As I am now in a position to prove the inadequacy of the amount of the sum originally proposed to me, and the{370} insufficiency of the grounds upon which that proposition was made, I feel that I ought not any longer delay to request an early settlement of my claims.

You are doubtless aware that the proposition originally made to me by the Government in 1839 was, that I should receive the sum of 25,000l. for the labour and responsibility to be imposed upon me in the superintendence, direction and completion of the intended edifice, and that I was induced to accede conditionally to that proposition, in the belief that it was made to me in the absence of a due appreciation of the enormous extent of that labour and responsibility, and that any attempt on my part, at that time, to prove the inadequacy of the sum proposed would have been fruitless. I was further induced to take this course from having then entered upon the duties of my appointment as architect of the New Palace, for more than nineteen months, when I had already made extensive and costly arrangements to enable me to carry on the works; so that if, instead of acceding conditionally to the proposition, I had adopted the alternative of relinquishing the employment, which at the time occurred to me, I could not have done so without a considerable sacrifice. I preferred, therefore, to postpone all further application on the subject, until I should be in a condition to prove incontestably the full extent of my services, and then to rely upon the Government for a just and liberal determination of the question.

As it is possible that you may not be acquainted with the whole of the circumstances under which this proposition was made to me, I think it right to trouble you with the following short narrative of the transaction:—

When my original design for the New Palace at Westminster had been approved, and the original estimate had been subjected to a searching examination by the department of Woods and Works, and some discussion also, as I was informed, had taken place in a Committee of the House of Commons respecting my remuneration, the Government, in 1837, conferred upon me the appointment of architect, to carry into effect that design, but without making any stipula{371}tion whatever relative to the remuneration for my services; and I was ordered to proceed immediately with the work, which I accordingly commenced on the 3rd of July in that year.

As this order was conveyed to me unconditionally, I had no reason to doubt but that my remuneration would be of the customary amount.

On the 1st March, however, in the year 1839, I had the first official intimation that such was not proposed to be the case, in a letter, which I then received from the Office of Woods, enclosing a copy of a letter to that effect from the Lords of the Treasury to the Commissioners of Woods, &c., of the 29th of the preceding month, no explanation having been required of me, nor any previous communication even made to me, upon the subject.

The purport of this letter from the Lords of the Treasury was to concur in a recommendation of the Commissioners of Woods, made in a Report to their Lordships on the subject of my remuneration in February, 1838, and to convey to those Commissioners the official sanction of the Government for acting upon it. The recommendation was to the effect that the sum of 25,000l. would be a fair and reasonable remuneration for the labour and responsibility to be imposed upon me in the superintendence, direction and completion of the intended edifice; and the Commissioners of Woods stated that they were of that opinion, after having given their best consideration to “all the circumstances of the case, the extent and importance of the buildings, the nature and description of the several works, the very large expenditure contemplated in my estimate, and the period within which it was proposed that such expenditure should be incurred.”

After having made a fruitless application for the particulars of the grounds upon which such recommendation was made, I was induced, for the reasons before stated, to accede conditionally to the proposition founded upon it, under a protest, however, as to the inadequacy of the amount proposed, and with an intimation that I should offer proof of its inadequacy, when the building was in such an advanced state as to allow of a competent judgment being formed on the subject, which{372} protest, as well as the reiteration of it on various subsequent occasions, has never been contested.

It will be seen that the proposition had special reference to the plans and estimates then delivered and approved, and that the conditions of it were based upon those documents. I could easily prove, if it were necessary, that those conditions have been annulled by acts of the Government, and by circumstances over which I had no control; but, assuming for the present that they have been strictly adhered to, I am anxious to show, not only that the grounds which have been alleged for reducing the amount of the architect’s customary remuneration in this case, are erroneous, but that I have been called upon, in carrying into effect the design adopted, to do much more than is usual, or than could have been anticipated in the ordinary discharge of my professional duties.

In the first place the Commissioners of Woods state that they have given their best consideration to “all the circumstances of the case.”

With all due respect for the nobleman and gentlemen who filled the office of Commissioners of Woods at that time, I must contend, that, from the want of professional knowledge and experience, they were incompetent of themselves to form any just opinion on the subject, and they did not, to my knowledge, take the opinion of any one really competent to advise them thereon.

2ndly. They adduce “the extent and importance of the work,” as a ground for reducing the architect’s accustomed remuneration. I submit, that the unusual extent and importance of the work is a reason rather for increasing than diminishing the customary remuneration of the architect, inasmuch as his responsibilities are more than proportionally increased, and the demands upon his taste, skill, and judgment are far greater, than in works of less magnitude and importance. For with respect to extensive and complicated plans, such as that of the New Palace at Westminster, where requirements of great number and widely different character have to be combined and arranged, with a view not only to insure convenience in detail, but also the utmost perfection{373} that is attainable as a whole, it will be manifest to all, who are able to form a correct opinion on the subject, that the labour and skill required are immeasurably greater, than in buildings of comparatively small dimensions, designed with reference to one single object.

3rdly. The Commissioners of Woods allude to “the nature and description of the work” in support of their recommendation. I am not exactly aware what meaning may have been intended to be conveyed by these remarks. If it is meant that the skill and labour required to produce the building in question is less than are required in other public buildings or private works, I cannot admit the truth of such an assumption. As however the New Palace at Westminster is now sufficiently advanced to allow of an accurate judgment being formed as to the amount of labour, skill, and responsibility, that has been incurred in producing it, I invite a comparison between it and any other public building of modern times; and I think it will be evident, even to the uninitiated, that in point of variety of design, elaboration of details, and difficulties of combination and construction, the labour and responsibility incurred is much greater, than in any other modern edifice that can be mentioned.

I may here add, as a ground for an increase rather than a reduction of the customary remuneration in respect of Public Works, that owing to the trouble, delays, and perplexities attendant upon official communications and requirements, the architect’s labours and anxieties are much greater than those which he has to incur in private practice; and, if this be true of public buildings of an ordinary character, it may be easily conceived, that those labours and anxieties have been incomparably greater in carrying into effect such a work as the New Palace at Westminster, in which not only the Government, but Committees of Parliament, and even the public, have unceasingly assumed the right of criticism and control. As one proof, among many others that might be adduced, of the enormous amount of labour that has already devolved upon me, in conducting this great national work to its present state, it will not be irrelevant to mention, that no less than{374} between 8000 and 9000 original drawings and models have been prepared for it, a large portion of which have emanated from my own hand, while the whole of the remainder have been made under my own immediate direction and supervision.

4thly. “The very large amount of expenditure contemplated” is stated by the Commissioners of Woods as another ground for reducing the architect’s accustomed remuneration. I submit that in a work of the complicated and elaborate description of the New Palace at Westminster, the amount of expenditure incurred is a fair and just criterion of the amount of skill and labour required in producing it, and that, owing to the number of years over which the expenditure has extended, the annual amount upon an average has not been greater than upon other public works erected during the same period, upon which, up to the present time, the architect has in all cases been paid his accustomed amount of remuneration.

The 5th and last ground alleged by the Commissioners of Woods in support of the Government proposition is, “The period within which it was proposed that the contemplated expenditure should be incurred.” This ground was assigned upon the assumption that the entire edifice might be completed within six years; but, owing to the limited portions of the site that could from time to time be cleared, in consequence of the necessity which has constantly existed of providing accommodation for the business of Parliament upon a part of that site, it was found to be impossible, particularly in the early stages of the work, to employ an unlimited number of men, or to expend more upon an average than between 80,000l. and 90,000l. per annum. On this account, and also in consequence of the delays and difficulties occasioned by the extraordinary nature and extent of the warming and ventilating arrangements, and the difficulty of complying with Dr. Reid’s requirements in respect of them, the peculiar nature of the site, the difficulty of obtaining accurate information as to the ever-varying accommodation required, the delay in official communications and in obtaining authorities, and the limitation of the supplies of late years, the time{375} occupied upon the works has already amounted to nearly twice the period originally assumed for their completion; and it is obviously impossible, while such contingencies are likely to impede their progress, to say how much longer it will be before the entire work will be completed.

Having now, I trust, shown the insufficiency of the grounds assigned by the Commissioners of Woods for reducing the amount of the architect’s customary recompense, with reference to the New Palace at Westminster, I have to observe that not only have I, in that capacity, discharged all those duties by which I am justly entitled to that amount of remuneration, but I have been called upon to do more than is usual, or than could have been anticipated. I allude particularly to the unusual amount of labour and anxiety in carrying out, under Dr. Reid’s direction, during a period of nearly five years, structural arrangements for warming and ventilating the entire edifice, to an extent never before attempted to be applied to any public building whatever, and much beyond what I considered to be necessary. I have also been called upon to remodel the internal fittings of the two Houses, and to vary from time to time the arrangements and appropriation of the offices, division lobbies, &c., of each House, owing to the changes made in the mode of conducting the business of Parliament, and the vagueness and insufficiency of the information afforded for the preparation of the original design, which information, upon being reconsidered by Committees appointed from time to time during the progress of the works, has been found in many instances to be altogether at variance with the requirements. Those who are aware of the consequences of making a single alteration in one part of a large and complicated plan, and the extensive changes to which it often leads in others, will readily conceive, that, in order to comply with the demands above alluded to, the entire plan and construction of the building has had to be modified and recast over and over again, occasioning a considerable amount of additional thought and labour, and an increase of drawings much beyond what are required under ordinary circumstances.{376}

I consider, therefore, that I am justly entitled to at least the customary remuneration in respect of the outlay contemplated in the original design and estimate; and I beg to add that the whole of the arguments, which I have urged in favour of such remuneration, apply with equal force to the expenditure upon extra works sanctioned by the Government or Parliament; but to these it is scarcely necessary to observe that the proposal for a limited amount of remuneration can have no reference.

I consider also that I am entitled to a further remuneration for special services not connected with my professional duties in respect of the works of the building. These services consist of attendances upon the Fine Arts Commission, reports and numerous drawings prepared in compliance with the orders of that Commission, frequent communications with its secretary, and the artists appointed for the decoration of the interior of the New Palace; attendances upon Committees of Parliament in every session from the year 1841 to the present time, preparing data required by those Committees, giving and correcting of evidence, making up voluminous returns in compliance with orders of the House of Commons (one of which occupied myself and clerks for nearly four months); attendances to give evidence upon two Commissions of Inquiry with reference to Dr. Reid’s system of warming and ventilating, preparing plans and other documents for the use of those Commissions; conferences and communications with the Law Officers of the Crown, with reference to contracts, disputed claims, and threatened legal proceedings; numerous reports and estimates required from time to time by the Office of Woods, negotiations and arrangements consequent upon the establishment of the Government workshops at Thames Bank, and the superintendence of the collection of above 3000 casts of the best specimens of mediæval art to be found in this as well as in foreign countries for the use of the wood-carvers; preparing plans, estimates, &c., for providing accommodation for the whole of the public records of the kingdom, and other miscellaneous services.

On account of the whole of the above-mentioned services{377} I have received in the course of ten years the sum of 24,735l. 3s. 2d. in part of the 25,000l. originally proposed, or, after deducting my expenses, an income at the rate of about 1,500l. per annum, which income, if based upon the principle of a fixed remuneration, would in proportion to the further extent of time occupied in completing the building, suffer a corresponding decrease; and, when it is considered that in consequence of my appointment as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster I have been obliged to give up more than two-thirds of a lucrative practice, and have to my knowledge been deprived of employment to a very considerable extent, from a prevalent feeling which has existed that it was out of my power to attend to any other works; and when also it is borne in mind that this income constitutes the whole of the emolument which I derive, either directly or indirectly, from my appointment, it is scarcely necessary for me to add that such an income does not by any means recompense me for the labours, responsibilities, and sacrifices which I have incurred.

The following is an account of the expenditure upon the building, exclusive of the river embankment wall, up to 31st December, 1848:—

  £ s. d.
Amount already advanced on account of works comprised in the original estimate of 707,104l. 472,000 0 0
On account of extra works in the embankment of the river and in the foundations of the building, the new basement story, additional residences and offices, central tower, stone carving, and all structural arrangements connected with warming, ventilating, &c. &c., which could not have been foreseen, and which, consequently, form no part of the original design and estimate, amounting to 210,842 16 2
On account of extra finishings, works of decoration, library and other fittings, and for fixtures, furniture, upholstery, &c., expressly excluded from the original estimate, amounting to 139,415 3 0
On account of miscellaneous items, taking down and shoring up old buildings, new roofs and additions to speaker’s late residence and other old buildings, temporary roof and coverings, clerks of works’ offices, casts of specimens for wood-carvers, &c. &c., amounting to 19,372 18 9
Total £ 841,630 17 11


On the above amount of expenditure therefore I claim, for the reasons which I have adduced, the accustomed remuneration of five per cent.:

  £ s. d. £ s. d.
Or 42,081 10 0
Upon which I have received on account 24,735 4 2
Leaving a balance of £ 17,346 6 10
And for special or extraneous services during a period of ten years, as above enumerated 5,256 0 0
Amount now claimed £ 22,602 6 10

Although I have no doubt that I should be able to prove, upon a quantum meruit valuation, that I am justly entitled to a much higher remuneration for my services in this case than that of the customary commission demanded under ordinary circumstances, I propose to adhere to the long-established and generally received standard of charge adopted by the profession generally, in the hope that by so doing all controversy or contention on the subject may be avoided; and when the amount of the claim which, in consequence, I am now willing to receive as a recompense in full for my past services, is fairly considered with reference to the labour, responsibility, and sacrifices incurred in conducting, under very peculiar and trying circumstances, the largest and most elaborate architectural work ever, perhaps, undertaken at one time in this or any other country, to which I have devoted almost exclusively the best period of my professional life; and when also it is contrasted with the incomes of other professions, such as those of the law, medicine, civil engineering, &c., which, it is well known, vary from 12,000l. to 20,000l. per annum, and even upwards; and when also the important fact, to which I have before alluded, is borne in mind, that every architect appointed to the superintendence of public works in this country, both before and since the date of my engagement, has been paid the full amount of the customary commission, I cannot doubt but that it will be generally admitted, not only that I am fully justified in the demand which I now make, but that I have not unduly{379} estimated the value of my services as the architect of such an important national work as the New Palace at Westminster.

I have, &c.

(Signed) Charles Barry.


From the Treasury to Sir Charles Barry.

Treasury Chambers, 8 February, 1854.

Sir,—I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury to acquaint you that my Lords have had under their consideration a letter addressed by you to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of your remuneration as architect for the New Houses of Parliament.

It appears that, when these works were first undertaken the estimate for the shell of the building only was 707,104l., and that Lord Bessborough, who was at that time Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, and, as such, charged with the Department of Works, agreed that the remuneration to the architect should be 25,000l., and you state that you accepted that arrangement, but under protest that it was unprofessional. I have to state that my Lords have carefully examined into the circumstances which were likely to have influenced Lord Bessborough in fixing the remuneration of the architect at that sum, and they find that, for many years prior, the rate of commission paid by the Board of Works to the most eminent architects of the day was 3 per cent. They find that the attached architects of the Board of Works, viz., Sir John Soane, Sir Robert Smirke, and Mr. John Nash, were, by Treasury Regulations, paid at the rate of 3 per cent. on the public works executed under their direction. It is true that those gentlemen had also salaries of 500l. each attached to their offices, but those salaries were understood to be a remuneration for the professional advice, which they were expected to afford to the Government, for which they received no other pay, and not as any part of their remuneration as architects for the performance of works placed under their care. On these{380} terms the following works were performed by those eminent architects:—

And my Lords find that the only exception to this rule was as regards the New Palace at Buckingham Gate.

With regard to that work, Mr. Nash was paid at the regular rate of 3 per cent. up to September, 1826, when it was raised to 5 per cent., but for what reason my Lords have not been able to ascertain.

My Lords further find that the allowance made by the Board of Works to the architects unattached to their establishment has been at the rate of 3 per cent., and that the following works were executed by Mr. Burton at that rate:—

As an exception to that rule, Sir Jeffery Wyattville was paid 5 per cent. for the restoration of Windsor Castle, under a special agreement with the Treasury in 1826, by which he engaged not to charge for his journeys, which in those days were expensive, and some other extras usually charged by architects.

Looking, then, to the rule which had been established so long in the office over which Lord Bessborough presided, and to the close proximity which the sum fixed by his Lordship{381} bears to the estimate then made for the mere shell of the building, and to the probable amount of the cost of such fittings as would be placed under the superintendence of the architect, my Lords can arrive at no other conclusion than that, in fixing that sum for the entire work, his Lordship did so with a view to the rate of commission usually paid by the Department, preferring to take a fixed sum rather than a commission, as is not unfrequently done, under the impression that it may avoid an extension of the works, and consequently of the cost.

My Lords advert to the great increase in the expenditure upon these works, and to the circumstances under which such increase has from time to time taken place, to such an extent that the outlay up to this time is nearly double the sum originally intended. They also advert to the circumstance, that with regard to some portion of that expense connected with the internal fittings, assistance and advice other than that afforded by you has been obtained, and it appears that in this way Mr. Pugin was employed for some time at a salary of 200l. a-year.

I have to apprise you that, under all the circumstances of the case, my Lords have arrived at the conclusion, that a fair and even liberal remuneration to you will be, that you should be paid at the rate of 3 per cent. upon the cost of the works which have been and may hereafter be performed under your supervision, including the fittings, &c., of the building, but subject to a deduction of the amounts which shall appear to have been paid for the assistance rendered by Mr. Pugin.

My Lords have therefore requested the Board of Works to furnish this Board without delay with an exact account of the expenditure up to the 31st December, 1853, and that an account shall also be furnished of the several amounts of money which from time to time have been paid to you on account of the said works; and whatever balance shall appear to be due to you upon such an account my Lords will be prepared at once to discharge.

My Lords have also desired that the Board of Works will, in the present and in every future year, include in their{382} annual estimates for the New Houses of Parliament a sum equal to 3 per cent. on the probable outlay of the year, as a remuneration to the architect, and they have directed that at the close of every year the value of the work performed may be accurately ascertained, and the commission of the architect punctually discharged on the principles herein laid down.

In respect to the cost of measuring the work as it has proceeded, my Lords advert to the fact, that in the arrangements between the Board of Works and architects alluded to in the former part of this communication the understanding was, that that cost should be borne by the Board of Works. My Lords are, therefore, of opinion that you should be held free from any charge on that account. They have therefore requested that the Board of Works will report to this Board all the facts in connexion with the measurement of the works, and my Lords will be prepared to reimburse you any sum which you shall appear to have expended thereon.

I have to add that my Lords have been pleased further to request that the Board of Works will report fully to this Board as to the best mode in which the measurement of the work should in future be made as they proceed, having reference specially to that plan which will afford the most secure check upon public expenditure.

I am, &c.
(Signed) James Wilson.


From Sir C. Barry to the Treasury.

Clapham Common, 14 March, 1854.

Sir,—I regret that in consequence of a severe attack of illness more than two months since, from which I have not yet entirely recovered, I have been prevented from replying at an earlier period to your letter of the 8th ultimo, relative to my remuneration as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster.

The desire evinced by the Lords Commissioners of Her{383} Majesty’s Treasury to be guided, in determining the amount of my remuneration, by the precedent established in respect of the payments hitherto made to architects for the public buildings of the country generally, is all that I can fairly expect at their Lordships’ hands, and is accordingly acknowledged with feelings of gratitude on my part. The fixed sum of 25,000l., originally proposed by the late Lord Bessborough as a recompense for my services as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster, which, be it observed, was no less than 10,000l. below what I was justly entitled to upon the amount of my estimate, was unfairly forced upon me, and I was compelled, under the existing circumstances, to acquiesce, but under a protest as to its insufficiency, the force of which has been greatly strengthened by the experience I have now had during a period of 17 years, in carrying into effect those portions of the New Palace which are now completed.

My acquiescence in the sum proposed by the late Lord Bessborough has, notwithstanding my protest and the manifest insufficiency of the amount, been deemed to be a bargain, the conditions of which were, that for a given sum of money the architect should carry into effect a given design in a given period, namely, six years, which conditions have been long set aside by circumstances over which I have had no control. By what process the late Lord Bessborough arrived at the conclusion that 25,000l. was a fit and proper remuneration for the architect of such a building as the New Palace at Westminster, I have no means of knowing; but certainly it could not have been, as the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury seem to imagine, from any precedent then existing in his department, when all architects, without distinction, received at the least 5 per cent. upon the cost of their respective works. The precedent to which their Lordships allude, of paying the architects, who were formerly attached for a time to that Board, at the rate of 3 per cent., had then been abolished nearly seven years. But assuming, for the sake of argument, that his Lordship could have been guided, which is not in the least degree likely, by the precedent which had formerly been acted upon in his department in respect of its{384} attached architects, it should be borne in mind, that although they received only 3 per cent. upon works, they were relieved of one of the most important of their professional duties, namely, the labour and responsibility of making contracts, measuring and making up accounts, &c., which it is evident the Board of Works has always considered to be equal to a further allowance of 2 per cent.; for as regards all other architects (with the exception, under special circumstances, of Mr. Burton in respect of a portion only of the public works executed under his direction) who have been, both formerly and since, employed upon public works, and who have been called upon to perform that duty, they have invariably received the accustomed amount of remuneration of 5 per cent. upon the cost of the respective works.

The following is a list of the most important public buildings upon which the respective architects have received 5 per cent. since the year 1832:—

In some of these instances the architects were also relieved of the measuring, making up accounts, &c. It appears, therefore, that payment at the rate of 5 per cent. to the architects of all public buildings, has invariably been the rule of the{385} Board of Works since the year 1832; and that prior to that date the same rule prevailed, except in respect of those buildings which were carried into effect under the direction of those architects who were for a time attached to the Board, who received 3 per cent., for the reasons already mentioned.

With reference to the additions and alterations made under the direction of Mr. Nash, at Buckingham Palace, and the subsequent alterations under Mr. Blore, at the same building; the remuneration received by those two gentlemen was, not only at the rate of 5 per cent. but they were also relieved from the labour, cost, and responsibility as to measuring, &c.

As to the works at Windsor Castle, Sir Jeffrey Wyattville was not only paid at the rate of 5 per cent., but he also had the same relief afforded to him as to measuring, &c.; which circumstance, and not the payment to him of 5 per cent. as supposed by their Lordships, was, as appears by a Treasury Minute of the 6th October, 1826, considered to be an equivalent for his journeys and some other extras usually charged by architects. Notwithstanding, however, this arrangement in lieu of a charge for journeys, Sir Jeffrey had also the advantage of having a residence assigned to him in the Castle free of charge, during the whole of the time he was employed upon the works of that building. In short, the payments made to the architects of the two above-mentioned works, together with the immunities and advantages which they enjoyed, constituted a remuneration fully equal to 7 per cent.

With respect to my own case, as regards the New Palace at Westminster, I have not only performed all the professional duties, which Sir Jeffrey Wyattville and Mr. Nash performed in respect of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, but I have in addition been called upon to take upon myself the labour and responsibility of making contracts, forming elaborate schedules of prices, measuring, and making up accounts amounting to nearly a million and a half of money, and of adjusting disputed claims to a considerable extent, from which onerous duties they were altogether exempt; and I have had at least as great, if not much greater, difficulties{386} than they had to contend with in carrying into effect the works at the New Palace at Westminster, owing to the necessity of forming an artificial foundation in the river; the limited clearances from time to time of the site; the necessity of keeping up old buildings, often a work of much difficulty and danger, and constantly adding temporary accommodation, so that the sittings of Parliament might not be interrupted; the interferences with the works by Parliamentary Committees and other authorities, involving numerous alterations and delays; and the impossibility, in consequence of spending upon an average more than about 90,000l. per annum, by which the works have now been in hand more than 11 years beyond the time originally assumed for their completion.

With reference to the measuring and making up accounts, &c., I beg to state that the mere reimbursement of my expenses, as proposed by their Lordships, would be no remuneration whatever to me for the share which I have personally taken, and the responsibility which I have incurred in that important portion of my duty.

In my letter to the New Palace Commissioners of the 6th February, 1849, which has been laid before Parliament, and to which letter, as it touches generally upon the prominent points of my case, I beg most respectfully to direct the attention of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, I enumerated the extra duties which have devolved upon me in consequence of my position as the architect of the New Palace, and which are not included in the ordinary remuneration of an architect. I have only to add to what I have therein stated, that the difficulties in acting with Dr. Reid were imposed upon me after the original design and construction had been matured and exemplified in all requisite drawings, &c., and the works had been actually commenced; and that the same difficulties have continued in a greater or less degree up to within about the last 18 months; and, as a further illustration of the extra labours to which I have adverted in that letter in respect of designing and re-designing each department of the New Palace successively, I may mention that with reference to that large portion of the building now in{387} hand in Old Palace Yard, designs have been made and working drawings prepared no less than four times before the works were commenced, in consequence of the ever-varying directions of the chiefs of the department which is therein contained.

As regards Mr. Pugin, whose services are alluded to in your letter, their Lordships are altogether under an erroneous impression. The salary paid to that gentleman was not for any duties that usually devolve upon the architect in respect of designs, which designs have all emanated from myself, but for taking the charge and direction of the men employed by the Government in the wood-carving department, for which office he was pre-eminently qualified, not only on account of his knowledge of decorative art, but practically on account of the experience which he had previously acquired in following, at one period of his life, wood-carving as a business. A similar arrangement was made in respect of the stone-carving, which is also executed by workmen employed by the Government, by which a like appointment was conferred upon Mr. Thomas, who is still at the head of that department. Their Lordships will therefore perceive, that it would be manifestly unjust to make any reduction, as proposed, in my remuneration in respect of the salaries paid to the executive chiefs of either of these departments.

Their Lordships advert to the great increase of expenditure beyond the original estimate, and the circumstances under which such increase has from time to time taken place as, apparently, an element in the consideration of my claim; but I would most respectfully submit that the increase adverted to cannot fairly affect the amount of my remuneration, inasmuch as it has brought upon me more than a full and proportionate amount of extra labour, anxiety, and responsibility, and has been occasioned by circumstances beyond my control, as set forth in a Report of a Committee of the House of Commons in 1844, and subsequently by the New Palace Commissioners, in a letter addressed by them to the Treasury on the 15th June, 1849.

When, therefore, the difficulties which I have had to{388} encounter for nearly 20 years, in conducting the great work at Westminster to its present state, are borne in mind, and it is considered that I have devoted, almost exclusively, the best part of my life to that work, and that in consequence of being its architect I have experienced the loss of nearly the whole of a lucrative private practice; that the invariable rule of the Board of Works has been to pay all architects at least 5 per cent., or in the same ratio, according to the duties which they have been required to discharge; and more especially when it is considered that the offer of remuneration now made to me for designing and carrying into effect the New Palace at Westminster, under all the circumstances and disadvantages already adverted to, does not, owing to the length of time during which the works have been in hand, exceed, after deducting my expenses, the sum of 1500l. per annum, I cannot doubt but that the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury will, upon a review of all the circumstances adverted to, admit that such an offer is very far short of meeting the justice of the case; and that with reference to its merits and to the precedents established, particularly in respect of the works of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, &c., I am most fairly and justly entitled to at least the accustomed remuneration of the profession of 5 per cent., including the measuring, &c., and an allowance for extra services, with such interest as may be due to me upon deferred payments, for designing and carrying into effect, under very peculiar and difficult circumstances, the largest, the most elaborate in its design and details, and the most important building in modern times.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) Charles Barry.

(d). LETTER OF J. M. WHITE, ESQ., JULY, 1855.

From J. M. White, Esq., to James Wilson, Esq., M.P.

10, Whitehall Place, 14 July, 1855.

Sir Charles Barry’s Claims.

Sir,—Owing to Sir Charles’s absence in Paris, I have not been able to obtain his final reply on the subject of these claims till this morning. I explained the purport of my interview with you last Saturday, when you stated that your offer was limited to the written paper which you read to me, and of which you had previously furnished me with a copy. The terms of this paper are as follows:—

Past Accounts.

“Commission on works to which commission is applicable, 3 per cent.

“Amount to 2nd October, 1854, 1,506,845l.

“Commission for measurement on the cost of works to which measurement applies, 1 per cent.

“These commissions to cover all questions of claims of any kind in respect to the Houses of Parliament.

Future Expenditure.

“Commission on works performed, 3 per cent.

“Commission for measurement on all expenditure to which measurement is applicable, 1 per cent.

“Treasury, 26 May, 1855.


“To prevent misunderstanding in future, Sir C. Barry is to order no furniture, &c., except under an authority through the Board of Works from the Treasury.”[123]

To these terms I objected that they did not cover a very large amount of services relating to the Houses of Parliament, but not leading to expenditure; and further, there was another claim for interest on outlay, and on deferred pay{390}ments, and generally, assuming the rates of commission were of the amounts offered by you, I considered that they ought to be on the amount expended, past and future. To your remark, “that the claim for extra services could not be of large amount, and hence you considered it was covered by the commission offered,” and that the claim for interest you could not admit in any way, I replied first, that the services were very considerable, in corroboration of which I now beg to forward a rough statement of them. And I feel I am justified in adhering to this part of the claim, which I fully believe would extend to a sum of at least 10,000l. For you will have the goodness to bear in mind that these claims run over nearly twenty years, that they have been the subject of inquiry by no less than seven Committees of the House of Commons, besides two official references relating to Dr. Reid’s plans of ventilation (exclusive of that relating to his final claims, which has been duly met), and that in every case Sir C. Barry has acted with full sanction and authority.

I put forward this claim therefore with perfect confidence, because had it been an ordinary case between an independent architect and an ordinary employer, the claim could be supported fully on a quantum meruit; and why an independent architect like Sir C. Barry should not have at least the same payment from the Government I am wholly at a loss to understand.

The claim for interest, if worked out in detail, would amount at least to as much as the other class of claims. You will recollect that I pointed out, in reference to the 25,000l. alluded to in Lord Duncannon’s offer, Sir Charles, instead of being paid in six years as proposed, was not paid in twelve; and even in the measuring, to which your offer of 1 per cent. extends, he is actually in advance from 11,000l. to 12,000l., and his other outlay, especially in more remote years, has been in large advance from time to time, independently of the balance now due to him, and the sacrifice he is willing to make if a final settlement be now made. It is true that advances are almost incidental to cases of this kind, and that, if disputes arise, it is an inconvenience which must often be{391} shared between the disputing parties; but such incidents are covered and the inconvenience met by adhering to the customary rules and amount of remuneration, which in works like these is 5 per cent., as claimed by Sir C. Barry. That amount being departed from, the present claim has a substance and a reality about it calling for full and fair consideration from the Government. And finally, on the main point of the commission, I must again advert to the following facts:—

1st. That the Board of Woods and Works in the first instance themselves added 5 per cent. as due to the architect. This had all the effect of a legal contract, if not disturbed by subsequent proceedings.

2nd. Lord Duncannon’s offer of 25,000l. was made on the original estimate, coupled with the condition of the work being completed in six years, and other terms, not one of which has been kept. The works have nearly reached three times their amount, and have extended over three times the stipulated period. The offer itself was also acceded to under protest, and in fact has never had a legal existence.

3rd. Hence Sir C. Barry has either a right to fall back on the original estimate, or on the custom. Both of these are 5 per cent., including the measuring and taking out quantities; and by way of illustration I have already referred to the British Museum, and to Dover Harbour; the latter being mere plummet and line work, and sinking square blocks of stone, whilst Sir Charles has in many cases to make, it may be, even one thousand working drawings for parts of the vast and elaborate work he has in hand.

But, as acting on his behalf with a view to a settlement, and not a perpetuation of these disputed claims, I now beg to offer as a counter proposition to your own—

1st. To accept 3 per cent. as architect’s commission on all certified works, taking the present amount as stated in your offer.

2nd. To accept 1 per cent. for quantities and measurement on the like amount.

3rd. The same commissions respectively on all future certified works.{392}

4th. To refer the claims for extra works to some eminent person, who can hear such evidence as either the Government or Sir Charles may adduce in support of their respective views.

5th. The same referee to decide the question of interest; or

6th. A specific sum to be at once received as a closing of all claims for such services, and interest to the present day.

As to the referee, I would name by way of illustration Sir John Patteson, Sir Edward Ryan, or Mr. J. Lefevre, or any other of like standing.

These points I have severed in order as far as possible to meet the views already discussed in personal conference. But as a whole I can only say, in conclusion, as I have said before, that Sir C. Barry is willing to submit the whole question to a reference of this kind, and to abide the result. He is prepared to justify his claim to 5 per cent. by his original engagement and the custom; to vouch for all he has done by showing he has never acted without full authority; and if anything be needed to support his views, he finds it in the attack which has been made on him, and the way in which, up to the present discussion, what he believes to have been his just and reasonable claims have been resisted by the successive Governments with whom he has had to deal.

I will wait on you for your reply to this suggestion, and beg to subscribe myself,

Yours, &c.,

(Signed) John Meadows White.


My Lords advert to their minute of the 6th February, 1854, in reference to the claims of Sir Charles Barry, as architect of the new Houses of Parliament.

By that minute my Lords arrived at the opinion that a commission of 3 per cent. upon the cost of the building already incurred would be a fair and liberal remuneration to{393} Sir Charles Barry, and that the same rate of commission should be allowed on the future expenditure.

My Lords, however, reserved for further consideration a claim which had been made for the payment for certain services performed by the late Mr. Pugin, upon which, as well as with regard to the question of measurement of works, past and future, my Lords called for a Report from the Board of Works. My Lords also requested to be informed of the exact cost of the buildings up to the latest date then ascertainable, and of the amount of moneys which from time to time had been paid to Sir Charles Barry.

From the Report of the Board of Works it appears that up to the 2nd of October, 1853, the cost of the building amounted to 1,506,845l. 10s., but with regard to which the Board of Works reports that works to the amount of 14,439l. were not strictly subject to commission. They also report, that up to that date Sir Charles Barry had received payments on account of commission, amounting in all to 44,735l. 3s. 9d.

With regard to measurements, it appears by the same Report that Sir Charles Barry had paid out of pocket the sum of 11,457l. 18s. 10d. for that work, and that he had employed, in a portion of that duty, officers of the Board of Works, but who had been paid extra for such services. From explanations made, my Lords arrived at the conclusion that the moneys paid to Mr. Pugin should be allowed as extras. The Report of the Board of Works referred to, dated the 22nd January, 1855, however, brought before this Board several new claims upon the part of Sir Charles Barry for extra remuneration over and above his commission, but which appeared to my Lords to be generally of a nature which were covered by the commission of 3 per cent. upon the outlay.

Mr. Wilson now states to the Board that, at the instance of Sir Charles Barry, Mr. Meadows White, as his friend, sought several interviews with him for the purpose of endeavouring to come to a settlement in respect to the numerous questions in dispute.{394}

A list of Sir Charles Barry’s claims for extra payment was put in by Mr. White, and consisted of:—

1. Services for plans in connexion with some contemplated arrangements in the new building for the deposit of Public Records.
2. Services in assisting and advising the Fine Arts Commission in respect to arrangements to be made in the Houses of Parliament.
3. Services in respect to warming and ventilating the Houses of Parliament.
4. Returns to Parliament, and attendance on Parliamentary Committees.
5. Other services in respect to warming and ventilating.
6. For directions to workmen, &c., in the wood and stone carving departments.
7. For purchase of stock on behalf of Government.
8. For procuring casts from the best examples of mediæval carving, &c.
9. For extra designs after the original plans were made.
10. For miscellaneous services, resisting unfair claims of contractors, &c.

It appears to my Lords, that with the exception of any charge which Sir Charles Barry may be able to show he is entitled to for conducting the ventilation and lighting of the houses of Parliament, all the other charges were fairly to be included in the commission of the architect.

Looking, however, at the question as a whole, and desirous to put an end to these long disputed points, and after having consulted the Board of Works, the following offer was made to Mr. White, as acting for Sir C. Barry, on the 26th of May last, with a view finally to settle all questions as to commission, measurement, and all other claims, up to the 2nd of October, 1853, to which date the closed accounts extended.{395}

1st. That a commission of 3 per cent. should be allowed on the entire outlay of 1,506,845l., up to the 2nd of October, 1853.
2nd. That a remuneration for measurement upon the whole of the works included in that outlay should be paid at the rate of 1 per cent.
3rd. That these commissions should cover all demands of every kind whatsoever for the past, the services for warming, lighting, and ventilating alone excepted, which should be dealt with separately, and upon their own merits.
4th. That the remuneration of Sir Charles Barry for the future should be fixed at
Three per cent. commission on the outlay as architect, and 1 per cent. for measurement upon all works to which measurement applies; and that no furniture, &c. should in future be furnished by Sir C. Barry except by the special order of the Treasury.

After numerous further interviews and discussions with Mr. White, that gentleman, on the part of Sir Charles Barry, declined the terms of settlement thus offered, and pressed again the claims for the extra services performed.

My Lords having again referred Sir C. Barry’s claims for a report to the Board of Works, and having very carefully reviewed the whole case, continue to be of opinion that the terms herein stated are not only fair but liberal; that they include all remuneration to which Sir C. Barry is justly entitled for the services he has performed, and that their Lordships could not extend the same consistently with their duty to the public.

Considering, moreover, that this matter has gone on for nearly twenty years without any distinct understanding being arrived at, notwithstanding the efforts of every successive Board of Treasury to do so, my Lords are of opinion that it is inconsistent with the public interests that it should be any longer delayed; and they therefore, as far as they{396} are concerned, must record these terms as their final decision upon the questions at issue. They are pleased, consequently, to direct that no further payment be made on account until a final settlement of the past, and an agreement as to the future, are concluded.

Let a copy of this Minute be forwarded to Sir Charles Barry, and to the Board of Works.


From Sir Charles Barry to James Wilson, Esq., M.P.

Old Palace Yard, 9 February, 1856.

Sir,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th instant, enclosing copy of a Minute of the Lords Commissioners of her Majesty’s Treasury, dated the 29th ultimo, on the subject of my claims as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster.

As there are some passages in that Minute that appear to be founded upon a misapprehension of what has passed, I am anxious to call your attention to several of the explanations which I have already given in my letters and communications on the subject.

1st. With respect to the employment of the late Mr. Pugin, I have already stated, with reference to a claim made by their Lordships for a set-off on my commission for moneys paid to him, that he was not employed upon any duties that devolve upon me as the architect of the New Palace, inasmuch as all designs for that building have emanated from myself, but as the superintendent of the wood-carving department, in carrying my designs into effect, to which office he was appointed by the Government at a salary.

2ndly. With reference to the measurement of the work, I have already explained, that a portion of it was executed by my own clerks of works, and not, as stated in their Lordships’ Minute, by the officers of the Board of Works.

3rdly. That as the mention which is made of the furniture{397} in the Minute may possibly lead to an inference that I have been in the habit of supplying furniture to the New Palace, I am anxious to repeat, that I have only been employed to make the designs for it, see to the proper execution of the contract, and check the accounts.

With reference to the remark in their Lordships’ Minute, as to the duration of the misunderstanding between myself and the Government in respect of my claims, I have to observe, that one of my greatest hardships has been the constant delays and postponements which have occurred in the consideration of my case; and that, during a period of more than 15 years, I have made every effort in my power to effect a settlement upon fair and honourable terms, and have constantly urged, without effect, the propriety of a reference by which I should have been perfectly willing to abide.

Lastly, I would beg to notice an omission in their Lordships’ Minute on the subject of Mr. White’s reply to their last proposal on the 12th December last, and to observe, that he did not then decline to accept the principle of it, but, on the contrary, accepted it, reserving only a question of a portion of the extra services to which that principle does not apply, and for which he proposed a fixed sum, or a reference to arbitration, to which proposal no official answer has yet been returned.

With respect to the decision recorded in their Lordships’ Minute, I regret extremely that I cannot consider it to be worthy of the character which their Lordships assign to it, as being either fair or liberal, for the following reasons:—

1st. Because it appears to be founded upon reports and statements upon which I have not been furnished with the means of making any reply or observations.

2ndly. Because the remuneration proposed is at variance with the long-established custom of my profession, and is far from adequate, when the elaboration of the work upon which I am engaged, and the extraordinary difficulties and disadvantages which have attended its progress, are duly considered.

3rdly. Because it is also at variance with all past and pre{398}sent practice, in respect of the rate of professional remuneration paid by the Government for all other architectural and engineering works of the country.

4thly. Because it deprives me, not only of all remuneration whatever for many extra services, forming no part of my duties as the architect of the New Palace at Westminster, but also of the repayment of a considerable sum of money which I have disbursed on account of them; and,

Lastly. Because the several questions at issue, both those which are strictly professional as well as those which are of a legal character, can only, in my opinion, be fairly solved upon evidence before an arbitrator of high standing, such as those whom I have ventured to propose for the purpose, by whose decision I should be perfectly wiling to abide.

I remain, &c.,
(Signed) Charles Barry.


My Lords can arrive at no other conclusion on this part of the question than that Sir Charles Barry has failed altogether to establish his position, that the remuneration of 25,000l. awarded to him in 1838, amounted to 4 per cent. on the estimate then before the Board of Woods, &c.

My Lords now advert to the correspondence which passed in the following year on the subject.

It appears that when the Commissioners of Woods, &c. came to the conclusion communicated in their Report to the Treasury, of the 20th February, 1838, they had before them the detailed and verified estimates from which they had reason to believe that the building would be completed for the sum stated, subject to such considerable additions as must be made according to the report of their surveyors in respect to fittings and other works which had not been the subject of estimate. They, therefore, well knew the{399} whole duty and labour which would devolve on the architect, and with this knowledge they stated their opinion that “the sum of 25,000l. would be a fair and liberal remuneration for the labour and responsibility to be imposed on Mr. Barry, in the superintendence, direction and completion of the intended edifice.” In the opinion of my Lords these terms are not susceptible of any other interpretation than that such remuneration was intended to cover every service which would devolve upon the architect in the completion of the building according to the estimates and specifications then before them, and the further contingent services; that it was proposed in lieu of the ordinary per-centage remuneration, and was intended to cover every charge, including that of measuring, which usually devolves on architects receiving such ordinary professional remuneration.

It is clear, also, that it was accepted by Sir Charles Barry on that understanding. When the Treasury Letter of the 25th February, 1839, was communicated to him, he requested to be informed of the principle on which the proposed sum had been recommended, in order that he might offer the Board of Woods, &c. a few observations on the subject. This application having been refused by the letter of the surveyor of the Board of 4th April, 1839, Sir Charles Barry addressed a letter to that officer on the 22nd April, 1839, in which he stated that he had no doubt that the proposed amount, although far short of the customary remuneration which had hitherto been paid to architects for extensive works, was considered by the Board to be liberal under all the circumstances of the case, and that with this impression he had no wish to do otherwise than bow to its decision. He expressed at the same time his opinion that the amount was very inadequate to the great labour and responsibility that would devolve upon him in the superintendence, direction, and completion of the intended edifice, and his trust that when that should be made manifest, there would not be any indisposition on the part of the Board to award to him the remainder of the remuneration which had hitherto been customary on similar occasions.{400}

Three points are evident from this letter. First, that Sir Charles Barry accepted the proposed sum after a distinct refusal of explanation regarding the principle on which it was proposed. Secondly, that he was well aware at the time that it was far short of the customary remuneration to architects; and thirdly, that he also well understood that it was intended as the whole remuneration which he was to receive for the superintendence, direction, and completion of the intended edifice.

It is therefore too late for him now to raise questions regarding the principle on which the recommendation of the Board of Works in 1839 was based, and to found claims on the supposition that that Board had in view the payment to him of an amount equivalent to the customary remuneration of architects, when the only reservation contained in his letter of the 22nd April, 1839, was founded on the admitted fact that the proffered sum was considerably less than such an amount.

On reconsidering the whole circumstances, the only doubt which my Lords entertain is, whether they have not taken too liberal a view of the considerations by which the Board of Woods, &c. were influenced when they recommended the payment of the fixed sum of 25,000l.; and whether, especially in admitting Sir Charles Barry’s claim to the payment of the expense of measuring, they have not gone beyond the intentions of the arrangement of 1839.

My Lords have, however, no disposition now to re-open this question, and they are prepared to give effect to the arrangement proposed in their Minute of the 29th January last. With this view they proceed to consider the Report of the First Commissioner of Works, of the 11th April last, regarding the two points which were reserved in that Minute for future settlement, viz.:—

1st. The amount of remuneration for services rendered in the warming, lighting, and ventilating arrangements connected with the New Palace.

2nd. The works upon which he should hereafter be allowed the commission of 1 per cent. on measuring.{401}

On these two points the First Commissioner has made the following suggestions:—

“As to the first point, I am of opinion that Sir C. Barry is entitled to receive, as a remuneration for his services under that head, a payment of 4,925l.; and I arrive at this amount by allowing him 300l. per annum from January 1840 to April 1847, in respect of the preparation of plans and estimates for the various schemes suggested by Dr. Reid, which were either abandoned or greatly modified previously to carrying into effect the existing arrangements, and 500l. per annum from April 1847 to November 1852, for a continuance of the same duties, and also for taking charge of the warming, ventilating, and lighting apparatus throughout the entire building, with the exception of the House of Commons.

“Upon the second point, I am of opinion that an allowance for measurement of 1 per cent. should, for the future, be made only upon such accounts as require the services of a surveyor for their preparation, unless the architect should be authorised in writing by the First Commissioner of this Board, and with the approval of your Lordships’ Board, to make any special charge for special services so authorised.”

My Lords concur in these recommendations, and desire that the First Commissioner of Works will govern himself thereby. They will be prepared, in compliance therewith, to direct the issue to Sir Charles Barry of 4,925l., in full satisfaction of his claim for services connected with the warming, lighting and ventilating arrangements, and on the understanding that the whole principle of remuneration for his services is now finally settled, as defined by the Minute of 29th January last, and the further directions now given, and that in order to prevent any misapprehension as to the future, Sir Charles Barry will enter into an undertaking with the Board of Works to complete the buildings for the rate of commission and remuneration for measurement therein provided for.

In bringing this matter to a conclusion, my Lords feel it right to observe, with reference to statements which Sir Charles{402} Barry has advanced in contravention of the grounds of the decision of this Board, that when their Lordships agreed to a payment being made to him at the rate of 1 per cent. for measuring, they had before them a report from the Board of Works, from which it appeared that, if the measuring were conducted under the direction of that Board, the remuneration to professional measurers for the work would be made “by a commission varying from one-half to three-quarters per cent.” Their Lordships therefore consider that in allowing him 1 per cent. he will be afforded ample remuneration for any duties imposed upon him personally in connexion with the service of measuring. Their Lordships have also to observe that the principle proposed by the Board of Works, that the allowance for measuring should be made only on such accounts as require the services of a surveyor for their preparation, except under special circumstances, is not only right as respects works executed subsequently to the 2nd October, 1853, but would in strictness be applicable to past works. Their Lordships therefore feel that, in allowing him remuneration at the rate of 1 per cent. for measuring on the gross expenditure of 1,508,174l. on account of works certified by him up to the 2nd October, 1854, they will have conceded payments to him considerably exceeding the sum to which he would have been entitled for the mere duty of measuring, and that that sum will afford full remuneration for all the extra services referred to in the Minute of this Board of 29th January last, excepting only those connected with services for warming, lighting, and ventilating, for which a special payment is now directed.

Their Lordships have before them a certified statement prepared in the Office of Works, from which it appears that the proportion of the said expenditure of 1,508,174l., which represent works which would not require the services of a measurer, is 215,000l. Sir Charles Barry will receive under the arrangement sanctioned by this Board 1 per cent. on the latter sum, being 2,150l. above the amount to which he would be properly entitled for the actual service of measuring, and they consider that a payment of that amount will afford{403} him ample remuneration for all the undefined extra services referred to.

Transmit copy of this Minute to Sir Charles Barry for his information.

Transmit also copy thereof to the First Commissioner of Works for his information and guidance.

Whitehall Treasury Chambers,
July, 1856.


Brief statement of the grounds of difference between the
Architect of the New Palace at Westminster and the
Lords of the Treasury.

1. Because their Lordships have assumed to themselves the right in their own case to put a value upon the architect’s services, at variance with professional custom, and contrary both to law and equity.

2. Because that, whilst the ordinary rate of professional commission is far from an adequate remuneration for more than 20 years’ devotion of the architect’s life to the carrying into effect, under peculiarly trying circumstances and great responsibilities, a work so extensive, intricate, and elaborate, as the New Palace at Westminster, their Lordships’ offer involves a sacrifice on his part of at least 20,000l. of his accustomed commission, exclusive of interest of money upon payments unduly withheld, amounting to not less than 15,000l.

3. Because the offer made by their Lordships, which is assumed to be in accordance with precedent, is really at variance with the allowance hitherto made to architects for all public buildings. For where they have been employed upon the whole of the duties undertaken by the architect of the New Palace of Westminster, the allowance has been invariably 5, and in some instances equal to more than 5 per cent. upon the expenditure; and although, in some cases, architects have{404} been paid less than 5 per cent., it is only when they have been relieved of the financial portion, which is by no means the least onerous of their duties and responsibilities.

4. Because, with one exception, their Lordships do not recognise several claims for extra services, which form no part of the duties of the architect of the New Palace, to which no payment by commission can apply, and upon which he has incurred a considerable outlay.

5. Because that, whilst, for the sake of avoiding all further contention with a Government and affecting an immediate settlement, the architect had consented to forego his full claims as to percentage by complying with the principle of their Lordships’ offer, and only awaited their promised explanation of its details, and an answer relative to a proposition made to them respecting a portion of his services which had not been recognised, their Lordships without any further communication with him, framed their Minute of the 29th January, 1856, containing a decision on the case, and immediately laid that and a previous Minute on the table of each House of Parliament, unaccompanied by the correspondence or any notice of the negotiation which led to them.

6. Because of the order contained in their Lordships’ Minute of the 29th of January, 1856, for withholding all further payments to the architect until he consented to a settlement upon their own terms, although by such terms it is admitted that a balance is due to him of 20,000l., and although a further sum on account of his claims is included in the vote for the current year.

And finally, because of their Lordships’ refusal hitherto of all offers that have been made by the architect of a reference of his claims to arbitration, which, it is obvious, is the only just mode of arriving at an impartial decision in all cases of difference, where both parties only wish for what is fair and reasonable.{405}





[I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of recording the names of those, who thus did honour to my father’s memory.—A. B.]

  £ s. d.
Ainslie, C., Esq. 3 3 3
Angell, S., Esq. 5 5 5
Ashpitel, A., Esq. 3 3 3
Banks, R. R., Esq. 1010 10
Barr, E., Esq. 1 1 1
Barry, J., Esq. 20 0 0
Bayne, R., Esq. 1 1 1
Bell, Jas., Esq. 3 3 3
Bell, John, Esq. 1 1 1
Bellamy, T., Esq. 5 5 5
Booth, W. J., Esq. 2 2 2
Boulnois, W. A., Esq. 1 1 1
Boxall, W., Esq., R.A. 2 2 2
Brakspear, W. H., Esq. 2 2 2
Brandon, D., Esq. 5 5 5
Brodrick, Cuthbert, Esq. 5 0 0
Browne, J. H., Esq. 2 2 2
Bryce, D., Esq. 3 3 3
Bunning, J. B., Esq. 3 3 3
Burton, A., Esq. 1 1 1
Burton, D., Esq. 3 3 3
Carlisle, The Earl of, K .G. 100 0
Chalk, J., Esq. 1 1 1
Chatwin, J. A., Esq. 2 2 2
Clarke, G. S., Esq. 10 10 0
Clarke, Joseph, Esq. 1 1 1
Clutton, H., Esq. 2 2 2
Cockerell, C. R., Esq., R.A. (Trustee) 1010 10
Cole, J. J., Esq. 212 12
Cooke, E. W., Esq., R.A. 2 2 2
Cowper, Rt. Hon. W. F., M.P. (Trustee) 10 0 0
Crace, J. G., Esq. 1010 10
Cubitt and Co., Messrs. W. 5 5 5
Currey, H., Esq. 2 2 2
Cust, The Hon. Sir E., K.C.H. (Trustee) 1010 10
Cuthell, A., Esq. 5 5 5
Dangerfield, H., Esq. 1 1 1
Darbishire, H. A., Esq. 1 1 1
Davies, J., Esq. 1 1 1
St. Pauls, The Dean of 5 0 0
De Ville, L., Esq. 2 2 2
Donaldson, T. L., Esq. 1010 10
Eastlake, Sir C. L., P.R.A. (Trustee) 1010 10 {406}
Edmeston, J., Esq. 1 1 1
Ferrey, B., Esq. 3 3 3
Feversham, Rt. Hon. Lord 10 10 10
Francis, Messrs. F. & H. 1 1 1
Fraser, J. W., Esq. 2 2 2
Friend, An Humble 1 1 1
Garling, H., Esq. 5 5 5
Gassiott, J. P., Esq. 10 10 10
Gibson, J., Esq. 10 10 10
Glyn, G. Carr, Esq., M.P. 1 1 1
Glyn, G. Grenfell, Esq., M.P. 1 1 10
Godwin, G., Esq. 3 3 3
Good, J. H., Esq. 1 1 1
Goodridge, A. S., Esq. 1 1 1
Goodridge, H. E., Esq. 1 1 1
Grissell, T., Esq. 21 0 0
Groves, F. H., Esq. 0 10 10
Gye, F., Esq. 5 5 5
Hardwick, P., Esq., R.A. 5 5 5
Hardwick, P. C., Esq. 5 5 5
Hawkes, W., Esq. 10 0 0
Hawkshaw, J., Esq. 10 10 10
Hayward, C. F., Esq. 1 0 0
Hayward, John, Esq. 10 0 0
Haywood, W., Esq. 1 1 1
Herbert, W., Esq. 5 5 5
Hesketh, R., Esq. 2 2 2
Hirst, J. H., Esq. 1 1 1
Holmes, E. N., Esq. 1 1 1
Hope, A. J. B. Beresford, Esq. 10 0 0
Humbert, A. J., Esq. 2 2 2
Hunt, H. A., Esq. 50 0 0
I’Anson, E., Esq. 3 3 3
Inman, W. S., Esq. 1 1 1
James, J., Esq. 5 5 5
Jay, J., Esq. 5 5 5
Jeakes, Messrs. 3 3 3
Jennings, J., Esq. 1 1 1
Jones, Owen, Esq. 5 5 5
Judge & Winstanley, Messrs. 2 2 2
Kendall, H. E., Esq. 1 1 1
Kendall, H. E., Jun., Esq. 1 1 1
Kennedy, G. P., Esq. 5 5 5
Kerr, R., Esq. 1 1 1
Knowles, J. T., Esq. 5 5 5
Knowles, J. T., Jun., Esq. 1 1 1
Knowles, G., Esq. 1 1 1
Lansdowne, The Marquis of, K.G. 10 0 0
Lawrence, C. B. 1 1 1
Lawrie, W. 0 7 7
Leicester, G. O., Esq. 1 1 1
Leslie & Whitely, Messrs. 1 3 3
Lewis, T. Hayter, Esq. 3 3 3
Lucas, Messrs. 100 0 0
M’Clean, J. R., Esq. 5 5 5
Maclise, D., Esq., R.A. 5 5 5
Mair, G. J. J., Esq. 1 1 1
Marochetti, Baron, A.R.A. 5 5 5
Martineau, E. H., Esq. 1 1 1
Marshall, W. Calder, Esq., R.A. 1 1 1
Mason, W. A., Esq. 1 1 1
Mayhew, C., Esq. 3 3 3
Middleton, Lady 20 0 0
Mocatta, D., Esq. 5 5 5
Morgan, G., Esq. 3 3 3
Murchison, Sir R. 10 10 10
Murray, J., Esq. 5 5 5
Nash, Edwin, Esq. 1 1 1
Nelson, Charles C., Esq. (Hon. Sec.) 3 3 3
Newcastle, the Duke of, K.G. 20 0 00
Newton, H. R., Esq. 1 1 1
Norton, J., Esq. 5 5 5
Parris, R., Esq. 5 5 5
Parsons, H., Esq. 1 1 1
Pearce, M., Esq. 1 1 1
Pennethorne, J., Esq. 3 3 3
Penrose, F. C., Esq. 1 1 1
Peto, Sir Morton, Bart., M.P. 21 0 0
Pickersgill, F. R., Esq., R.A. 5 5 5
Porter, F. W., Esq. 1 1 0 {407}
Poynter, A., Esq. 1 1 1
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Lithographed Plan of proposed Westminster Improvements
Lithographed Plan of proposed Westminster Improvements
Largest view (4.9MB)



Original Sketches and Designs of the Late Sir Charles
Barry. r.a.

Plan of suggested improvements and New Streets in, and near, Westminster
in Reference to the New Palace of Westminster, the Concentration of the
Government Offices, and the treatment of the Thames Embankment.
Exhibited in the year 1857, at Westminster Hall.

Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor Lith.ᵀᴮ to the Queen, 17ᴮ. Great George
Sᵀ. Westminster.

The Dark Hatching shews Public and important Buildings as now existing,

The Light Hatching outlined shews the new Streets and Buildings proposed
along them, thus

The Thick Blue Edging shews the line of the existing Banks on each side
of the River.
Original Sketches and Designs of the Late Sir Charles Barry. r.a. Plan of suggested improvements and New Streets in, and near, Westminster in Reference to the New Palace of Westminster, the Concentration of the Government Offices, and the treatment of the Thames Embankment. Exhibited in the year 1857, at Westminster Hall. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor Lith.ᵀᴮ to the Queen, 17ᴮ. Great George Sᵀ. Westminster. The Dark Hatching shews Public and important Buildings as now existing, thus The Light Hatching outlined shews the new Streets and Buildings proposed along them, thus The Thick Blue Edging shews the line of the existing Banks on each side of the River.


Albemarle Street, London,
October, 1866.


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[1] This is the case, for example, in respect of some valuable information as to the works at Trentham Hall.

[2] The “fils d’un simple ouvrier” in M. Hittorf’s ‘Éloge’ is therefore erroneous.

[3] Thus, for example, he notes over and over again the curious contrast of dirt, bad drainage, and bad paving in the Paris of that day, with the external brilliancy of the city, so unlike anything he had ever seen in England. It was, it seemed, symbolical of the state of the country, in which apparent peace and gaiety covered much political stagnation and discontent with the Bourbons, breaking out, as he himself experienced, into personal insult to Englishmen in out-of-the-way places.

[4] Thus at Rome he writes of the great staircase at the Vatican: “The columns stepping up one after another, and the cornice and entablature following the rise of the steps, have to my mind an unnatural, and therefore a disgusting, appearance.”

[5] At a small town in Italy, having stopped for sketching purposes without his passport, he found his bedroom invaded by a file of soldiers who insisted on his leaving instantly. But they retired before a resolute refusal and a drawn pistol, and contented themselves with posting a sentinel at the door.

[6] Criticisms on special buildings are better deferred till the period of his return.

[7] The Toledo at Naples is noticed as “the finest street, except the High Street of Oxford, I ever saw.”

[8] The difficulty of travelling at that time is curiously illustrated here. They had to search at Bari for a vessel, and at last to cross in a small felucca, bearing and deserving the ominous name of Le Anime di Purgatorio.

[9] For this remark I am indebted to Sir C. Eastlake.

[10] At Smyrna (for example) the houses of English merchants were scattered along the coast, and almost all the trade engrossed by them.

[11] At Bondroon (Halicarnassus) not even the governor dared to allow them to inspect the castle; and when they rowed under the walls to see the famous marbles embedded in them, and just “whitewashed in expectation of the Capudan Pasha,” they were ordered off by the soldiers on pain of death.

[12] He had received a similar offer at Corfu from Mr. Bonar, but with this important difference, that no copies were to be taken. On this ground it was thankfully but unhesitatingly refused.

[13] Several of these were afterwards engraved in Finden’s ‘Illustrations of the Bible.’

[14] The Chapel of the Nativity at Bethlehem seems (as usual) to have struck them most for simple solemnity, and Naplous (Shechem) for natural beauty, with its fertile plain and the “whole town full of roses.”

[15] In his house they found a volume of Palladio, given him by a Coptic patriarch, and highly prized.

[16] In after years Mr. Barry published the results of his observations in an article in the ‘Architectural Dictionary’ on Baalbec. It describes the ruins with great minuteness, and is an excellent specimen of his accuracy of observation and clearness of description. It speaks of the three Temples as having great magnificence and “exuberance of decoration,” notices the “breaking of the entablature over each projecting columnar pier,” as producing, especially in the circular temple, “great movement in the skyline of the building, and a very picturesque effect,” and criticizes the style of decoration as showing much imagination and power. The description was written some thirty-five years after his visit, but it seemed as though drawn up on the spot.

[17] The Bourbon régime was detested, and its wretchedness aggravated by the recollections of English rule; why England did not keep the island the Sicilians could not conceive.

[18] Here they saw a famous telescope of Ramsden’s, as to which they were told that, “if it should be injured there was no one in the whole island who could repair it.”

[19] From this point, almost to the end of his career, much of this memoir is based on MS. notes supplied by Mr. Wolfe.

[20] MS. notes, W.

[21] He adds, “The Egyptians, who made such use of colossal figures, being fully aware of their tendency to diminish the apparent size of the building, always placed at their feet other figures of the natural size, to give the true scale.”

[22] It ought to be known that fountains, not unlike these in design, and not much inferior in magnificence, would, if means had permitted, have been made in Trafalgar Square.

[23] In his only design for a grand portico (that for the Town-hall at Birmingham) this principle was fully carried out.

[24] At Vicenza, as many of Palladio’s works were scattered about in out-of-the-way places in the neighbourhood, he hired a crazy gig, and without a guide, in spite of bad roads and worse information, he managed to hunt out every one. At the (so-called) “House of Palladio” there was some foliage which he wished to sketch by artificial light; he got ladders and torches, and proceeded with his work till he was stopped by the police.

[25] This was a point which often struck him in many cases of restoration or new buildings where colour and gilding were only partially employed. He insisted that in this partial and incomplete use lay the real cause of gaudiness or tawdry effect. Of all the new buildings at Munich, the one which he admired must was the Royal Chapel, because in it the decoration was thoroughly and perfectly carried out.

[26] I find (for example) that in 1822 he was commissioned to make a copy of his drawing of the Zodiac at Esneh for H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex.

[27] In November, 1832, he contributed several sketches for the engravings in Finden’s Bible Illustrations, but these give little idea of the style of his original sketches.

[28] Church architects seem to have been beset then, as now, by the tendency of their clients to extensive requirements on very limited resources. He speaks of a clergyman, who had some negotiation with him at this time, “as an Evangelical preacher, with a great idea of building churches for nothing.”

[29] He had previously made designs for the alteration of Stoke Newington church.

[30] He used to retaliate by reference to Mr. Pugin’s early work at Windsor Castle, which certainly gave him full opportunity for retort.

[31] An amusing incident occurred on this occasion. The freemasons of the parish claimed the right of laying the stone, which the clergy not unnaturally contested. After the ceremony began, music was heard in the distance, and down came a body of freemasons in full costume, ready to take all by storm. The workmen were prepared to resist; but a parley ensued, and the freemasons allowed the ceremony to go on without disturbance, on condition of performing their own mystic rites afterwards.

[32] This design was not carried out. But I believe it was the only design of the kind among those sent in by the competing architects. As a matter of fact, the whole competition was practically set aside, in favour of a firm, who offered to unite the functions of architect and builder, and erect a building in Anglesey marble for whatever other firms might ask for its erection in stone. The building carried out by them is a Greek temple. The feelings of the competing architects may be easily imagined, for these are the things which make competition a thankless and sometimes a hopeless work.

[33] At a much later period, as will be seen, he made a Greek design for the proposed Law Courts in Lincoln’s-inn-Fields. Here also the requirements for the true application of Greek principles of architecture were fulfilled by the circumstances of the case.

[34] After the completion of the church he returned to the charge. As late as 1841 I find a notice of his designing a spire to be added to the existing tower.

[35] They cost 11,890l., 10,947l., and 11,535l. respectively, sums which many a church architect would consider liberal now.

[36] On these points, as may be expected, he differed widely from his friend Mr. Pugin, and warm discussions of principle often arose in consequence.

[37] I can remember his calling attention to the octagonal form of Sta. Maria della Salute at Venice as capable of supplying a hint for English church-building, and referring to certain forms of Norman and Early English, as well fitted, by their spaciousness and unity of effect, for our congregational requirements.

[38] Mr. Ferguson, in his ‘History of Architecture,’ notes in the same way the prominence of the cornice as the characteristic feature of Mr. Barry’s Italian; but, by a slight chronological error, refers to the alteration of the College of Surgeons, designed in 1833, as the earliest instance of it, and to the Travellers’ Club as a later design.

[39] Studies and examples of the Modern School of English Architecture, by W. H. Leeds. (Weale, 1839.)

[40] ‘The Revue de l’Architecture,’ edited by M. César Daly, contained in vol. i., 1840, pp. 333, 334, a careful description (with illustrations) of the Travellers’ Club. Its criticism concludes as follows:—“Le défaut qu’on peut adresser avec raison au plus grand nombre des travaux d’architecture en Angleterre, est le peu de soin apporté dans l’étude des détails; sous ce rapport M. Charles Barry forme une exception. Il suffit d’examiner la feuille des détails du monument qui nous occupe pour y reconnaître les qualités d’un artiste consciencieux, qui étudie toutes les parties en elles-mêmes et dans leur rapport avec l’ensemble.”

[41] Extracted from a paper read at the Institute of British Architects, May 21st, 1860, by M. Digby Wyatt, Esq., V.P.

[42] On this point, it was remarked by the ‘Building News,’ immediately after his death (May 18th, 1860),—“It is the perfection of invention to invest with novelty that which is old, to adapt what has hitherto been useless, to make artistic that which is commonplace, and to impart life and beauty to dead forms. Greater inventive powers are required to accomplish this transformation than perhaps to devise new forms, which will never move or have their being.... Critics who prefer the charge of copyism against him probably mistake eccentricity for originality; in that sense Sir Charles was never original, for he was never eccentric.”

[43] A list, which is believed to be complete, is added in the Appendix.

[44] See p. 9 of Mr. Digby Wyatt’s Memoir, already referred to.

[45] It happened curiously enough that he was near being employed for the new building of the Carlton Club, adjoining and rivalling the Reform Club. He was invited by the committee to enter a select competition for it; and when he declined to do so, and the appointment of architect was put to the vote, Messrs. Basevi and Smirke were preferred only by a slight majority (220 votes against 210).

[46] The only example of an original building in which he afterwards employed it was Cliefden. At the Board of Trade the necessity of the case led him to employ the columns of the old design as an engaged order. But though he was not entirely consistent in practice, the “astylar” principle of design still continued to be regarded by him us absolutely the best.

[47] It ought to be noted, that the position of the building, which on the Pall Mall side is very unfavourable, and the exact line of its front were determined in reference to a plan for the extension of Pall Mall into the Green Park, having the Marble Arch as its entrance to the Park. A plan of this proposed alteration is given in Chapter VIII.

[48] The building was actually carried out by my brother, E. M. Barry, Esq., A.R.A.; and, under these circumstances, at the risk of some slight repetition, I have thought it better to subjoin verbatim an account of the building written by him.

[49] At a still later period he made a design, almost entirely new, to meet an intention, afterwards abandoned, of a considerable enlargement of the building.

[50] The “Italian tiles” were, I believe, first manufactured in England, to be used in Walton House.

[51] ‘The English Gentleman’s House.’

[52] The garden-front of Clare College, Cambridge, was an example which he much admired.

[53] The work was going on about the same time as the erection of Bridgewater House.

[54] In this work I believe he was much assisted by suggestions from Mr. Nesfield, the well-known landscape gardener.

[55] The illustration will show how greatly this fact tended to influence the general effect, and limit the originality of the design.

[56] I remember his quoting one day with great satisfaction the criticism of a working stonemason, behind whom he happened to stand, on a new building. “Well, it’s very fine; but somehow this here top doesn’t go with that ’ere bottom.”

[57] This arrangement was no doubt necessary from the confined nature of the ground. It cannot be considered as abstractedly desirable from a practical point of view; those who know the habits of boys will always desire to give them as few stairs as possible.

[58] He desired a larger and better lighted clerestory, but here economy interfered.

[59] A letter from Mr. Borrer on the subject ends thus:—“It is admirably adapted for the purpose for which it was designed—to be a house of prayer and Christian worship, according to the rites of the Church of England. I can never forget the kind way in which Sir Charles listened to a young man’s fancies, and tried to carry out all my ambitions.”

[60] The black lines mark the old work—all the lighter parts represent the new.

[61] I owe my information on this subject chiefly to the kindness of W. Leslie, Esq., architect, of Aberdeen, under whose direction the works were executed.

[62] Extract from Report of the Commissioners appointed by His Majesty to examine and Report upon the Plans which might be offered by the competitors for re-building the Houses of Parliament. Dated, Feb. 29th, 1836.

[63] The exact sum named by Messrs. Seward and Chawner was (deducting 14,000l. as the value of old materials) 693,104l., to which was to be added 129,000l. for the embankment, purchase of land, &c., together with “a further and considerable expense, which cannot at present be satisfactorily ascertained,” for fittings and furniture of the residence, libraries, committee-rooms, offices, &c., for the provision for the records, for lighting, warming, and ventilating, for the great clock and bell. See quotation in pp. 3, 4 of Parliamentary Paper, No. 374, of Session of 1856.

[64] The first vote of money was passed on July 3rd, 1837.

[65] See ‘Recollections of A. W. Pugin,’ c. xviii. p. 242.

[66] The ground of this monstrous statement was the warm personal friendship and constant support, which he had received from Sir E. Cust, ever since the building of the Travellers’ Club, and more especially their connection in a late discussion as to the alteration and improvement of the National Gallery.

[67] Extract from Minutes of Evidence taken 10th March, 1836, by the Select Committee on Houses of Parliament, Sir John Hobhouse in the Chair. Ordered to be printed, 9th March, 1836.

[68] When Mr. Barry was attacked again in 1844, one of those, who had taken a prominent part against him, wrote to him, begging to be allowed to take part in any movement of his professional friends in his defence, and offering any consultation or advice, which might be “offered by a friend and admirer.”

[69] Those who know Professor Donaldson, will be surprised at nothing in him, which indicates indignation at supposed injustice and generous support of a character unjustly assailed. But these motives were here quickened by a warm personal friendship, of which Mr. Barry always preserved a deep and grateful sense.

[70] Some delay also was caused by a great strike of masons in the employment of Messrs. Grissell and Peto, in September, 1841.

[71] It was thought by some that the architect’s protest should have been made earlier. But in the early part of Dr. Reid’s career such protest would have been entirely unavailing. His plans had succeeded, on the whole, well in the temporary House of Commons, and nothing but experience could prove the futility of their application on an enormous scale. Mr. Barry contented himself with quietly making provision for the substitution of more practicable arrangements, when the crash, which he foresaw to be inevitable, should arrive.

[72] Thus, for example, in a letter to the ‘Times,’ Mr. Denison thinks proper to speak of the “stupidity of Sir C. Barry and his crew of handmakers and certificate-writers.”

[73] In a treatise on “Clocks and Watches” (4th edition), Weale, 1860.

[74] Professor Wallis, the President of the Astronomical Society, and the President of the Society of Civil Engineers, were suggested by Mr. Vulliamy in his letter. Mr. Dent in a letter to the Board of Works on November 14th, 1845, requested permission to erect the clock, “subject to the approbation of the Astronomer Royal, Mr. Barry, and Sir John (or Mr. George) Rennie being referees.”

[75] Their estimated expense was 100l., about 5-1/2 per cent. on the original contract.

[76] The evidence on this point is conflicting, and my father has left no papers on the subject. I feel, therefore, unable to enter into it.

[77] The great bell was not hoisted till 1859, and, had the completion of the tower been delayed for it, the work would not have been finished till 1860. This should be noted by any who have read Mr. Denison’s denunciations on this subject.

[78] Before quitting the subject of Mr. Denison’s relations to Sir C. Barry, I think it right to notice an error, contained in a statement made by Mr. Denison to the Courts of Justice Commission. After stating that architects are all ignorant of ventilation, and volunteering some information, that the works of the architect in this direction at the New Palace of Westminster “are reported to have cost 200,000l.,” he continues, “the ceilings of both Houses of Parliament were—one of them is—in such a state, that they may be set on fire at any instant.” No one could fail to draw the inference, that this was an error on the part of the architect. But the fact is, that “the roof of the House of Commons is wholly constructed of incombustible materials, and the question of danger can only apply to the wooden fittings which have been placed in the roof since its completion, by those intrusted with the ventilation and lighting of the House without any architectural supervision.” (See official letter of E. M. Barry, Esq., printed in Parliamentary Paper, No. 527 of Session of 1866.) The fact, rightly understood, tells directly against the advice (to discard architects on this point, and trust all to ventilators proper) which it is made to support.

[79] In 1842 Mr. Barry had visited Munich, then in the zenith of its artistic reputation, to see both the new buildings, rising under the auspices of the late king, and the great fresco and encaustic pictures, which had made the names of Cornelius, Schnorr, Hess, and other artists well-known throughout Europe. Admiring greatly the artistic genius displayed in many individual works, he was yet convinced that they often wanted the harmony alluded to in the text, and tended rather to injure than to enhance the architectural beauty of the buildings which they would have otherwise adorned.

[80] The most important parts of the Reports appear to be the Report of the Committee of Selection of Subjects in Painting and Sculpture, contained in the Seventh Report of the Commission (in 1847), and the Twelfth Report, presented in 1861.

[81] See ‘Recollections of A. W. Pugin,’ by Benjamin Ferrey, Esq., c. xviii. Mr. Ferrey, although writing with the greatest candour and friendly spirit towards Sir C. Barry, is clearly in ignorance as to the exact position of Mr. Pugin in the matter, and is obliged accordingly to speak vaguely.

[82] “It was no ordinary amount or quality of work which satisfied Mr. Barry. But with no tools but a rule and rough pencil, amidst a continuous rattle of marvellous stories, slashing criticisms, and shouts of laughter, Mr. Pugin would get through an amount of good work which astonished his friend.... Whenever Mr. Barry’s fire of enthusiasm began to pale, a visit from his ‘Comet’ sufficed to brighten it."—MS. note W.

[83] It may be well here to quote a letter of Mr. Pugin’s, in which, with his usual generosity, he disclaims the credit, which some of his admirers imputed to him, in respect of his services in the decoration of the New Palace.

(From the ‘Builder’ of Sept. 6th, 1845.)

Decorations of the New House of Lords.

Sir,—As it appears by an article in the last number of the ‘Builder,’ as well as in notices contained of late in other periodicals, that a misconception prevails as to the nature of my employment in the works of the New Palace at Westminster, I think it incumbent on me, in justice to Mr. Barry, to state that I am engaged by him, and by him alone, with the approval of the Government, to assist in preparing working drawings and models from his designs of all the wood-carvings and other details of the internal decorations, and to procure models and drawings of the best examples of ancient decorative art of the proper kind, wherever they are to be found, as specimens for the guidance of the workmen in respect of the taste and feeling to be imitated, to engage with artists and the most skilful workmen that can be procured in every branch of decorative art, and to superintend personally the practical execution of the works upon the most economical terms, compatible with the nature of it and its most perfect performance. In fulfilling the duties of my office, I do not do anything whatever on my own responsibility; all models and working drawings being prepared from Mr. Barry’s designs, and submitted to him for his approval or alteration, previous to their being carried into effect; in fine, my occupation is simply to assist in carrying out practically Mr. Barry’s own designs and views in all respects. Trusting to your fairness in giving insertion to this letter in your next number,

“I am, Sir, &c.,

A. Welby Pugin.

London, Sept. 3rd, 1845.

[84] The professional reader will find a full description of the scaffolding used, especially in the three towers, in a paper read before the Institute of British Architects, June 15th, 1857, by my brother, C. Barry, Esq., Fellow.

[85] This is, of course, not generally known, and for all insufficient accommodation the architect is held responsible. Thus, for example, the ladies’ gallery is neither large nor convenient; but it was with great difficulty that any accommodation for ladies at all was allowed. In the Building Committee in 1835, Lord Brougham spoke thus of the admission of ladies: “If such a proposition is to be made, I enter my protest against it, and shall take the sense of your lordships upon it, as being contrary to the principle which ought to govern legislative proceedings. I think the ladies would be better employed in almost any other way, than in attending parliamentary debates. I like to see them in their proper places.” The Marquis of Lansdowne added: “Ladies are not mentioned in the Report, and, so far as I can prevent it, they never shall be.”

[86] The office was then called that of the “Woods and Forests,” but, to prevent confusion, I use throughout the name by which it has been known ever since the remodelling of the department.

[87] These services are given in detail in a subjoined paper. They were connected with the provision for public records, the Fine Arts Commission, the warming, lighting, and ventilating, the various Parliamentary Committees, superintendence of the Government carving works for the New Palace of Westminster, &c.

[88] The whole of the correspondence will be found in the following Parliamentary Papers, No. 491, of Session 1849; No. 405, of Session 1856; No. 108, Session 2 of 1857. Such portions are printed in the appendix as contain the chief statements on both sides.

[89] There were a few members who did question it, in defiance of the fashion of the day and the economical leanings of the House. Mr. Henry Drummond once told the Government, that no increase of expenditure or supposed architectural defects could be an excuse for “robbing—yes! for robbing—Sir Charles Barry.”

[90] The design was afterwards attached, as involving the “destruction” of the old chapel. But on investigation in 1836, evidence was given by Sir R. Smirke, and Messrs. Inwood, Montague, Kay, Wilkins, and Laing, that it could not with safety be preserved or restored. Sir J. Wyattville and Messrs. Savage and Cottingham were of a contrary opinion; but the balance of evidence was against all hope of its preservation. It might doubtless have been rebuilt, and its intrinsic beauty would have justified such a step; but, if rebuilt, it could hardly have been used for secular purposes as before; and if not so used, its position would have destroyed the whole arrangement of the building.

[91] The restoration, which he began, was still incomplete at the time of his death. It was accordingly carried out by his son, Mr. E. M. Barry, and is designed to serve as a chapel for the accommodation of the numerous inmates of the New Palace. It appears now restored to more than its original splendour, and the result is one which, in beauty and richness of effect, will bear comparison with any chapel in Europe.

[92] Thus (for example) on the whole of the principal floor, except in the altered lobbies of the House of Commons, there is not one single step. All is on one level, and that level approached by comparatively few and easy steps from Westminster Hall.

[93] Mr. Pugin is reported to have said (see Mr. Ferrey’s ‘Recollections,’ c. xviii. p. 247), “Barry’s grand plan was immeasurably superior to any that “I could at that time have produced;” adding, characteristically enough, “besides, the Commissioners would have killed me in a twelvemonth.” He allowed that in the symmetry of the general plan convenience was as well preserved, as it could have been under the greatest irregularity.

[94] “In composing, he always began with the simplest forms, and never made a break, till he felt it absolutely necessary. If the length of a front was too great for its height he admitted flanking towers. These did not destroy the unity of the mass. But to raise the centre was to cut the mass into three separate parts—a decomposition which he abhorred.” In the river front “the excessive length compelled him to raise the centre, but nothing would induce him to advance it."—MS. note W.

[95] The present central tower was not a feature of the original design. It was added to meet the requirements of Dr. Reid.

[96] He had already ventured to remove on his own responsibility one of the enormous buttresses, supposed to support the roof, which interfered with the development of his plan.

[97] His general inclination to sacrifice a grand staircase, if by the sacrifice he could obtain a great hall, has been noticed in Chapter IV. In his original design a great staircase led from the central hall direct to the committee-rooms. This was also given up.

[98] I remember that he was greatly struck with the windows of the churches at Nuremberg in this respect. The new Munich glass, beautiful in itself, he thought wrong in principle, as ignoring the primary object of a window, and attempting the effects of regular painting.

[99] Two stories, equal in importance, were not satisfactory. There was duality of design. In grand compositions he preferred, on a base well raised above the ground, three stories nearly alike; but the upper one somewhat more important (as in the Farnese Palace), so as, in some measure, to combine the three. When the three stories differed much, they should be perfectly dissimilar. By making the middle one the principal; the upper, of little importance; and the lower, a mere basement, the eye would not be distracted by three separate objects, but would rest upon the one principal story, by viewing the others as subordinate. When two stories only could be introduced, he preferred that the upper should be the principal, and the lower, a basement—as in the Thiene Palace at Vicenza. In the Reform Club and Bridgewater House, where he could not make the upper story important, he would, had convenience allowed, have made the lower one much less so than we now see it. Two stories of nearly equal importance, as in Whitehall and his New Palace, jarred with his principle of unity.—MS. note W.

[100] This tower has no diminution. He was quite aware, from the time he noticed Giotto’s Campanile, that such objects will, under certain aspects, appear larger above than below; and had this tower been plain, and without turrets, no doubt the optical illusion would have been corrected. But a diminution in the turrets would have made their inner sides out of parallel with the vertical lines on the face of the towers, and set-offs would have caused dislocation in the panelling—irregularities not to be thought of. For, full as Mr. Barry’s mind was of grand ideas, he was acutely sensitive in matters of the minutest detail. In the architectural decorations of his New Palace, extensive and elaborate as they are, every part has exquisite finish, and there will hardly be found the smallest defect, or even irregularity, that care or ingenuity could avoid.—MS. note W.

[101] This tendency to alteration grew upon him perhaps to excess in his later years. His taste, always fastidious, became morbidly sensitive; he could not tolerate the slightest appearance of defect in proportion or detail. The inevitable effect was not only great waste of labour and money, but occasionally a danger of losing the original harmony of a design in the multiplicity of alterations. But it was only an exaggeration of the one true secret of success and perfection—“the capacity of taking infinite pains.”

[102] Thus, for example, the panels on the river front contain the coats of arms of all the sovereigns of England, from William I. to Victoria; the niches on the flanks contain statues of the Saxon kings and queens; the reigning family is exalted in the niches of the Victoria tower, &c.

[103] I do not think it necessary to give a detailed description of the design and decoration of the building. For this I would refer to the illustrations of the New Palace of Westminster by E. N. Holmes, Esq. (Warrington), to the official Handbook to the New Palace of Westminster, and to a paper read before the Institute of British Architects, on February 1st, 1858, by E. M. Barry, Esq., A.R.A.

[104] At the foot of this staircase stands the statue of the architect, in a position sufficiently public, but not very central or commanding.

[105] For almost the whole of this chapter I am indebted to Mr. Wolfe. He alone aided Sir Charles by encouragement and help, by suggestion and criticism, in the labour of the first conception of the design, and the greater labour of its subsequent development.

[106] He did not regard even Clapham Church as hopeless, as a sketch for a chancel made in his Prayer-book before service can testify. But such sketches were sometimes dangerously artistic, and excited hopes which it was hard to realize.

[107] Thus in the competition for the New Palace at Westminster it was thought highly liberal to offer four premiums of 500l. each. In the competition (now going on) for the new Law Courts, each of the selected competitors, some twelve in number, receives 800l.

[108] It is strange that great builders, who are encircling our chief towns with lines of “villa residences” generally vile in point of architecture, so seldom take the trouble to secure from some good architect a series of designs (to be carried out by themselves), both for the general laying out of a district, and for individual houses. The cost to them, and therefore the increase of rent to tenants, would be trifling, where the work was on a large scale; the gain to the public would be incalculable.

[109] In speaking of this as an advantage, it was, of course, conceived that some provision should be made for the hundreds of people dispossessed. Sir Charles surveyed the district, not without considerable difficulty, and he found that inordinate profits were made out of the misery of its crowded and filthy dens.

[110] At the present time (1866) the site is being cleared of the buildings upon it at a cost roughly estimated at 1,250,000l.; and designs are being prepared in competition by a limited number of architects for a “Palace of Justice” on a scale of unprecedented magnificence.

[111] The information on this subject is derived from my eldest brother. He adds, “It may be doubted whether any ability of treatment would have made a design perfectly satisfactory, which involved so large a surface of stone wall, unrelieved by windows. But, had this proved to be the case, Sir Charles would certainly have modified it in execution, in the course of that consideration and reconsideration which he invariably bestowed upon his designs.”

[112] It has been already stated that the position of Bridgewater House was fixed in distinct relation to this plan.

[113] I find the first notice of such designs in his Diary for 1843.

[114] See Parliamentary Paper No. 55, Session 1863.

[115] See Parliamentary Paper No. 333, Session 1855.

[116] Mr. Digby Wyatt, whose official connection gave him the opportunity of accurate knowledge in the matter, says: “The section of the columns, with its ingenious provisions for attachment of girders and superposition of other columns, the general proportions and arrangement of the leading parts, and the form of the transept roof (which I saw him sketch on the suggestion of Brunel, that, rather than cut down or exclude the great trees, it would be better to roof them in), were all his.”

[117] M. Hittorf is clearly a strong anti-Gothicist. Whatever praise he gives to the New Palace at Westminster is, as it were, under protest. But the Gothic School of French Architecture were not behindhand in their appreciation of Sir Charles Barry’s works.

[118] I subjoin it, as his last architectural opinion delivered:—

“Protest of the undersigned, a member of the Committee for carrying into effect certain internal alterations and decorations of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in respect of a proposed second organ, and a new screen to the choir, upon the following grounds:—

“1. Because upon æsthetical as well as practical grounds, it is undesirable to have an organ of large dimensions in the south transept.
“2. Because if a second organ be required, it might be erected, not only without any disfigurement of the cathedral, but with advantage to its effect, in a capacious gallery over the western entrance to the nave, where it is considered that an instrument and a choir of sufficient power might be accommodated, and heard with striking effect throughout the cathedral.
“3. Because, owing to the great size of the proposed organ and gallery, &c., it would have the effect of a gigantic piece of furniture out of scale with the building, and tend to destroy the simplicity, harmony, capacity, and grandeur of the interior of the cathedral.
“4. Because, as it is proposed to make use of the marble columns of the old screen to the choir to support the gallery for the proposed organ, the opportunity will be lost of employing those columns (in connexion with certain beautiful iron work, in and about the choir, and no longer required in its present situation), with striking effect and great economy, in the formation of the proposed new screen to the choir of the peculiar character required.
“And lastly. Because if a second organ must be placed in the south transept, the sub-committee have not had sufficient opportunity of duly considering the design of the proposed organ-case, gallery, &c.

8th May, 1860.

Charles Barry.

[119] He never built himself a house, but wherever he went he carried out his delight in alterations and reconstructions. No house of his was ever quite untouched; and his landlords must have found him a most excellent tenant.

[120] A “Barry Club,” formed and kept up for some years by those who belonged to his office, was a practical evidence of their feelings. It seems almost invidious to single out any one of these, to whose aid he owed so much. But I cannot pass over the name of R. R. Banks, Esq., the head of his office for many years (the years in which the chief work of design was done), and afterwards the partner of my eldest brother. All who know anything of the work then done, know how much it owed to his single-hearted energy, ability, and conscientiousness. And Sir Charles himself was well aware of the warmth of attachment, which animated that active and conscientious labour.

[121] One great inventor (a German) passed into a proverb with us. He had some invention which was to cure smoky chimneys, and his favourite declaration was “All men are fools; it is me shall make him (the smoke) go straight high.” But he was only an extreme type of a very numerous class, and he certainly acted as if he believed his preliminary axiom.

[122] Report in ‘Times,’ May 23rd, 1860.

[123] Agreed to, as a matter of course.