Architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin

Architect & Owner

Charles Barry & Augustus Pugin

By the time Charles Barry (23.5.1795–12.05.1860) won the competition to build the new Palace of Westminster, he was already a well-respected architect. Born in Westminster in 1795, opposite where Big Ben would later stand, he was apprenticed to a London surveyor and architect’s office at the age of 15. Opening his own office in 1821, he soon gained a reputation for his Church designs.

Having only a limited experience of the Neo-Gothic style, Charles Barry turned to one of the style’s leading proponents for assistance. Augustus Pugin (1.03.1812-14.09.1852) had literally grown up with Gothic style; his French-born draughtsman father training him to draw Gothic buildings for the renowned reference books he produced on the subject.

Though the popularity of the Gothic style had been growing throughout the 19th Century, Barry and Pugin’s work on the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben would popularize the architectural style and ensure it reached into every corner of Victorian life.

Neither man would live to see the completion of their work. The intricate designs gave many construction difficulties: adding a whole decade to the estimated six-year building time and tripling the initial budget.


Text credits:
The Pugin Society
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Photo credits:
The Pugin Society