Sir Charles Barry and Trentham Hall
2010 sees the 150th anniversary of the death of Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), one of the most well-known and prolific architects of the first half of the 19th century. Barry is particularly famous as the architect of the new Houses of Parliament, built to replace the former building destroyed by fire in 1834 and completed between 1840 and 1860. Barry undertook many public commissions, of which the Houses of Parliament was the most demanding. It impacted significantly on his private practice but he still undertook some private commissions and in Staffordshire his most influential and wealthy patron was the Duke of Sutherland of Trentham Hall.
Barry worked in a variety of styles including the Gothic, Jacobean, Scottish Baronial and orthodox Grecian styles. However his major personal contribution to the 'repertoire of Victorian architecture' was the Italianate style. This allowed him a greater richness of detail than some other styles. In 1834 Barry submitted designs to the Duke of Sutherland for an Italianate style mansion, with a belvedere tower, to replace the existing Trentham Hall. This was the first time that this style had been used for a country house. His presentation portfolio of plans and elevations for Trentham now forms part of the Sutherland Papers deposited at the Staffordshire Record Office (593/H/13/6).
Trentham Hall - south elevation, Sir Charles Barry, 1834
© Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service, 2010
Trentham was a house on the grand scale, befitting the new dukedom conferred on the family in 1833. His presentation volume contains three elevations and four architectural plans for the rebuilding of Trentham, carried out for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland between 1834 and 1849. The plans and elevations are of superb quality. They are all drawn by hand in pen and ink with water colour washes on 'wove' hand made paper. All the plans have puncture marks at the centre of each arch, clearly showing where compasses have been used to draw the radius. The plans are half bound in maroon leather with light brown, grained bookcloth sides and decorated with gold tooling. Barry was also renowned as one of the major creators of Victorian gardening taste, designing elaborate architectural flower gardens to accompany his houses as he did at Trentham. He also worked for the Sutherlands at their other houses, Bridgewater House in London, Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland and Cliveden in Buckinghamshire.
To learn more about Sir Charles Barry's portfolio of designs, visit the Sutherland Collection website.
Staffordshire Record Office, D593/H/13/6