image for Talk item typeCharles Barry's Great Work at Duke Street Baptist Church

Talk, Tue 5 Mar 2019


The Arts Society Richmond

020 8892 9696


Duke Street,


Speaker: Caroline Shenton

The Houses of Parliament is one of the most famous and staggering buildings in the world. It rises serenely from the Thames at Westminster on a site which has been the centre of power and government in England from the earliest times. It is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and a spectacular feat of civil engineering, a landmark which is today the essence of Britishness. And it was nearly never built at all.

From the beginning, its design and construction were a battleground for its architect, Charles Barry. The practical challenges, even by the standards of Victorian invention, were immense. Following the disastrous fire of 1834, the new building was required to cover eight acres of unstable gravel beds. Its river frontage, a quarter of a mile long, was to be constructed in the treacherous currents of the Thames. Its towers were so gigantic they required feats of engineering and building technology never seen before, in order to construct them on the cramped site. And the interior design - stained glass, metalwork, encaustic tiling and wall coverings - needed ancient craft techniques not used since the middle ages to be revived. Battling the interference of MPs and royalty, coaxing and soothing the genius of his partner Pugin, fending off the mad schemes of a host of crackpot inventors and busybodies, and coming in three times over budget and twenty-four years behind schedule, this lecture will tell the story of how Charles Barry created the most famous building in Britain.

On-site light refreshmentsPublic toilets

Event details

Dates Times
Tue 5 Mar 2019 19:00


Members: Free
Guests: £5 per person payable at the door.
NADFAS members: £4 payable at the door.
Students: Free, upon production of your student card



See location of Duke Street Baptist Church on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: TQ 179750  Lat: 51.46171 Long: -0.30407

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 0 miles from Richmond station


  • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets