Barry was born into a very modest middle-class family but he was ambitious. Although he was already a successful architect he had to win the job of designing Trafalgar Square by entering a competition. In 1836 he went on to win another competition for an even greater prize - the job of designing the Houses of Parliament.

Barry, like many architects of the time, could turn his hand to more than one of the fashionable styles of the day. He mainly specialised in Renaissance and Gothic buildings. Although not an aristocrat himself Barry�s clients often were, and Barry is said to have appreciated the higher class of society into which he was thrown.

His son, Edward Middelton Barry, was also an architect. His contribution to Trafalgar Square was the design of the Victorian replica of the Charing Cross monument, as well as some of the rooms at the National Gallery.

Sir Charles Barry by H W Pickersgill © The Palace of Westminster