Lanyon, Sir Charles

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Lanyon, Sir Charles (1813–89). English-born architect, engineer, and surveyor. He settled in Ireland, where he became County Surveyor of Antrim (1836–60), building the breathtaking Antrim Coast Road (originally planned and begun by William Bald (1789–1857) ) from Larne to Ballycastle, and designing the hand-some Glendun Viaduct (1837). In his official capacity he also designed the powerful Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast (1841–5—influenced by the planning of Pentonville Gaol, London, but hideously disfigured in C20) and the noble Italianate Court House opposite the Gaol (1848–50—in 2004 empty). Lanyon established a successful practice, carrying out a huge range of works in numerous styles, as well as acting as engineer for several railway companies, designing the stations and the routes. His Palm House, Botanic Gardens, Belfast (1839–40 and 1852), is an early and elegant example of curvilinear iron-and-glass construction, and was built with Richard Turner (1798–1881) of Dublin, predating Turner's collaboration with Burton at Regent's Park and Kew Gardens, London. Lanyon also designed the Tudorbethan Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (1843–5—lamentably destroyed 1965), the Tudor Gothic Queen's College (1846–9—now the Lanyon Building of The Queen's University), the remodelling of Sir Robert Taylor's Exchange and Assembly Rooms for the Belfast Banking Company (1844–6—in an Italianate palazzo style derived from the work of Barry), the Presbyterian (later Union Theological) College (1852–3—with a powerful Roman Doric engaged portico and a Baroque Attic storey), and the former Head Office of the Northern Bank (1851–2), all in Belfast. He employed the Italian palazzo style for several buildings, notably Ballywalter Park, Co. Down, Dundarave, Bushmills, Co. Antrim (both late 1840s), and the very grand Custom House, Belfast (1854–7). He reworked Killyleagh Castle, Co. Down, in a robust Franco-Scottish style (1849–51), providing an amazing vision when first viewed across the drumlin landscape, and designed the powerful campanile at Trinity College, Dublin (1852–4).

In 1854 Lanyon took his pupil, W. H. Lynn, into partnership, and the firm, as Lanyon & Lynn, designed many fine Victorian buildings, including the Lombardic Gothic Sinclair Seamen's Church, Corporation Square, Belfast (1856–7), and the charming Venetian Gothic Banks at Newtownards, Co. Down, and Dungannon, Co. Tyrone (both c.1855). In 1860 the firm became Lanyon, Lynn, & Lanyon when Charles's son, John (1839–1900) became a partner. Several distinguished buildings followed, including the polychrome Venetian Gothic Clarence Place Hall (1865–6), the Italian Gothic warehouse of Richardson, Sons, & Owden, Donegall Square (1865–9—now Marks & Spencer), both in Belfast, and the exquisite Hiberno-Romanesque St Patrick's Church, Jordanstown, Co. Antrim, complete with round tower (1865–8).


Brett (1967, 2000);
IAR (1989), 200–7;
Larmour (1987);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
P:JRSUA, ii/5 (May–June 1994), 53–4;
Jane Turner (1996)