Quinlan Terry

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Quinlan Terry

Quinlan Terry in 2018
John Quinlan Terry

(1937-07-24) 24 July 1937 (age 86)
PracticeDedham, Essex, England
Projects10 Downing Street, London, England. (1980’s interior refurbishment)
The 1992 Maitland Robinson Library at Downing College, Cambridge, designed by Terry

John Quinlan Terry CBE (born 24 July 1937) is a British architect. He was educated at Bryanston School and the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He was a pupil of architect Raymond Erith, with whom he formed the partnership Erith & Terry.

Quinlan Terry is a well-known representative of New Classical architecture and the favourite architect of King Charles III.[1][2] He has a keen interest in how traditional architecture contributes to the debate on sustainability and has lectured frequently on the subject.

Quinlan Terry continues to practise full time with partners Roger Barrell and Eric Cartwright under the name Quinlan Terry Architects LLP.


Brentwood Cathedral
Richmond Riverside, London, 1984–87

In the United Kingdom[edit]

Terry works principally in classical Palladian architectural styles. The firm, Quinlan Terry Architects LLP, continues the architectural style of the practice started by Raymond Erith in 1928, and specialises in high quality traditional building, mostly in classical idioms. The practice is based in Dedham, Essex, and employs a staff of twelve. A book about the firm's work, written by David Watkin, entitled Radical Classicism: The Architecture of Quinlan Terry (New York: Rizzoli International Publications), was published in 2006.

The first work by Raymond Erith in which Quinlan Terry had a major role was the new house, Kings Waldenbury, Hertfordshire, completed for the Pilkington family in 1971, when new building in a classical manner was deeply unfashionable. During the three-year construction period of the house, Terry kept a diary, published later, in which he bemoaned the modern world and stoically defended his conservative, reformed, evangelical faith.[3]

His design for the 1992 Maitland Robinson Library[4] at Downing College, Cambridge, won the Building of the Year Award in 1994. One of his best known works is Brentwood Cathedral in Essex. This is a radical extension of a 19th-century Roman Catholic Gothic revival church is in the English Baroque manner owing much to James Gibbs and Thomas Archer and makes little or no attempt to be in keeping with the older building. Terry's new work has a portico based on the south portico of St Paul's Cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Unusually, all five classical orders of architecture were used and Terry has said in lectures that he views classical architecture as an expression of the divine order.

During the 1980s he was appointed by Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, to renovate the interiors of 10 Downing Street, restored 40 years previously by Raymond Erith, Terry's teacher, after war damage. Terry's work there is more assertive than Erith's. In Gloucestershire, he designed Waverton House, where he used the style made popular by Matthew Brettingham in the late 18th century, featuring a central staircase lit from above, surrounded by rooms on both floors.

In 1989, he designed a series of three new villas for the Crown Estate Commissioners in Outer Circle in London's Regent's Park. Building in the park was controversial but said to be in the spirit of the Prince Regent's original though unrealised intentions for the park, which was to contain numerous villas for Regency courtiers surrounding a new royal palace. Terry's three new villas have near-identical plans, based on Palladio's Villa Saraceno, but the external elevations vary, showing respectively Gothic, Italian Mannerist and muscular Neo-classical features in the manner of William Chambers. Six villas were eventually built between 1989 and 2002.

In the mid-1990s, Terry designed the restoration of St Helen's Bishopsgate, controversially turning the orientation of the medieval church through 90 degrees, moving or removing some fittings, and reworking its previous Tractarian Anglican layout into a Georgian stripped-back meeting house plan informed by the precepts of Reformation theology, in tune with its current firmly evangelical congregation.

Also in the 1990s, he designed a castle for David and Frederick Barclay on their private island of Brecqhou in the Channel Islands.[5]

Terry designed the external envelope of New Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with Steffian Bradley Architects[6] as the lead consultant and planners for the building; a new Georgian Theatre for Downing College Cambridge; new offices, retail and residential development at 264–267 Tottenham Court Road, London; offices and retail at 22 Baker Street, London; and Queen Mother Square, Poundbury; and mixed use development Richmond Riverside.

In the United States[edit]

His works in the US include the Abercrombie Residence,[7] a classical mansion based on Marble Hill House, Twickenham, London. Complete with a piano nobile approached by an external staircase, it has a pediment supported by Corinthian columns. The house is constructed of Kasota limestone, with Indiana limestone dressings.


Terry's architecture was championed by David Watkin, who wrote the monograph Radical Classicism: The Architecture of Quinlan Terry (2006), and by Roger Scruton who called it "one long breath of fresh air" in his Spectator article "Hail Quinlan Terry: our greatest living architect".[8]

Quinlan Terry is the single most distinguished and prolific architect at work in the Classical tradition in either Britain or the United States. He has attempted more completely than any other architect in Britain to pull the rug from beneath the false certainties of Modernism.
– David Watkin (2006). Radical Classicism: The Architecture of Quinlan Terry

Conversely, Terry has been the subject of considerable criticism. A 2015 article in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Journal quoted the late architectural historian Gavin Stamp, author of the Piloti column in the magazine Private Eye, in which Stamp derided Terry's work as "stiff, pedantic and uninspiring, classical details stuck on to dull boxes".[9] The cultural critic Jonathan Meades, in a 2020 article in The Critic, repeated Stamp's strictures and dismissed Scruton's praise, "[a man] who had no eye", as "embarrassingly silly";[10] while Stephen Bayley is among those who have attacked the close relationship between Terry and the Prince of Wales. In a column in The Guardian in 2009, Bayley mocked the Prince's circle of architectural advisers as "a coterie of fogeyish misfits, dreamers, forelock-tugging courtiers, DIY specialists, greasy pole-climbers [and] short-sighted antiquarians", reserving particular scorn for Terry, "a specialist in architectural pastiche [whose] modesty and art are in inverse proportion".[11]


In 2003 Terry won the Best Modern Classical House 2003, awarded by the British Georgian Group for Ferne House in Wiltshire. In 2005 Terry won the 3rd Annual Driehaus Prize, the most prestigious award for outstanding classical and traditional architects. He holds the Philippe Rothier European Prize for the Reconstruction of the City of Archives d'Architecture Moderne (1982).

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to classical architecture.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McNamara, Dennis (Spring 2012). "A Decade of New Classicism: The Flowering of Traditional Church Architecture". Journal of the Institute for Sacred Architecture. Institute for Sacred Architecture. 21. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  2. ^ Shute, Joe (12 November 2013). "Prince Charles: a lifelong love of architecture". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  3. ^ Barber, Lynn (7 March 2004). "Shock of the Old". The Observer. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  4. ^ Quinlan Francis Terry Architects Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Maitland Robinson Library, Downing College
  5. ^ de Castella, Tom (20 February 2015). "Who are the Barclay brothers?". BBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  6. ^ "STEFFIAN BRADLEY ARCHITECTS United States · United Kingdom · Spain · China". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Abercrombie Residence". Quinlan Terry Architects. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  8. ^ Scruton, Roger, "Hail Quinlan Terry: our greatest living architect", The Spectator 8 April 2006.
  9. ^ Wainwright, Oliver (4 February 2015). "Divine right?". RIBA.
  10. ^ Meades, Jonathan (26 February 2020). "Classless Act". The Critic Magazine.
  11. ^ Bayley, Stephen (9 May 2009). "Reject the Prince of Pastiche and his ludicrous architectural prejudices". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N10.
  13. ^ "2015 New Year Honours List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2015.

Further reading[edit]

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