Charles Lynam


Charles Lynam


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Charles Lynam (1829-1921) architect, Stoke-on-Trent

'The Villas' Stoke.
Stoke-on-Trent Free Library and Baths.
Stoke Market Complex.
North Staffordshire Infirmary, Hartshill.
Cemetery chapels, Hartshill
Christ Church, Fenton.
The Firs, The Brampton


Charles Lynam was born on 9 February 1829 at Colwich, Staffs., the son of George and Hannah Lynam. Not long after this event his father set up an architect's and surveyor's practice in Glebe Street, Stoke upon Trent. He lived at “The Quarry” on corner of Hartshill Road and Quarry Road.

Charles Lynam was educated at Christ's Hospital School, London, worked for two years with his father then was articled to a London architect. He joined his father's business in 1850, and in that year, through the influence of Herbert Minton, was appointed architect for the Stokeville Building Society, and designed 24 'superior' houses – 'The Villas' – for the Society. This district had the distinction of being the first designated conservation area in Stoke on Trent and a number of the houses are 'listed'. 

He had a virtual monopoly of the architectural commissions awarded by local public bodies, including the Stoke-upon-Trent Board of Guardians, the North Staffordshire Infirmary, and Stoke-upon-Trent Borough Council. There was some controversy surrounding the awarding of certain commissions to Lynam.

Numbers 3 & 4 The Villas
Numbers 3 & 4 The Villas


1853 - taken into partnership in by his father, (who died later in that year).


Charles Lynam's official appointments included:

Serving as surveyor to the Stoke upon Trent improvement commissioners (1860) and to the highways board.

Surveyor to the borough of Stoke upon Trent on its incorporation in 1874. He resigned from his appointments on his election to the borough council. 

Elected an alderman in 1877 but retired from local government affairs from pressure of work.

Lynam built up a large private practice and designed numerous public buildings, including the Stoke upon Trent Free Library and Baths (1877-8), the Stoke upon Trent new market complex (1883), the Hartshill cemetery chapels (1883) and with another architect, Nicholl, the North Staffordshire Infirmary when it moved from Etruria to Hartshill. 

Hartshill cemetery chapels
Hartshill cemetery chapels

Take a 'tour' of Hartshill cemetery


He was responsible for the design of a number of new churches (Including the cemetery chapels at Hartshill)  and many restorations of old churches within and outside the county. Pevsner considers Christ Church, Fenton, to be "the magnum opus of Charles Lynam, however, only in size"


1882 - elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

1897 -  re-elected to Stoke upon Trent borough council (and served until )

1903 - elected mayor, (although he was no longer a member of the corporation). He also served as a Stoke magistrate for many years.


1857 Charles Lynam married Lucy, daughter of Dr Robert Carner, the local historian. She bore him 14 children, the family living, for all Lynam's adult life, in the Penkhull area.

Lynam's main interest, outside his work and local government, was archaeology.

1865 -  joined the North Staffordshire Field Club in the year of its inauguration and set up its archaeology section. 

1874 - He was president of the Club. 

1894 - was awarded the Garner medal.

1894 - again was  president. 

He became vice-president of the Archaeological Institute and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1895. 

Among his archaeological achievements were the elucidation of the ground plans of Croxden Abbey, near Uttoxeter, and Hulton Abbey, Stoke. His work on the later was used 50 years later to prevent the erection of a housing estate over the hidden foundations of the abbey. He undertook excavation work on the bath-house at the Roman site of Wall, near Lichfield. 

The old parish church of Stoke upon Trent had been demolished in 1830 and some of its stone used to form the bed of a watercourse serving Boothen Mill. Lynam discovered these in 1881 and used them to reconstruct two arches and other features of the old church, set up on the site of the old church.

He acted as surveyor for Lichfield diocese for many years, and became a leading authority on local churches.

He published numerous articles in the Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club and in national archaeological journals. He wrote the articles on ancient earthworks for volume1 of the Victoria County History of Stafford (1908) and helped with the chapter on Romano-British Staffordshire. His work on Croxden Abbey is contained in his book The Abbey of St. Mary, Croxden, Staffordshire (1911) and he published a monograph The Inscriptions on the Ancient Church Bells of the County in 1889.

He died at Cliff Bank House, Stoke on Trent, on 21 February 1921.


SOURCES: M. W. Greenslade, The Staffordshire Historians; T. W. Lancaster, Hulton Abbey; N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire; Transactions of the North Staffs. Field Club, vol. Iv; Turner; Staffs. Sentinel 24 November 1903; Staffs. Advertiser 26 February 1921; VCH viii. People of the Potteries; A. Dobraszczyc notes on the Hartshill cemetery. 



comments/questions/contributions? email: Steve Birks


updated: 17/02/2002