Henry Irwin
1888 - 1896
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Early years
Post 1920
Web links
Buildings in Madras:
  • Law College Buildings,

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Madras High Court, Exterior Madras High Court, Interior 1 Madras High Court, Interior 2
Madras High Court, exterior Madras High Court, interior Madras High Court, interior

"designed by Henry Irwin and built by Namberumal Chetty were declared open to the public in 1899" (6).
  • Victoria Memorial Hall
Victoria Hall, Madras(not the one in Calcutta, but a small, attractive piece of Indo-Saracenic.
  • Connemara Library Building

Connemara Library Connemara Library
Connemara Library Building, exterior Connemara Library Building, interior
which now houses the National Art Gallery.
  • Madras Cricket Club
Madras Cricket Club
Madras Cricket Club Pavilion (opened to Members in 1891 and used until demolished in 1970s
  • TR Tawker and Sons Jewellers' Building

Tawkers Building, Madras
The property was bought by Tawkers in 1893 and "the building was raised not long after that" (6). Demolished 1979.
  • Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway headquarters building

Southern Railway HQ building

is attributed to Irwin (6). Build of smoothed granite, it was completed in 1922. In view of this date any direct involvement would appear unlikely. Nonetheless his influence is clearly visible.
  • Bank of Madras Headquarters
Bank of Madras designed 1895/97, now occupied by the State Bank of India.

In 1897 Henry Irwin received the contract for the design of a new palace in Mysore to replace the one burnt down in the previous year.


Horses were an important part of the Irwin family life. Henry was an inveterate punter at the horse races, a fact which has remained in the collective family memory more than his professional achievements. It is recalled that regularly after loosing a substantial sum of money at the race-course he would visit the jewellers (perhaps Tawkers?) and buy something extravagant for his wife Henrietta on the way home. One of Henry's recorded laments was "I've too many horses and too many daughters!". Both expensive affairs!

Nonetheless the family's attention to horses also had its successful side. During the summer months the family would go to the hill station of Madras State, Outacamund or Ooty as it was known to the British, to escape the damp heat of Madras. In an article on the history of the Ooty Hunt , the Field notes that "the first ladies' point-to-point was won by Miss Honora Irwin on Mercury in 1892" [7]. Honora was only 14 at the time. But the competition in the family was keen. There was not sufficient money for all the daughters to have their own riding boots and family legend has it that the girls would go to bed with the riding boots on, just to make sure they were not taken by one of their sisters before the morning.

Family events during the period
1888 Appointed Consulting Architect to the Madras Government
24th March, 1896, Hilda marries Brig.-Gen. Frederick Guy Maunsell in Madras Cathedral.
22nd October, 1898 Hilda's first child was born in Limerick.
29th August, 1900 Honora marries Lt-Col. George James Henderson
1900(?) Hope married William Ogilvie Horne of the Indian Civil Service 7th August.
1901 Helen married Lt-Col Edward Tatchell of the Lincolnshire Regiment.
19th September, 1901 Hope's first child (Jock) was born in Madras.
1st August, 1902 Hope gave birth to a daughter, Joan in Madras
19th September, 1903 Haidee died aged 16
1st December, 1903 Heatherbell marries Capt. Samuel Swinton Browne. (He died in 1912 and she remarried on 4th November, 1915 to Capt Wigram Seymour Elliott Money)
7th December, 1903 Henrietta Elizabeth married Brig-Gen- Francis WD Quinton
15th August, 1905 Hope's second son Rory was born in Madras.
13th February, 1910 Henry Robert died. 27th December,
1911 Hyacinth marries Brig.-Gen. Verney Asser.
17th September, 1915 Hope's second daughter and fourth child, Elizabeth Harloe was born in Co. Cork, Ireland
11th December, 1915 Hubert married Meta Escott Haughton
1896 Retired to Mount Abu, Rajputana