Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer and surveyor. According to the inscription on the family memorial slab in Ashbury church, Berkshire, England, Charles Tarrant, eldest son of Charles Tarrant, of London, and his wife, Catherine, was born in 1728 or 1729. He became a draughtsman in the drawing office of the Tower of London.   In 1750 William Skinner requested his assignment to the preparation of the military survey of Scotland.(1)  The survey was completed in 1755,(2) and in the same year Tarrant received his warrant as a military engineer.  He became a draughtsman to the Board of Ordnance of Ireland in 1763, a position which he retained until 1776. Subsequently, while remaining in the service of the Ordnance, he was largely engaged in canal work. In 1777 - as Captain Tarrant - he succeeded JOHN TRAIL  JOHN TRAIL as engineer to the Grand Canal Company, though his duties were soon carried out by his assistant RICHARD EVANS RICHARD EVANS , who eventually replaced him.(1) He was promoted Major in August of the same year. In 1783 - as Colonel Tarrant - he advised on the Lough Allen to Jamestown section of the Shannon Navigation,(3) and in 1790 he was employed by the newly established Barrow Navigation Company. By 1802 he had been promoted to the rank of Major-General.

In addition to his canal activities, Tarrant became one of Dublin's Wide Streets Commissioners and in March 1785 was appointed to superintend new building on the south side of Dame Street.(4) In 1783, he and his fellow Commissioner William Burton Conyngham had visited Portugal,(5) perhaps for the purpose of inspecting the rebuilding of Lisbon.

In 1771 Tarrant acquired a house at Rathdown, Co. Wicklow, where he was a neighbour of Redmond Morres, a director of the Grand Canal Company, and of JOHN BROWNRIGG JOHN BROWNRIGG , a director of the Barrow Navigation Company. Tarrant's property included an ancient church, St Crispin's Cell, and graveyard which he was accused by G.N. Wright of having destroyed. He died in England, at Idstone, Ashbury, Berkshire, on 21 March 1818 at the age of eighty-nine.(6) He remained a bachelor but was the father of five children, a son, CHARLES TARRANT [2]  CHARLES TARRANT [2] and four daughters. William Tarrant, engineer to the Royal Canal Company in 1823,(7) was presumably also related to him in some way.

A map by Tarrant of the entrance to Cork harbour is in the National Library of Ireland. A map of the neighbourhood of Lismore dating from the early 1760s and a letter of 1768 offering his services as a draughtsman to the Lord Lieutenant, Viscount Townshend, are the Public Record Office at Kew.(8) In 1763 he produced a 'Report on the store houses, powder magazines and fortifications in Ireland', a 40-page illustrated manuscript which, according to Singleton, is in a private collection.

Tarrant was a subscriber to the First Volume of the Instructions given in the Drawing School established by the Dublin-Society (Dublin, 1769).

RIA: elected member, 1801.



All information in this entry not otherwise attributed is from Sarah Bendell, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), II, 501, and Emer Singleton, 'Charles Tarrant, surveyor, architect, artist and cartographer (1730-1818)', Bray Historical Record 5 (1992), 7-15. Emer Singleton also supplied a photograph of the inscription on the memorial slab in Ashbury church, Berkshire.

(1) See Douglas W. Marshall, 'Military Maps of the Eighteenth-Century and the Tower of London Drawing Room', Imago Mundi (1980), 30,43(n.42).
(2) Ruth Delany, The Grand Canal of Ireland (1973), 24-25, 31-32; V.T.H. & D.R. Delany, The Canals of the South of Ireland (1966), 45.
(3) V.T.H. & D.R. Delany, op. cit., 100-101.
(4) E. McParland, 'The Wide Streets Commissioners: their importance for Dublin architecture in the late 18th-early 19th century', BIGS 15, No. 1 (Jan-Mar 1972), 11; J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1985), 195;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 414.
(5) J.C. Murphy Plans, elevations, sections and views of the church of Batalha…To which is prefixed and introductory discourse on the principles of Gothic architecture (London,1795).
(6) Singleton and Bendell, give his date of death as 21 March 1818, as recorded on his memorial in Ashbury parish church; however Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 (Eneclann CD-ROM) gives the date of his will as 30 Dec 1818 (Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 (Eneclann CD-ROM), Document ID 63607) and the date of the grant of probate as 24 May 1819 (Eneclann, op. cit., Document ID 63705).
(7) Peter Clarke, The Royal Canal: the complete story (1992), 72.
(8) NA/PRO (Kew) M 732.

2 work entries listed in chronological order for TARRANT, CHARLES [1]

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Date: 1768
Nature: Captain Tarrant makes design for meeting room.
Refs: Royal Dublin Society minutes, 14 Apr 1768 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Date: 1793
Nature: CT prepares detailed report with recommendations for repair of same. Repairs carried out c.1800-1827. 'Though preserving in outline the plan of the medieval castle, the existing building, a crisp, pentangular curtain wall, with a freestanding keep and two large rounded bastions facing the river, owes most to the late Georgian reconstruction.'
Refs: Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 129-30