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Mr Charles Henry Holden

Charles Henry Holden (1875–1960) was a prominent British architect renowned for his influential contributions to the architectural landscape of the early 20th century. Born on May 12, 1875, in Great Lever, Bolton, England, the youngest of five children of Joseph Holden, draper and milliner, and his wife, Ellen Bolton, Holden displayed a keen interest in architecture from a young age. He pursued his education at Manchester Municipal School of Art and subsequently at the Manchester School of Architecture and Manchester Technical School

Holden's career took flight when he joined the architectural practice of Ernest William George and Harold Ainsworth Peto. He later collaborated with Henry Percy Adams, forming the successful partnership Adams and Holden in 1907. His early works primarily consisted of domestic buildings and country houses, showcasing his proficiency in combining traditional and contemporary architectural elements.

However, it was Holden's association with the London Underground that brought him widespread recognition. In 1924, he became the consulting architect to the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) and began designing several iconic London Underground stations, including the notable Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Charles Holden's masterpiece, the iconic Senate House for the University of London.

Holden's architectural style was characterized by a fusion of modernist principles with classical influences. He was a pioneer in the "International Style" and embraced simplicity, functionality, and rationality in his designs, yet he also incorporated elements of classicism, evident in the monumental structures he created. He is also noted for his many prominent civic buildings, particularly in London and in Bristol, cemeteries and war memorials.

One of Holden's most significant achievements remains the design of the University of London's Senate House, which stands as a prime example of his architectural prowess. Its imposing, austere facade and functional interior spaces epitomize the marriage between modernist principles and classical sensibilities.

Holden's legacy extends beyond his architectural designs; he profoundly influenced subsequent generations of architects. His impact on the London Underground's architecture and his contributions to the field of modernist architecture continue to be celebrated and studied to this day.

Holden died at his home, which he had himself designed and where he had tended a much-loved garden, at 87 Harmer Green Lane, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England on 1 May 1960.


  1. Harwood, E. (2019). Charles Holden: Architect. London: Papadakis.
  2. Stamp, G. (1994). Charles Holden: Architect. London: Academy Editions.
  3. Powers, A. (2008). Modern: The Modern Movement in Britain. London: Merrell.


Hutton, Charles, ‘Holden, Charles Henry (1875–1960)’, rev. Alan Crawford, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, Oct 2007) <; [accessed 24 July 2008]

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