1785 – Examination Hall, Trinity College Dublin

Architect: Sir William Chambers


Designed by Sir William Chambers, the Examination Hall faces across the main quadrangle towards the Chapel which he also designed. Also known as the Public Theatre and intended for public meetings at the university, the Examination Hall is like the Chapel a large single vaulted chamber with an apse.

As the theatre is encased in a larger building, it was not possible to light it internally except for placing semicircular windows in the coved ceiling. These are augmented by three large round headed windows placed in the apse of the room. Like the hallway in the Provost’s House, wooden panelling is used here to suggest masonry creating a feel of solidity and mass.


The interior contains many fine furnishings including an organ in the gallery. This came from the previous Chapel and was designed and built in Dublin around 1684. It is the oldest existing Irish made organ case and as such one of the most important in Britain and Ireland. The chandelier which is made of gilded wood came from the former House of Commons. Like the Chapel, the plasterwork is by the Irish stuccodore Michael Stapleton.

From Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837 “The theatre, on the south side, has a front corresponding exactly with that of the chapel, and is of the same dimensions; the walls are decorated with pilasters of the Composite order, rising from a rustic basement; between the pilasters are whole-length portraits of Queen Elizabeth, the foundress, and of the following eminent persons educated in the college; Primate Ussher, Archbishop King, Bishop Berkeley, William Molyneux, Dean Swift, Dr. Baldwin, and John Foster, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons: there is also a fine monument of black and white marble and porphyry, executed at Rome by Hewetson, a native of Ireland, at an expense of £2000, erected to the memory of Dr. Baldwin, formerly provost, who died in 1758, and bequeathed £80,000 to the university.”

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