Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

English sculptor, of Exeter. Harry Hems, who was born in Islington in 1842, worked in his youth as a journeyman in Belfast, Dublin, Italy and perhaps also in London.(1) While he was in Dublin he worked for a time for CHARLES WILLIAM HARRISON  CHARLES WILLIAM HARRISON after Harrison's partner, CHARLES ABBEY CHARLES ABBEY , had returned to England.(2) In 1866 he settled in Exeter,(3) where he built up a thriving business in sculpture and ecclesiastical work. He exported carvings to countries all over the world, including Ireland. He died circa 1915.

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References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Brett, 57, who cites Hems's obituary in Devonian Year Book for 1917, 65-6. There is an article about Hems and a portrait of him in Building News 58, 27 Jun 1890, 899,904, and two notices of his death in B 110, 14 Jan,14 Apr 1916, 57,280. See also http://www.exeter.gov.uk/timetrail/12_victorian/object_detail.asp?photoref=12_26 (2008). 

(1)
He was presumably in London in 1863 0or 1864 when he carved the capitals of the pulpit designed for Westminster Abbey by George Gilbert Scott, see IB 53, 11 Jun 1910, 386.
(2)
IB 45, 21 May 1903, 1764.
(3)
He is said to have found a lucky horseshoe on his arrival in Exeter, an event which his employees celebrated every year wherever they happened to be working. The team of carvers who were working on the Church of the Sacred Heart at Omagh, Co. Tyrone, in 1898 celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the event with a dinner in Omagh, see IB 40, 15 Dec 1898, 185.


21 work entries listed in chronological order for HEMS, HARRY *#


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Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL STREET, ST ANNE'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1863
Nature: HH carved capitals on pulpit designed by George Gilbert Scott.
Refs: Brett, 69

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL STREET, ST ANNE'S CATHEDRAL (CI)
Date: 1864
Nature: Capitals of pulpit designed by George Gilbert Scott carved by HH when still a journeyman.
Refs: IB 52, 11 Jun 1910, 386

Building: CO. WEXFORD, GOREY, CHRIST CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1884
Nature: Oak lectern in memory of Rev. Charles Hamilton.
Refs: B 46, ? Jan 1884, 80

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, SHANAKIEL ROAD, CHURCH OF ST MARY SHANDON (CI)
Date: 1884
Nature: Carved reredos extending entire width of sacrarium.
Refs: B 47, ? Nov 1884, 675

Building: CO. KILDARE, CELBRIDGE, CHRIST CHURCH (CI, KILDROUGHT PARISH)
Date: 1884
Nature: Oak altar.
Refs: Architect 30, 20 Sep 1884, 188

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUN LAOGHAIRE, HAIGH TERRACE, MARINERS' CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1884ca
Nature: Choir stalls and communion table by HH.
Refs: IB 26, 15 Oct 1884, 312

Building: CO. DOWN, NEWRY, ST MARY STREET, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI)
Date: 1886
Nature: New oak stalls.
Refs: IB 28, 1 Apr 1886, 106

Building: CO. DOWN, DUNDRUM, CHURCH OF ST DONARD (CI, DOWNSHIRE MEMORIAL)
Date: 1888
Nature: Oak pulpit in Perp. Gothic style to design by Thomas Drew.
Refs: IB 30, 15 Mar 1888, 83.

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL PLACE, NO. 056 (ROBINSON & CLEAVER)
Date: 1888
Nature: Carvings of distinguished clients on each front.
Refs: C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 57; Paul Larmour, Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide (1987), 51 (no.113); Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 107

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, CLIFTON STREET, ORANGE HALL
Date: 1889
Nature: Bronze statue of King William III on top of building by HH. Unveiled 16 Nov 1889.
Refs: IB 31, 15 Nov 1889, 280; C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 56; Paul Larmour, Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide (1987), 50 (no.112)

Building: CO. CORK, RINCURRAN (KINSALE), CHURCH OF ST CATHERINE (CI)
Date: 1889
Nature: Oak lectern made from ancient beam from Salisbury Cathedral placed in parish church, 1889. Pulpit in memory of Rev. R.H. Meade, 1891.
Refs: IB 31, 1 Jul 1889, 173; 33, 15 Jan 1891, 21

Building: CO. LEITRIM, LOUGH RYNN
Date: 1889ca
Nature: Oak fittings in downstairs rooms (of new wing?)
Refs: IB 32, 15 Feb 1890, 45

Building: CO. CORK, KINSALE, CHURCH OF ST MULTOSE (CI)
Date: 1891
Nature: New brown oak pulpit, clergy seat and prayer desk in 15th cent. Gothic style.
Refs: IB 33, 15 Mar 1891, 62

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, SOUTH MAIN STREET, CHRIST CHURCH OR HOLY TRINITY CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1892
Nature: Oak reredos and panelling of apse carried out by H.H. under immediate direction of W.H.Hill.
Refs: IB 34, 1 May 1892, 102

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, CARLISLE CIRCUS, ST ENOCH'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Date: 1892-93
Nature: Medallion portrait of Rev. Hugh Hanna ('Roaring Hugh Hanna') contained in memorial tablet designed by Young & Mackenzie.
Refs: IB 35, 1 Feb 1893, 34;  Paul Harron, Architects of Ulster: Young & Mackenzie, a transformational provincial practice 1850-1960 (Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2016), 358.

Building: CO. TYRONE, OMAGH, CHURCH STREET, CHURCH OF THE SACRED HEART (RC)
Date: 1898-99
Nature: Carving & sculpture carried out by HH & Sons 'in situ'. Clerk of works: Huch McCann.
Refs: IB 40, 15 Dec 1898, 185; 41, 1 Jul 1899, 78

Building: CO. DOWN, COMBER, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI)
Date: 1900
Nature: New octagonal pulpit, to designs by Thomas Drew.
Refs: IB 42, 15 Nov 1900, 554

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, ANTRIM ROAD, CHURCH OF ST PETER (CI)
Date: 1903;1910
Nature: 'handsomest carved organ case in Ireland' installed, 1903; choir stalls, 1910.
Refs: IB 45, ? ? 1903, 1658; 52, ? ? 1910, 197

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, LOWER FALLS ROAD, CHURCH OF ST LUKE (CI)
Date: 1909a
Nature: Art work recently executed at same.
Refs: IB 51, ? ? 1909, 65

Building: CO. ANTRIM, ANTRIM, CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: 2 monuments by HH, 'one incorporating a virtuoso carving in brown marble of a full-size violin and bow - plus masonic instruments' (Brett).
Refs: C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of County Antrim (UAHS, 1996), 28

Building: CO. DOWN, BANBRIDGE, CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY (CI, SEAPATRICK PARISH)
Date: ?
Nature: Oak chancel furniture, 'once owned by the Admiralty and originally intended for use on board ship'.
Refs: Clergy of Down and Dromore (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1996), Part 1, 232

Author Title Date Details
Hems, Harry 'Modern Irish Art' 1903 IB 45, 21 May 1903, 1764. (Letter to editor , in response to article by Robert Elliott in The Irish Rosary, May 1903.)