Frederick Clarendon was born in Dublin around 1820 and received a Bachelor of Arts at Dublin University in 1839. Directly after graduation he was employed by the Office of Public Works, where he would remain until his retirement in 1887.
Clarendon’s earliest major works focused on Dublin’s prison system. Arbour Hill Prison was redesigned in 1845 by Sir. Joshua Jebb with Clarendon acting as executive architect, and Clarendon was also co-designer of the “Criminal Lunatic Asylum” in Dundrum two years later. Clarendon oversaw the renovation and extension of the Royal Irish Academy’s premises on Dawson Street between 1852 and 1854, as their existing Grafton Street location had become overcrowded.
Clarendon’s most remembered work is Ireland’s Natural History Museum on Merrion Street adjacent to Leinster House, known as the “Dead Zoo”. The Royal Dublin Society had been obliged to use a public architect in order to obtain treasury funding, and the building was taken over by the State in 1877. Today the Museum forms part of the National Museum of Ireland. Clarendon died in Mountjoy Square, Dublin in 1904.